What to Do When Your Dog is Bored: A Guide for Keeping Your Dog Engaged

How To Make Yak Cheese Chew Puffs In Your Microwave Reading What to Do When Your Dog is Bored: A Guide for Keeping Your Dog Engaged 8 minutes Next What Are the Benefits of Yak Chews for Dogs?

Wondering if your dog might be bored and hungry for more mental stimulation? Not to worry -- we've got you and your dog covered!

Tan dog eats kibble out of dog dish with Mighty Paw slow feeder.

Just like us, dogs need a healthy amount of both mental stimulation and physical exercise every day to live their happiest, best lives and feel fulfilled and calm.

Why keeping your dog entertained matters

Your dog needs physical exercise to stay physically fit. That includes maintaining an ideal weight, building lubricated joints, preserving muscle mass, and burning happy, endorphin-releasing energy. At the same time, mental exercise is just as important for de-stressing and keeping cognitive fitness at any age.  Dogs are naturally curious problem-solvers, wired for "work" and opportunities to learn, make choices, and make things happen successfully.

When dogs don't get enough of the mental stimulation and physical exercise they need, it can often lead to anxiety and unwanted behaviors. Most dogs are pretty clever about making their own fun when boredom kicks in -- that's when your favorite shoe or sofa becomes collateral damage!

Let's dive into all things dog boredom

That means everything from signs your dog is sending you, to dog boredom-busting activities, and the many ways you can create an enriching environment for your pup. 

Is your dog bored?

Tan dog waits for owner to put orange Mighty Paw lick pad with peanut butter on wall.

How to spot the signs of a bored dog

Can you tell when your dog is bored? Napping a good part of the day is natural behavior for dogs, but restlessness and listlessness aren't. Additional signs of bored dogs include excessive licking, whining, pacing, and attention-seeking barking.

A bored dog may resort to destructive behavior in the process of creating self-entertainment. Recognizing bored dog behaviors is a first step toward adding activities and interactions to keep your dog engaged.

We all know our dogs are intelligent characters, and just like us, they need regular engagement with their environment, interaction with others, and physical activity to feel fulfilled and happy.

How to keep your dog engaged

Just a few simple, key activities shared with your dog every day can quickly change your dog from bored and restless to engaged and content. Dogs love playing, solving problems, sniffing, chewing, and other activities that feed their instincts and exercise their minds and bodies.

8 ideas to fight your dog's boredom:

1) Turn mealtimes and snacks into a mental exercise using dog puzzle games.

It's easy for pet parents to take mealtimes to a new level of enrichment by using a slow-feeder or puzzle bowl that engages your dog's brain while eating. Dogs are genetically wired as foragers, so working a bit for their food with puzzle toys is mentally stimulating for many dogs.

You can also spread a moist meal or a spreadable snack like coconut oil or made-for-dogs peanut butter on a lick pad to set up your dog to enjoy another instinctive satisfier and de-stresser: licking.

Chewing is right up there with licking as a hardwired, enriching way for dogs to relax. Give your pup a long-lasting, healthful chew like a yak chew, bully sticks, or stuff chew toys with nutritious food, freeze, and have them ready to keep your dog entertained.

Person spreading coconut oil on orange Mighty Paw slow feeder.

2) Play hide and seek games with your dog.

Initiating a game of hide and seek with your dog's favorite toys and treats or with you (also with treats in hand) gives your dog fun, mental stimulation and enhances the bond you and your dog share at the same time.

3) Transform your dog walks into adventures with limitless sniffs.

As much as dogs love routine and the predictable, dogs also thrive on new sights and especially new smells on their walks with you. Change or rotate your walking routes to mix it up a bit and introduce new sniffs. Try an extra long leash which still gives you safe control but allows you to let out the leash for more exploring when the situation safely allows.

4) Play tug-of-war or fetch.

Engage your dog in a playful game that provides both physical exercise and develops mental control. Your dog loves fun opportunities to interact with you, learn each other's play communications, and make eye contact.

Playing with you in "dog sports," even in short intervals throughout the day, equals a happy, tired dog in all the healthiest ways. Grab a soft frisbee or a favorite ball and have fun!

Woman and her dog play tug of war with a Mighty Paw frisbee

5) Teach your dog new tricks.

Teaching your dog new tricks or doing an easy refresher session on old tricks allows your dog to focus, channel energy positively, and enjoy the rewards of treats and praise with each small success. Dogs love to learn, especially if you train in short steps and reward all the wins along the way.

6) Set up an obstacle or agility course for your dog.

Creating an obstacle or mini-agility course indoors or in your back yard challenges your dog both mentally and physically. It's also more fun one-on-one time with you!

7) Enrich your environment.

Creating a stimulating home environment is an important part of preventing dog boredom. The simplest way is by rotating your dog’s toys to keep interest levels up.

You can also introduce new experiences. Every so often, give your dog a new toy to explore, or set up a new lounging area with different textures and access to views (an outside window, for example, if your pup isn't an alert barker). Set up comfy stations, including toys and treats, to be at the center of the action near you for whatever you're doing throughout the day.

8) Make a playdate.

Dogs are social beings by nature, needing interaction with other dogs and humans to thrive. Arrange play sessions with other friendly dogs and dog parents you know.

If your dog isn't always comfortable around other dogs or takes a while to warm up, take it slowly and always be sure your dog as well as the other dog or dogs have opportunities for consent in the interaction. Make sure your dog and others have a means to escape or create distance whenever needed to stay comfortable.

Playing with other dogs can be one of the most joyful experiences for your dog -- as long as you give your pup a chance to raise his or her paw when it isn't.

Pro tip: Remember, regular exercise and engagement is key to combat your dog's boredom.

Dog running with green Mighty Paw frisbee in mouth.

To prevent your dog's boredom before it starts, consistency is key. Find the rhythm of physical exercise and mental engagement that works for your dog and make it your regular routine.

You'll be keeping your dog's body, mind, and emotions at a healthy, even level. And you'll help strengthen your bond while you're at it!

Bonus: keeping your dog involved and busy leads to better, non-destructive behavior

Why does every professional positive dog trainer recommend good physical and mental exercise as fundamental to successful training? Because an active, mentally-relaxed and physically-exercised dog simply makes for better behavior. Your dog will be happier and calmer and you'll be able to enjoy a fuller life with your well-behaved pup who can go more places and do more things with you.

Let's make every day an adventure and leave dog boredom behind!

At Mighty Paw, we believe in helping our dogs be healthy on every level to make the most of every adventure together. That's why we're always finding ways to interact with our dogs -- to make sure we can all keep our dogs happy, stimulated, and making good choices.

Whether it's engaging "puzzle" bowls, lick pads, chews, frisbees, or whatever you and your pup need, we're committed to providing high-quality products that are safe, durable, and practical to enrich your pup's life.

Keep exploring our products for more of the best for dogs! And don't forget to follow us on social media!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.