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Boredom Busters for Dogs

LAST UPDATED 22 February 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Belinda Stancombe

Could your dog be bored? It is not uncommon for dogs to be left at home alone for long stretches of time during the day while you are at work or running errands. Without anything to occupy them, your pooch may find themselves in mischief to stay entertained.

As well as keeping your dog physically active, there are things that you can do to keep them mentally occupied while you are away.

Puzzle Toys

Interactive and Chew Toys

Long Lasting Treats

Treasure Hunt

Exercise Body and Mind

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Signs of boredom in dogs

  • Digging, chewing or other destructive behaviours
  • Getting into garbage bins
  • Barking and whining
  • Following you around when you are at home

Dog Puzzle Toys

image of dog playing with orange toy

There are heaps of interactive toys, some which dispense treats or encourage your dog to work for their food, which can help keep your dog's mind active. A great way to make use of treat-dispensing toys is to fill them with all or part of your dog's breakfast before you head off for work. This will keep your dog occupied when they would otherwise be worried about you leaving.

Paws For Life Snuffle Mat

Keep your pet entertained and slow down their mealtime with this interactive feeding mat! Sprinkle their favourite treats or mealtime kibble through the various textured sections to provide a fun and interactive mealtime.

Lickimat Wobble

The LickiMat Wobble is a unique bowl with raised dimbles on the inside suface, to offer extra stimulation when licking. Suitable for use with Wet, Raw, Soft or Liquid Foods, the Wobbling motion adds an extra challenge and prolonged enrichment experience.

Paws For Life IQ Puzzle

Add their favourite treats or kibble through the various holes and containers to encourage problem solving and instinct-satisfying foraging.

All for Paws Interactive Food Maze

Ideal for dogs who like to forage, simply scatter the desired amount of kibble or treats across the maze, and let your dog figure out how to get them out!

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Interactive Dog Toys

image of Border Collie playing with Kong toy

Durable rubber chew toys are a great way to satisfy your dog's natural chewing urges and keep them occupied. Try adding KONG Easy Treat Paste or even just some natural peanut butter to a KONG and dogs can spend hours trying to clean up every last morsel.

KONG Extreme

Got a serious chewer on your hands? The KONG Extreme dog toy represents the most durable KONG available. Designed for tough chewers, this KONG offers enrichment and helps to satisfy your dog's instinctual need to chew.

iFetch Original Ball Launcher

Suitable for small to medium dog breeds, the iFetch shoots its miniature tennis balls three, six or nine meters, and will continue to shoot balls so long as your dog fetches them and returns them to the top of the chute.

Playology Dual Layer Bone Beef

Playology Toys are made from durable material with deep grooves scientifically designed to clean teeth and massage gums while playing. Embedded with scent particles which are released as your pet chews increases playtime by up to 7x longer, when compared to unscented toys.

Cheerble Wickedball

More than just a ball, the Wicked Ball is 100% automatic and designed to keep your pooch happy and occupied while you are away.

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Long Lasting Dog Treats

image of dog carrying chew bone

Long lasting chewy treats are great to keep your pet occupied when they're alone. Fresh raw bones can be a good option (but be aware of the risks of feeding raw bones) as are treats such as Ear Chews and Large Dental Treats.

Tasty Bone

These durable nylon bones are designed to keep even the most persistent and powerful of chewers satisfied. They may be washed in soap and water if needed and the delicious range of flavours are designed to last for the lifetime of the bone.

Nature's Cuts Beef Ears

With a delicious aroma and crunchy-yet-chewy texture, dogs love ear treats. Nature's Cuts Beef Ears are extremely tasty, firm but not brittle, and are great for cleaning the teeth. And best of all, these treats are completely natural.

Blackdog Bully Sticks

These bully sticks are made 100% Beef for a tasty treat, ideal for use as a training reward. Sometimes called bull's pizzles, these are 15cm in length and are one of the longest lasting chews in the Blackdog range.

Whimzees Alligator Treats

Whimzees Alligator treats are all-natural, wheat and gluten-free vegetarian treats, making them an excellent option for dogs with food sensitivities and those prone to weight gain and pancreatitis.

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Dog Treasure Hunt

image of white and tan dog sniffing grass

Explorative feeding is a fantastic way to excite and mentally stimulate your dog. Try hiding some of your dog's food or some treats in different places around the house or backyard. Sniffing out their next meal will keep them busy and occupied while you are away.

Mental Stimulation for Dogs

image of Boston Terrier running with human

Most of us know that dogs need plenty of physical activity to keep them happy and healthy. However, it's not just the physical exercise that is beneficial; the act of venturing out with a pack member (you or your family) and experiencing different smells is beneficial for their mental stimulation.

Walk regularly - It is important for your dog's wellbeing to include regular exercise in their routine, and different dog breeds have different exercise requirements. Working breeds such as Border Collies and Kelpies require as much as 2 hours of high intensity exercise every day, whereas some other 'couch potato' breeds only really need shorter, gentle walks. Older dogs may need lower intensity exercise to look after their ageing joints. Take a look at our Essential Dog Walking Tips.

Let them sniff about - walking or running is great, but to help enrich your dog's experience and further reduce boredom, it can help to pause and let your dog sniff around. While you don't want your dog to dictate how often you might stop on a walk (as they still need to know you're the one in charge), it might help to invest in an extendable lead or try and off leash area if safe to do so.

Let them interact with other dogs - only if your pooch is dog friendly, of course. Meeting and playing with other dogs will provide your pooch with a whole array of stimulating sights, smells, and experiences, not to mention, excellent cardio exercise! Socialising helps improve your dog's overall emotional wellbeing and can help reduce anxiety. Dog friendly parks and beaches are perfect for this, or you might even like to consider a doggy playgroup or daycare centre. For some recommendations, take a look at Top Places for a Doggy Date.

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Lots of problem behaviours like barking, digging and destructive chewing can be avoided by providing your dog with something to do while you are away. Make sure that you mix it up with different toys and games to keep their mind working!

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

New Puppy Checklist

Durable Toys for Power Chewers

Managing Separation Anxiety in Pets

Which dog toy is best?