Leading Cause of Dog Behavior Problems

by DFS-Pet-Blog on March 21, 2010

Is your dog bored?

Is your dog bored?

**Guest post from Ellen B.**

Did you know boredom is a leading cause for dog behavioral problems? Inappropriate chewing, digging, and excessive barking or licking can be signs that your dog is bored. We all know that exercise is important for physical health, but exercise also plays a key role in mental health. Providing your dog with proper exercise can prevent boredom and help him be a happy, well-behaved dog.

My dog (Kobe) and I enjoy taking walks together. I always let him have plenty of sniffing time, but then he also knows when it’s time for serious, fast-paced walking. I refer to Kobe as my “personal trainer” because he motivates me for our daily walk by eagerly staring at me with his cute puppy face and tail wagging non-stop. His look says “let’s go!” and we both benefit from the exercise.

However, some days I just can’t walk my dog or we just need a different activity to motivate us. My dog tends to be restless at night if he hasn’t released his energy during the day. It’s easy to see that he would likely find trouble if he didn’t get proper exercise for days in a row. Here are some alternative exercise solutions that I particularly like:

  • Occasionally, I take my dog to a dog daycare that puts an emphasis on exercise. While I work, she takes Kobe (and however many other dogs she has that day) to a park for playtime, and then for a 2-mile hike. It’s a good option when it’s impossible for me to give my dog proper exercise. Plus, as you can see in this video, my dog has even made dog-friends!
  • Don’t forget about good old-fashioned fun such as playing in the snow, a game of fetch or chasing a frisbee. Whatever activity keeps your dog’s interest will keep him moving and get him tired. This article gives 5 Fun Ideas for Outdoor Dog Adventures that are sure to tire your dog.

Snow much fun!

Snow much fun!

dog-bed-r The best activity for your dog is whatever he finds fun. Proper dog exercise is key in helping your dog be healthy and happy, and a healthy, happy dog is less likely to find trouble. Remember…

A tired dog is a good dog!

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

brittany March 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

Hi- I’ve got a dog who was completely bored for three years, and now I can’t seem to ‘unbore’ her. She does all the things you list, even when I try to keep her engaged, etc.

Any suggestions?

Sara March 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

We’re fortunate enough to have a dog who does not seem bored at all. He seems to appreciate the little things in life – and that keeps him happy, even when we’re working late.

Amanda M March 22, 2010 at 9:34 am

My husband and I keep our 2 terrier mixes from boredom with long walks or runs each day (at least an hour). We always play ball with them in the back yard afterwards. When the weather is poor, we physically exercise them indoors on the treadmill & mentally exercise them by teaching them commands or new tricks. When we leave the house, we leave the TV on for them for some background noise and always have 1 or 2 chew toys laying around for them. They’re happy dogs!

Marit March 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

To make sure Pete is not bored when I leave the house, I give him a Kong filled with peanut butter. I put it in the freezer to make it last even longer for him. If it’s nice out–I leave him on the back porch so he can be entertained (and probably taunted) by the squirrels in the yard.

Donna Ramey and Jake March 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

Since hubby is retired, Jake gets left very little, so he never seems bored,, actually he seems to enjoy “his” time in his cage on occasion.. If he feels poorly his cage is his where he goes, He knows that when we leave him , we always come back, he gets a treat and something to chew on,, he has his blankie and a toy with him, and he usually sleeps the whole time we are gone,, and when we return,, we play until he is done,,, love our boy
7 lb, chi-pom rescue

Shari Olsen March 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

Having two doxies, they help keep each other entertained…usually by waiting for one another to leave a favorite toy of the day, and then sneak over and take it…haha. They are easily distracted by leaving the blinds open, so that they can see whom, or whatever is out on “their” sidewalk. I just love them, and enjoy watching them play, and then snuggle up with me.

Bee March 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

Walk, walk, walk….
Jake and I walk everyday, rain, snow, sleet freezing cold.
This was a commitment I made when I adopted my high energy dog.
Also we play hunt the treats. I put him in a stay in the kitchen, then hide strong smelling treats though out the house. When he gets the okay he is off and running smelling out goodies.
And plenty of toys to play tug and toss.

Doreen March 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

I have a Boxer/Lab mix who loves to play with her cube. This is a plastic toy that looks like a cube that you fill with treats. We fill it with things that she loves and she pushes it around the house until all the treats are out. My other dogs follow behind and pick up the treats that she misses so it is fun for the whole family.

