Dying of Boredom

November 15, 2017

Is your dog bored? Sadly, many dog related issues stem from a lifetime of boredom. Pets Training & Boarding examine the effects boredom can have on the life of your beloved canine companion.

Boredom, without a doubt, is one of the biggest issues facing many canine companions across Australia and beyond. Sadly, many pet owners do not understand the impact boredom can have on their beloved dog.

Kirsten Lambros, Senior Dog Handler from Pets Training & Boarding knows first-hand the impact boredom can have on the behaviour of a dog.

“Boredom is a major contributing factor to problem behaviour in dogs,” she says. “It can lead to destructive and obsessive habits which can sometimes be difficult to reverse and is often misunderstood by many dog owners.”

The symptoms of dog suffering from boredom can differ but mainly includes those behaviours humans deem as ‘naughty’. The main ones being;

  • Chewing
  • Digging
  • Barking/howling
  • Destructive behaviours (ripping washing off the line etc)
  • Escaping

“At least 50% of all dogs, under the age of three, are brought to our centre for problematic behaviours stemming from boredom,” Kirsten says.

Prevention will purely depend on the type of breed and energy levels of your dog. However, utilizing a good dose of exercise, training and routine is important.

“Just like people dogs thrive on routine, this often eliminates anxiety and reduces boredom somewhat, as expectations are fulfilled in a routine – however – working dogs, for example, need to work,” Kirsten warns.

Pets Training & Boarding also recommends considering the breed of dog you choose based on lifestyle matches instead of looks. Locking a working dog in a backyard all day, is a recipe for disaster. Doing your homework on the requirements of the breed before purchase is paramount in preventing behavioural problems later down the track.

“To prevent boredom; introduce hardy chew toys, a playmate, arrange play-dates with similar tempered dogs (through a walking service), take your dogs for long walks early in the day and engage with them at a good pace,” Kirsten suggests. “The stuffing in your lounge is the next best things to a toy stuffed with treats.”

Sadly, poor understanding of breeds and the work that is required in averting boredom-related behaviours, creates the misconception that the pet is at fault. 

“Obedience can assist in conveying to your pet which behaviours are not acceptable but ultimately boredom results from a lack of engagement with your pet and destructive behaviours kick in when the owner is not around,” Kirsten says. “Dogs are often mislabeled, and this is why so many of our shelters are over-flowing.”

TIPS TO PREVENT BOREDOM

For dog’s it’s really important they are adequately exercised on a daily basis. Walking a dog is simulation not only for the muscles and bones but also the brain! Sniffing scents, leaving marks on lampposts, having a quick chew of grass is like reading a good book for the average hound. A well -exercised dog is happy, content and is less likely to become destructive.

  • Puzzle toys and treat balls – only use these when you leave the house and remove from your dog’s environment when you return. Also ensure you take the biscuits from your dog’s daily diet or you may end up with a happy, overweight pooch.
  • Rotate toys – purchase toys that are only for when you leave the home and remove when you return. Then change these up daily. You’ll extend the life of the toy and also starve off boredom.
  • Training – can provide simulation, improve the human/dog bond and help with destructive behaviours.
  • Specialised alone toys – these are wonderful interactive toys for dogs. They can be chew-balls or plastic bones, or pulling toys that hang from fences/trees. Again, removing these when you get home is the key to ensuring your dog is kept interested.
  • DIY – get creative. Think about things your dog would like to do when you are not home. In the summer; freeze ice-cream containers with some biscuits inside (a push around ice-block with goodies), or a shallow kids pool to splash in. Hide treats around the yard. Use a child’s clam-shell pool and pop some sand inside and hide their favourite toys or treats in the sand.

If your dog is still exhibiting signs of destruction and you are sure your dog is adequately exercised and stimulated it is important to seek professional advice from a dog trainer or vet as your canine friend could be experiencing separation anxiety.

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