Boredom Busters - Part 1

  • May 15, 2010
  • By

Hunting, herding, retrieving game, killing vermin, up to as recently as the 1940's and '50s this was still the predominant "day job" for dogs. Now, most dogs have swapped this task for the simple pleasure of being our companions.

Unfortunately however, for many dogs, this has meant a corresponding drop in stimulating activity, and many dogs suffer from boredom. Boredom in dogs can manifest itself in many ways, but excessive barking, destructive chewing, digging and self mutilation are just some. This problem is especially prevalent in "stay at home" dogs. While you are at work, your dogs can get bored easily.

Before you turn to a medical solution for this behaviour, look at some simple boredom management techniques, which are easy, low cost, and best of all, fun for your dogs:

* Plan a dog friendly area - make sure basic needs like adequate shelter and free access to water are being met. If possible, provide a "view to the world". Many dogs will be entertained for hours if they are able to see passers-by and observe other daily events. So if your dogs can't see the street, consider a clear fence panel or other viewing point.

* varied environments - it's great if you can give your dog access to different types of areas - grass to roll on, shrubby area for sniffing and exploring, a rock garden for chasing lizards, a pond, a cool spot and so on.

* sandpits and/or designated digging areas - dogs love these and they are an excellent way to satisfy your dog's natural desire to explore her environment. Whether it's an allocated area of backyard or a kids clam-shell wading pool full of sand, you can lace the area daily with treats such as raw hides, hidden just below the surface.

* wading pool - many dogs love to splash in water, especially during hot days. Don't forget to throw a few (dog appropriate) toys in as well.

* bird feeder - this benefits not only the birds, but entertains your dog as the winged visitors fly down for a feed. Of course, make sure the feeder is well out of reach of your dog, and if your dog would rather bark at birds then watch them, maybe this is not the choice for you.

* table or platform - many dogs like an elevated position to view the world. Consider a sturdy table or platform that is low enough for your dog to climb on.

* Tyres and inner tubes - these are especially good for dogs that love to pull, tear and bite. Consider hanging from a tree, or on the ground with treats hidden inside.

* Balls - give your dog a range of balls. Heavy duty balls made of hard plastic that are just about indestructible, soccer balls and those made for dogs with a handle that the dog can pull around.

We hope this short list has given you some useful ideas, and we are sure you will think of others. In a future blog article, we will look at some of the food-based boredom busters, and the Most Important Boredom Buster of All!!

Just remember, as with anything to do with your pets, safety is paramount, so make sure any toys and equipment are sturdy and made from appropriate materials. Whenever possible buy toys that are designed specifically for dogs and made by reputable companies. Avoid cheap nasty toys from "dollar stores" as these don't tend to last, and many can actually be dangerous.

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