My dog seems bored but won’t play – what can I do?

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my dog seems bored but won't play

It’s fun to play with your dog! Playing also helps prevent dogs from getting bored, which is important.

But if your dog seems bored but won’t play, that can be pretty confusing. There are some ways you can help your dog.

Let’s dive in.

My dog seems bored but won’t play

Playing and getting exercise is an important part of a dog’s health. Not only does it help your dog get some much-needed physical activity, it also prevents boredom.

Boredom in dogs can lead to a lot of behavioral problems. Finding ways to keep your dog busy and stimulated can help prevent your dog from acting out.

But if your dog isn’t interested in playing even though he seems bored, this can be pretty confusing.

There are several reasons why this could be happening. Before we get into them, check out these related articles:

How can you tell if your dog is bored?

The first step to helping any bored dog is to determine if they’re actually bored in the first place.

That’s because boredom can look a lot like other issues like depression. So is your dog bored or depressed? These 5 signs of dog depression can help you determine whether it’s one or the other.

Most of the time, you can tell if a dog is bored by his body language. Bored dogs will usually try to find their own entertainment, even if it’s something they know they shouldn’t do.

For instance, a bored dog might start acting antsy. He might dig in the backyard even though you’ve trained him not to.

If your dog seems generally restless and he’s getting into things he shouldn’t, you can bet the problem is most likely boredom.

My dog seems bored, but won't play, at least not with me...
My dog seems bored, but won’t play, at least not like he should!

Why doesn’t my bored dog want to play?

Do you usually play the same games with your dog? Is it always a few rounds of fetch or some tug-of-war?

The reason why your bored dog doesn’t want to play might be that he’s tired of doing the same old thing! You’d probably get bored too if you only ever played in the exact same way. The obvious solution to this problem is to try and play something different with your dog.

There are lots of great ways that you can do this.

Take a look at these related articles if you need some inspiration:

My dog suddenly won’t play with me anymore, should I be worried?

It’s normal for dogs to get bored with doing the same thing every day. If you only ever play with your dog the same way, he’s likely going to get tired of it.

But if your dog seems to stop playing suddenly, that could be a sign that there’s a problem.

If there are any major and sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, that could signify that there’s a health problem.

You might want to think about making an appointment with your vet to have your dog checked out. If he’s also displaying lethargy, excessive drooling or panting, or any other symptoms, then those are all signs something is wrong.

Speaking of the 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!

How to keep your bored dog busy when he doesn’t want to play

Bored dogs tend to get into a lot of trouble. If your dog is bored, you’re probably looking for ways to keep him busy.

But if your dog doesn’t want to play, that can make things a lot more challenging.

There are a few ways that you could help entertain your dog even if he doesn’t want to play. Here are a few tips you can try.

bored dog won't play? time to spice things up a little
Maybe it’s time to mix things up a bit.

Find out why your dog isn’t playful

Playing with your dog is one of the best ways to keep him busy and, therefore, out of trouble.

A normally playful dog that suddenly won’t play anymore can be concerning. It also makes it difficult to get your dog to burn excess energy.

One of the first things you should do is try to figure out why your dog doesn’t want to play. If he’s showing signs of illness or you have concerns about his health, take him to the vet.

If he’s not playing because there’s no variety in the games, switch it up a little.

Once you’ve figured why your dog isn’t playing, you can tackle the problem head-on.

Make toys less boring for your dog

Playing with the same toys every single day? That could be what’s making your dog not want to play.

You can help make play time more fun by making your dog’s toys more exciting. Try buying a couple of new toys as a treat for your dog and see if that gets him a little more interested in playtime.

You can also try playing new games with your dog with his old toys to make them seem more fun again.

Motivate him with food

Lots of dogs are food-motivated. That means that if you put food in front of them, they’ll be more likely to do what you ask.

If you have a food-motivated dog, then you might be able to find some ways to keep him busy and out of trouble if you involve some food.

One thing you might want to consider trying is teaching your dog some new tricks. Training is a great way to tire a dog out, especially because it also involves mental stimulation.

Here are 11 easy dog tricks for beginners.

Mental stimulation can also be a wonderful training tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can be by using mental stimulation! Or have a look at Dogpackr’s review first to see if it’s a fit for you and your dog!

Field Dogs 300 x 600

Let your dog use his senses

Playing isn’t the only way to keep a dog busy. You can use your dog’s own senses to help entertain him.

