Combating Boredom and Anxiety

Separation anxiety and boredom (or maybe a little of both) can cause our dogs to do terrible things to our homes when we leave them.  Truly awful things.  Entire couches can disappear in an hour.  Expensive electronics go into hiding only

Dogs get bored just like we do. A bored dog is NEVER a good thing….they may look harmless but WATCH OUT!!

to make themselves known out in the yard as part of a pile of poop.  Things get shredded, carpets get stained.  Crating is a great answer to solve this problem but it really just confines your dog to one area without directly addressing the problem of his boredom or anxiety.  We want our pets to be happy when we are gone – we don’t want them bored out of their mind or continually obsessing on the fact that they are alone so why not give some boredom busting tricks a try?

Even within the crate a dog can benefit from some constructive things to do.  We can’t always be there to reassure and entertain our pups, so alternative methods of doing so can be incredibly helpful.  While crating is a safe and ‘go-to’ option, some dogs don’t do well in crates and some people still aren’t convinced that crating is an answer.  Its also perfectly acceptable to want your dog to be happy in his crate – to see it as a good place to spend the day until you can be home with him.  To this end, there are a few options that you can try.

Most dogs are enamored with food, and boredom is generally most successfully combated with the use of food.  There is nothing like it to engage your dog’s attention and get their mind off of their troubles!  Sometimes, if they are foody enough, dogs will pick food over their people!  Handing them a treat before you leave generally doesn’t work – its gone before you are out the door.  Giving them a toy that makes them work to GET their treat or a bone that will occupy them for longer than a second, is a better way to go.

Food dispensing toys can be a lifesaver for many people with dog that need ‘occupied’.  Ingeniously inventive, these toys make your dog think about getting those treats out of the toy itself rather than think about where you are, what to do for

With so many food dispensing toys on the market, you can easily find one that is right for your dog!

entertainment and how good that couch would taste just about now.  Available in a variety of versions, these toys can keep your dog occupied even though you aren’t home to play with him.  Just fill the toy with the treat or food of your choice and hand it to your pup either in his crate or out of it before you leave for the day.  Easy as pie!  He will be so intent on getting the goodies that he won’t even notice you have left.  The first 20-30 minutes is generally when most damage is done and these toys ensure that he has something else to during that critical time.  Its also quite easy to get creative with these toys.  Dry treats work well, but thinking outside of the box can give you even more options.  Take something like the Premier Twist-n-Treat and fill it first with peanut butter or cream cheese, add some dry or chewy treats and freeze the night before.  Its like an ice cream cone with chunks of goodness hidden inside!  Frozen, the mixtures will keep your dog occupied for a longer time and will also make less of a mess.  The same trick can be used with just about any of the food dispensing toys – get creative, look up recipes online and have fun with it!

If toys don’t seem to do it for your dog or they simply don’t feel like engaging in the work involved with finding and releasing the treats hidden inside, raw bones can be a viable alternative for keeping them busy. Depending upon the chewing strength of your dog, any number of bones will work.  Many, like rib bones and neck

Raw bones are a fantastic choice for giving a dog something to do. Such a high value item tends to keep their attention long after you have left the building!

bones, are easily chewable and consumable.  Chances are, when you get home, there won’t be any bone bits to find!  Other bones, like knuckle bones and marrow bones, are mostly inedible with the exception of the marrow inside the bones and parts of the huge bones.  These are great for lots of dogs but if you have an extremely hard chewer you may want to only give them while you are home to supervise.  Marrow bones do have a bit of an extra bonus though – once your dog has cleaned out the marrow, the hollowed out bone is the perfect receptacle for the same sort of treat concoction that you would put in a food dispensing toy.  Fill with a mixture of peanut butter (cream cheese, yogurt etc) and treats, freeze and serve!  Reusable again and again!  Dogs love it!

Whatever method you use, giving your dog something to occupy his mind while you are gone is beneficial to both of you. It can go a long way to alleviating boredom and anxiety for your pooch and can leave you relatively certain that your belongings won’t be used as a boredom buster while you are away. Trial and error will lead you to the best solution for your particular dog and with a little research and creativity, you can come up with some spectacular treats that will keep your dog happy and content!