It’s not always easy to recognize boredom in children and adults; we may seem fidgety, depressed, or disconnected, depending on the individual.
The same holds true for our dogs.
While they may not come out and say “I’m bored,” dogs definitely tell us in many ways that they’re under-challenged and not getting enough activity and mental stimulation in their environment.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Bored
“Boredom can cause dogs to exhibit destructive behavior such as chewing inappropriate items, digging or excessive barking for attention,” explains dog trainer Diane Silver, founder of To Dog with Love, a blog that focuses on staying healthy and active with your dog. Silver trains and competes in agility with her Havanese, Rocco, so she’s very aware that her energetic dog may become bored away from the agility ring.
As with humans, signs of boredom vary between individuals.
“Each dog may exhibit boredom in their own personal way,” points out Silver. “For my Rocco, it means climbing up on me and grrring softly — which can escalate into barking — until I give him some attention or play a game with him.”
The slower pace of bad weather days can lead to boredom, so Silver suggests watching for those signs during less active times.
“Just like with people, dogs can get cabin fever. And, if they are getting less exercise than normal due to bad weather, boredom can set in resulting in unwanted behaviors.”
Using Technology to Check on Your Dog
While dogs like Rocco might come up to their owners and exhibit signs of boredom in person, you can also check on your dog remotely to see if he’s bored—or just resting in your absence.
Setting up a pet video monitor allows you to play “I spy” on your pet and see exactly how they are faring in real time when they are home alone says Sandy Robins pet lifestyle expert and spokesperson for the Motorola’s pet video monitor.
“Often dogs left alone are bored and that’s when they get up to mischief such as nosing in the trash and chewing the cushions on the couch,” notes Robins.
Physical Signs of a Bored Dog
When remotely checking on your dog, Robins says to look for particular signs that will indicate a bored restlessness in your dog.
“Other signs of boredom (which is often exacerbated by anxiety) include pacing up and down and incessant barking. Some dogs will even attempt to escape by scratching the back of a door or pulling down a blind.
“Physical signs can also include chasing their own tail and even chewing on their feet. By being connected to your pet via a monitor allows you the opportunity to fix a problem that you have observed as a result of boredom.”
Whether your dog seems bored remotely or in person, boredom is nothing to yawn about—but a clue that it’s time to enrich your dog’s environment.
As dog trainer Diane Silver emphasizes, “Keep dogs stimulated with indoor interactive toys and games and try to keep up with their exercise routines even in inclement weather. The results with be satisfying for both you AND your dogs!”
First published in 2014.