Is my dog bored or tired? Or maybe just lazy?

In Backpacking & Traveling by Caroline1 Comment

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’ve 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. 

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, such as destructive behavior. Also, if your dog’s in some kind annoying, like jumping around, following you everywhere, whining or showing other king of agitated behavior, it’s relatively clear that he’s bored. 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! So let’s look at the different signs.



Bored dogs can be very well compared 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…

But back to dogs’ behaviors: when a dog is bored he’ll either annoy you until you give him something to do. Or he’ll find himself something really funny. Most of the time that means sniffing around your house of 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, e.g.

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!

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.

What to do about it?

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! A walk can already tire them quite a bit if they can sniff enough. 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.

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.

Tired dog and laziness

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, e.g., 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.

Lazy dogs

Some dogs are lazier than others by nature. Some example of less active small breeds include the following:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pug
  • Boston Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • Havanese
  • Maltese

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. 


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 behaves fairly similar to a human. 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 his pace.

If an active dog shows these signs it’s even more obvious that he’s had enough and is really tired. 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 and let your pup have a nice snooze on your back.

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.



Dogs who are bored and tired or lazy dogs normally show very different signs. 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. For lazy dogs and active owners, a doggie backpack is the perfect solution. 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!


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