Does your dog destroy the house every time you leave him alone?
A tired dog is far less likely to destroy your garden than a pooch that is full of energy, so regular exercise is a great way to stop boredom setting in. “Daily exercise is great for your dog and to make it even better, try going to different locations for their walk,” says Becky Thomas, dog trainer from Ultimate K9 on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. “Just jump in the car and go somewhere new. This will help with your dog’s mental stimulation as he takes in his new environment.”
In fact, mental stimulation can be just as important as physical exercise to help your pet stay happy and healthy. Dogs need to work their brain, so why not start or finish the day with a fun training session? “Adopt the NILIF rule (nothing in life is free) and make your dog work for his dinner and treats. It doesn’t have to be hard-core obedience; it can be as simple as teaching him high five or sit,” says Becky.
Sharon says that taking your dog on a nice long walk to start the day, together with feeding breakfast out of a food-dispensing toy, will certainly help prevent boredom behaviours. “A good 10 minutes of some challenging push-ups (sit, drop, stand, drop, sit, stand) and some stays will strengthen your bond through training and provide some mental stimulation for your dog. Make it fun, interactive and always finish on a high,” she says. “Introducing an exit treat or feeding breakfast as you leave will also help to distract your dog from you leaving and by the time she’s finished, your exit is well and truly over. This usually results in dogs becoming excited about your leaving cues as it results in breakfast or a fun food-dispensing toy to interact with, rather than feeling the stress of being left alone and potential anxiety behaviours developing.”
Boredom or anxiety?
What you think is a sign of doggy boredom could actually be anxiety-related behaviour. “Dogs will often show signs of anxiety as soon as the triggers of humans leaving the home commence, and if not treated and/ or managed it can result in a dog’s mental health suffering immensely,” says Sharon. “Anxiety-related behaviours are often more intense in nature and destruction can be more severe, which can be dangerous for some dogs.”