Has your puppy started to let out the low groaning and dissatisfied snorts of boredom? Have you noticed your fur baby whining out his yawns, flopping across your feet, and melodramatically moaning in bored agony? Or perhaps your new furry friend has gotten in the habit of destroying couch cushions, your pillow, or your shoes. Destructive behavior can also be an indication that your puppy is desperate for something fun to do.
If your puppy suffers from the occasional bouts of boredom, here are 10 things you can do to train him to entertain himself and be more independent when you aren’t available to give him your full and undivided attention.
1) ENGAGE YOUR PUPPY’S INTELLECT WITH A PUPPY PUZZLE
Puzzles provide mental stimulation and promote cognitive function while being an engaging form of entertainment. That’s why people love them! But did you know that there are puzzles for dogs, too?
Unlike people puzzles that place an emphasis on the picture or image that the puzzle is forming as you play, puzzles for dogs place an emphasis on figuring out how to “open” or “unlock” the puzzle in order to get the doggy treat inside.
As different as puppy puzzles are from people puzzles, they still provide the same valuable mental stimulation. Best of all, your puppy will be engaged for a fun little while as he works to release the treat. This is a great source of entertainment that will train your puppy to enjoy his alone time.
2) GIVE YOUR PUPPY A HEALTHY, LONG-LASTING CHEW TREAT
All dogs have a natural instinct to chew things, especially during puppyhood. In fact, dogs are typically “trained out of” indulging in this behavior, especially when the chewing behavior is directed at household goods and belongings that shouldn’t be chewed.
If your puppy has become destructive due to his boredom, then you can redirect his instinct to chew the coffee table legs towards chewing a dog treat instead. We’re talking about long-lasting chew treats, and we recommend you pick out a healthy one that will also clean your puppy’s teeth.
Long-lasting chew treats are usually made of collagen and are flavored with salt and other scents that dogs love. Due to the chewy, resilient texture of collagen, a long-lasting chew can take a puppy hours to get through. We advise that you stay away from rawhide until your puppy is an adult. Instead, try a bully stick or collagen.
3) PLAY HIDE & SEEK BY HIDING A FAVORITE TOY FOR YOUR PUPPY TO FIND
Teaching your puppy how to play hide and seek takes a bit of time. This is a great training activity to do for the purposes of entertainment and bonding, so be sure to play hide and seek with your puppy until he’s clear on how the game works.
Then, when you notice that your puppy has grown bored, even if you don’t have time to engage with him in a game of hide and seek, you can still set the game up for him to play alone. Do this by “hiding” his favorite toy or a dog treat.
Treats tend to be an ideal option, especially long-lasting chews, because once your puppy finds the treat, it will take him some time to enjoy his tasty reward. By the time the game is over, your puppy’s boredom will have been relieved and he might even take a nap!
4) ORGANIZE PUPPY PLAY DATES AHEAD OF TIME TO TROUBLESHOOT BOREDOM
This is a great idea in general that will really come in handy to keep your puppy happy and entertained in such a way that boredom will be less likely to strike in general. Connect with your friends, neighbors, and family members who also have puppies or dogs. This idea also works if the friends, neighbors, and family members have children or anyone who would enjoy spending time with your puppy.
Organize puppy play dates ahead of time. This way, the routine of the week can include some fun surprises for your puppy. If you develop a good rapport with your friends in this way, you may be able to get together on the fly or drop your puppy off so that while he’s playing you can get some errands done.
5) PLAY TUG-OF-WAR TO TIRE YOUR PUPPY OUT
A hearty game of tug-of-war doesn’t have to take longer than 5 minutes, and it will do wonders for relieving your puppy’s boredom. This low time commitment is high on reward, and you can even fit in some solid tug-of-war time before you leave for work or head out for a few hours to see friends.
We recommend that you get a high-quality tug-of-war toy that won’t fall apart easily. One that’s a smaller size will “fit” your small puppy better. Toys like the Bumi by West Paw and the SodaPup Tug War are great for puppies, because they’re made of durable rubber and won’t break into small fragments like toys made of rope sometimes do.
