Banish dog boredom

October 10th, 2013

Dogs that don’t get enough attention, exercise, and stimulation are usually the ones that develop problem behaviours as a result of boredom, such as barking, digging, chewing and destroying items around the home. Kylie Baracz reveals some ways of ensuring your dog has a more enjoyable day while you’re away.

Boredom can cause frustration and anxiety, making life for you and your dog very unpleasant. With many of us leading busy lives and hectic schedules, we tend to be out of the house and away from our furry friends, causing them to act out and entertain themselves. Jodie Sultana from Advanced K9 Communications Dog Training has some simple ways to keep your dog busy and distracted while they are home alone.

Kibble hunt

Hiding food treats around the house or yard is a great way to get your dog searching and using his nose to discover exciting things. Hide them at the base of trees, in a sandpit, behind pillows — anywhere that is safe for your pooch to get his/her nose into.

Icy treats

Freezing yummy treats such as cut-up sausage, sardines, kibble or even chicken stock in a container and leaving it in the yard is great for your dog to lick away at during the day. It will keep them out of mischief and also keep them hydrated.

Rocking out

“This might sound strange but on occasion I have put a small battery-powered radio at the back window as a way of entertaining both my bird and my dogs,” says Sultana. A radio makes them feel safe and not alone. It can “keep them company” until you get home — just make sure it is somewhere where they can’t reach.

Get interactive

There are loads of new boredom-busting toys available. A “tug-a-jug” is great as it is shaped like a bottle with a tug rope coming out the end. The bottle can be filled with treats. Many toys are designed to be pushed around to make treats fall out, which keeps canine noses busy. Interactive toys which consist of lots of parts joined together can also be stuffed with treats.

Doggy day care

Day care for dogs is becoming more and more popular in Australia. Sending your dog off to all-day minders even just a couple of times a week is a great way to give them a change of scenery and a chance to make some new friends.

One-on-one time

Many of us work long hours most days a week and spend time with friends and family at night. Hiring a dog trainer or walker to stop around for an hour a couple of times a week can keep boredom at bay as your pooch can be trained, walked and played with.

Weekly visits can be enough to keep pups happy and worn out until the weekend when owners then have time to exercise their canines themselves. “There are many dog walkers and trainers available these days; however, always look into the history and references of anyone you are going to allow to handle your dog,” says Sultana.


Getting up that little bit earlier to give your dog a quick walk or jog around the block before going to work can make a huge difference to your dog’s day. That little bit of exercise and stimulation can make them less restless during the day. An evening walk for those dogs with extra energy is a great way to allow your dog to burn off that last bit of energy before dinner and bedtime.

Working the nose

Dogs love to sniff. They love exploring new odours and letting them smell around is a great way to wear them out. Plant a few new scents around the yard each week to provide some new and exciting stimulation for your dog. Using an empty wading pool, balls used in children’s ball rooms and some treats to create a ball pit can keep your pooch busy all day. Make sure that whatever you are providing for your dogs to discover is 100 per cent safe.

Mini environments

A sand pit, grassed area or a wading pool is a great way to make the yard more interesting for your dog. If you have a dog that likes to dig up your yard, having designated digging areas, such as a sand pit, can help keep him from digging up the rest of the garden.

Other suggestions include a shrubby area under trees for sniffing and exploring; a rock garden for attracting little lizards and insects to chase; a pond without delicate plants or fish; a cool spot under the house for deep sleep and privacy; or a shady veranda close to the house, elevated and in a protected position.

Top tip

Remember to first test out your boredom-busting ideas while you are there, just to ensure your dog’s reaction to them is a safe one. Do your research on anything you are going to leave in the yard with your dog.

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