Jennifer Shreve March 22, 2010 at 9:59 am

I have a 3.5 month old Chihuahua who keeps himself busy but I am always worried about him getting bored when I am at work. Luckily I work in a pet store and I can bring him with me some days. Then he gets to meet tons of new people and dogs!

Dana March 22, 2010 at 10:00 am

We have a yellow lab mix that was a rescue. Houston created a job for himself as official farm greeter. He meets everyone who comes to our gate with a hearty tail wag and a toy (usually a ball, but not always). He is the best goodwill ambassador! He makes new people and dog friends nearly every day. The job keeps him active and taking the toy keeps him fetching. We’re lucky to have found him – he’s a perfect match for our farm lifestyle!

Jada Edwards March 22, 2010 at 10:01 am

Our lab puppy Chewy is a WILD man if he doesn’t get enough exercise! He absolutely requires a daily walk, plenty of fetch, and at least one game of chase!! Follow up with a nice bowl of chow, a grooming session…and he’s the best dog in the world! 🙂

Melissa March 22, 2010 at 10:07 am

I have 30 min pins so you could imagine the hyperactivity in my house! I run a rescue and most of them will always stay with me. Anyway preventing bordom can be a challenge at times..but several of my dogs love golf balls(of all things), they dont chew them they just love to chase them. So all through the day we throw golf balls for them and they run back and forth across our yard(which is huge). So they get tons of exercise that way. Also behind my house is a swamp area that has a good bit of water in it right now. So the ones that will run beside the 4 wheeler without running everywhere else gets to go for a special treat. Running through all the water which they absolutely love and of course it tires them out so much they can’t be bored. Most of the time because i have so many we do things in the yard like play with the golf balls, tennis balls and I also hide treats in the yard and they have a ball hunting them. They are allowed to dig in the front yard so hiding treats right below the surface of the ground is pure joy to them. Min pins are known for hunting small animals and digging for them. So anything that is like work in that area to them is wonderful. When its raining on the other hand its a little more difficult being I have so many. What we do for that is let a few out at a time in the house and play with toys, roll balls and just get on the floor and play also. It is a challenge at times but we usually find ways to prevent boredom with them. They are a happy, healthy bunch that i am proud to call mine!!!

Mary Arnold March 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

My dog loves to play soccer, ride a skateboard, and ride in the peddle boat. He is very active for an english bulldog.

Thomas Martin March 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

we take our 18 month old newfie out to where there are people milling around. He loves people and usually will tire himself out playing with all of his new found friends. by the time we get home, he normally is much calmer a less likely to get into trouble.

Cyndi Frye March 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

We take out Norwegian Elkhound to doggie daycamp twice a week and the Chinese Cresteds get to run around our bakyard. And we use Kongs stuffed with bunches of things, peanut butter, frozen broth, cream cheese and of course kong stuffing!!

Ricky Gibson March 22, 2010 at 10:22 am

Well we have 4 dogs 2 cocker and one shih tzu and all so a poddle we run with them and when we all are in side we are wrestling with them the cocker love that with the other 2 like to play ball so i need all the toys you can send

Julie A. Berg March 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

Our yellow lab, Dave, loves to push around his treat ball filled with treats. To mix it up a bit, we hide these treats around the first floor of our house while Dave is in a STAY commend in our mud room. It’s fun to see him straining to hear where the treats are dropped but we are sure he has no visual clues! We release him by saying “Find It!” and watch as he goes on a Search and Gobble mission. He enjoys it so much that sometimes he’ll go back in the mud room and wait to be called to active duty once again!

Patti Claassen March 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

I have a 14 mo. golden retriever and she has to get her exercise or she’s a terror in the house. If all I have time for is a walk I make sure she gets to do plenty of sniffing, if we have a lot more time we head to the water where I throw a bumper for her to retrieve – she’s nuts about it and it’s quite a workout. But one of her favorites is for the neighbor 1 yr old boxer to come over and play like there’s no tomorrow! They go crazy and we wear out 2 dogs at once! I love an unbored dog!

Trena Blankenship March 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

To relieve boredom my dog is always walked no matter how I feel that day. I have also called in the *hounds* friends that he was raised, and trained with. They have a grand time running and playing. Often we have the tracking, playing educational games. Teaching new tricks, new training methods, and working the mind as well as body.
We often visit family, go for long rides, and walks in the stores. In between time he chases his treat toys around the back patio, and through the house for his meals. Stuffed frozen Kong’s are a favorite during the warm weather along with searching for hidden treats.
To wind our day up we always have a long grooming session that includes a teeth brushing, ear cleaning, and a nice relaxing brush brush with his zoom groom, toe nail check, followed by a massage to help his settle and relax. My Boxer is my Baby, my heart, and soul.

