Having a bored pup around your house is similar to letting a toddler wander into a room unsupervised: Everything you own looks great one minute, and the next you're making a trip to the store to buy new stuff. To keep your bored pup entertained instead of destructive, call on the help of toys, games and maybe even a doggy friend or two.
Play games, such as fetch, catch, monkey in the middle and tug-o-war. High-energy games, such as the ones mentioned, rile up your pup and keep boredom at bay. They’re also an opportunity for you two to form a closer bond. Playing a game or two in the morning especially helps, because most pups have just had plenty of rest and they're ready to do some fun canine stuff, and that usually doesn’t include sitting around.
Open the blinds and windows. If you’re not home or you’re too busy to play with your pup, letting him see what’s going on outside can keep him busy for hours, or at least one hour, depending on how fast he gets bored. Open the blinds, lift up the windows and let him stare at the birds and sniff all the smells floating around out there.
Show him the magic that is a stuffer toy. Stuffer toys look like innocent animals or caricatures, but what your puppy doesn't know is that they have a magic ability to hide his smaller toys, like squeaky balls, inside. When he grabs the stuffer toy, he'll also grab the other toys you stuffed in there. Some dogs enjoy just making the toys squeak, while others attempt to retrieve their precious cargo from inside.
Fill a bone or rubber toy designed to hold yummy fillings and treats. Aim for hardy bones, such as femur bones, that can last even a big pup nearly his entire life, so your dog isn't at risk of swallowing tiny pieces and splinters. Add a bit of yogurt and a few pieces of cheese inside and stick the toy or bone in the freezer for a bit. Once it's frozen, toss it to your bored pup and he'll probably work at it for quite a while. You don't have to freeze the toys or bones, but doing so makes the filling and treats last longer.
Rotate your pup's toys. Your dog takes toys from his basket, litters the floor with them like a child would, and then you stack the toys back into the basket. The only problem with this continual loop is that your little guy likely plays with the same toys over and over again. Some dogs dig all the way into the bottom of their basket, but for most, it's easier to grab what's on top. Bring back some older memories by showing him toys he hasn't played with recently. Anything that he sees as new and fresh will make him more excited.
Arrange a play date. Maybe it's a bit too chilly for a walk outside or too rainy to go to the dog park. Whatever the case, call up a friend or family member and ask him to bring his pup over to play with yours. Good, old-fashioned canine play dates are sure to stir your dog's excitement.
Make puzzles for your pup to figure out. Puzzles serve as one of the best ways to stimulate your dog's mind. Stuffer toys are puzzles in themselves, but try for something else, like hiding your pup's ball under his bed, or creating a cardboard maze for your pup to try and find his way out of. Make him use his mind to find a solution to the problem you created.
Make sure any toys you leave for your pup to play with unsupervised are safe and will not break into pieces or splinter.
Only give your pup uncooked bones. Cooked bones splinter into pieces very easily.
If your pup's a serious chewer, femur bones may not be a good idea. Although they will last, your pup may cut his gums on the edges of the bone. Keep on the lookout for injuries to his mouth.
You may want to open only the blinds and not the windows if your pup tends to bark at noises. The less noise coming in, the better. If he barks at anything that moves, opening the blinds probably isn't a good idea, either.
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images