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Bad Dog or Bored Dog? 10 Tips to Increase Good Behavior in Your Dog

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Bad Dog or Bored Dog?

Is your dog bad or just bored?

If you ask me, there are no bad dogs, really. They are either bored and/or maybe just haven’t been taught desirable positive behaviors. Dogs don’t want to misbehave. Quite the contrary, they want to make you happy. However, even when they have been taught/trained basic manners, if they are not getting what they need in terms of daily mental stimulation and physical exercise they may vent that energy in undesirable not to mention, negative ways.


See if any of these behaviors sound familiar…

My dog…

Barks at every sound or anything that moves.

Barks, lunges, growls, spins at people, dogs, cars, kids or other distractions while out walking on leash.

Jumps on me or guests entering my home.

Licks me or himself excessively (check with your vet for allergies as well).

Digs holes in our yard.

Toilets in our house.

Chews on himself including paws and other body parts.

Chews or is destructive to our furniture or other inappropriate items.

Gets crazy excited at the sight of their leash or at mealtimes.

Paws and nudges me with his nose or barks or whines at me for attention.


These are all signs that your dog may be bored and may need more mental stimulation and physical exercise.

What can you do? Enrich your dog’s world! There are many ways you can help quell boredom. Here are a few…

  1. simple walk can do wonders by expelling excess energy and expanding your dog’s world outside of just their home and their yard.
  2. Play the find it game with their food by hiding it under or in a box or in another room. Have them sit and stay while you do so. If your dog does not have a reliable sit/stay then put them outside or in a room while you hide their food. Then tell them to “Go find it!”. You will have to help them at first till they get the hang of it. Over time they will come to love this game.
  3. You can use food dispensing toys to feed them as well. These “treat balls” are a great way to exercise your dog’s mind. They have to figure out how to get the food out. This is also great for dogs that inhale their food.
  4. A clean milk jug or empty water bottle with a few treats or kibble tossed in makes for great fun. Your dog will tip, tear and tackle it to get the food out. This is not good for dogs who eat non-edible things (ie the milk jug or water bottle itself).

Enrich your dog’s world by adding a few fun items.

  1. Enrich your dog’s yard by adding a few fun items… Super tug! A hands free, strong tug toy that attaches to a tree with heavy bungee cords and lets your dog pull and tug to their hearts content. Big boxes make great tunnels to run through not to mention tear up when done playing. Build or buy a platform for your dog to jump up on as well as crawl under. Get a hoola hoop, using treats teach your dog to jump through it! How about a pool for your dog?


Simply doing one new thing a day is a step in the right direction to enriching your dog’s life!

  1. Create an area in your yard that is ok for your dog to dig in. Use landscaping timbers to designate the appropriate area. Fill with sand or sand/dirt mixture. Hide some toys, bones or treats there for your dog to find and encourage him to dig to find hidden treasures.
  2. Get a flirt pole! A flirt pole is basically a long piece of pvc piping with a bungee cord running through it and a toy attached to the end. You can drag the toy along the ground and encourage your dog to chase it. This is a great way to positively redirect a high prey drive as well as burn off a lot of energy. It is also great for teaching and practicing the drop it command as well as the sit or down stay command
  3. Teach your dog to catch and fetch. Not all dogs are interested in catching or fetching. Having the right toy (the one they like the most) will be a great motivator in the process of teaching them. Fetching up and down stairs is also a great workout!
  4. Teach you dog a few simple tricks such as shake or high five and ask them to perform these tricks whenever you give them a treat or when you want to pet them or when greeting them after arriving home.
  5. Socialize your dog with other dogs. Find a compatible doggie playmate and schedule weekly playdates. This can go a long way in taking the edge off of a bored dog.

Many owners report “I bought my dog all kinds of toys and he never plays with them!”.

Keep in mind that your dog likes to be engaged by its owners. Play with your dog! Most dogs will play a little by themselves but to really burn off mental and physical energy they need to and want to be engaged by their human pack members. If you don’t have the time you may want to think about hiring a professional pet sitter or dog walker. Their services are available seven days a week. Even if you had a pet sitter visit your dog once or twice a week, that’s a step in the right direction to enriching your dog’s life and lessening their boredom which can increase good behaviors.


If you had a child and they were acting out negatively at school because of boredom (they are super smart and they are not being challenged) you would take action right?


Shouldn’t we do the same for our beloved dogs? A life of laying around your house and yard is not much of a life for most dogs. Most dogs exhibit some kind of negative behaviors stemming from boredom. Most owners don’t realize why it is happening. They’ve just learned to live with it. Less boredom equals a better behaved dog. Take action! Be consistent.. One day at a time. Small changes can make a big difference over time.


Hugs & Happy Tails,

Terie Hansen

Owner at Good Dog! Coaching & Pet Care – Unleash the Happy!


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