Most of us dog owners agree that our furry companions are part of the family. They’ve got their own personality, likes and dislikes, and a whole lotta love to give. Which makes us wonder, do dogs get bored?
If you’re like many others, you have to leave your dog home alone while you’re out at work during the day, which often means they’re home alone with little stimulation. Or maybe your work IN the house (be it a job or family responsibilities) takes your attention away from your dog, leaving them to sleep (or cause trouble) while you’re preoccupied.
As an owner, it can sometimes be tricky to tell the difference between a sleeping dog and a truly bored dog. And for others, it’s actually quite obvious your dog is bored.
Whatever the case may be, let’s unpack this a bit. We’re going to answer the question about dogs getting bored at home all day, teach you how to tell if your dog is bored, and give you some tips to keep boredom at bay. After all, they are part of the family.
Do dogs get bored at home all day?
The short answer is yes. A lot of dogs do feel bored when they are home all day, it’s simply not in their nature to be alone and sedentary for long periods of time; however, like so many things with dogs and behavior, a definite answer depends on your dog’s personality, age, and even breed.
Think about it for a second. The different types of dogs that we know and love today, whether they’re purebred or mixes, were bred with specific purposes in mind. And that purpose wasn’t to be home alone for 6-8 hours.
Many large dog breeds come from working and hunting lines, meaning their brains and bodies are ready for a constant physical job that also provides mental stimulation. Even smaller dogs or large breed “companion dogs” who may not need physical work were literally bred to have a social companion at all times.
Take these dogs and leave them home all day, and of course, they’re bound to be bored! Luckily there are a bunch of things you can do (and may already be doing!) to beat the boredom. My goal here isn’t to lay on the guilt, but to help you figure out what you can do to help Fido feel more content when they are left home.
How to tell if your dog is bored?
The biggest red flag that your dog is bored is usually destructive behavior. Behaviors like destructive chewing, sudden jumping up and nipping, digging, and even counter-surfing are all signs that your dog is bored and taking matters into their own hands.
If they aren’t provided with enough physical exercise and mental stimulation many will not hesitate to find their own outlet!
Related Reading: How to Tell If Your Dog is Happy?
Signs that your dog is bored:
- Separation anxiety
- Destructive chewing
- Behavior challenges
- Obsessive behaviors (licking or chewing body, licking furniture, digging)
- Excessive barking
- Signs of separation anxiety
- Acting withdrawn or sad
- New aggression
- Inability to settle with ease (lots of pacing, panting, itching, readjusting)
Boredom busting tips for your dog
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to make sure your dog isn’t facing boredom when you need to leave them home alone or when life gets busy.
The most important things you can do to keep your dog happy are:
- Give them plenty of exercise before a period of downtime
- Provide them with things to chew when they are alone
- Make sure they have plenty of opportunities to socialize
Tips to prevent your dog from feeling bored:
- Vigorous exercise that actually tires out your dog: this tip is number one for good reason—it’s the most important, and the one too many dog owners are unwilling to provide. It’s essential for most dogs to get vigorous exercise before being left alone (or expected to be sedentary) for long periods of time. Too many dog owners are “weekend warriors” taking their dogs for hikes, to the dog park, or on long aerobic walks on Saturdays, when really your dog should have the chance to run every single morning
- Make your daily walk more interesting: if you are good about doing a long daily walk, up the stimulation by switching up the location, your route, and the pace. You can also incorporate behavior training into the walk to add an extra component of mental stimulation
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the yard is enough: letting your dogs out into the yard, even if it’s for a long duration, is not the same as exercising your dog. This is not enough to keep boredom away for most dogs. I always turn to the example of my own dogs. We can run them with a Chuck-it for 30 minutes in the yard and they will be exhausted. But they will not be content the same way they are when they get to go on a 30-minute hike. The yard is simply not stimulating enough for many dogs
- Regular training sessions to keep their mind sharp: regularly working on basic commands, playing nose work games, teaching new tricks, and incorporating training into walks and games of fetch are all ways to provide daily stimulation
- Varied toys and chews: when your dog is alone, be sure to give them plenty of toys to chew! Chewing is one of your dog’s best tools to occupy themselves. And you want to make sure it’s not directed at the furniture. Various textures (like virtually indestructible rubber), rotating toys, and filling chew toys are all ways to keep things interesting
- Plenty of opportunities to socialize: seeing and playing with other dogs is an excellent way to keep your dog happy and beat boredom. Popular walking trails for dogs, dog parks, doggie playgroups, doggie play dates, training classes, and doggie daycares are all great options
- Create jobs for your dog: try to think of ways your dog can help out around the house. Many dogs can be trained to pick up their toys, accompany you to getting the mail, bring you their bowl or leash, or even to go get their own toy. All of these things are viewed as work to your dog, and working breeds just love it!
- Professional help when necessary (dog walkers, doggie daycare): if you are unable to stimulate your dog before you leave for the day, don’t hesitate to lean on some professional help! Dog walkers and doggie daycares are great options
- Prioritize your dog in your schedule: Remember that when you got a dog you made a commitment to their needs. You may need to shuffle things around a bit to make sure they’re getting what they need. This might mean waking up earlier, planning different family activities that can include your dog, or saying no to some social plans to be sure your dog isn’t alone for too long
- Consider their age and exercise needs: Many of the tips on this list are targeted at young, or early adult-aged dogs. Older dogs (and especially truly senior dogs) are often more content with a low key morning walk, only a few big outings a week, or even just extended time outside and some good chew toys
Looking for more detailed ideas to keep your dog happy and healthy? Our Complete Field Guide for Large Dog Owners has a TON of great info and tips related to physical and mental stimulation (plus a whole lot more).
Do Dogs Get Bored? Now you know!
So while boredom is certainly a feeling your dog is capable of, you now know there’s plenty you can do to keep boredom away. I’m willing to bet the info here didn’t surprise you too much, either. I mean, of course, your dog gets bored when they’re expected to just lay around all day!
But with some simple switches to your routine and commitment to their needs, your dog will be happy and content every day.