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By Dr. Caitlin O’Donoghue
A bored dog is a dog that’s bound to get into trouble. As much as we’d all love to spend endless hours engaging and playing with our pups, sometimes you have pesky things to do like “go to work” and “leave the house to run basic errands”. This is when destruction happens! Unwanted behaviors (aka coming back home to ruined furniture) primarily result from boredom and anxiety. Because pups will always be able to find SOMETHING to chew on, let’s make sure it’s not your favorite pair of sneakers. It just takes a little bit of prep. Behavioral experts would call it thinking about “dog enrichment”.
Make mealtime a challenge by using puzzle bowls & treat-dispensing toys – or better yet, a combination of both! This has the added benefit of preventing your pup from scarfing too quickly and (literally) inhaling their food. Chat with our team to get specific recommendations.
Anyone who’s had a puppy knows that having appropriate things around the house for them to chew is CRITICAL. But it’s also good for adult dogs too – the mechanical action of chewing is beneficial for oral health since it can prevent tartar buildup. Kongs are great because there are endless possibilities as to what they can be filled with, and the material is tough enough to withstand repeated biting while being soft enough to not break teeth. Try freezing dog-friendly broth inside (low sodium, no garlic or onions) for hours of engagement without the calories.
Think about it– what’s the first thing a dog does when it meets a new buddy? A dog’s sense of smell is a powerful driver for canines which means it can be a great way to enrich your canine companion’s daily activities. Using novel scents on abandoned toys and beds can help re-engage your pet and keep them interested. You can even use commercially-available synthetic animal scents and have your pup track and locate specific toys. Leaving a pet with a blanket or pillow that has your scent can be great to keep them calm while you’re away.
What is the one thing your dog loves most (aside from you)? Use that singular obsession to help train helpful behaviors and keep them out of trouble. Do they love walks? Make them sit and stay before you put the leash on. Hungry? Same thing for treats or their meals. You can even use your attention as a reward by giving praise for desired behaviors and requiring a sit-and-stay prior to petting and engagement sessions.