Boredom Busters for Pets

When we get busy and have less time for our pets, our dogs and cats tend to start entertaining themselves! This can be frustrating when we are already short on time. But this is a perfect opportunity to add some easy ways to help your pet with a few Boredom Busters activities. By giving both their brain and their body a work out, we can have happy and content pets.

When our dogs get bored, they start to get into behaviors such as barking and whining, chewing items they shouldn’t and start to get into trouble! Many of the behaviors that are considered problem behaviors- such as hunting, chewing, digging and barking- are very natural outlets for dogs to channel their energy. By tapping into those instincts and channeling them in a constructive way, we can have calm and happy dogs.

For dogs that like to dig, it can be beneficial to give them a designated place to dig, such as a baby pool of play sand. You can hide treats and their favorite toys in there to encourage them to dig and use it. 

If your dog likes to chew, make sure you have a wide variety of chew toys available! Dogs are particular on what textures they like to chew, so be sure to try a wide variety of types to find what your dog likes. Some examples are marrow bones, treat stuffing toys, and antlers. Dogs also enjoy different toys and there are many different kinds out there to choose from. There are crinkle, squeaking, and shaking toys to name a few.  Try to get a variety of types and textures to keep them interested. Also put away toys that they aren’t interested in for a month or so, then rotate it back in- it will seem like a brand new toy!

Dogs naturally forage for food- and we can put their brains to use with puzzle toys and treat toys to make them work for their food. This will turn meal time into brain time as they work through how to get their toy out of the puzzles, such as a Kong brand Wobbler toy. A slow feeder bowl will also help to make meal time last longer and make them work to get their food out. 

Dogs love to bond with people so we can also use toys that we both play with to be more interactive, such as a flirt pole or tug, teach a new trick or two, or even go for a walk together! Building that bond with the drain of learning a new trick will make you both feel good. Change it up on the walk and let your dog lead the way, follow them as they chase down smells or wait for them to really investigate what they are sniffing. Sniffing is a natural calming activity for dogs, and they take in the world through their nose! All that information will have them processing it as they settle in later.

Need more ideas? Download your copy of our Brain Games and Boredom Busters ebook. This is free exclusively for Lucky Pup Explorer Members! Also check out these other Explorer posts for more on this subject:  Indoor Games for Cats and Dogs  –  Keep Pups Occupied with Kong Recipes  –  DIY Enrichment Ideas

Explorers: Explore many different varieties of these enrichment ideas and toy types. Keep a journal of what your pet does or doesn’t like. When using treat toys, start with easy wins to show them that they can have success – use smaller treats that fall out easily, if you have a toy with sliders, begin with them part open until your pet learns how to work them. Try toys of different textures and shapes, as well as play styles.

Growers: Begin to make the challenges harder. Give them treats that will take longer to get out of the treat toys- or begin to use
their toys in new ways to make them problem solve new ways to use it. Freeze kongs to make them last longer. Work on building the duration of tricks, add distractions to ensure your dog has a clear understanding of the trick.

Challengers:  Look at your puzzles and reinvent them. Hide treat toys so they have to find them first before they work on them. Increase the difficulty level of their enrichment if they are comfortable with it. For tricks, try to pair tricks into new combinations to create a new trick- like covering their eyes to then waving for a ‘shy hello’.