What’s inside your dog’s head?

With dogs that I see, it’s often a soggy brain. A splodgy mass of underused grey matter that has hardly been exercised at all. In the real estate world they would say it’s a brain with ‘lots of potential’. Many a dog’s head is an unimproved cerebral wasteland devoid of any active neurons, crying out for a caring brain architect to connect the neurons and to develop a fun park of intelligence.

If you have a dog which is ‘home alone’ all day or have a work-depleted working dog, it too, is likely to have a soggy brain unless you know what to do. Boredom is the scourge of backyard dogs.

How do you know if your dog is bored?

Look for destructive behaviours and noise. If your dog digs swimming-pool-sized holes in your garden, if it rips washing from the line, destroys garden furniture and savages sprinkler systems then it’s a bored backyard dog. If it is chewing holes in your wooden fences or gates or is chewing the door jambs or destroying the fly screens on your back door it has a bigger problem. If it howls, barks or whines for most of the day and your letter box is jammed with hate mail when you get home from work, or worse still, if your dog is perpetually escaping, it has a serious problem. It is even worse if your dog is trembling, shaking, hyperventilating or salivating excessively when you are away from it.

All of these disasters happen when a dog is bored or worse still, when it has a separation anxiety. Casual boredom during the day can quickly become a full-blown separation anxiety as the dog learns that whenever you leave for work you are always gone for a long time.

How to ban boredom

The solution is to provide a healthy and stimulating lifestyle for your pet when you’re home and when you’re away. You don’t want a dull area of dismal confinement equivalent to pooch purgatory.  Instead your back yard should be a Happy Hound’s Playground, A Mutt’s Mind-Enriching Nirvana, a Dog’s Arena of Delight.

How do you create that for your dog?

‘When Home’ Boredom Blasters 

Firstly be sure you have a happy hound – not a street freak.

Firstly be sure you have a happy hound – not a street freak.

Aerobic exercise, especially when owners get involved, is a delight for dogs.  However, many dog owners think that taking the dog for long walks to a local park or for a daily vigorous jog is the best form of exercise.

To me, this focus is wrong. While the exercise is good, the location is not. Where does your dog spend most of its time? In your backyard. Therefore, the backyard needs to become the focus, not the street beyond.

Your dog needs to know that the grass is greener on your side of the fence. Rather than spending five days per week walking or jogging your dog around the suburbs, you would do a lot better spending at least four of those days doing aerobic exercise and brain work with your dog in your own backyard. The yard has to be much more fun than the street.