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What's Inside: Learn how to keep your dog from being bored when home alone with these 7 fun and easy tips every dog owner can do. A little secret…your dog will love them too.
Dog boredom, is that even a thing?
Yes, much like humans get bored, dogs do too. And too much boredom can lead to undesirable behavior, destruction, and even depression for your dog.
Before we get into how to keep your dog from being bored when home alone, let’s take a quick look at how to tell if your dog is bored.
5 Sure-Fire Signs Your Dog Is Bored When Home Alone
Looking for signs your dog is bored can be tricky if the boredom occurs more when he is left alone but here are some signs to watch for:
If your dog has access to the yard while you are away and you notice he is digging that might be a sign he is bored.
Destructive Behavior Outside
Any destructive behavior, indoors or outdoors such as knocking over garbage cans or tearing up patio furniture cushions or chewing on things inside that he shouldn’t be chewing on could also be a message from your dog that they are bored.
Unusual or excessive barking, while your dog is inside or out, could be a sign of boredom. It might be hard to know if your dog is barking while you are away unless a neighbor complains or you have a doggie cam.
Sudden Destruction of Toys
If your dog has started destroying his toys and this is uncharacteristic that could be a sign your dog is bored.
Inconsistent Sleeping Patterns
When dogs are bored they could respond by sleeping more. This can interrupt their normal sleeping habits at the very least but it can also cause unwanted weight gain or even muscle loss. If you notice changes in your dogs sleeping patterns this can also be a sign your pup is bored.
Signs of being bored when you are home can include following you around everywhere, whining, pacing, panting, excessive licking, and acting overly excited when you come home.
Dog Boredom or Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety goes far beyond the little whimper or bark when you leave the house or even leave a room.
With genuine separation anxiety, a dog can’t stand to let you out of his sight even when you’re together in the home. You can barely move around the house without tripping over your beloved pooch and don’t even think about going to the bathroom without a pair of eyes watching your every move.
Boredom typically results in a little destruction and happens randomly, not just when you leave your dog alone.
To learn more about separation anxiety click here to check out our post, How To Know If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety Or Is It Boredom?
Tips To Keep Your Dog From Being Bored When Home Alone
Humans aren’t the only ones who get bored. Dogs get bored too and even more so when they are left alone.
While there are many awesome ways to keep your dog from being bored when home alone, you’ll need to test some to figure out what works best for your furry friend.
We all want to give our dogs the best life so here are some tips to help minimize doggie boredom so your pup can enjoy life to the fullest.
You Can’t Go Wrong With Physical Exercise
Exercise has so many benefits for your precious dog and using exercise to minimize doggie boredom is no exception. If you know you are going to leave your dog alone for an extended period of time try to coordinate a nice walk, a quick trip to the park, or even some fetch in your yard shortly before you leave.
An excited dog who is not getting enough physical exercise is likely to become easily bored, especially when left alone, whereas a dog who is a little worn out from his walk or play can be more likely to just want to rest or take it easy while you are away.
Don’t Underestimate Mental Exercise
Physical exercise is always great for your dog but mental stimulation and exercise can work well also to tire your dog out and keep them busy.
Brain training or mental exercise can be done in many ways including as simple as working with your dog on learning a new trick. Dogs love the one-on-one time with you and because they have to think and use their brain, this is an effective way to burn off some excess energy.
You can check out Brain Training For Dogs for many other options for mental exercises with detailed instructions on how to do these exercises with your dog. Some examples are Look Into My Eyes, The Airplane Game, The Treasure Hunt, and the Bottle Game.
And what’s super cool about Brain Training For Dogs is that all of the mental games are taught in a progressive order so your pup can move easily from one game to the next.
As Simple As Rotating Your Dog’s Toys
While it seems almost too easy, simply rotating your dogs’ toys periodically can help keep your dog from being bored when home alone.
This is effective if your dog loves playing with toys and gets excited when you bring new toys home. Give your dog a few toys at a time and maybe once a week swap them out for 3 different toys. You can adjust how often you swap out the toys based on your pup’s response.
Swapping out the toys will give your dog new stimulation to keep him occupied while you’re away.
Speaking of Toys
Let’s talk about toys to keep dogs busy when home alone. Some toys are going to be better than others to keep your dog from being bored when home alone.
