IS YOUR GREYHOUND BORED?
Do dogs get bored? Absolutely! Doggy boredom can lead to problem behaviors, but more importantly an unhappy dog. Boredom can cause apathy, depression, stress and anxiety. A bored dog will make his own fun. And most likely in ways that don’t work for you. When left to their own devices, bored dogs can wreak havoc. A bored dog is a “naughty dog” because they will find a way to entertain themselves if you fail to do it for them. Unfortunately, when entertaining themselves, our dogs don’t always understand the difference between dangerous or forbidden and dog-friendly items. And if you’re not there to stop them, it’s all the more exciting.
Big messes when you get home are a clear sign of a dog with nothing to do. You might also see things destroyed in the backyard or tipping over trash cans. And signs of boredom can be seen even when you’re at home. If your dog is always bugging you for attention and acting restless, chances are he’s bored and wants something to do. He might also jump on you and your guests or bark excessively. Any signs of OCD behaviors could also be the result of simple boredom.
If you think your Greyhound sleeps all day because that is what he prefers to do, maybe re-examine that idea. Most if not all dogs appreciate some mental stimulation and in fact, need that stimulation to prevent behavioral problems and stave off dementia. If you have a multi-dog household, they provide each other company and entertainment, but even so, they will appreciate some extra stimulation.
Be sure to rule out separation anxiety if you’re seeing destructive behavior and a clingy attitude. Most of the time, this is simply your dog relieving his boredom and enjoying a lack of supervision. But occasionally it indicates intense distress about being left alone. If you have any concerns, consult a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist.
The following are some ideas to get your houndie/s engaged - boosting mood, getting rid of bad and OCD type of behavior, preventing mental health problems, and it's likely to be fun for you too. Not to mention, it will help to strengthen the bond between you.
Exercise is always at the top of the list because it is good for fixing lots of problems, including boredom. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complex, just going outside an extra time or two – just to stop and smell the roses (or pee-mail) – will do. A nice long walk is ideal, but not always possible, so maybe change it up by going a different route. If your dog has mobility issues, take shorter walks or try using a wagon so they can walk as much as they are able, and ride when they get tired.
In much of the country, the weather hinders nice long walks these days, but you can still help your dog get some exercise indoors by playing some games, such as chase a ball or toy down a hallway, or a flirt pole session indoors. You can buy them or DIY – instructions here: https://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/04/24/flirt-pole/
Set up playdates – weather permitting, call their best doggy friend and arrange for a playdate at your house or theirs. Discuss this with your other dog owner friends or family, and follow some doggy playdate rules to ensure a safe and productive time. Having it outside will make following CDC guidelines easier.
Most dogs enjoy food, and so changing things up a bit can be exciting for them. How about making mealtime into a game and really keeping your dog entertained? Food puzzle toys prompt dogs to use their problem-solving skills to find the reward. Here are some ideas – Cover the food bowl with plastic or paper bowls, and let him figure out how to move them off to reach his food. Don’t make them too heavy or he won’t be able to do it and he’ll get frustrated. Or try hiding food in muffin tin compartments, cover with tennis balls, and watch your dog’s wheels spin. Once your pup gets more proficient with this game, only fill some of the compartments so he has to use his nose to figure out where to find the food. Stuff peanut butter in a toilet paper roll and fold down the ends. (Just watch to be sure your dog isn’t eating the paper.) Roll treats up in a paper bag and let your dog tear it open. Put treats in a water bottle with the cap off so he must toss it around to get the food.
There are lots of food enrichment toys available too. A snuffle mat is good for kibble, a Kong rubber toy that can be stuffed with kibble or dog treats has been shown to increase the level of activity and exercise, and lower the frequency of barking. Many other types of food puzzle toys can give your dog hours of fun. And let’s not forget the ever popular chews, like bully sticks. Chewing on a long-lasting chew is top of the list for your Greyhound.
Giving your dog’s brain a workout is as important as exercising his body. Plus, it’s equally exhausting. Before you head to work, try interactive games to challenge your dog’s mind. Activities like hide and seek, where your dog has to find you, or tug-of-war let you play together and build your bond. Scent games where you hide treats or toys around the house are also fun boredom busters. The cup game: take three cups that are easy enough to knock over, and put a smelly treat under one of them, move them around and ask him to “find it!”
You could add nosework to your dog’s mental fitness regimen. Training a dog to identify and search for specific scents leverages his natural abilities, engages his brain, and keeps boredom at bay. Nosework can be as simple as hiding your dog’s breakfast around the house, scavenger-hunt style. Or weather permitting, hide treats outside in piles of leaves or under bushes (or in a snowball?) and have him “find it!”
WHEN YOU ARE GONE
Of course, you cannot always be home to interact with your dog (even if that’s their favorite thing to do). So in that case, you need some strategies to amuse your pup till you return.
Window Seat - If your dog likes to watch the world go by and you have a window with a nice view, set up a window seat for your pup where they can sit and watch the world go by. Or put a rug in front of a glass door.
Dog TV - You can opt to turn your TV on right before you leave, putting it on a channel where there are animals. The sounds and sight of these other animals may stimulate your hound, as well as keep him entertained. There is even a subscription channel created specifically for dogs – https://www.dogtv.com, currently offering a 7-day free trial ($6.99/mo after that).
Rotate Toys - Dogs get bored with toys, something you’ve probably witnessed in your own home! You buy him something new, he plays with it for a couple of minutes then walks away. Don’t leave too many toys out at once, just a couple and rotate them to keep his interest. Take a portion of their toys, wash them and put them away. Periodically switch out toys they play with for these toys in storage to provide your dog with a fresh supply of “new” toys. Just be sure to wash the toys before storing.
Treat Tossing Cameras - If you have to work and your dog is getting bored at home alone, treat tossing cameras are a fun way to stay connected and keep your dog busy. Depending on the camera, some have screens, microphones and even essential oils to keep your pup engaged. Furbo and Petcube are two popular ones – both allow you to check in with your dog via video feed.
The Treat Hunt Game – This takes two people and a little planning– one takes the dog out to potty while the other one other hides small pieces of treats around the house. This gives your Greyhound the chance to play his own game of hide and seek while you are out of the house. Try it out with a couple of short sessions before you actually leave, so that he gets the hang of it. Leave with a cue like “Hide and Seek!” Just be sure to take note of how many dog treats you hide and where you hide them, so you don’t miss any yourself.
Dog Walker/Pet Sitter – You can drop your pup off with a pet sitter every morning before work, you can have them picked up, or you can have a dog walker drop by to take your dog out for a walk. Maybe a neighbor’s responsible high-schooler loves dogs and is looking for a few extra $.
A busy dog is a happy dog. Any pooch can experience boredom, especially when he has to stay indoors every single day for more than 8 hours. While your dog surely will find something to occupy his time, it may be amusements which you’ll greatly frown on. Rather, be proactive and plan various toys and activities, which may keep your dog happy and entertained. You know your Greyhound and are the best judge of what will work for them, based on their preferences and personality. What tricks have you learned about mental stimulation and boredom busting for dogs in your own household? Please share in the comments below.