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My dog is bored what can I do?
If you’re asking this question, chances are you have a little 4-legged destroyer at home, right?
Or maybe your pup is home alone during the day and you worry that he might not know what to do with all that time.
Or is your pup sleeping all day and you fear that he needs more entertainment?
Well, not in all cases your dog is actually bored!
In fact, the vast majority of bored dogs will become destructive, vocal or in some other way annoying. A bored dog will try to find himself something to do, don’t worry about that!
So, let’s first find out if your dog is actually bored. And then I’ll show you what you can do about it, including some great boredom busters, so that you finally know the answer to the question: my dog is bored what can I do?
My dog is bored…
As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, not all dog behaviors, that look like your dog is bored, mean that that’s actually the case.
If you’re wondering about what to do if your dog is bored you should first find out if your assumption is actually correct.
Is it normal that my dog sleeps all day?
If your dog sleeps all day, I’d like to congratulate you on your luck!
It’s important to know that 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 a dog is actually in deep sleep is about 12 to 14 hours per day.
So, if your dog is sleeping all day, that’s perfectly normal!
Have you ever seen street dogs? I’m always amazed by how relaxed they can sleep in the middle of a busy town. Not all of them but I’ve seen lots of street dogs happily sleeping through the better part of the day in a super busy neighborhood!
This is where you can best observe a dog’s natural behavior!
The problem with domesticated dogs is often that they don’t get to sleep that much because they’re overstimulated. Dog parents want their pup to be happy and give them toys upon toys and attention upon attention.
And I’m no exception here!
When I first got Baloo as a puppy, I was always worried that I’m doing too little with him.
Well, turned out his hyper behavior was actually caused because he was overtired…
How do I know if my dog is bored?
So, if your dog sleeps all day, I can assure you, he’s not bored!
In fact, he’s perfectly happy because he gets enough action for his 6 or so waking hours.
If your dog is constantly chewing on your furniture, emptying the trash, barks or whines a lot and generally tries to get your attention for a long time, that’s a pretty clear indicator that he’s bored. Another possible sign is if your dog is constantly digging under your fence.
But attention: it can also mean he’s overtired!
As I’ve just said, I probably did too much with Baloo when he was a puppy. Puppies need even more sleep and you shouldn’t do more than 5 minutes of activity per month of age at a time!
But also for adult dogs it’s important to keep their amount of sleep needed in mind.
So, before you keep reading, think about how much sleep your dog gets per day. Is it much less than 18 hours? Then better do a little less for a while and see if your dog can calm down.
In my free pdf guide I’m giving you an outline to get your hyper dog to calm down. Most important is to find the right balance between activity and sleep. And a good routine is also essential. This is what worked for Baloo and I’m telling you, he’s got a lot of energy!
So, make sure you check it out!
In case you’re not sure if your dogs hyper behavior means that he’s overtired or bored, make sure to read through the 10 sings and symptoms your dog is overtired or exhausted.
Why is my dog bored?
Now that you’ve thought about if your dog really actually is bored, let’s go to the next question: why is my dog bored?
Dogs need physical and mental exercise. Just like for humans, it’s not healthy to only be physically active or to only think without moving at all!
It’s the same for your dog. Most dogs get physical exercise. But not many need to work their brain!
This can easily lead to boredom.
If you don’t know where to get started, check out my article on how to mentally stimulate your dog.
Do dogs get bored at home all day?
So, this comes back to your dog’s daily need of sleep. If he gets a good, long walk in the morning and in the evening and also some mental stimulation and playtime with you when you’re home, he’s most likely fine. If he’s still destroying your furniture while you’re gone, then you might need to overthink his need of exercise.
Some high energy dogs will need at least 2 hours of physical exercise and some mental exercise daily to be happily sleeping while you’re gone!
However, if he’s chewing on your belongings while you’re gone he could also be suffering from separation anxiety.
If he’s sleeping without destroying anything or being vocal, then he’s fine!
My dog seems bored
Now I just quickly want to touch on some more comparisons between boredom and other dog behavior.
Is my dog bored or tired?
So, this is what we’ve been talking about so far.
About 99% of dogs won’t be sleeping when they’re bored. Bored dogs will find themselves something to do!
To get a more in-depth comparison between the 2 behaviors, check out my article on that exact question.
Is my dog bored or depressed?
Now, depression is a whole other story.
Yes, dogs can get depressed. But that behavior is completely different from a bored dog!
Depressed dogs often become lethargic. They’re not interested in much, other than hiding somewhere and sleeping. This behavior is often suddenly caused by an event, such as after his dog friend died, or you moved somewhere where he doesn’t feel comfortable.
To find out more about dog depression, go over to my article about the question: is my dog bored or depressed.
Is my dog bored or lazy?
The answer to this question is similar to the question: is my dog bored or tired.
Dogs definitely have different energy levels.
As you probably know by now, Baloo is a very high energy dog. My parents first dog, a Golden Retriever, was super chill compared to Baloo, though.
So, it’s absolutely possible that your dog is fine with less than 2 hours of physical and mental exercise per day.
I also talk about the laziness factor in my article on the question: is my dog bored or tired.
My dog is bored what can I do? 5 boredom busters
Now that we’ve got all the questions about whether your dog is actually bored out of the way, let’s look at what you can do to help your dog be less bored.
So, here’s a list of some boredom busters that will make your dog happy.
1. Let him sniff on walks
This is one of my favorite ways to mentally exercise my dog. You don’t need more time, you can combine it with a walk and your dog loves it!
Sniffing is like reading the papers for your dog. It’s a lot of information to take in and so many smells to distinct from one another.
Related article: why is my dog sniffing so much?
This is very tiring. In fact, 10 minutes of intensive (!) sniffing is equal to a 1 hour walk.
2. Take him for a hike on the weekend
Most dogs love to go on hikes!
This means new territory to sniff, new doggy friends on the way and lots of physical exercise! The good thing about a daylong hike is that your dog will be pretty relaxed for another 2 or 3 days to regain his energy. So, take a hike on Sunday and your pup will happily snooze pretty much all of Monday and Tuesday away.
3. Give him his food through puzzles
Instead of just giving him his bowl, put his food in a food puzzle, so he has to use his brain in order to get the food.
Another easy way to do that is to spread his food in your backyard and let him sniff it out!
Here are a few examples of self-made food puzzles:
4. Teach him some obedience or a new trick
Learning new commands is quite demanding for dogs. They have to focus on you and figure out what they need to do.
If you do this regularly, it will significantly relax your dog.
I also like to incorporate some obedience in my walks. I’ll let him walk heel for a while, then I let him sniff. And I also play fetch when he’s off-leash where he sometimes has to find the ball in the high grass and return it into my hand.
5. Find a dog sport
Baloo and I do dog agility once or twice a week.
This has also helped a ton to get him more relaxed and much less bored!
It’s the perfect combination between physical and mental exercise. Because he has to watch me and listen where he has to go next while he’s running full-speed through the course.
He’s always pooped after training which will also last for a good day or so 😉
Here are some more ideas for dog sports.
For more boredom busters, check out my 21 fun things to do with your dog at home.