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The Must Have list for Boredom Busting! | K9 Corner with Shona Nolan

Is your dog bored?

Could they do with some more interesting things to do through the day?


Your dog's energy level is unique to them. So are the activities they enjoy doing. Common problems that stem from boredom include (but are not limited to!) excess digging, chewing, barking, escaping, hyperactivity. Some of these behaviours are normal for dogs but in excess they can become a problem.
By providing plenty of stimulation for your dog you can keep them happy and busy and keep boredom at bay.

There are many things you can do to keep your dog stimulated. Here are some ideas:



Walk your dog daily or numerous times a day

Take them for a run or bike ride

Take them for play with another dog or to the off-leash park (even if they live with other dogs already), or the beach or bush

Play fetch, tug of war, hide and seek or chase with them at home

Take them swimming


THROW AWAY THAT FOOD BOWL!!! Use their food wisely! Break their daily ration into 3 portions. Use one portion for training rewards. Use one portion for hunting activities. Use one portion for problem solving activities. Instead of looking at how many meals a day to feed your dog, try to think of it as how many activities can you make using their food through the day!


Training your dog is a great form of mental exercise and also helps to improve your bond with your dog. Train them every day, make training part of your daily interactions with them. Use portions of their daily meal as well as any activity they enjoy doing as training rewards throughout the day.

Hunting activities can involve hide and seek with food or toys. You can scatter their food over the house/yard for them to hunt out and eat. You can provide a treasure hunt with small piles of their food or treats around the house or yard.


Problem solving activities can include using toys for your dogs food distribution. Stuff food into toys like Kong toys; Buster Cube; or food/treat dispensing ball (my favourite is the Bob A Lot ball by Starmark). Start by stuffing the toy so it is easy for your dog to un-stuff then as your dog gets better at it start making it more challenging! (Note: Buster Cubes and Treat Balls are only recommended for dry food use as they are difficult to clean).Once your dog is a master un-stuffer, my favourite way to stuff a Kong is to moisten their dry food, pack it into their Kong then put it in the freezer until it is frozen then give it to your dog to work at. It will keep them busy for ages!


Use the Nina Ottosson food puzzle toys to have a wonderful interactive session with your dog. By filling the puzzles with your dogs food or treats and teaching them how to get the food out is a great way to bond and play with your dog, and in the process keep them from boredom and makes them smarter too!!


If your dog loves squeaky toys, a great puzzle range of toys are the Hide N Seek plush toys by Plush Puppies - the Hide A Squirrel, Hide A Bee and Hide A Bird toys, the IQube and Cagey Qube and the Egg Babies toys. These are designed for your dog to learn how to get the squeaky toys out of the puzzle and are versatile as they can be used with food/treats also.


If your dog can be safely given these items they can make for great cheap toys: Plastic PET bottles like milk bottles and Coke bottles and the large 2 Ltr tomato sauce bottles. Either give on their own for your dog to play with or fill with food/treats. Remove lids and plastic rings before giving the bottle to your dog.


Cardboard boxes on their own to shred or as hiding places for treats for your dog to break open and earn the treats. You can also hide their raw bones inside boxes and even then hide the box too so your dog has to find the box and then break it open to access the bone - how much fun is that!


Iceblocks are great all year but expecially in summer. Iceblocks can be made in Kongs or ice cream containers, the bigger they are the longer they last too! Use any kind of liquid your dog likes - meat stock, pet milk, canned tuna, soup etc.


Pine cones are great to stuff food and treats into for your dog to play with an eat treats out of.


Raw eggs can be fun for your dog to play with and eat, shell and all. Why not hide one in a box for them to find?


Your dog should have a huge variety of toys like squeaky toys, plush toys, rubber toys, rope/fleece toys etc. It is recommended to rotate the toys 2 - 3 times a week and provide 5 - 10 toys at a time. Have enough so that your dog only sees the same toy once a month. Once you have your stash of toys you only need to replace the ones that get destroyed.


Always check that the toys are in good condition and safe to leave with your dog. If your dog cannot be left alone safely with toys or food puzzles, do these activities when you are home and can supervise them.


For a full range of Kong products or for further ideas on stuffing Kongs, check out their website Kongs can also be found at  


For the Buster Cube check out


For Bob a Lot balls and other great Boredom Buster toys including the Nina Ottosson toys and the Puzzle Plush toys check out


Spending time with other dogs is important, as previously mentioned. Doggy play cannot be replicated in any other way.

Spending time with their human family is essential. Dogs do not cope well when isolated in the backyard. They are a very social species and when denied the opportunity for companionship they will invariably develop behaviour problems.

Teach your dog house rules so that they can spend time inside with the family. They will benefit from both active socialising as well as passive. Simply enjoying your company while you watch telly should not be underestimated.


Play games with your dog regularly. This builds a strong bond and gives you a great opportunity to incorporate obedience training into play time.


Massage or cuddle time is also a great way to build a good relationship. It also teaches your dog to be comfortable with handling and allows you to keep a good check of their body. This way you can note any changes early that may require veterinary attention.


Practising obedience exercises is another fantastic way to improve your relationship with your dog. Do some training every day, in fact make it a regular part of your interactions with your dog and you will see a big improvement in your dog's behaviour. Attend regular training courses to keep you and your dog stimulated with training and meet and socialise with other dog minded people.



Remember, you chose your dog, they didn't choose you. It is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is taught how to live with humans and also that you provide them with adequate stimulation and socialisation to prevent behaviour problems and to keep them happy.