Your dog has a particularly strong sense of smell—to the point where you might be wondering what he’s sniffing at all the time! This is something you can take advantage of.

You can try having your dog sniff something out to keep him entertained.

Try hiding some treats around the house and have him sniff them out.

Get outside

If you only ever play with your dog inside, then it might be a good idea to switch things up a little.

Dogs love going outside. It’s also really healthy for your dog to go out, and the same is true for you!

Getting a little sunlight can do a lot to improve overall health.

There are lots of things you can do with your dog outside. Going for walks or checking out some local hikes are just a few ideas.

Here are some related articles that will help you and your dog get outside.

Socialization to cure a bored dog

Another great way to help a dog that’s bored is to get a little socialization in.

Hanging out with other dogs can help keep your dog’s socialization skills high, which is important.

When dogs get together, they also like to play. This helps burn a lot of energy.

If you have any friends or family members with dogs, then it might be worth trying to arrange for a playdate! Your friend will thank you for helping to burn some of their dog’s energy too.

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Try out dog sports

Another fantastic way to help keep your dog busy and burn some energy is through dog sports.

There are lots of different dog sports you can try. Whether your dog is higher or lower energy, there’s a sport for every dog.

Dogs that are particularly active might enjoy something like agility or flyball where there’s a lot of running involved.

But if your dog prefers something a little calmer, you might want to try obedience or scenting sports.

Signing up for dog sports is also a great way to make some friends with other dog owners in your area, and keep up your dog’s socialization!

Get some help to keep your dog busy

Sometimes it can be hard to get your dog the daily stimulation he needs. This is especially true if you have to leave the house for long periods of time.

But even if you can’t be home with your dog, you can still find ways to keep him busy.

These 11 tips to keep your dog from being bored when home alone can help you keep your dog entertained even when you’re not there with him.

If you’re still having trouble keeping your dog busy when he’s alone, then try hiring a dog walker. This gives your dog the chance to get out and stretch his legs, and it’ll give him something to do when you’re not home.

FAQs around bored dogs and not wanting to play

We’ve gone over the essentials of dog boredom and how to keep your dog entertained, but you might still have some questions.

Here are the answers you’ve been looking for.

Do dogs get bored lying around all day?

Dogs spend a lot of time resting. You might be wondering if it’s boring for your dog to just lie around all day.

No, dogs don't really get bored lying around all the time.
No, dogs don’t really get bored lying around all the time.

While it’s important for dogs to get in enough activity and stimulation, they also need a lot of rest. A dog’s sleep cycle is different from a human’s and they tend to have lighter sleep. That means that they generally need more sleep to feel well-rested.

If your dog is sleeping or resting around 10 to 14 hours a day, that’s completely normal and not a sign of boredom.

Is it normal for dogs not to play with toys?

Different dogs have different styles of play!

Some dogs love playing with toys, while other dogs prefer other methods of playing.

If you want your dog to play with toys, you can encourage that through positive reinforcement dog training.

Whenever your dog plays with one of his toys, reward him with a treat or through extra playtime. This will encourage your dog to keep playing with his toys.

Am I too boring for my dog?

If your dog won’t play with you, you might be wondering if you’re just too boring for him!

It’s certainly possible that if you don’t play enough with your dog, or if you don’t change things up enough, he could get bored.

You can get your dog interested in play with you again by trying something new! Try playing a brand-new game, or bring some new toys home for him to check out.

How do you cheer up a depressed dog?

Dogs can get depressed just like humans. The best way to help cheer up your depressed dog is to figure out why he’s depressed in the first place.

Some dogs get depressed when there are major changes to their routine, in which case it will just take time to get used to it!

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However, dog depression could also be a sign of another health issue. If you’re concerned about your dog’s depression, then taking him to a vet can help.

How to entertain my dog for hours?

Looking for some ways to entertain your dog for a long time? Maybe you have to leave the house for a few hours and you don’t want your dog getting bored.

There are plenty of things you can do. One of the best things to try is getting your dog using his mouth and nose.

Hiding treats around the house can help keep your dog busy. You can also fill a Kong toy with treats and peanut butter and then freeze it overnight. Your dog will have lots of fun getting all those tasty treats out.


A bored dog can cause a lot of problems. But if your bored dog won’t play, that can make entertaining him pretty difficult!

Luckily, there are lots of great things you can try to keep your dog entertained. Give any of the above tips a shot to help prevent boredom even if it seems like your dog doesn’t want to play.

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