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Boredom Busters

Our dogs are very good at finding things to do when left to their own devices and feeling ‘bored’. Some of these behaviours, while enjoyable to the dog can be not so nice for us, such as; digging, chewing, destroying items.

The first thing is to make your dog’s environment more interesting and mentally stimulating to her. A physically and mentally stimulated dog helps to release any excess energy that currently they are turning into other activities like running away, digging, chewing, barking etc. All dogs need to work their brain and utilising activities that mimic natural behaviours in a more productive (and less destructive) way will be extremely beneficial to their wellbeing.

Here are some ideas to try;

Lose the bowl!

Your dog’s daily ration of food is to come in some form of treat ball/toy/feeder etc. (See section below on examples of treat toys). Working for their food, will mentally wear them out and make them more likely to settle and sleep. If they have to use their brain to figure out how to get food out of a certain object that is time they aren’t doing less desirable activities. 

Options include;

    • Treat Dispensing Toys (Buster Cubes, Kong Wobblers, Busy Buddies)
    • Food Puzzles/Mazes (Nina Ottoson, Kygen)
    • Home Made/Disposable Toys – these are the toys that we don’t mind them destroying!
    • Food scatters (e.g. a treasure hunt across the backyard!)
    • Kongs and freeze dried treats 

Work their nose!!

    • Scatter their dry food around the garden to encourage them to use their sense of smell. This can be a scatter initially and then work up to a scent trail for them to find.
    • Dry food in cardboard boxes with paper (only if you are happy for these to be chewed and damaged) for them to tear up. Tearing and destroying activities are good for using up excess energy. You can put dry food into paper/cardboard tunes (e.g. toilet paper or wrapping paper rolls), PVC pipes with ends and holes drilled in, paper bags, cereal boxes, plastic bottles)
    • Basic nosework games – using a variety of boxes or containers, hide food in the boxes and let them search them out. Start out very easily (e.g. straight in front) and then increase the difficulty. Only a few minutes can really tire them out as the ‘sniffing’ releases endorphins that naturally make you sleepy.


This needs to be a combination of what dogs like to play with on their own and what they like to play with when you are involved. Make sure that if they are left alone with toys, they are something they are likely to interact with by themselves and secondly is indestructible enough to last the day.

Remember to also rotate toys – take away a couple of the toys and then bring them out a few weeks later – To your dog it will be like they have “new toys” all over again.

Other options include;

    • A digging pit
    • Wading pool
    • Iceblocks filled with treats
    • Filled/frozen kongs
    • Doggy play dates
    • Dog walkers
    • Treat scatters/Scent trails
    • Sensory smell garden

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