Do Dogs Get Bored?

Have you ever wondered why your dog is exhibiting a certain behavior, are they being naughty or could it be that they are bored? Has someone told you that dogs don't get bored and you disagree? Read this article to find out exactly what dog boredom means.



Dogs are highly intelligent and social creatures. Without sufficient mental and physical stimulation, social interactions, novelty and variety, they can become bored. Each dog will have their own limits as to how easily they become bored but some, especially high-drive breeds, can become bored very quickly if they are not worked and entertained. 

A bored dog is a stressed dog. Behavioural issues can result from boredom and they are normally destructive. When dogs are bored they make their own entertainment. Unfortunately for you this tends to involve digging up your garden or chewing your favourite pair of shoes.

If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic or depressed do not assume that they are bored. In fact, this can be a sign that they are not feeling well and you will need to take them to the vets. 

For bored dog solutions, ideas and activities please click here.


Do Dogs Get Bored?
Photo Credit: BuzzFarmers


Stealing


A dog that steals food off the counter, random objects from around the house and waste items from the bin may be bored. They may be feeling a little lonely and they are seeking some attention. The last time they ran off with your shoe you chased them around for hours, which was great fun! Of course, when stealing food, they may also just be opportunistic.


Excessive Barking


A common reason for a dog to bark excessively is to get their owners attention because they are bored. However, barking doesn't automatically mean that your dog is bored as they will bark for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They become excited during play.
  • It is a learned behavior; for example, if your dog barks at you because he wants to go on a walk, and you take him on one, he will learn that barking gets you to take him out.
  • They are in pain.
  • They have obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Alerting their owners to visitors.
  • Timid dogs may bark at strangers due to fear.
  • Distressed barking due to separation anxiety (more about separation anxiety later on).

However, 'nuisance' barking may develop when a dog is bored, for example, when they are left on their own for an extended period of time. When a dog has nothing to do barking can become the default behavior. They may bark because they are attention seeking and they want you to interact with them. If they are excessively barking then it's important to determine the reason for their behavior, but boredom is certainly a valid cause.


Bored Dogs Excessive Barking
Photo Credit: Alan Levine


Hyperactive


Dogs that are very excitable and have lots of pent-up energy may be bored and in need of some extra mental and physical stimulation. Although exercise is important don't forget that dogs also need to be mentally challenged, such as via training.


Digging


Although digging is a normal behaviour, it can also be a sign of a bored dog that is trying to busy themselves. As well as boredom, dogs dig because they are trying to escape; to bury objects; they are hot and they want to dig a cooling pit; or because they are predisposed to digging due to their breed, such as terriers. If your dog is excessively digging it is important to try and understand the reasons why, and establish whether or not you should be concerned.   

 

Bored Dogs And Excessive Digging
Photo Credit: Zeus


Chewing


Like digging, chewing is also a normal behavior. However, it can easily become a problem if they are excessively chewing or chewing items not meant for them. There's a difference between enjoying a dental chew stick now and again, and chewing the cushions every time you leave them on their own. 

Many dogs chew because they are bored, but again, it's not a conclusion you can jump to straight away. Dogs also chew because they are teething, they are exploring their environment, due to separation anxiety (more on separation anxiety later) or because they enjoy it. Many dogs chew as a way of relieving stress and anxiety, which can certainly be a result of boredom.


Bored Dogs And Chewing
Photo Credit: Kid Cowboy


Separation Anxiety


A dog who has separation anxiety will often be extremely vocal, chew and may inappropriately eliminate while you are gone. Some of the signs are similar to a dog who is bored.  

However, separation anxiety is a dog's version of a panic attack. If you set up a camera and film them while you are gone you will see that they are extremely anxious, where as a dog who is bored will probably destroy your home in a more relaxed manner. A bored dog usually knows that their behaviour was wrong and they will look guilty on your return, where as a dog who has separation anxiety is less aware that their behaviour was inappropriate. They are so wildly excited when you finally return that they are unaware that you might be angry. Dogs who are generally anxious and nervous are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety, rather than those who are generally calm in nature.

For more information on separation anxiety please click here.


For ideas on how to keep your dog from getting bored please click here





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