Bored French Bulldog looking out the window

Key takeaway

Just like humans, dogs get bored when they’re stuck in a routine, aren’t getting enough exercise, or aren’t feeling mentally stimulated. Keeping your dog engaged is an important part of being a dog owner. By incorporating new things, playing, exercising, and socializing them, you can prevent your dog from getting bored.

Do Dogs Get Bored?

Dogs are constantly looking to play. They’re always running up to their owners and nudging their noses in their faces, trying to get their attention. And the second their owner grabs a ball, it’s game over. Your pup will be begging to play go fetch for the rest of the day.

Dogs are usually filled with energy and excitement. But you’ve probably wondered before, “do dogs get bored?”.

Yes, just like humans, dogs can get bored, too. And a bored dog definitely isn’t a happy one, so it’s important to ensure you’re engaging with your dog to keep their body and mind stimulated throughout the day. 

As a dog owner, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of boredom in dogs so you can recognize when Fido is due for some playtime.

In this blog post, we’ll be answering important questions about dog boredom like “do dogs get bored when left alone?” and  “how do you know if my dog is bored?”. Learning how to keep your dog entertained is crucial for their mental and physical health, and that starts with making sure they don’t get bored.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Bored?

There are a few key signs that you should be aware of that may indicate that your dog is bored. Since a dog who’s bored may not have anyone else to play with, you’ll probably see them playing by themselves, and a lot of the time that playtime can turn destructive. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to be aware of the signs of boredom early on.

Signs of boredom in dogs

Some of the most common signs of dog boredom include1:

  • Chewing on furniture and shoes
  • Shredding pillows
  • Unrolling toilet paper
  • Digging holes in your background
  • Knocking over trash cans
  • Jumping on you
  • Barking excessively
  • Stealing items 
  • Counter surfing

As you can tell, most of these are ways for your dog to get your attention. It’s their way of telling you “Hey! I’m bored! Come play with me.” But since dogs can’t speak, they have to revert to more drastic measures…like making a mess of your entire house.

All of these signs are very obvious, so you’ll probably be able to tell fairly early on if your dog is bored. And if you’re starting to come home to a mess more frequently than not, that means you need to take some additional measures to stop your dog from getting bored – for both your and their sake. This is because destruction can be a sign of a more serious behavioral disorder, like noise phobia, separation anxiety, and distress. 

If you suspect a behavioral issue is the underlying case of their destructive tendencies, it’s best to take your dog to the vet. Make sure to use a video camera to obtain footage of what your dog is doing. This will allow the vet to see what’s going on and provide a custom treatment plan.  

10 Ways To Keep Your Dog From Getting Bored

Boredom isn’t healthy, mentally or physically, for a dog. While it may be inevitable that your dog gets bored from time to time, you should still do your best to keep them engaged.

Here are 10 easy yet effective ways to keep your dog from getting bored:

1. Make Sure They’re Getting Plenty Of Exercise

Exercise is a great cure for boredom– for both humans and dogs! So if you notice your dog has been a bit more reckless than usual, it might just be because they’re not getting enough exercise. 

The amount of exercise a dog needs will differ for each type of dog and their breed, size, age, and health condition. For example, a puppy will have a lot more energy than an adult dog, so they’ll need a lot more exercise.

Dog breeds like Border Collies and Belgian Malinois are considered high-energy dog breeds, so they’ll need more exercise than low-energy dog breeds, like Bulldogs or Basset Hounds.If your dog has a certain medical condition that may hinder their ability to exercise, it’s important to discuss other alternatives with your vet to keep your dog healthy.

There are many ways you can exercise with your dog, but one of the best is to just bring them along to your workout. For example, if you’re going on a hike, bring them along for the adventure. That way they get to exercise and spend time with their owner. Talk about a win-win situation.

Some other good forms of exercise for dogs include swimming, fetch, dog sports, and even hide-and-seek. It doesn’t matter how you exercise with your pup, as long as both of you break a sweat and have fun while doing so.

2. Invest In Interactive Toys

A lot of dogs get bored when their owners aren’t around, and a good way to combat that is with interactive toys. Interactive toys are a great way to keep your pup entertained, even when they’re home alone. 

Types of interactive toys

Some examples of interactive dog toys are:

  • Kibble-dispensing push toys
  • Kibble-dispensing puzzles
  • High-tech toys (e.g. automatic treat tossing toys)
  • Hide-and-seek toys (e.g. interactive plush that allows your pet to sniff out a hidden plush)
  • Responsive toys (e.g. automatic ball launchers)

Not only are these toys a great way to keep your dog’s boredom at bay, but they’re also very beneficial for your dog’s mental health. Interactive toys provide mental stimulation, which can help curb destructive behaviors and decrease anxiety

3. Make Mealtime Interesting With Food Puzzles

Although dogs love to eat, mealtime can also get boring for them. So a great way to make mealtime a little bit more exciting is with food puzzles. Not only will food puzzles help make mealtime more engaging, but they can also encourage your dog to eat more slowly. Rather than putting your dog’s food out into a bowl and letting them go at it, a food puzzle is more challenging for your pup, which makes mealtime more interesting. 

Puzzle balls and sniff mats are excellent ways to feed your dog their kibble. When providing your dog their food in this way, supervise them to ensure they don’t ingest or destroy the toy.

4. Positive Interactions With People & Other Pets

Positive interactions are essential for a dog. The amount of interaction time a dog needs varies for each pet, but all dogs need some sort of positive interaction every single day. At a minimum, dogs should have 2 hours of interaction time each day.3

Some dogs might do better at being alone than others, but it’s still important to introduce your dog to new experiences. This can be done by introducing them to other people and pets. 

