A dog may not clearly show that it is bored. The signs are sometimes subtle. But more often than not, we don’t look for the right signs.
Some behaviors caused by a lack of activities with different causes, we can also miss the simplest cause. And if a dog can be bored because it lacks activities, let’s not forget that other needs can sometimes not be met, such as the need for interaction with humans or the need for diversity in everyday experiences.
1- Your dog is exhausting
If it is difficult for you to know if your dog is bored or not, you may be too much in comparison with the boredom in us humans. In fact, I should use a word other than “boredom”, because it encourages us to look for signs that we won’t see in a dog.
When you imagine someone bored, you think of someone twiddling their thumbs, dragging their feet, looking for something to do… someone a little “amorphous”. While a bored dog is more likely to be “in excess”. Even if other causes are possible, of course, dog educators tend to think that a dog is bored when, for example, he scavenges garbage cans, destroys objects, jumps on everyone, often barks… And when a dog seems amorphous, boredom is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind.
A dog that is “bored” does not try to be strictly speaking busy, but rather to discharge an excess of energy. This is why we can often suspect that an “exhausting” dog, who does “stupid things”, which we do not generally find “unwise”, is a bored dog.
Of course, such a dog needs to learn a few things! But you can rebalance your life in the areas of physical activity and cognitive activity, which is often a good part of the solution.
2- Your dog is unruly about food
A dog that is “unwise” may be bored and this is also a possibility when the “nonsense” is particularly (or exclusively) about food.
It is rather a dog that seems extremely greedy, that does not miss an opportunity to quickly swallow what is out there, that often looks for something that is not lying on the ground, that eventually comes to try its luck at the table, or that “steals” food at home, tears up the garbage bags (full)…
Each species has its own preferred activity. When an animal “gets bored”, it is readily expressed through excesses in this favorite activity. The behaviors do not seem normal to us (yet they are). For example, in cats, a relatively common sign of boredom is to start “hunting” excessively, feet, hands, curtains, other pets in the house, anything that moves… because hunting is their favorite activity.
The great passion of dogs is looking for food. Thus, exploring food odors is a possible sign of boredom. It can generate different “nonsense” but always in connection with food. A bored dog can give the impression that he is hungry 24 hours a day (other causes are possible with this impression).
That’s why the activities frequently favored rebalancing the life of a bored dog concern the search for food, searching for his kibbles.
3- Your dog is looking for your attention
A bored dog may not necessarily get your attention “directly”, but it is possible.
With a dog that follows you everywhere: several possible causes for this behavior, which may not be worrying and is not embarrassing for everyone, but one of them is boredom. You are the only “thing” worthy of interest in your dog’s environment, you move, you sometimes give food, thanks to you we can go out, have caresses, you sometimes use that very interesting little voice!
You may suspect that your dog is bored if he gets restless, agitated or even excited, when you move around, when you start a new activity at home, whatever it is, when you get up from where you were sitting or lying, etc. This gives the impression that in almost everything you do, your dog anticipates (hopes) that something interesting will happen to him…
If it’s small, in your home, your dog may just follow you with his eyes. When it is intense, daily and long-lasting (no matter what you do, when you look at it your dog was looking at you…), it is a possible sign of boredom.
4- Your dog is very destructive
The causes of destruction are many and varied, but a dog that destroys a lot can have this behavior because of an overload of energy.
Sometimes they are dogs that lack physical activity. Sometimes they are not lacking in them and instead need more diversity in entertainment activities. A dog needs to work on his body and head.
This is why, when boredom causes/ aggravates destruction, we gladly turn to more specific activities than usual, which require one or more learning, such as the report of objects, the Frisbee… Sometimes, simple learning is very useful, teaching words to your dog just to make him work a little, more regularly.
Excessive use of the mouth, more generally, may be related to boredom. For example, throwing yourself on a cushion and shaking it, biting a blanket, tearing what can be torn, chewing on various objects without necessarily destroying…
If the destruction is caused, or partly caused, by boredom, being able to occupy your mouth more often with a chew bone can help to put your dog’s life back in order, and any activity that requires using your mouth is also interesting, such as playing with toys.
That being said, a little more “sport” quite simply, is often very effective in parallel with “education”.
Of course, these dogs often need to learn also what can and cannot be destroyed. But in addition to learning, it is always useful to look for solutions in terms of physical and mental activities.
5- Your dog digs a lot
Although some dogs are particularly passionate about this activity, a dog may have a compelling need to dig holes in the ground, regardless of breed. And it’s not necessarily a sign that something is not right.
On the other hand, if your garden starts to look like a war field, your dog digs excessively. To keep busy, a dog in his mouth but also his paws. Digging is another favorite activity for dogs and digging excessively can indicate that a dog lacks physical activity or occupations.
6- Your dog no longer seems interested in walking
Read also: 5 Reasons To Walk With Your Dog
This problem, which manifests itself differently and can have several causes, is sometimes related to boredom. You may suspect it if your dog, healthy and generally comfortable in our world, refuses to move to more or less the same places, systematically or almost upon returning from the walk, earlier and earlier on the walkway, seems elsewhere quite regularly.
It may be a problem if you always go to the same places, the journey is exactly the same or almost every day. It is a lack of exposure to new smells, new sounds, new surfaces, The sensory experiences are always the same. This means that there are often no possible discoveries. Changing the itinerary is usually the solution.
Sometimes, the simple fact that things are repeated over and over again every day creates what can be called fatigue. Going out at 7 am, walking 10 minutes, going in, going out at noon, walking 15 minutes, going in, going out at 8 pm, walking 30 minutes, going in for those of us whose lives are framed with schedules that change very little, we must try to integrate a little surprise into our daily lives, especially outings.
7- Your dog often tries to escape
A possible cause of running away is boredom. This can be observed in a dog that crosses the garden fence but also in a dog that, as soon as it is detached, goes far and fast and it is difficult to get it back.
With a dog that spends long hours every day alone, in the house or garden, it is, of course, relevant to suspect that he is bored, especially if the time he spends with family members is not rewarding.
For a bored dog, it is difficult to control himself, any frustration is intolerable. So, in the garden, detached outside or even tied up, a bored dog can give the impression that everything is likely to satisfy his need to get active. There is a cat passing by, it smelled a smell, a dog is walking around, butterflies and this and that…
If a dog that runs away is particularly energetic, such as a herding breed or a pointing dog, it may also need to work on neurons. That is, “walking or running” is not enough to channel all this energy and more specific occupations are needed – dogs can then learn things, focus their attention on a goal.
No need to go and learn how to drive herds; agility is, for example, often a very good activity in this case or to learn new “orders”, just for the simple fact of working regularly.
8- Your dog barks a lot
Of course, behind the excessive barking is a whole collection of various causes! But when a dog barks a lot, in different situations of daily life, in the house and outdoors, on people, dogs, birds, falling leaves, TV, telephone, cars… one can suspect that an overflow of energy is the cause or partly the cause; otherwise, being able to spend more participates very favorably in the educational measures that can be put in place.
Several possible reasons. We can say that barking also releases energy, and then controlling oneself, as we have seen, is always more difficult for a dog with an excess of energy.