Things to Look for in a Toy for a Bored Dog
While shopping for a toy to ease your dog’s boredom, there are a few things you should consider to help you make the best choice:
Quality of Materials
Choosing a toy made of high-quality materials helps it to last longer, meaning you get the best value for your money, and your dog can keep playing with their new favorite toy for longer.
Right Size for Your Dog
The right size of toy for your dog means that they can make the most of it, enabling them to fit it comfortably in their mouths and play with it properly.
Both Physical and Mental Stimulation
A dog needs both mental and physical stimulation to keep their attention. The best toys to help with boredom will include features to provide both types of stimulation. For example, a chew toy gets dogs moving their mouth while other features, like taste and texture, engage their mind. A puzzle toy challenges them to think of a solution while also encouraging them to use their paws and mouths to solve the puzzle.
Encouraging Natural Behaviors
Toys that encourage natural behaviors such as foraging for food, chewing, hunting, and chasing, can help to keep your dog interested for longer.
The Importance of Keeping Dogs Physically and Mentally Stimulated
The American Kennel Club explains: “Originally, different dog breeds were bred to have different jobs. Even companion breeds were meant to spend all day with their humans.” While some dogs still do essential work, most are our beloved pets. The majority of dogs are apart from their owners for part of the day.
That isn’t a bad thing, but it means that we have to replace the stimulation they would have had if they were out working or by their owner’s side all day. Keeping your dog both mentally and physically stimulated, ensures they don’t get bored and that they are happy with their life. It’s also crucial for their health, with activity keeping many health issues at bay and allowing them to be healthier for longer as they age.
Finally, keeping your dog engaged and happy prevents them from trying to entertain themselves, which often leads to destructive behaviors. A dog who isn’t getting the stimulation they need is likely to display unwanted behaviors such as chewing up things around the house, barking excessively, getting into places they shouldn’t, and digging up your garden, for example.
Why Your Dog Might Be Bored
Your dog might be bored because they are not getting enough physical exercise. Consider your dogs breed and do some research into how much exercise they need. It might be time to increase their walks and playtime!
If you know your dog is getting enough exercise and is still bored, it may be because they aren’t getting enough mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, creating challenges around the house, getting them involved in some new training, and playing interactive games with your dog are all great ways to solve this problem.
General Dog Toy Safety Advice
No dog toy is indestructible, so it’s advisable to monitor your dog during playtime. Pick a toy that is the right chew strength for your dog. If the toy breaks, it’s time to take the toy away from your dog.
Dog Toys for a Bored Pup FAQ
Is it safe to leave your dog home alone with a toy?
Yes, some toys are safe to leave at home with your dog. Choosing the right strength of toy is vital. Never leave your dog at home with a toy with small removable parts, as this poses a choking and obstruction risk. If you plan to leave your dog alone with a toy, it’s a good idea to test it out while they’re supervised first. If your dog usually quickly destroys toys, it’s best not to leave them with a toy unsupervised.
How can you tell if your dog is bored?
If your dog is often displaying unwanted behaviors, seems restless, or is continually seeking your attention, then it’s likely they’re bored or frustrated. An animal care teacher of mine once told me that a tired dog is a happy dog, meaning if your dog is sleeping peacefully between walks, meals, and playtime, they’ve had enough stimulation.
Can a toy fix your dog’s boredom?
A good toy will help to ease your dog’s boredom, but it won’t fix the problem completely. It can be beneficial when you’re busy and can’t give your precious pooch your full attention. However, your dog also needs enough exercise, as well as attention and interaction from you.
The right toy can help provide your dog with the physical and mental stimulation they need, alleviating their boredom and leaving you with a much happier pup. It can also be a real delight to watch your pet engage their mind with a good toy.
Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, (2019), “Bored Dogs: How to Recognize Doggy Boredom (and Help!)” American Kennel Club.