dog looking out window

Busting Boredom in Dogs

Busting Boredom in Dogs

To say it has been a challenging year would be a bit of an underestimation. For most of us, our whole lives changed hugely. More time at home, more confusion and a change in routine.
And while it’s been an upheaval for us, we shouldn’t forget about the impact it may have had on our other family members, of the four legged variety. That’s right, a year of lockdown has also affected your dog.
Many families will have been at home much more than they would have been previously, and a lot of dogs would love this! More company, more walks, more entertainment. But now, as restrictions ease and we start to creep back to ‘normality’ we might find our dogs are heading back into more alone time.
Changes in routine can cause stress to dogs, and under-stimulation can cause boredom, and this, in turn, can cause changes in your dog’s behaviour. More barking, destruction of toys and furniture, a change in their general demeanour? If any of that sounds familiar, it could be that your pup is having a hard time readjusting.
The good news is, there are things we can do to try an alleviate this problem.  The stimulation needs of each dog will differ but the following tips are suitable for all dogs.

Get outside for a sniff and a walk

Fresh air doesn’t just make us feel good, but it’s amazing for your pooch too. Not only does exercise help to burn off excess energy that could otherwise be directed into chewing up your slippers, but getting out for a walk allows your dog to use one of their strongest senses; their smell.
Did you know that a dog has hundreds of millions of scent receptors in its nose, and that they perceive smell in a way we humans cannot imagine? Letting a dog sniff the environment on a walk allows them to enjoy a fully enriched experience and also helps to satisfy a dog’s want to ‘work’.
Try a ‘sniffari’ with your pup, allowing him to take the lead in the direction from one smell to the next.  And while it may not be practical to have walks like this everyday, mixing up the routine to give your dog these stimulating experiences each week, can have a huge impact on their behaviour back in the house.

Stimulate the dog brain with toys

To help bust boredom in dogs we need to challenge them mentally as well as physically. So, what is the doggy version of a sudoku puzzle? IQ toys which challenge dogs to use their mind to receive a treat hidden within the toy.
The iQuties range of dog toys has a wide selection of toys providing both physical and mental stimulation for your dog. Not only do they reduce boredom but they teach problem-solving skills too. With various flaps and containers to lift and flip, these toys can keep your dog well entertained and redirect potentially destructive behaviour into a positive outlet.
The majority of these toys use treats as a reward for figuring out the challenge. It is important to remember to use the kibble from their normal daily allowance rather than add extra treats on top or their waistline might start expanding!

The power of licking – why dogs lick!

If you have a dog, then you’ve been licked!  Dogs lick in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. It’s their way of telling you they love you, a way of getting your attention, it’s for grooming, and can also highlight some conditions that need veterinary attention such as allergies.  But did you also know that licking is incredibly soothing for dogs?
When they lick, endorphins are released which helps them to feel safe and calm in stressful situations.
For bored or anxious dogs, we can utilise their licking by using a lick mat. The iQuties Treat Lick Mat is a textured mat that food can be smeared on, for your dog to lick off.  The positive reinforcement of the food, as well as the action of licking, helps to reduce your pup’s stress and anxiety. It is also a great tool to alleviate boredom.

Solutions for the digging dog

Some dogs just love to dig! This is completely natural behaviour that dates way back to their wolf ancestry.  There are some breeds that are more prone to digging, such as terriers who were bred to hunt rabbits and other small game animals, but all dogs will dig to some extent, even if it’s just a quick shuffle of the pillows before they lie down.
As with so many doggy traits, the reasons behind doing them can be many and varied. Burying toys, escaping, boredom, or just for plain fun, are just some of the reasons a dog may dig. And while we don’t want to stop a dog’s natural behaviour, digging can cause some serious damage to furniture and gardens.
If you have a digger, you can create a digging pit for them filled with sand.  To encourage them into the pit and out of the flower beds, start by burying favourite toys and treats for them to find. Hopefully, it won’t take long until it’s their new favourite spot to dig in.

Obedience training for the win!

Perhaps one of the best ways to beat boredom is also one which is most beneficial to you, their owner, and that is training. Who doesn’t love an obedient dog that is well trained?!  Training helps to focus a dog’s mind and makes them use their brain. It is also a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality bonding time with your dog, giving them your full attention.
Training doesn’t need to be once a week at a class. It can be done in bite-sized chunks throughout the day and week.  It doesn’t need to take long and can be fun for both of you.

Keeping your dog active and mentally challenged will keep him happy and less destructive.  With lots of different ways this can be achieved, finding the right methods that work for you and your dog can be fun and exciting.