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So, you had this idea of all the adventures that you would like to go on with your furry friend and how you would go hiking, cycling, backpacking and all those other fun things. And now your pup just wants to stay inside, sleep and pretty much doesn’t do anything? If this is the case, you probably started wondering: is my dog bored or tired? Or is he just a really lazy one?
In this post I’ll show you the different signs so you always know how to react appropriately.
But let me tell you straight away: A tired dog and a bored dog will show very different signs. Here are some indications to find out what’s going on with your dog:
Concerning boredom, signs are usually very obvious. A bored dog will find himself something to do, trust me! And most of the times, his creativity isn’t really appreciated by us humans.
If your dog’s just lying around and gazing into the distance, on the other hand, he is most likely just tired and not bored. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Now laziness is a different story. Some dogs are indeed just lazy and don’t want to walk for more than 30 minutes, let alone hike!
Is my dog bored or tired?
You’ll be able to tell the difference between dog boredom and a tired dog very easily. So the question is less “is my dog bored or tired?” It’s probably more “is my dog tired or lazy?”
Let’s look at the different signs and you’ll quickly know what I mean.
How do I know if my dog is bored?
Bored dogs are very similar to bored kids. Think back to those times on Sunday mornings when your parents wanted to sleep in.
I remember me and my sister being super annoying to our parents and waking them up early because we didn’t have anything to do. Or we would find ourselves something to do, which was in most cases something our parents wouldn’t appreciate. Like that one time where we poured all of our dad’s (many) perfumes to fill the bottles with finger paint. Yeah, we had a blast…
Signs for dog boredom
So let’s look at the signs for dog boredom. In the far majority of cases, a bored dog won’t be lying around. On the contrary, he’ll be very active.
When a dog is bored he’ll usually find himself something really funny to do! Most of the time that means sniffing around your house or flat and tearing something apart.
Or he’ll look for something to chew on. And believe me, those leather shoes are just irresistible!
Dogs also love to dig, in your couch, for example…
If they don’t try to entertain themselves, they’ll annoy you until you give him something to do. Some pups might also whine or bark at you.
When Baloo is bored he starts walking around uneasily. If I don’t react he starts whining and jumping up on me. Of course, I don’t react to that but I make myself a mental note that I should probably interact with him a bit earlier next time, before he gets bored!
Here’s a good summary:
Now there are some dogs who will just lie around even if they’re bored. For those kind of dogs it’s difficult to distinguish whether they are lazy or bored.
You’ll probably be able to tell the difference by how your dog reacts to activities. Is he happy and always keeping up with you? Or is he walking very slowly and far behind you? In the first case, your pupper was probably bored, in the second probably tired or lazy.
Another sign is that he’s staring at you while lying there. This is also an indicator that he’s probably bored.
But as I’ve said, these are rare cases! Most bored dogs are really easy to spot because they can’t sit still!
My dog is bored what can I do?
I’ve got a whole other article dedicated to this topic, in case you want to go deeper.
If your dog’s bored it’s pretty easy to change this, especially if you like going outside. An easily bored dog will love adventures! If you need some inspiration, check out my 11 daytrip ideas with a small dog.
Activities and sleeping hours can also be spread over several days. If you are very active with your dog on the weekend and go camping, cycling or hiking during both days, your dog will be happily sleeping throughout most of the coming 2 to 3 days with a few shorter walks being enough.
It’s generally important that your dog gets both physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise is great but dogs are often bored mentally. If you don’t know where to start, here’s an article about how to mentally stimulate your dog.
The easiest way to combine mental and physical stimulation is to walk different routes and let him sniff. Sniffing is super interesting and tiring for your pup. Most days I just let Baloo sniff on all our daily walks and he’s perfectly happy without any additional indoor mental stimulation.
As a rule of thumb, 10 minutes of intensive sniffing is equal to 1 hour of walking. If your dog can sniff around (sniffing games are also excellent) for more than 10 minutes per day and has different activities during about 4 hours per day, it is very unlikely that he’s still bored!
If you’re rather looking for things to do indoors, I’ve got a great choice of 21 fun things to do with your dog at home here.
Related topic: Mental stimulation can be a wonderful tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation!
Give him lots of things to chew
Boredom can cause anxiety for dogs. And this anxiety is best relieved through chewing. This is why bored dogs like to chew on your furniture or your shows.
So, it’s best to just redirect this desire to lots of chew toys like this one.
If you’ve got a heavy chewer, a subscription box such as BoxDog might also be a great idea. You only need to subscribe once, and you get a box every 3 months delivered to your house. Definitely the easiest way to release some puppy energy!
I particularly like BoxDog because of 3 reasons:
- They send their boxes quarterly, so you don’t get overwhelmed by piling treats and toys from receiving a box every month.
- Each box contains handmade cookies.
- You can build you own box, so you can choose exactly which toys your puppy likes. How cool is that?
