How to stop your dog getting bored and restless at home
We know the rules. Staying safe – and keeping other people safe – is our top priority at the moment. Unless you’re a key worker, that probably means staying at home for the majority of the day. Which can make us a little stir crazy.
At least the house is tidy
It’s amazing what we feel driven to do when we get bored of sitting still. Has anyone else found themselves doing bits of DIY they’d relegated right to the bottom of their ‘to do’ list?
We’ve been getting round to jobs we never thought we’d do. We’ve sorted out mysterious piles of wood in the garage into bits that are usable and bits that are only good for the tip (when it reopens). We’ve washed our dusty jam jars and stored them away, ready for next January’s marmalade. And we’ve tidied up the ‘terrible kitchen drawer’, unearthing batteries, birthday candles and our best Phillips screwdriver in the process.
Is your dog bored?
But how about your dog? Are they bored too? And how can you tell? Dogs aren’t renowned for their DIY skills, so you’re unlikely to find them pottering about in the shed to pass the time.
Here are some of the top signs that your pooch is feeling restless.
Has your dog tipped the bin upside down to see if you’ve left anything tasty in there? Are you finding your socks in unusual places? If your dog’s acting up, it could be because they’re looking for a distraction.
If your dog is digging its way down to Australia in your back garden, the chances are it’s looking for something to do. They might just be following their natural instincts, but that’s no help to you if your borders are full of craters and your freshly-planted bulbs are scattered free-style across the lawn.
Could that insistent paw on your knee be a sign of pawdom? More than likely. If your dog is following you around, nudging you with their nose or jumping on your lap then jumping off again, they’re probably fed up. They want your attention and won’t stop until they get it.
If your dog is bored and under-stimulated, they may well resort to barking – partly to get your attention and partly just to pass the time. Dogs are social animals and want to spend time with you. That “Woof!” may well translate as: “Why can’t we do something fun together?”
Everyone knows that a table leg is an indoor stick in disguise. Slippers are dog toys that always come in a pack of two. Meanwhile, cushions are party accessories; when you rip them apart, they create a shower of kapok stuffing that instantly makes any room look more festive. If your dog is chewing on the furniture when they’re no longer a puppy, boredom could be to blame.
How to keep your dog happy and active
While we’re living under lockdown, we all have to work a bit harder to entertain ourselves. The same goes for our dog, especially now we’re only allowed one dog walk a day.
We’ve asked around the Lintbells office, and here are a few ideas for how to keep your pup happy, active and entertained.
Go for a walk
For your pup, it really doesn’t get much better than this. They’re outdoors with you, meeting their canine pals, chasing down fascinating scents and – if they’re lucky – a ball too.
A walk is the number one way for you to perk up your dog’s mood. Read our blog if you’re looking for ways to make the most of your single dog walk a day.
Set up an agility course
An agility course is a great way to capture your dog’s attention. As they’re working out how to move in and around the various obstacles, their brain cells are fired up and it keeps them curious about the next task.
If you have a garden, you can make your own outdoor agility course using cones, tunnels and jumps. You can make it fancy or keep it decidedly home-made. Either way, your pup will love it.
Have a tug of war
Divert your dog from chewing the furniture by engaging them in a tug of war game. It will help your dog to use up excess energy and can also help the two of you to bond. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog will obey a ‘Drop it’ command before you start, so you stay in control.
Use a specially made rubber dog toy that will keep your hand a safe distance from your dog’s mouth, and give yourself enough room to play together without bumping into anything. And, of course, let your dog win. That will help build their confidence and confirm that you are, in fact, the best human they know.
Play indoor games
- If you can’t go out or have already had your one walk a day, there are plenty of ways you can keep your dog engaged indoors.
- ‘Find the treat’ – get your dog to put their superior sniffing ability into action by hiding a treat and asking them to find it. Start by putting the treat somewhere easy to find, then progress to more difficult hiding places.
- ‘Put your toys away’ – encourage your pup to put their toys away. Begin with something easy – a toy that’s near the box where they’re usually stored. Use the ‘drop it’ command so your dog learns where to put their toys away. Then reward them with a treat.
- Work on obedience training – if your dog is a bit shaky on some of the basic commands, this is a great time to work on them together. Essentially, your dog should obey the following commands: sit, stay, down, drop it and come here. By brushing up on these commands, you’ll help your dog stay mentally stimulated.
- Chase bubbles – this is a fun game for you, your dog and the rest of your family. And if you’re on Instagram, the pictures will be irresistible. Get a dog-friendly bubble blower and treat your pooch to dog-friendly peanut butter flavour bubbles. Guaranteed to chase the doggie blues away.