It may seem like dogs’ emotions are easy to read — wagging tails mean happy, growling means angry, and so on — but that’s not always the case. A wagging tail, for instance, could mean your pup is afraid or warning you to stay away, and a pup’s growl could actually be mean they’re ready to play.

Even harder to determine is if a dog is bored, which can happen if they’re left alone a lot. It’s understandable — most people spend at least eight hours out of their homes, maybe at work or school, and that time can seem like an eternity to a lot of dogs. Dogs are social creatures and like to spend time with their humans, and in many cases, other animals. If your home is a multi-pet home your dog is probably less likely to become bored as easily because they’ll have a friend to play with while you’re gone, but if they’re an only dog there’s a good chance they’ll be bored during the day.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Bored

There are a few different ways your dog might act out if they’re bored:
- Chewing or clawing at furniture, digging in the garbage, or other destructive behavior
- Excessive panting or pacing, or other signs of anxiety
- Licking you more than usual, likely because they want to be close to you
- Hyperactivity, even when they’ve just exercised
All of these are your dog’s way of trying to get your attention and possibly work out some pent-up energy.

How To Keep Your Dog From Getting Bored

Exercise

No matter their age or breed, dogs need daily exercise. Once you get home, they expect you to take them for a walk (or run) and play with them, no matter how wiped out you may be after a day of work or school.

Socializing

If your dog likes other dogs, taking your dog to a dog park or hosting a playdate will let them interact with other dogs and humans, which is crucial in socializing them. Plus, it gives them a chance to get more exercise.

Training Classes

Sign your pup up for an obedience class as this can be a great way to stimulate them! Beginner and Advanced classes are available Other options include nosework, agility, or jump classes.

New Tricks

Classes can be a great learning experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach your dog new tricks yourself. There are plenty of how-to books and online resources out there that’ll take you through the process of training a dog to complete a new task.

Food Puzzles

Mealtime doesn’t have to just be about eating — you can make a game of it. Set up a puzzle feeder with food before you leave in the morning so your dog will have something to work on while you’re gone. Dog food ball dispensers can also be filled with their meal and they must move the ball around the get the kibble. This will keep your pup busy for a while!

Toys

If your pup’s going to be alone for a while, make sure to leave some toys out for them. It’s good to have a rotation of toys so they’re not just playing with the same old ones. Maybe Mondays are for their stuffed toys, Tuesdays are for their tennis balls, and so on. Make sure there is no danger of the toys being swallowed. A Kong stuffed with pet friendly peanut butter and frozen is another great way to keep your pup busy while you are away.

Pet Cams

Many people now use pet cams to keep an eye on their dogs while they’re away, and there are some that allow you to interact with your pup remotely by talking to them or shooting out treats. You can even use the microphone feature to have your dog do some tricks in exchange for a little snack.

Switching Up Their Routine

If you work the same schedule every day, your dog’s schedule will be the same every day. Just like you’d probably be bored doing the same thing each day, so will your dog. Try changing up both your routines as much as you can, whether it’s taking a different path for your evening walk, trying a new dog park, or something special like doga (doggie yoga).

Install a Doggie Door

If you have an escape-proof backyard, a doggie door will let your pup go in and out of your home as they please. Being able to control their change of scenery will help when they’re starting to feel restless.

Midday Walks

Hire a dog walker to come by and take your pup out for a stroll during the day. Alternatively, if you’ll be close enough to home on your lunch break, head back to hang out with your pup and enjoy lunch together.