They currently even have a limited promotion going on where you get a free memory foam dog bed with your first box. Get your first box here.
Is my dog tired or lazy?
Now that you know how to spot dog boredom, let’s look at the second question: is my dog tired or lazy?
How much sleep does a dog need?
Dogs sleep a lot!
An average dog should sleep around 18 hours per day (24 hours). By sleeping I also mean relaxing, just not actively doing anything. The time where they are actually in deep sleep is about 12 to 14 hours per day.
This may sound like a lot but if you think about it, it means that your dog would be ready to have some sort of activity for 6 hours per day! For most dog owners it’s impossible to provide this much activity for their dog. So if there is only something interesting going on for, say, 4 hours per day, your dog can relax during the remaining 2 hours where he would be ready to be active.
Sleeping is kind of a default manner of dogs if they don’t have anything to do. If your dog gets at least 4 hours of activity each day and sometimes a bit more, like on the occasional camping or hiking trip, he should be fine.
Activities can be walks, playtime, eating/drinking, sniffing, exploring, chewing his bone, etc. Anything, where he is not just lying around. The amount of sleep a dog needs also depends on the activity he’s getting during his waking hours. Sniffing, as I’ve mentioned before, is much more tiring than just walking. New areas involve new smells and are therefore much more intense than known territory.
Puppies will need even more sleep, 20+ hours are completely normal.
I’ve covered the question “how many hours a day should a dog sleep” in-depth in another article.
Why is my dog so lazy?
Some dogs are lazier than others by nature. Some examples of less active small breeds include the following:
- Shih Tzu
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Boston Terrier
- French Bulldog
As always, there are exceptions. I’ve heard of Frenchies who love to hike and I know a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who does Agility.
I’ve also written a whole article about lazy dogs, the reasons for their behavior and how to get them to be more active.
Signs that your dog is lazy
Dogs communicate with body language. Of course, they can’t tell you how they feel but once you know what signs to look for, it’s fairly easy to know what’s going on on a dog’s mind.
If your dog’s the lazy kind he’s probably usually pretty slow. He’ll lie around and sleep for most of the day. On walks, he’s pretty slow, often walking behind you. For lazy dogs this is always the case so no need to worry. Just make sure that you keep walks short and adapt to their pace.
If an active dog shows these signs it’s very clear that he’s tired. It’s important to note that most active dogs can’t stop themselves when they’re tired.
Some dogs will just sit or lie down when they’ve had enough, but most don’t! So it’s your job to intervene. If your pup behaves like this, don’t force him on longer walks or hikes. This is the time when you should take out your doggie backpack (I can highly recommend the one from Petsfit) and let your pup have a nice snooze on your back.
So the easiest way to distinguish laziness and tiredness is really to compare his behavior with how he acts normally. If he’s generally sleeping a lot and is not very active, then he’s just more of a couch potato. There’s nothing to worry about!
Can you get a lazy dog to be more active?
It’s certainly possible to engage your dog in being a bit more active. This is especially important if your pup is overweight, which can easily happen when he’s a lazy one. In this case you can train him to work for his food. Go on walks and distribute his food over the whole period, giving him portions every few seconds or minutes.
Some dogs will be stubborn! They will do the essential to get enough food and then strike.
I wouldn’t force it.
The benefit of having a small dog is that you can carry him. For longer trips just have your doggie backpack with you and it will be much less stressful for you and your pupper.
Is my dog bored or depressed?
If your pup is always lying around, some dog parents are also wondering: is my dog bored or depressed?
Again, a bored and a depressed dog will show very different signs. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s highly unlikely that a bored dog will just lie around. On the contrary, he’ll find himself some boredom busters!
A depressed dog acts pretty much the way you’d expect him to: sad.
He’ll probably wag his tail less, but there will likely also be other signs, such as:
- apathetic behavior
- sleeping all the time
- lack of appetite
- excessive paw licking.
If your dog’s showing several of these signs and his behavior has changed recently, it’s a good idea to visit a vet. Because along with dog depression, these symptoms could also be a sign for another physical problem.
Speaking of vet: have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!
He’s a good summary:
The question whether your dog is bored or tired can be answered very easily. If your dog shows signs of boredom, he’s your perfect adventure partner! Take him everywhere where he can roam, sniff, explore, he’ll adore you for it! This is the easiest cure for dog boredom. So when you come home from a trip, he’ll happily go to his bed and sleep for the rest of the day or night, instead of chewing on things or annoying you.
To distinguish tired and lazy dogs can be a bit more tricky. The easiest way to tell is to compare your dog’s current behavior with how he usually is.
For active humans and lazy dogs, a dog backpack carrier is the perfect solution! Check out my post comparing the 6 best dog backpack carriers to find the one that suits you best! And if your dog is snoozing away most of the day, be happy about it. This means your doggo is even-tempered and perfectly happy with the amount of exercise he gets!