7 Signs that Your Dog is Bored

Bored dogs may redirect their need for stimulation into undesirable behaviors, such as barking excessively or pacing back and forth.

May 2, 2024By Sara Payne
signs that your dog is bored

A bored dog is an unhappy dog. Without adequate physical and mental stimulation, they may turn to destructive behaviors, such as chewing on shoes or ripping up the couch. They may also become anxious, which can manifest as pacing back and forth.

If you notice any of the following signs in your dog, you may consider giving them puzzle toys, going on longer walks, or even enrolling them in a doggy daycare facility. Read on to learn how to tell if your dog is bored and what you can do to curb these behaviors.

1. Barking Excessively

dog barking
Image credit: Pixabay

A dog that needs more mental stimulation will engage in attention-seeking behaviors. Many of these behaviors are undesirable, such as barking. Some dogs are more talkative than others, but if your dog is barking constantly at every little thing or if they are following you around barking, they may be bored.

When a dog is barking constantly, you can redirect the behavior using positive reinforcement. For instance, if they bark every time they see the mail carrier, redirect their attention using a treat or favorite toy.

More playtimes will also help with boredom barking. This gives your dog more stimulation and offers the socialization they crave.

2. Pacing Back and Forth

dog in house
Image credit: Pixabay

What can a dog do when they feel bored? Well, they have to use up their extra energy somehow. This can sometimes show itself as pacing. If you notice your dog pacing through the house, try taking them for a walk outside. This should clear away the boredom and give them plenty of sights and smells to enjoy.

Dogs need a change of scenery as much as people do, and exercise is good for your canine companion.

3. Excessive Licking

whippet tongue
Image credit: Pixabay

Excessive licking is a sign of anxiety in a dog. In the case of boredom, dogs that lick themselves excessively may be trying to relieve their nervousness. Too little mental stimulation can lead to emotional distress in dogs. Imagine sitting in a small room with nothing to do. You wouldn’t feel your best either.

If your dog is self-grooming excessively when they are idle, give them more time to exercise daily. You can take them to obedience classes or get them started playing sports. Running, hiking, playing ball, and puzzle toys will keep your dog occupied.

4. Destructive Behaviors

dog in trash
Image credit: Pixabay

The more time your dog has on his paws, the more likely he is to get into the trash or start chewing on your couch. Dogs that have high mental stimulation needs require several hours a day of exercise. Without this, they may look for other things to do.

If your dog is destroying the house while you are away, try leaving enrichment toys behind to give your dog something to do. For example, you can fill a Kong with peanut butter. You can also leave hidden treats under couch cushions and under pillows for a dog to find, like a mini-scavenger hunt.

5. Digging

dog digging
Image credit: Pixabay

Once again, a dog who has nothing to do will find a way to entertain himself. Digging is one way your dog may choose to occupy his body and mind. This can lead to large holes in your yard and a very dirty-looking dog.

If your yard looks like Swiss cheese, you can try making a specific space in your yard for your dog to dig, such as a sand pit. Here your dog can dig to his heart’s content. When he digs in the sand pit and not your yard, you can reward him with a new toy to bury or a treat.

It’s important not to punish dogs for digging. Instead, use a command word like “no” or “sit” when your dog is digging, and redirect their behavior with a toy or a game of fetch. Then, reward the behaviors you want to reinforce, such as digging in certain areas (or not digging at all).

6. Harassing Other Dogs

dogs playing together
Image credit: Pixabay

Some bored dogs may take out their frustrations on their housemates. These dogs may begin to pick on other dogs to entertain themselves. If the other dog doesn’t want to play, this can end up in fights or bullying.

If your dog has resorted to bullying to curb the boredom, try giving your dog a time-out when he begins to pick on the other dog. Separating them and giving them calm downtime will smooth over the incident. If you use a verbal cue and are consistent with the time-out each time you see bullying, the dog will eventually connect the two.

When you see your dog treating the other kindly, reward him. This will reinforce the good behaviors. If the bullying persists, you may need to consult a dog behavior specialist.

7. Escaping

dog fence
Image credit: Pixabay

Finally, bored dogs may try to escape. They are looking for more interesting sights, sounds, and smells. They may dig holes under fences or break through screen doors or windows. Some dogs may even be able to jump fences. This can lead to your dog getting either hurt or lost.

After you patch up any escape routes, try taking your dog out for daily walks around the time he usually tries to escape. Also, consider not leaving your dog unattended in a yard. Be sure to give him plenty of exercise and attention to prevent him from seeking stimulation elsewhere.

Only You Can Stop Boredom in Your Dog

happy pug
Image credit: Pixabay

A bored dog isn’t a bad dog. This dog simply needs more activities that let him use both his body and mind. If you notice any of these seven signs of a bored dog, it is important to incorporate more games, training, and playtime into their routine. More mental stimulation paired with positive reinforcement will keep your dog from undesirable behaviors.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.