Emily March 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

My Rosie (a 4-year-old Pit) loves playing with her BFF Smoky, an English lab, and loves making puppy friends – unless we’re playing Frisbee or fetch, in which case no one exists but me and the Frisbee/ball. My dad loves walking her and they both get exercise. We play fetch in the house (we have a nice long hall) and work on stay/come with treats.

Sonya Q. March 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

Ever since I got my puppy Harry, my older dog Gracie never has time to be bored! They play together all the time, and tire out at the same time so they nap on the same schedule. I also found the Kong Wubba is able to keep my dogs entertained for a bit when I’m busy cleaning or cooking. I have to look out though because Harry is destroying all the toys he can find since he is teething. 🙂

Colleen March 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

I am a cat person but Mom had a yellow lab called BOB Weir. Bob thinks he is bored all the time even though mom spends most of her time keeping him happy, They play fetch in the yard and visit with friends that come by the yard every day. In warm weather Bob has a pool to play in. When in doors Bob plays tug and fetch with mom and the really weird one . Mom and Bob play hide and seek.
Mom is the one doing the hiding. Bob knows her places to hide , behind doors or curtains and the like. My mom says it is so funny when she hears his paws patter on the floor as he jogs about looking for her. Sounds like a hoot. Yet Bob still thinks he is bored.

Stacie Kenney March 22, 2010 at 11:32 am

I take my dog for a walk in our neighborhood every day. It’s great exercise for her and my kids like to come along. She’s a mastiff, so she can’t go for long periods and doesn’t need the kind of exercise other dogs do. Plus I take along an extra garbage bag and my 5 yr old son loves to pick up trash on our walk to clean up our neighborhood. When we don’t go for walks our girl just loves to chase my kids around the playset or in the snow during winter time.

Sherry G March 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Maddie & I play in the yard with a ball or Kong Wubba. She will play with those inside too to get some energy out if the weather is bad. We are working on leash training so we can take walks soon.

Adriana March 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm

We have 2 big dogs and 2 young kids so we let them play together to wear everyone out! The kids love throwing balls for the dogs and the dogs love being bigger than a couple humans!

Amy S March 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Bella is full of nervous energy and constantly wants SOMETHING to be going on. Squeaky toys keep her entertained, but she’s a Doberman and the average squeaky toy doesn’t last long. Unfortunately, the toys made to stand up to big dogs are hard to squeak, and she doesn’t like that. We’ve been looking for the Perfect Squeaky Toy for the last two years – one soft enough for enjoyable squeaking, but strong enough to stand up to the jaws of doom.

Paula Thorson March 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I have a Service Dog and he always has things to do which he considers play. he thinks it is fun to pick up all the dirty socks and put the. In the laundry basket. if he gets bored he finds something to clean…by picking up and bringing to me or put in garbage can or in laudry basket. He acts so proud of himself when he has done a job.

Okie Sister March 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Daily walks are a must. My girls behave much better after walking.

Kelsey H March 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

We’ve got three dogs, a Boxer, a Lab and a Rottie. They love to play together, or 2 against 1, the Lab and Boxer versus the Rottie. To stave off boredom, we’ll often go for a walk in a new location, even if that means the other side of the street:) In the summer when it is too hot out, we go swimming in the pool. Plenty of toys are also a must. They each have a favourite but there are lots of other toys as well. We put thier toys in a basket so they have to root around to find that one toy to play with. Also we rotate though the toys to reduce wear and tear. For them, an old toy they haven’t had in awhile is just like a brand newone.

India Lipton March 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Charlton is our 7 month old blue Great Dane puppy. We take Charlton to a local outdoor mall that allows dogs and he gets lots of stimulation from all the people that we meet. He has obedience training classes, the dog park… fetch in our yard, neighborhood walks and soon we hope to bring him fishing! He goes to play dates for local meet up groups and weekly visits to at least one pet store.

He has the usual toys but what is most entertaining is he has our talking African Grey parrot to interact with. She likes to “play” with her brother and they both love our home baked cookies (they are safe for most animals) so she asks him if he wants a cookie to get his attention.

People that meet him ask how can a 7 month old puppy be so calm… we think it’s partly his temperament and the other part is being dedicated to his well being as a whole. It takes work… but it’s worth it!

