I’M BORED! WOOF
I used to have a ‘shoe’ graveyard. It was a collection of my very best Italian leather shoes that I simply could not part with. Why? Because for some bizarre reason beloved Dobermann only enjoyed dining on left shoes when she was dreadfully bored. Leaving me with 10, or so, perfectly buffed lone right-foot shoes. Hence the ‘shoe graveyard’ was born along with my mission to abolish her boredom issues.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever come home to pieces of shoes, or beds, or pillows? Perhaps those crisp white towels you hung on the clothesline were pulled down and used as tug-of-war and a make shift bed? Or perhaps Fido has taken to digging his very own pool in the backyard?
Probably the worst sign of extreme boredom is endless barking. This normally occurs when you are not at home, leaving you with no idea of how much a menace your dog has become to your retired neighbours.
If you can recognise any of the above symptoms in your pooch (or your neighbours dog) chances are the dog in question is suffering from a serious case of the boredom blues. All joking aside, these behaviours can simply drive you crazy and put a strain on the great relationship you share with your pet. It can also cause friction between you and your neighbours, with Fido being locally known as “THAT” dog.
Let’s explain how boredom works. Your backyard is like a television show for your dog. The same television show on a constant re-run, day in, day out. The same backyard with the same noises, at the same time every single day. The same distant barks from the same dogs the same trucks screaming past, the same school children chattering…BORING!!
So why not turn the backyard into a winter-wonderland by tearing that expensive outdoor bed into shreds of fun white foam? Now that’s sounds much more appealing than pacing back and forth, or chasing the same old ball over and over again.
The fact is dogs get bored and easily. Certain breeds (traditionally used as working dogs) and younger dogs are more likely to exhibit signs of boredom and destruction. It’s not uncommon to hear of Border Collies rounding up the ‘washing’ on the clothesline, Jack Russell Terriers digging to China, and German Pointers woofing until their hearts are content.
So what can we do about boredom? There are some great, cheap and easy tricks you can do to eliminate your dog’s boredom when you are not at home to entertain them. The following ideas are ones that I found particularly helpful and diminished the growing pile of graveyard shoes in my home.
KONG It Up
Grab a Kong from your local pet-shop or vet. Make sure you get the size that is correct for your dog. Soak a handful of your dog’s biscuits in some water until they go soggy. Fill the Kong with the soggy pet biscuits. Seal the hole with a tablespoon of peanut butter or vegemite and freeze over night.
Switch it up. Rotate your dog’s toys daily so that they don’t get sick of the same ones. Have ‘special’ toys for when you are not home and make sure you pick them up and put them away when you do return.
This is also great during the warmer months to keep your dog entertained and cool. Grab an old ice-cream container. Fill with water, add a few dog treats and biscuits to the water and freeze overnight. Flip out onto the grass in the shade before you leave to go to work. Your dog will take hours of licking, pushing and playing while keeping cool at the same time.
Throw a handful of your dog’s biscuits over the lawn so your dog has to ‘seek’ them to find them. Just make sure with any of these tricks that you take the food from your dogs daily amount and adjust dinnertime accordingly so you do not over-feed your dog.
There are many great treat balls on the market that you fill with treats and the dog has to push and roll them to try and release them. The trick with any of these ‘treat exercises’ is to remove the toy as soon as you come home and rotate, rotate rotate.
Not only are raw dog bones good for your dog’s teeth they can also provide hours of entertainment. Freeze your bones for at least 24hrs prior to giving to your dog to kill off any bacteria. If your dog has never had raw bones before start small so you do not upset their digestive system. Always remove old bones (once the knuckle has been worn down) from your yard.
Exercise & Training
Prevention is always better than a cure so make sure you dog gets ample exercise and is well trained. Taking Fido for a walk before you leave for work or spending five-minutes throwing a ball before you go can help. Having a well trained, exercised pooch will help prevent your dog from suffering bouts of boredom.
A BIT ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Nadia Crighton is a well-known and accomplished Australian Journalist and pet magazine Editor. As a busy mum of four humans, two dogs, 50 sheep, three cats, a handful of chickens and a goat named Billy, she simply adores pets of all shapes and sizes.