Here’s a simple truth: a bored dog is a destructive dog.
Anyone that’s tried to leave a dog at the house by themselves knows full well the destructive power that a canine can inflict if there’s no stimulation to keep their bodies and brains moving. When dogs aren’t sleeping, they crave activities of some kind, and if there’s not any readily available, they will find their own, even sometimes digging through a brand new sofa to find it.
It’s usually pretty easy to tell if a dog is bored; usually the tell-tale signs are things such as excessive barking, jumping, digging through the trash, antsy behavior, or even outright destructive behavior. If a dog starts showing these types of behaviors, it is important that the dog owner remedy the situation, and quick.
Usually, the stimulation that is needed looks much like the bad behavior that is being remedied. The goal is to correct the animal’s destructive behavior, and then redirect it to proper channels. If a dog is digging a lot, give them a sandbox to dig through. If a dog is jumping, build an obstacle course. If a dog seems restless, give them something to focus on. By reading a dog’s cues, the pet owner is better prepared to help solve their problems.
The problem isn’t usually when the owner is present, the problem comes when the owner leaves for work. Most people can’t afford to just sit at home and keep their dog entertained all day, so what kind of activities can a responsible dog owner leave for their pet to keep them from tearing up the house? Here’s a list of some popular (and effective) ideas.
1. Turn on the TV
It may seem silly to think that a dog will sit around watching television all day, but the lights and sounds that emanate from it will keep your dog’s interest for a while. Even if the dog doesn’t sit and watch it all day, it will still hold their interest in those intermediate periods when there’s nothing else going on. Bonus tip: turn it to Animal Planet so they can learn about other members of the animal kingdom. If a television isn’t readily available, open up the window and let them look outside.
2. Get Them a Friend!
When one dog is bored, it’s usually because they don’t have anyone or anything to play with. This is easily solved by getting a second dog. If the idea of adopting a second dog seems overwhelming, many rescues – especially those around the Lakewood and Golden areas – offer foster programs that can allow potential owners to see for themselves if a second dog is right for their home. If the two pets then bond, it could be the answer; if not, it could be a disaster.
Alternatively, some owners choose to arrange play dates with other pets in order to keep them occupied and stimulated. If a pet owner around the corner also works all day, one option may be to keep them together during the day in a controlled environment and let them spend the day together.
3. Buy Some Toys
Toys are always the first line of defense for any pet owner, as they give a pet something to occupy their mind and their body with. This can be something as simple as a block of ice, or a chewable dog toy that has a treat inside, or even a puzzle toy that lets an animal explore different things. Best of all, these can be placed inside the kennel with a pet and gives them something to do instead of sitting and sleeping.
All sorts of toys exist on the market specifically to keep your dog busy, from tug-of-war type toys, or heavy, industrial chew toys, or even interactive toys. Some owners choose to hide treats around the house in an effort to get their pet to explore, but be careful: this can have the negative effect of dogs looking for treats when there are none, destroying property in the process.
4. Hire a Professional
Dog daycare is all the rage right now, and the benefits of surrounding a pet with other animals can be boundless. Daycares serve more purposes than a regular dog boarding location, they are specifically designed to stimulate and energize the pet in addition to keeping them safe. A more simple solution could be to simply hire a dog walker to come over once a day and take the dog out for a stroll. There are people who make this a career, or simply teenagers looking to make an extra couple bucks. Either way, calling in backup can be a lifesaver.
An experienced daycare or walker may even offer services such as dog training, which can help curb some of the boredom when they’re in the house without an owner present. Shop around and find someone that is trustworthy will give pets the attention they deserve.
5. Create a Course
If an owner has an open space available, such as a backyard or patio setup, it may be possible to build an obstacle course to let the dogs run through. Many dogs enjoy running at full blast through tunnels and over hills, but this also lets them burn off energy and tire them out, resulting in a long, peaceful, destruction-free nap.
Whatever a dog owner chooses, it’s important to consider the needs of the dog first, and create an environment that allows them to grow. Sticking the dog in a kennel might seem like an easy solution, but this creates atrophy in a dog’s muscles, and could possibly lead to the dog letting out their energy in less-than-desirable ways when they are finally let out.
A better option would be to take them to a dog daycare, specifically one that specializes in dog training and dog boarding. There are several in the Lakewood and Golden areas that do just this, such as Pet Peeves. Not only will they do their utmost to help the dogs in their care grow and flourish, but also keep them out of harsh elements that can harm dogs, such as the biting cold of winter. Remember, if a human is cold outside, so will the dog be, so finding a good facility to bring them to while the owner is at work is common decency.