Jean Lindgren March 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

My sons backyard is fenced in, so we take Ozzie there and throw the ball for him. He loves being able to run free. Then he chases the cats and they chase him. Ozzie is usually on a leash since he has not learned to come when called so this is a treat for him. He also likes us to throw the ball in the house-makes it alot easier since he has learned to bring the ball back to us. And chasing a laser light makes him go wild!

Angie Sholar March 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm

We have 3 dogs (labchow mix, bulldog/beagle mix and a toy poodle.. Cosmo, our labchow mix prefers to lounge around and doesnt care one thing about playing.. He much rather just have you brush him or lay on your lap. Astro our bulldog/beagle mix is almost a year old and loves to play fetch and play with our toy poodle, Sadie, who is the same age. We usually go for walks and Sadie likes to ride the go cart with my 10 yr old daughter. It is so cute to watch. Our dogs range from 5 lbs to 80 lbs and if you sit down they are liable to be in your lap.. They are loving dogs..

Ellen B. March 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Thank you all for sharing all the awesome ways you exercise your dog. So many ways to have fun!

Congratulations to the contest winner, Jada Edwards and her lab puppy Chewy.Missed the contest? Be sure to become our Facebook fan or follow us on Twitter!

Keep those pets active!

(Jada, please email your shipping information to Facebook@DrsFosterSmith.com)

Ellen B. March 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm


Don’t give up, old dogs can learn new tricks! Start with quick little things, and be sure to give LOTS of praise for any activity she engages in. Like Melissa’s article suggests, make her sit before she gets fed. After she sits, make a big deal about how SMART and WONDERFUL she is!

Most dogs do best with several exercise periods per day. Build up the length and intensity gradually.

I hope the comments in this post help you with more ideas on what might capture your dog’s interest. Start small, and just keep encouraging her to have fun with activities. Good luck!


[Hi- I’ve got a dog who was completely bored for three years, and now I can’t seem to ‘unbore’ her. She does all the things you list, even when I try to keep her engaged, etc.

Any suggestions?]

Mary Callahan March 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm

My 2 cockers are like kids! They just want some playtime and walks (and LIVE by a schedule!). Seems like a schedule and having some time for them every day is the trick. They seem to adjust to whatever I give them. they just want to know it’s the same every day! They sleep around the play times and walks (am & pm) – and are my best buds!

brittany March 23, 2010 at 10:47 am

Thanks Ellen! Coming home from college to a completely different dog than I left has been a little bit tough. She used to compete in obedience- now she won’t listen unless there is food, right there in my hand!!! And ohmigod, the chewing…

I’m trying, and hopefully some of this ideas will work. Walks seem inevitable, despite my bad shoulder and her bad pulling! 😛

Thanks again,


Marie March 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

Just having fun with your dog seems to be the best dog exercise! I like the rainy day mental exercise options. Interesting thought about dog day care, I’m looking into that in my own community. I like to exercise my own dog, but there are some weeks that too many days go by with minimal exercise. I feel so bad, my dog looks really sad when we can’t go out for fun time.

Tina April 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

We have 2 beagles that we rescued from shelters. We walk them every day on wooded trails regardless of the weather and they LOVE it! Lots of smells and mental and physical exercise. They look forward to their walks and will run down to the garage door and sit by their leashes when they know it is time to go. They also keep each other entertained by having many plays throughout the day. Lucky will pick up a toy and Brandy will chase him all through the downstairs of our house (we call it our “racetrack”). They will also occasionally play tug-of-war. We don’t have any behavior issues w/ either dog. I will always have at least 2 dogs as they just love being w/ each other and the company of the other dog. Of course they both also get tons of people love and affection as well LOL

Roxana February 14, 2011 at 2:04 am

i think taking trips with your dog is a pretty good idea. when i had a dog, i would take advantage of the summer and take week-end trips in nature. she didn’t even need me much then, she would play and run around so much, she would sleep the whole night without problems. fresh air, new smells, new landscapes, new playmates. all in a controlled manner, of course, but it was really fun and they’re some of the best memories i have with her…

Martha May 30, 2014 at 7:04 am

Most of those problems are caused mainly by one reason – lack of physical and psycho-emotional activity. And there is some kind of connection between you and your dog while you play and train. Running is too boring for me and my dog, but we opened for us a Puller, it’s a great dog training device and you don’t need much space. We swim, jump, run and play the tug of war with it. 20 minutes with Puller replaces 5 km intense run.

Thanks for more activities.

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