For centuries, dogs have been trained to walk alongside humans that they have adapted to people’s work ethic. The only problem is many dog owners don’t actually let their dogs do any work.
For one, pet food delivery services have ensured that there will always be food in the pets’ bowls. They also get toys and other treats without much effort. Even just sleeping can get them adoring cuddles and affectionate kisses from their pet parents.
While all this is normal for any loving pet owner, there is a disadvantage to this kind of setup: dogs are left with plenty of downtimes. And with downtime comes boredom.
When dogs get bored, they become a magnet for trouble. From excessive barking to destructive chewing, your canine pal may show unpleasant behaviours because they don’t get enough stimulation, both mentally and physically.
Whether you’re forced to stay indoors with your pet or simply need some activities to keep him occupied, this article offers five activities that can help you out.
Playing tug-of-war is an excellent way to challenge your canine pal, both physically and mentally. To help alleviate his boredom as you remain indoors, short games of tug-of-war can help tire him out.
Contrary to what some might think, tug-of-war won’t make your dog more aggressive. In fact, it has been found to be one of the easiest ways to help him overcome boredom and get exercise at the same time.
When playing this game, you can use old T-shirts or fleece fabric if you don’t already have a tug toy. It is also important that you remember the following basic rules to keep the game fun and safe:
- Use a cloth material or tug toy that is long enough to maintain a safe distance between your pet’s teeth and your hands. It should also be durable and flexible.
- Play this game only if your pup understands the words “drop it” or has learned a specific release command. This will ensure that you can stop the game easily if necessary.
- Teach him to grab only the tug toy or the material you use for the tug-of-war game after you give permission. To do so, hold up the toy to one side and command him to sit. To start the game, encourage him to take it. Remember that if he’s new to the game, he is bound to hesitate before following your command. If this is the case, let him grab the toy and gently move it sideways to encourage him to pull.
- Never pull the tug toy upwards; keep the movement from side to side. This is to avoid injuring your dog’s spine.
- Your dog may start growling as he becomes more excited. This is normal. However, if you believe that he is getting much too excited or things are getting too intense, initiate a break.
- Stop the game the instant your dog’s teeth come in contact with any part of your body. Yelp or say “ow” and command him to release the toy even if you’re not hurt. Once he is seated calmly, you can initiate the game again. If his teeth touch you again, stop the game. Do this until he learns to be more careful when playing.
- Never let children play tug with the dog if you’re not around to watch out for signs of overexcitement.
- Keep the toy out of your pet’s sight when not in use. Only reveal it when you want to play the game.
2. Fetch Chores Training
Aside from playing, your dog’s boredom can also be eased by doing some chores. Dogs adore having something to do, even if it’s just a simple task of fetching. Teaching them to do fetch chores can also help them feel more useful.
To begin, teach your pet the names of the items that you wouldn’t mind being retrieved. Aside from your slippers or the daily paper, this can also be something from the fridge. Just remember to tie a towel around its door handle so your canine pal can pull it open more easily.
3. Clean-up Training
Another chore you can teach your dog while you’re staying home is to clean up. Start with simple cleaning chores, like picking up toys and tucking them away in storage.
Make sure that all the toys are kept in a container placed somewhere your dog can reach. You should also teach him the “drop it” command and combine it with his fetch training.
To start his clean-up training, direct him to the items that need to be picked up. Tell him to fetch one and point towards the container. Wait until he is standing directly over the container before saying “drop it.” Once he accomplishes the task, praise him well before repeating the process.
Add this to your dog’s daily routine. Eventually, the consistency will imprint the task in your dog’s mind that he should be able to pack away his toys by himself.
4. Food-Reward Games
If you’re like many pet owners, you might find yourself loving your dog too much that you end up giving him everything he needs without making him work for it. But dogs are bred to work and giving your furry pal a life that is too easy might mean he’s missing out on many mentally stimulating activities.
Remember that dogs are natural scavengers. This means that making them work for food is neither mean nor unusual. In fact, it is natural and can even be beneficial for them.
One way to do this is through treat puzzles. Start by hiding a few treats inside each cup of a muffin tin. Then, cover the tin cup with tennis balls. Once this is ready, you can initiate your dog’s search for treats underneath each ball.
You can also teach him new tricks and reward with treats. Do this every day before feeding time or install a food-dispensing toy that allows your pet to use his mind and body before he gets to eat. Just make sure that you don’t run out of stocks of favourite food from your dog food supplier to keep the fun rolling.
Ease Dog Boredom Indoors
Dog boredom may not seem significant at first – that is, until you realise that all your shoes have been chewed out or neighbours begin complaining about your dog’s nonstop bark. Use this article to help alleviate your dog’s boredom while you’re staying indoors and watch your pup become more productive and happy at the same time.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.