18/06/2019 - Latest News
Is your dog anxious or just bored?
I believe that, in some cases boredom can lead to anxiety in dogs. Find out how you can help your dogs to stay calm by making more of their natural talents.
Signs of boredom in dogs
Before we start looking more closely at anxiety and boredom in dogs, it’s worth remembering that canine behaviour is a very complex subject. Boredom is not the only cause of anxiety.
If you think your dog is bored, by all means look at ways to make their lives more interesting. But please check first with someone who is trained to understand canine body language…especially if your pet is reactive to people or to other dogs. It’s important to understand what your dog really needs.
Can boredom really lead to anxiety?
Boredom is not the sole cause of anxiety in dogs but it can certainly make the problem worse. The good news is that many dogs with behavioural problems respond beautifully to having structured activities in their lives.
Let’s think for a moment about how the brain processes information
Dogs are mammals, just like us. And although their brains are slightly different (the part of a dogs brain that processes smells is 40 times bigger than the corresponding part of a human brain) doggy brains and human brains basically work in the same way.
The brain processes millions of bits of information in astonishingly quick time. For humans it’s estimated at 6 million information bytes PER SECOND. Much of that information gets processed by the subconscious mind and there’s no reason to think that a dog’s brain is any different.
For example. How does your little toe feel right now? I’ll wager you didn’t even know until you read that sentence. But your brain knew. The subconscious part of your brain registers EVERYTHING – it just doesn’t draw your attention to stuff that you don’t need to know at that moment. So when you walk down the street, your subconscious brain notices the temperature, the surface you’re walking on, vehicles on the road, shops, people etc etc etc. Whereas the conscious part of your brain is focussing on the source of that delicious coffee smell or the things on your shopping list.
If however you were doing nothing. Not reading this blog, not watching TV or checking your phone, not eating dinner, driving or chatting – nothing. It’s more likely that you would start to notice other things in your environment. Little noises, cars going past, the spider in the corner etc etc etc
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when the brain is idle, it starts to make its own entertainment. I’ve heard people refer to the “monkey mind” – it keeps chattering away with nothing helpful to say. If that “chattering” is prolonged or gets out of hand – it can turn into anxiety. And seems to apply just as much to dogs as it does to people.
How can you keep your dog’s brain busy?
Your dog can’t turn the telly on, do a jigsaw or phone a friend to pass the time. Fido’s mental stimulation is entirely dependent on what you provide.
There is a big difference between mental stimulation and physical exercise. Yes, dogs do need their walks and it’s great that you as an owner are willing to provide that exercise. But have you ever heard anyone say that they just can’t wear their dog out? Maybe you’ve said something similar yourself. “A 2 hour walk every day and he’s still not tired”. That’s because the dog’s brain is still whirring. In order for Fido to switch off, he or she needs to use up that excess mental energy. And if you don’t give that brain something to do – there’s a good chance it will invent an activity for itself.
How to give your dog’s brain the very best workout
The good news is that there is a way to give your dog’s brain a really good workout. A workout so good that after just 20 minutes or so, all your dog can do is sleep. That brain workout is called Sniffer dog training. And here’s what I like about it.
During my work with the Metropolitan Police I noticed that sniffer dogs are only asked to work for 45 minutes or so – after that time they need a good long nap. I KNOW that sniffer dog training is really effective at calming an anxious or excitable dog and I can’t wait to show you how well it works.
Premier Dog Training in Romford offers sniffer dog training in groups or as one to one sessions. “You and your dog will train with a former metropolitan police officer using the same techniques used to train police and military sniffer dogs.” If you’d like to, you can work towards nationally recognised awards.
Learn more about sniffer dog training
More articles about helping your dog to chill out
How to calm an excitable dog
How to handle your dog’s destructive behaviour
Does your dog’s breeding affect its needs and behaviour?