Are Small Dogs Bored Dogs?

A lot of attention has been given to dog behaviour recently, and specifically to the ways our dogs see the world (in our case, not too well!).  I’m thinking of programs such as Victoria’s Stilwell’s ‘It’s Me or the Dog’, Cesar Millan’s ‘The Dog Whisperer’ (although the less attention paid to him the better) and Dr John Bradshaw’s fantastic book, ‘In Defence of Dogs’.

We seem to be slowly catching on to the fact that dogs, descended from wolves and domesticated in order to work with us, get bored if they have nothing to do. A ‘naughty’ dog is usually a bored dog who chews the furniture, barks himself hoarse at the smallest noise and shoves his nose into everything simply because he hasn’t got anything better to do.

In all of these discussions the spotlight is on burly, boisterous BIG dogs.  In part this is because large breeds were bred to spend all day herding sheep, retrieving game or guarding homes and so they require a lot of mental as well as physical exercise. But its also big bored dogs cause big damage and destruction.

Little dogs tend to get overlooked and I have a feeling that as a result many owners are failing to adequately enrich their small dogs.  Perhaps because they don’t realize how important it is to stimulate their dog’s brains. Or maybe because if their dog is bored it’s just the dog that suffers and not their table legs?

I won’t deny that BlindDog is a lapdog and was bred to be expert at receiving cuddles, getting tummy rubs and sleeping on the sofa.  And believe me, she excels at all of these jobs.

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But BlindDog also has Water Dog and Poodle in her long ancestry, both dogs which were bred to retrieve waterfowl and assist sailors.  When BlindDog is splashing through puddles, racing over snow or following a scent through the undergrowth, you can really see the big, working dog behind the fluffy, teddy bear haircut.

When small dogs are bored they can turn into attention seeking, noisy, destructive (and sometimes aggressive) brats. They might be able to do limited damage, but there’s no limit on the damage being bored can do to them.

On this blog you’ll find lots of ideas for ways to keep any dog (big or small) enriched, engaged and entertained.


10 thoughts on “Are Small Dogs Bored Dogs?

  1. Pingback: Interactive Dog Toys: Unlocking your Dog’s Potential | Old Dog New Tricks

  2. Since I’ve always had big dogs it never occurred to me that small-dog owners would not be reading/thinking the same things about doggy enrichment, games, or activities. I know some very active small dogs online — who know lots of tricks, games, obedience skills, or service skills. I’m glad you’re raising awareness about small dogs needing activities, too!

    • Hi and thanks for your comment. I really enjoy your blog about Barnum and Gadget, it sounds as though he was a dog in a million! I think your product reviews are great and I’m trying to provide something similar for owners of small dog with slightly different needs. I started this blog because I’d always planned to have a big dog and had done a lot of research into how to direct their energy and keep them busy. BlindDog came to us by chance but I found she benefits from mental stimulation just as much.

  3. All pets are intelligent and in the wild they would not be bored – rather they would be hunting or hunted. I have noted that even the cats in my life have demanded a stimulating life. Like you I discourage owners of pets from criticizing their pets and try to find a simple solution, Dogs and Cats are athletes and look to us for companionship and guidance. Having them sitting around like toys is no good – mentally & physically. Pet birds also fall into this hole of neglect.

    • Hi, I agree with you and think people often fall into the trap of treating little dogs like toys or babies and end up with unhappy, unstimulated dogs as a result. I’m always trying to think of new ways to challenge and engage with BlindDog. Stay tuned for more ideas!

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