The best toys will be ones that make your dog think and require a little work such as this very popular puzzle toy available on Amazon.
And here is another fun puzzle toy available on Amazon.
Kong toys are also great options, especially for dogs that are tough on toys. Kong toys can provide some brain stimulation and lasting fun for your dog.
The very durable Kong Tire toy is great for strong chewers and you can fill it with treats or even put some peanut butter on the inside (if your dog is good with peanut butter) to keep your dog busy and satisfied.
And of course, this classic Kong toy is always a favorite as a toy by itself or you can stuff it with treats or line the inside with peanut butter to provide some mental stimulation and long-lasting fun for your dog.
Any toy that is durable, makes your dog think, and can keep your dog interested and busy is a great option to help keep your dog from being bored when home alone.
Turn On Dog TV – Yes, This Works
Turning on your TV while you are gone can really help a dog who is bored, but not just any TV program.
DOGTV is a great option to keep your dog stimulated while you are away from home.
DOGTV is a 24/7 channel with programs scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone. Through years of research by some of the world’s top pet experts, special content was created to meet specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing and supports their natural behavior patterns. The result: a confident, happy dog, who’s less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety, or other related problems.
There are also many options available on YouTube if you are able to access them on your smart TV, but I personally appreciate the science that went into the programming of the shows on DOGTV as well as having three different topics to choose from.
A quick note, if your dog tends to bark at dogs on TV this will probably not be a good option as this will likely encourage more barking.
Hire a Dog Walker
One great way to keep your dog from being bored when home alone is to hire a dog walker. This is especially a good option if you are gone for long periods of time. It’s an awesome way to break up your dog’s day and the physical exercise will tire your pup so he can relax until you get home.
And don’t forget the brain exercise he gets from sniffing and checking out everything outside.
An added benefit is you won’t have to take your dog for a walk if you get home late or are tired from a long day.
Is Getting Enough Attention and Physical Stimulation When You Are Home?
This is probably my favorite tip to help keep your dog from being bored when home alone. Make sure you’re tiring him out and giving him as much attention as possible when you are home.
Yes, I know we’re human and might be tired or have other obligations, but it’s very important to pay as much attention to your dog when you’re home as well as provide as much physical exercise as you can.
It doesn’t always have to be a long walk. Mix it up. Play fetch for 15 minutes, play a brain game like the ones explained in Brain Training for Dogs or if you have a pool, let him swim for 20 minutes.
Another way you can tire your dog and spend more time with him at the same time is to consider taking your dog with you on any errands that make sense. Of course, this only works if your dog actually likes going on car rides and adventures.
And don’t forget to make sure your dog is properly secured any time you take them out in the car. This is as simple as a good harness (not a collar) and a belt that connects the harness to the seat belt.
And don’t forget dog sports. Look for dog agility programs in your area. This is a fun way to burn off energy and can also help strengthen your bond with your dog.
Bonus Tip – Set Up a Daily Routine
It might sound crazy but dogs like routines. It makes them feel confident and comfortable if they can rely on things happening consistently.
I know this with my own dogs. I have two golden retrievers and I love taking them for a walk in the morning. I live in Arizona so during most of the year I am forced to walk them very early in the morning.
My girls know we get up, they go outside to go potty, I go potty, (sorry if TMI) and get dressed and they are waiting for me by the laundry room where I keep their leashes.
It’s funny for me to watch because it really doesn’t take long for dogs to get used to a routine. I feel bad on days when I am not able to walk them first thing in the morning because I know they are expecting it.
Maybe for you, it is a walk when you first get home, or a quick game of fetch before you leave. Whatever it is, be consistent and make it part of a routine your dog can count on.
Ideally, you do something before your leave that’s fun for your dog and can prepare him for his day alone and something when you get home so he always has that to look forward to as he awaits your return.
Happy Dog – Happy Human
It’s impossible for every minute to be filled with excitement for your dog, but making every effort to keep your dog from being bored when home alone has many rewards for you and your dog.
There are so many awesome ways to keep your dog from being bored and I hope you are able to use one or more of these tips to help eliminate boredom for your dog.
I hope you got value from this post. If you have a story to tell or a tip that works for you to keep your dog from being bored when home alone or want to leave a comment please do so. We love hearing from you.
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