5. Practice Training Exercises & Tricks

Teaching your dogs tricks is more than just something you can show off to your friends. Training exercises and tricks can actually be really beneficial for your dog’s physical and mental health. Dog tricks are a great way to strengthen your bond with your pup and improve your communication with them. 

Challenging your dog with new training commands also helps to keep them mentally stimulated, which can prevent boredom. It’s never too late to get started with training, so try teaching your dog some tricks today.

6. Don’t Leave Them Alone For Too Long

You wouldn’t leave your child alone for extended periods of time, so you shouldn’t do the same with your dog. As a general rule of thumb, a dog shouldn’t spend more than 6-8 hours alone a day.3 

Dogs shouldn’t spend more than 6-8 hours alone daily

If your dog has to be alone for longer than 6-8 hours, you should consider bringing them to doggy daycare, hiring a dog walker, or even having a neighbor or friend come by to play with them.

7. Change Up Your Walking Route

You might not think it, but your dog can catch on to your walking route a lot quicker than you may realize. So while bringing your dog out for a walk is a great way to get them to exercise, if you keep doing the same route, they may get bored of it. 

So every once in a while, change up your walking routine and let your pup explore a new area of your neighborhood. The goal of these “sniff walks” is to let your dog stimulate their brain with their nose by sniffing what they can. They’ll appreciate it more than you know.

8. Create Engaging Play Areas

It’s no secret that dogs like to dig, but having your dog constantly dig holes all over your backyard can definitely be a hassle. So if your dog likes to dig holes, you can try a digging box. A digging box is essentially an area of your backyard that is designated for digging.

So rather than letting your dog loose and having them dig wherever they please, with a digging box, they only dig in one specific area. This way, your dog can stay entertained with digging, but it won’t ruin your entire backyard.

Dogs may also get bored of their toys, so consider rotating them to ensure they’re always engaged and excited to play with them. 

9. Try New Things

Just like humans, dogs like to try new things, too! If you’ve been following the same routine with your dog and you notice them getting bored, try changing things up! Take them on a hike instead of a walk. Bring them to a dog beach or dog park where they can socialize with other pets.

In addition to changing up your routine, you can try scent training. This is a type of sport that engages your dog’s sense of smell. Plus, you can train your dog in a class setting, at home, or outside. 

10. Establish A Sanctuary Space For Them

A common side effect of boredom in dogs is stress, and when your dog is stressed, they need a safe space where they can go. This is why it’s a great idea to establish a sanctuary space for your dog where they can go when they’re stressed or bored. A dog sanctuary space can include a cozy blanket and bed, some toys, and maybe even a noise machine. It should essentially just be a place where they can go to relax.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about dog boredom so you can figure out how to prevent your dog from getting bored.

Do dogs get bored at home all day?

If you leave your dog at home alone all day, they’re most likely going to get bored. Dogs shouldn’t spend more than 6-8 hours alone, so you should try to keep your dog alone for as little time as possible. If you leave your dog home alone and bored all day, this can cause them to act out as a way to get your attention, which can be quite destructive for your home. It’s important to take your dog to the vet whenever they’re destructive at home and alone. 

Is it OK for my dog to be bored?

It’s OK for a dog to get bored occasionally, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything about it. If you notice your dog acting out due to boredom, you should actively try to prevent them from getting bored. Boredom can lead to behavioral issues in dogs, and ultimately cause them to be unhappy.

Do dogs entertain themselves?

It’s not uncommon to see your dog entertaining themselves. However, one of the first signs of boredom in a dog is that they’ll start to play with themselves since they don’t have anyone else to play with.

Do dogs get bored of the same walk?

If you bring your dog on the same walking route every single day, they’re likely going to get bored. Just like people, dogs like to experience new sights and smells, so make it a goal to switch things up from time to time and change your walking route.

Do dogs get bored of the same food?

Most dogs will not get bored of eating the same food every day. A dog’s taste buds are not as developed as a human’s, so they most likely won’t get bored of eating the same food. In fact, changing up your dog’s food can actually cause them to feel sick. So once you find a food your dog likes, you’re better off just sticking with it.

Dog playing tug-of-war with owner

Final Notes

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog as happy and healthy as possible. Make it a point to keep your dog engaged and mentally and physically stimulated by exercising them, trying new things, and taking time to play.

If you notice your dog acting out despite being keeping them entertained, they might be dealing with an issue greater than boredom. A lot of dogs experience behavioral issues which can cause them to exhibit symptoms similar to boredom. If you suspect your dog is lashing out due to a behavioral problem, you should bring them to the vet.

Dutch.com is an online telehealth service for pets where you can get connected with licensed veterinarians right from the comfort of your own home. Dutch partners with a network of highly qualified vets who are trained to diagnose and treat a myriad of pet health conditions, including dog anxiety.

To get started with Dutch, all you have to do is sign up online and you’ll be connected with a vet who can walk you through every step of your dog’s treatment process. And the best part is, you’ll get any medication you’re prescribed delivered right to your door within 7 days.

References

  1. Stephanie Gibeault, MSc. “Bored Dogs: How to Recognize Doggy Boredom (and Help!).” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 31 Mar. 2020, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/bored-dogs-how-to-recognize-doggy-boredom-and-help/

  2. Burke, Anna. “How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 30 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-much-exercise-does-dog-need/.

  3. Kearl, Mary. “Alone Time for Dogs: How Much Is Too Much?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 29 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/alone-time-dogs-much-much/.