The Perils of Boredom

Boredom is stressful for dogs.  Adolescents, especially, and young adults are often in a “seeking” mode.  They are actively looking for something with which to engage themselves.  Often their choices are not human-approved. 

Not Bad.  Just Bored.

Bored dogs can find lots to do when left on their own.  Stealing objects is a popular choice:  it often results in instant human attention and a fun chase game.  Browsing counters and tabletops usually yields something fun to shred or eat entirely.  Unstructured time in the yard can be spent chasing squirrels and chipmunks, barking at passers-by, and perhaps most enjoyable, digging.

What are our expectations for young dogs?  We must teach them which activities can be fun outlets for them and appropriate by human standards.  You don’t have a bad or stubborn animal.

Constructive Options

Try to carve out several play times each day.  They don’t have to be marathon!  Two or three daily play times of 5-10 minutes each will help.  Even if your yard is contained, take your dog for at least a 10-15 minute walk every day.  Out and about experiences are important for his mental stimulation.  These are all great ways to strengthen the relationship between you and your dog.

On the subject of mental stimulation…. It’s easy to add enrichment to your dog’s day by using food foraging toys for meals instead of the boring bowl.  Adding hard and consumable natural chews keeps young dogs independently entertained, too.

Practice “Relax”

Plenty of adolescent and young dogs are uber-busy types.  They nap a bit but are ready to react to transitions and noises.  These dogs can be taught to relax.

This exercise starts best with a leash attached.  You can sit in a chair or on the floor.  Using a “lie down” cue, place a piece of kibble between the dog’s paws.  Adjust the rate of food placement over five to ten pieces of kibble.  Refrain from talking to or petting the dog.  Limit stimulation. Learning to relax means, simply, lying down and remaining physically and vocally quiet. 

Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel   CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved

Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC