Fortunately, my dog’s breed affiliation is one of quiet comfort. He is not an active dog, but rather a good “apartment” dog, comfortable with limited, calm surroundings. Oh, he can get crazy at times, but it’s short lived. He is satisfied living a laid-back lifestyle, with regular leisure walks full of new smells and new scenery. Rex is a little luckier than most dogs, I guess… Either Mom or Dad work from home most days of the week so that he is rarely alone through-out the day. He has a fairly lengthy morning walk, a potty walk around 11 or 12, and then a longer afternoon walk around 4:00. We talk to him all day. He seems content. Content, perhaps, but mentally stimulated? Probably not much.
Rex is a devoted watch-dog. Regardless of what he is doing, he always seems to have one eye and ear focused on his family at all times. Is it because he thinks we might visit the treat jar, or is he “looking after” or “guarding” us, as some kind of instinctive trait? Does he think that it is his “job” to watch after us? And if so, does having that “job” or that responsibility serve to satisfy his desire for “something to do”? Does it foster his intellect?
Most dogs were bred to work. Even the seemingly complacent Lhasa Apso was bred as a watch-dog for monasteries. The Poodle, relegated to a beautiful fru-fru bed ornament, is a strong sportsman. The Bloodhound, seen on the old show “Hee-haw” is depicted as a lazy, biscuit-motivated, lay-at-your-feet hound, but were bred to fiercely hunt prey. A Labrador Retriever, the quintessential family dog, is a driven hunter. Border collies, popular for knowing tricks and understanding commands, innately practice “herding” with children and other family pets. Too often, we relinquish these domesticated animals to a life of excessive treats, couch-potato living, long days alone, and light “outside” potty walks. Period.
So, they get bored. They begin chewing their feet… or your shoes. They get into the garbage. They invent games like… tug of war with the bedspread, or let’s take the stuffing out of the pillows. They get fat. They may become verbally obnoxious or begin play-biting in an effort to get attention. Boredom is very frustrating for our dogs. Taking care of a dog’s basic needs is not all there is to owning a pet. Mental health is as important as physical health, for us as well as for our canine friends. In addition to basic pet care: feeding, exercising, grooming and medical care, we should add some type of mental component. Would regular mental exercise eliminate some behavioral problems we often see? Would intellectual “enrichment” make for a more well-balanced pet?
Socialization Through Dog Camp & Day Care
Socialization is a close-cousin to intellect in a dog’s world. New people and new doggie-friends stimulate your dog’s senses. Camp Holiday Barn is an excellent outlet for meeting new friends, as well as a great alternative to staying home alone all day. The mental and physical stimulation will help your dog with the anxiety that sometimes stems from boredom.
Training Can Help Prevent Dogs From Becoming Bored
The mental challenge and focus training your dog provides is priceless. Your dog will redirect his frustration to concentrating on learning. Learning tricks or basic obedience commands is great interaction and mental stimulation.
Play and Exercise Can Help Mentally & Physically Stimulate Your Dog
We know how important exercise is for a dog, but admit it… we sometimes fall short of providing our pets with adequate activity. I know… life gets busy… but physical exercise is mentally stimulating to a dog too. It’s important to consider your dog’s breed characteristics, age, and physical traits before deciding on what type and how much activity to introduce. Your short-legged yorkie is not built-for or interested in vigorous jogging every evening, whereas your over-active lab may want to go a few more rounds! Choose a mental exercise that suits your dog. For instance, a Border Collie or Aussie may enjoy having one of those big balls to “herd” around the back yard. A sight hound may enjoy lure coursing. Keep in mind that just because your dog may have been bred to do something does not mean he will enjoy it. Not all retrievers want to retrieve. Don’t force it. There are plenty other activities your dog will enjoy while also mentally and physically stimulating them.
There are many doggie games on the market now-days made specifically to challenge your dog’s intellect. Many are puzzles that your dog has to solve in order to retrieve a reward (treat!). A kong filled with something yummy will keep your dog busy as he tries to figure out how to get that delicious stuff out of that crazy object! Even a safe chew, such as deer/elk horns or bully sticks will give him something to do to distract from being bored.