Have you ever come home to discover your dog sitting in a fluffy fairyland after tearing apart a cushion? Or possibly your dog has amazed your family with that freshly dug crater in your backyard? Have you ever wondered why your dog is exhibiting a certain behaviour? Are they being naughty or could it be that they are bored? Let’s see how to keep boredom at bay.
Dogs who are bored tend to get into trouble by looking for ways to entertain themselves. Boredom can lead to excessive chewing, barking, digging, and other destructive behaviours.
Here are a few interesting and exciting ideas that will keep your dog from becoming bored, and if implemented, will also enrich your lives together.
A walk with your pooch: This one is pretty basic but makes your bond with your canine friend even stronger. Make sure to switch up your route every now and then so both your dog and you don’t get too bored. You can also make it more interesting by changing your pace. Allowing your dog to smell their surroundings adds mental stimulation, so that the more new sights and smells the better!
Time for being nosey: Your pooch has excellent nose but he needs to learn to utilise it more perfectly. Start off with a simple game of guessing hand. Place a treat or toy in one of your closed fists and let your pooch choose which hand it’s in or you place a treat under one of four cups and have your pooch to choose the correct one. Once he becomes expert at it, you can start mixing up the cups to make it more interesting for your pooch. This game will exercise your canine friend’s mind because it will encourage him to look after hidden things. Remember to praise him enthusiastically when he finds the right fist or cup. Hiding treats around the house or playing a game of hide and seek with your pooch is a fun way for them to get some extra mental stimulation.
Give him toys: Giving your dog something interesting to play with is another way to keep boredom at bay. Every dog loves to play with toys but it is often seen dogs get bored with their old toys. You can either buy your dog a new toy to get their enthusiasm going or you can rotate their toys, giving him access to a few toys at a time. You can always make their toys more exciting by playing fetch or tug with them. Always use dog-safe toys for your pooch. Kong toys stuffed with treats are recommended.
Teach your dog the names of their toys: Have you ever wondered your canine friend has the ability to learn hundreds of words. Start with playing with one specific toy and give it a name while you do. Once your dog has learned that specific toy’s name then play a game of fetch.
Play some tug of war: Tug of war is extremely tiring and is one of the most mentally and physically challenging games that you can play with your furry friend and the best thing is you don’t need too much space to play; it can be played indoors. Just make sure your furry friend has learned ‘Leave’ command perfectly so that you know when to stop the game. Though some people would say that playing tug of war with your canine friend will make him aggressive, but this game is useful because it allows your canine friend an outlet for his natural canine urges to grab and pull on things with his mouth.
Play scavenger hunt: Your canine friends are scavengers by nature. Use this to your advantage by getting your dog hunt for his meals with a few inventive practices. Instead of a food bowl, hide some treats or favourite food of your dog around the house and make your dog hunt for his meals. You can hide one of your dog’s meals right before you leave him home alone, and he’ll have great fun. Start with some easy hiding spots and work your way up once your dog is accustomed to using his nose. You can vary this activity by doing the same in your yard so that your dog can hunt for food both inside and outside of the house.
Teach your dog a new trick: Training your four-legged furry friend a new trick gives his brain a workout. Does your dog know how to shake hands? Every time you engage your dog in a training session, you are providing him with a mental challenge. Search around for new tricks to work on. There’s always a new trick you can teach your dog. You may teach Shake Hands, High Five, Jump, Roll Over, etc. Once your dog knows a bunch of tricks step it up a notch and combine their learned behaviours into new tricks.
Assign your lovely pooch with a job: Dogs love having a job to do. Make them feel extra useful by teaching them the names of some items you wouldn’t mind them retrieving for you. Incorporating your dog into everyday tasks can help relieve boredom. It also helps build his confidence; a dog who feels useful is a happy, confident pet. There is a lot of work which you easily assign to your dog like fetching slippers, cleaning his toys, grab his
Create an indoor agility course: Agility course is best. Create obstacles for your dog to navigate. Use your imagination and come up with a set of obstacles for your dog to follow. You may use chairs as poles for your dog to navigate around. Line other chairs up and toss a blanket over the top to create a tunnel for your dog to run under. A hula hoop held in your hands can serve as a jump. Teach your dog to propel through obstacles using a hand target, and reward with plenty of praise and treats. Take short breaks between obstacles. The obedience work will keep your dog listening to you and give him a mini workout. As an extra bonus, take your furry friend on a long walk or a car ride.
Time for a doggie play date: Does your dog have some nice doggie friends? Invite them over for some play time. It’s so satisfying to see dogs engaging in play with one another, and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll have one tired dog at the end of the day. You’ll also have a chance to catch up on some chores while the dogs create their own wrestle mania in your living room.
Grooming: Last but not the least, grooming is one of the best things you can do with your furry friend; it is a two way exchange process. Grooming result in stronger bond between you and your loving pooch, help him to spend some quality time with you and also help in lowering your blood pressure. A nice grooming session is an easy way to create a meaningful interaction and keep your dog mentally and physically active. Your dog needs to be brushed, bathed, get his teeth brushed, and have his nails trimmed occasionally. A clean and well groomed dog gets more cuddles. That’s good for you and your dog. Also never forget to reward your lovely pooch with special treat after a grooming session.
(Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh and Dr Kumar Mangalam Yadav are interns at Government Veterinary Hospital, Bharatpur, Rajasthan).