We have all been there. You come home from a long day of work only to discover the furniture is ripped up, your new pair of running shoes is torn to shreds, trash is everywhere and there’s another note on the door from your neighbor complaining about constant barking. You might think you have a bad dog who needs to be crated or professionally trained. But in reality, it’s possible your dog is bored.
Before you rush to the nearest dog trainer to try to fix your dog’s “bad” behaviors, let’s consider your dog’s life from his point of view. You’re inside your house all day with no ability to search social media, watch TV, read a book, or use your hands. The only time you get to spend outside is for a short walk. Sounds incredibly boring, right? After a few days, weeks, or months of sitting in the same house with nothing to do, you might wonder what you can do to keep yourself occupied. That’s what your dog is experiencing!
Generally, dogs shouldn’t be home alone for more than 4 hours at a time. In addition to that, dogs need up to 1 hour of high-intensity exercise every day and 3 hours of moderate-intensity exercise every day. Smart dogs need even more. Ideally, they need a combination of both mental engagement and exercise. Here are some examples of bored dogs:
- Destructive behaviors
- Excessive barking
- Begging for attention constantly
- Following you around
- Jumping on you
- Chasing their tail
- Moping around (depression)
If your dog is home alone most days and exhibiting these behaviors, he probably is bored and also could be suffering from depression.
When Might My Dog Need Training?
Obedience training is sort of like doggy manners. It teaches dogs how to respond to verbal cues and act appropriately in different environments. Behavioral training helps to reinforce positive behaviors, diminish negative behaviors and unwind bad habits. Generally speaking, behavioral training will resolve bad habits your dog has learned.
Here are some behaviors that may indicate your dog needs training:
- Jumping on people
- Leash pulling
- Impulse control issues
- Disregard for obedience commands
- Needs boundaries
- Marking in the home
- Showing aggressive behavior
The key to training success is this: If you spend time and money on training but put your dog right back into the same environment (where they are under-stimulated or the new behaviors are not being properly reinforced), the bad habits, destructive behaviors and depression will continue.
Questions To Ask Yourself
So before you spend tons of cash on training or put your dog on Prozac, be honest with yourself. How long are you leaving your dog home every day alone? How often does your dog get meaningful exercise? Do you take him to doggy daycare? Does he go on hikes or sports activities to burn off his energy and get enrichment? Is your smart pup getting the mental stimulation he needs? Does an active dog really suit your lifestyle?
If most of your answers were no, try improving your dog’s lifestyle to see if it makes a difference in their behavior. Dogs that are active and smart need just has much mental stimulation as they do exercise, so a 3 mile jog in the morning or a day at daycare might not cut it for these smart pups. At Fitdog, we make it easy to mentally engage your dog and create an enriching lifestyle. Find out more about our sports and daycare.
Still Have Questions?
Can’t decide if your dog is bored or needs training? Talk to us! Tell us your story in the comments.