Ideally, a dog’s kennel will be a safe place for them to relax and enjoy some downtime. However, dogs can very easily become bored in their kennel. This is especially problematic for dogs that naturally have a high energy level and for dogs that spend very large amounts of time in their kennel.
In the best-case scenario, a dog won’t spend too much time in their kennel. However, in some circumstances, such as is the case for many shelter dogs, reducing kennel time just isn’t an option. Whether the dogs in your care spend more time in a kennel than they would prefer or they get plenty of exercise but are still having periods of boredom, here are some ideas for preventing dog boredom during kennel time.
Use Puzzle Toys for Feeding
For the vast majority of dogs, eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures and sources of entertainment. Using puzzle toys or food distributing toys is a great way to extend the entertainment of mealtime and keep dogs from getting bored in their kennels.
The right kind of toys will depend on the dog. For powerful chewers, opt for tough rubber toys that are nearly indestructible, such as Kong toys. For small dogs or dogs with more finesse, toys from the Nina Ottosson series are a great selection.
Experiment with different kinds of toys, but be careful to always watch dogs using the toys for some time before leaving them alone with them, as toys can become choking or impaction risks.
Introduce Quick Training Games
You probably think about training as something that should take place in a structured environment or at least as you have face-to-face time with the dog, not while the dog is behind the bars of the kennel. However, training dogs in the kennel is a great way to get more control of your kennel environment at the same time as you reduce boredom in dogs.
Clicker training works very well even when dogs are behind the bars of the kennel. You can reward positive behavior, such as dogs being quiet instead of barking when people or other dogs walk by.
You can also shape individual behaviors. Dogs can be trained to sit, lie down, stay, speak, and much more within the confines of their kennel. Consider keeping a pail of treats near each kennel and playing a brief training game with each dog as you walk by.
Consider Kenneling Together
For dogs that are dog friendly and particularly dogs that get along with a particular dog that they have befriended, you may want to think about kenneling dogs together instead of separately. There are certainly risks in kenneling together, the most obvious being that dogs would have disagreements or get sick of each other in the confined space and become aggressive with one another.
However, for the right dogs in the right circumstances, co-kenneling can give dogs the opportunity to play, snuggle, and socialize instead of being lonely and bored in a solitary kennel. Only consider this option if dogs have done very well in playgroups outside of the kennel and if they do not show any aggression towards one another under any circumstances.
Even very well-matched dogs should be given time away from each other periodically, both to avoid aggression developing and to keep dogs from becoming co-dependent on one another.
Use Chew Toys
Chewing is natural for dogs. The vast majority of dogs find it to be a very relaxing and soothing behavior. When not provided with appropriate chew toys, many dogs take to chewing on their kennel or themselves.
Depending on the type of dog you’re kenneling, a variety of different chew toys may be appropriate. Natural chew toys like esophagus, tendon, and bully sticks are a healthy supplement to a dog’s diet as well as being a very engaging chew.
Dogs that don’t swallow rawhide may also be provided with this affordable chew option. However, when swallowed, rawhide can be a serious impaction risk, so be very careful with offering this option. Himalayan cheese chews are a long-lasting and healthy selection that many dogs love.
Artificial chew toys are also a great option. Various types of nylabones, rubber chew toys, etc can all be highly beneficial to soothe your dog’s boredom. Many times, food distributing toys such as Kong toys also work very well when used as chew toys, so the same toy can do double duty when it’s full and when it’s empty.
Maintain a Routine
Dogs that know what is going to happen next may be less likely to become bored. A dog that knows they will be kenneled for a certain number of hours after the morning walk or outing before they get their afternoon outing are less likely to become hyperactive and bored than dogs that can’t predict when they’ll be able to get out again after they’ve been put away. As much as possible, maintain a routine for activities such as getting out of their kennel, training, and feeding.
Exercise and Stimulate as Much as Possible
Dogs can’t always get out of the kennel as much as would be ideal. However, when dogs do get out of the kennel, you want to provide them with as much exercise and enrichment as you possibly can. Instead of leaving a dog alone in the play yard to occupy themselves, play fetch, tug of war, or something else to get their energy out.
Activities like agility and obedience stimulate the body and mind, which are more likely to tire a dog out and help them to relax once they’re in the kennel again. Many people find that using treadmills to exercise multiple dogs at once is a great way to get their energy out in between periods of being kenneled. Going on walks to new places and meeting new people and dogs is also very stimulating and can help dogs to relax when they’re back in their kennel.
Keep Dogs from Experiencing Boredom in The Kennel
Kennel time is not likely to be the most exciting time in a dog’s life. It is natural that they will occasionally experience boredom. However, by introducing some of these things into a dog’s kennel time, you can do a lot to keep them entertained and reduce the boredom that they experience while they are in the kennel.
To learn more about Horizon Structures line of safe, high quality dog kennels, please visit our kennel page at horizonstructures.com or give us a call at (610) 593-7710 and speak to one of our knowledgeable kennel specialists.