7 Signs Your Pet is Bored

Charmaine Griffin
July 18, 2020

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Your pet is unusually restless lately tearing through furniture, fighting with fur friends, and begging for more treats. If you’re scratching your head and wondering why their behavior has drastically changed, we may have an answer. 

Your pet could be bored!

Yes, boredom strikes for our pups and kitties too. When they experience boredom, they aren’t able to articulate their needs. Instead, they show, rather than tell. Suddenly your dog or cat is begging for more treats and chasing their tail far more than usual. 

Signs like these indicate your pet needs some attention –– whether that’s in the form of extended playtime or adding another fur friend to the mix. 

Studies have found that animals, similar to humans, become bored and can develop signs of depression or anxiety if left under stimulated for long periods of time. Some animals will even engage in self-stimulating behaviors in an attempt to self-soothe, like repetitive or abnormal behaviors when they lack mental and social engagement.

Recognizing the warning signs will make your fur baby happy, and prevent any possible long-term effects of boredom.

1. Destroying or Damaging Furniture 

Is your pet acting out and scratching up your favorite couch or randomly chewing through the coffee table legs?

While they might normally go after the furniture when there aren’t any toys or chews available, notice if their actions have become excessive. This could look like scratching or chewing household items for long periods of time or being destructive in areas of the house they usually avoid. 

2. Repetitive Behaviors

Did you know pets can develop impulsive actions as a form of pet obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? Usually, as a result of stress, anxiety, or boredom, they will continually repeat a behavior. 

Be extra mindful if you notice any of these signs in your pet. 

Dogs

  • Pacing
  • Tail chasing
  • Spinning
  • Shadow or light chasing
  • Excessive licking, scratching or biting

Cats

  • Excessive Licking
  • Pulling or ripping fur
  • Chewing or sucking fabric
  • Meowing repeatedly

Some of these behaviors can be very harmful, so be sure to monitor your pet if they’re displaying these signs. 

3. Overeating or Begging

You’re eating dinner and your cat or dog suddenly pounces near your plate, with the cutest eyes ever. They do this pretty often and you’re used to it! But if you notice your pet is begging more than usual, there may be another issue going on.

Eating too much and begging could suggest your pet needs more entertainment. Even a long-lasting chew or toy could offer some relief.

4. Eliminating Around The House

Boredom can also look like pooping and peeing in places around the house not designated for potty trips. If your well-trained pet is suddenly changing their bathroom behaviors, it could be a sign. It may feel like your pet is trying to get revenge but rarely will they relieve themselves in places where they shouldn’t just for funsies. 

Be sure to rule out all other possibilities like if your pet is pregnant, nursing, in the pup or kitty age range or senior, before taking any steps to prevent boredom. 

5. Excessive Sleeping

On average cats sleep up to 16 hours each day and dogs sleep up to 14 hours per day. Depending on their age (puppies vs. seniors for instance) the amount of time they need to sleep fluctuates.

Notice if your pet is sleeping all-day. While they might take naps here and there, they shouldn’t be sleeping 24/7. 

If they are sleeping more than usual and you’ve ruled out any potential health issues, then they are probably bored. As humans, we tend to sleep or eat when there is nothing left to do, which is also true for our pets.

6. Fighting with Other Pets

When your pet is bored they’ll find anything to entertain themselves –– even if that means their other fur family members or friends. This could look like fights at random when they’re usually cordial with other pets or showing aggressive behavior during walks.

Of course, pets tend to play fight for fun. But how do you know when the fighting has turned serious? 

Signs of aggressive fighting: 

  • Excessive chasing/corning other pets
  • Physically harming another pet
  • Alertness (stiff tail or gaze)
  • Hissing or barking

Be sure to stop the behavior and separate the pets immediately if things get out of hand.

7. Attention-Seeking 

When your dog or cat is extra cuddly, it’s always a treat! Those snuggle moments are exactly why you’re a pet parent in the first place, right?

Except when your fur baby is whining, nudging, and begging for your attention 24/7. You might continually tell them to stop the behavior, but they’re communicating a different message to you. They’re most likely bored and need some form of engagement. 

There are ways to curve your pet’s boredom by making a few simple changes. And by simple, we mean changes you can start implementing today!

Ways to Solve Boredom 

When pets don’t have enough ways to engage their natural instincts to run, play, or hunt, they get restless. Left untreated, this can turn into anxiety and depression. Dogs and cats need stimulation from exercise, attention, other fur friends, chew toys, treat-dispensing toys, and opportunities to explore. 

  • Be sure to have plenty of toys available around the house for your pets, especially the toys they love the most. Consider toys that are engaging like puzzle toys or even simply adding a few treats to a pet-safe household item (egg carton, bottle, or container). 
  • Low-calorie treats like our Redbarn Protein Puffs for dogs and cats are a great high-protein option to give your pet the fuel they need to play, without packing on pounds. These puffs are perfect for enhancing games and puzzles. 
  • Scratching posts are especially important for cats, along with areas where they can climb and windows for perching to see the outside world. For dogs, activity posts and agility obstacle courses are fun ways to keep them busy while inside. 
  • It’s important to get your pet up and moving! Increasing playtime, even if it’s an extra 10-minutes a day can make a huge difference.
  • Consider fun activities that get them running and tired from all of the play, like using laser toys, balls, or plushies for fetching or even setting up a few playdates to get their fur friends involved. 
  • Avoid punishing your dog or cat when they’re acting out, as this could lead to feelings of fear and anxiety. 

If you’ve tried several options and your pet is still showing signs of boredom, consult your veterinarian as there may be another underlying issue. 

 

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