Many pet parents are not aware that dogs, like us humans, can experience boredom, and therefore might not spot the signs their dog is sending, to tell them that they lack something. In this article, we will talk about the reasons why your dog might be bored and teach you how to read the different signs of boredom in dogs.
Reason for boredom in dogs: Living a life based on their humans’ needs
We pet parents have gotten used to the idea of having our furry family members around us and having them live a life based on our (human) needs. This includes our pooches being home alone and us being away for work, commitments, and fun human activities. Additionally, when we are at home we often expect our pooches to be quiet while we do things we enjoy, like watching TV or reading a book.
This, unfortunately, means that our dogs, awesome as they are, often try their best to be a “good dog”. But this doesn’t always go hand in hand with us fulfilling their needs, which can result in our dogs getting bored.
It’s up to us pet parents, to learn to spot the signs of boredom in our dogs, so we can ensure they get the fulfilling life they deserve.
Reason for boredom in dogs: What all dogs actually want and need
Dogs are intelligent and need mental stimulation. In his book “Dog Language”, Roger Abrantes writes: “A dog is under-stimulated when it is given insufficient opportunity to use and develop its inborn abilities and satisfy its needs.“
Now, let’s break this sentence down to the perspective of the dog:
If it was up to your dog to define a perfect day, it would likely include lots of being together with their favourite humans and dogs, sniffing time, playing, and lots of cuddles.
Being home alone for many hours, walking politely next to their human on a rushed walk, not stealing deliciously smelling food off the table, and leaving the fluffy couch alone, definitely wouldn’t make the list for most dogs.
The movie “The secret life of pets” shows this in a fun way, and gives food for thought for us humans.
Our dogs have breed-specific needs
For a long time, humans have bred dogs to excel at specific traits. Some folks needed help with herding and protecting their sheep, which led to the breeds of Border Collie or German Shepherd. Others wanted sledge dogs that could handle the cold and were strong long-distance runners, which led to the breeds of Alaskan Malamute and Husky. While hunters appreciated the fearlessness and persistence of breeds like Beagles and Hounds.
But today, most people choose a dog as a family member and focus much more on aspects like the dog’s look and size, instead of the functions the dog was genetically bred to fulfil.
So, we need to be aware of what our dog was originally intended to excel at and implement aspects of that in the life of our dog. This could be running long distances, hunting, sniffing, or solving challenging tasks. But no matter what your dog was bred for, each dog will need daily mental and physical stimulation.
Why is it important to read the signs of boredom?
If we don’t give our dogs the appropriate amount of daily activation, it will have negative consequences for your dog’s wellbeing. As loving pet parents, we, of course, want to avoid that. Spotting the signs of boredom benefits not only our dog but also us. By making sure that we meet our dog’s needs, we not only ensure a happy and healthy life for Fido but also strengthen the bond between us and our dog.
The serious consequences, boredom can have on dogs’ wellbeing was highlighted by a recent study which was conducted by the ‘The Royal Veterinary College’. They looked into the effects boredom can have on dogs and found out that those can be severe. Dogs that experience boredom regularly have a higher chance of becoming sick and developing mental health issues, which can result in a decrease in life expectancy. That’s why pet parents need to be able to spot the signs of boredom to be able to take action.
Learn how to spot the signs in your pooch
So now we know how important it is for us pet parents to be able to spot the signs of boredom in our pooches, but what are the signs we need to look out for?
While a torn-up couch is easy to notice, you also want to watch out for the more subtle signs that your dog is trying to send. Dogs are individuals, so the way they express boredom can be different from dog to dog. If you notice any of these signs, you should include more activation in your dog’s daily life:
- Restlessness: When dogs don’t have the chance to get rid of their energy during the day, they have trouble settling down and relaxing.
- Attention-seeking behaviour: Do you feel that your dog begs for cuddles, scratches, and playtime a lot lately? Try to include some more stimulation in his day.
- Destructive behaviour: Bored dogs want attention, and destroying things in the house will definitely get them that. Don’t be mad at your dog, but think about giving Fido more human-approved activities to blow off steam.
- Obsessive barking: Your dog knows what triggers your reaction. Just telling your dog to stop barking won’t do the trick in the long run. Find fun ways for both of you to include more activation in your daily routine.
- Increased drowsiness: Dogs sleep a lot during the day. If you notice that your dog hardly does anything else, it’s time to include more action in his day, though.
Now you know which signs of boredom to watch out for in your dog. But what can you do when you find out that your dog is bored?
In our next blog post, we will show you different ideas for you and your dog. So that boredom becomes a thing of the past.
Until then, grab the leash and go for an adventure walk outside with your dog. Also, check out our collection of mentally stimulating DIY videos or join our mental workout group on Facebook to get inspiration from other dog lovers.