6) TAKE YOUR PUPPY ON A SURPRISE WALK
If your puppy is on the brink of dying of boredom, then the best remedy is probably a quick walk around the block or run through the backyard. Having a change of scenery and chance to smell the scents of the interesting outdoors can relieve puppy boredom on the spot.
By taking your puppy on a surprise walk, you can also maximize the training potential of the outing itself. Offer additional mental stimulation by incorporating basic commands like hold, sit, and stay, and of course, “let’s go!”
This way, your puppy will learn that he must always keep an ear out for your instructions. This will help him to behave better in general during future walks and trips to the dog park where listening to you is necessary for his safety.
7) WORK ON OBEDIENCE TRAINING
Training your puppy is an ongoing process. Until your puppy has growth throughout the course of his puppyhood, he’ll still be learning more rules and commands on a daily basis. For dogs, this is fun, mentally stimulating, and promotes bonding with their pet parents.
Based on the commands your puppy currently knows, you can actually relieve him of boredom without investing a lot of time. Meaning, in addition to taking longer chunks of time to train your puppy, you can have him perform simple tasks for you if and when he seems bored.
The best option that will provide the most fun for your puppy is to have him fetch something for you. As long as you’ve already trained him to “fetch” and he knows the names of specific items, you can use this trick. Then, if your puppy seems bored, simply tell him to fetch his toy, or your slippers, or another item. Be sure not to ask him to fetch his leash, however, or else he’ll assume you’re going to go for a walk, and this will disappoint him if going for a walk doesn’t happen.
8) GIVE YOUR PUPPY A NOT-SO-SIMPLE TASK
If your puppy belongs to a working breed or sporting breed, he’ll be keen to tackle a complex task. Working dog breeds are capable of herding cattle, checking the grand perimeter of a ranch to make sure there are no intruders, and driving a flock of chickens safely into their coop!
You might not live on a farm, but you can definitely trust your puppy has the genetics to handle a big job if you need him to. This will take some pre-planning and prior training, but once your puppy knows the basics of a larger or complex task, you can have him accomplish the task whenever you discover he’s bored.
A “complex task” could be one that makes your puppy the “boss” of someone else, whether another member of the household or another family pet. For example, Corgis love to “police” household cats by preventing them from clawing the furniture. Some breeds like being the “boss” of the other household members to make sure the home runs smoothly. Feel free to be creative as you come up with fun, not-so-simple tasks for your puppy!
9) GET YOUR PUPPY A KONG OR JOLLY BALL
These specific toys truly are one of a kind. Both the Kong and the Jolly Ball are designed to entertain a dog for longer stretches of time. They’re basically in the “dog puzzle” category, but deserve a class of their own, which is why we’re listing these toys separately.
The Kong is a soft, rubber toy made of material that is less painful to chew than hard, nylon toys. Like puppy puzzles, the Kong is designed to fit a doggy treat inside. Your puppy will then have to pinch, bite, and chew the Kong at just the right angle to release the treat. Figuring this out could take awhile, which is why it’s a great option for relieving boredom.
Jolly Balls are also made of a soft, rubber material. These toys can either hold a treat, or be used as a “tug and toss” toy. The versatility of Jolly Balls makes them a great option for entertaining your puppy if and when he starts suffering from boredom.
10) HIRE A DOG WALKER OR HAVE A TRUSTED FRIEND WALK YOUR DOG
Finally, a truly expert way to alleviate your puppy from boredom is to use a dog walker. You can either hire a professional dog walker by checking local listings or using a dog walking app like Wag! Or you can ask a trustworthy friend or family member who’s reliable to commit to walking your puppy.
Either way, you can prevent your puppy from getting bored by scheduling a dog walk at a key point during the day. Have you noticed that your puppy tends to get bored in the early afternoon? By scheduling a dog walker to take your puppy out for a half hour or an hour in the early afternoon can do the trick of preventing boredom before it strikes.
Plus, a good walk around the block with a dog walker will help to further socialize your puppy!
Are you looking to add a new puppy to your household? Petland Kansas City can help. If you’re in the Overland Park area, stop in our location and speak with our knowledgeable pet counselors about the best purebred dog breeds to fit your lifestyle. Meet our available puppies and start your journey into puppy parenthood with Petland!