View Full Version : Bored Spaniel... how can we help him?

Cloudberry Firemaiden
16th November 2006, 01:22 PM
We're a bit worried about our youngest Cavalier, Dandy. He's just under 2 years old and very bright and active, he learns commands quickly but perhaps because of this intelligence he gets bored very easily and seems to want something more challenging than his current daily routine.

We'd thought about agility, but we use public transport and the only way to get to the nearest agility club is quite a long way into the country and no bus routes run that way. There's a dog park we take him to but there are no toys allowed there in order to avoid fights, and he doesn't always find a good playmate to play with.

He plays with us and one of our other Cavaliers at home, but that doesn't seem to be enough for him, he sometimes chases his tail and bites, which is very depressing to watch. We also try taking him to see the dogs of friends but he seems to be much more picky nowadays about who he plays with than he used to be, and often he just sits on the sofa and refuses to respond to play invitations.

Sometimes he will have played for a long time with one of our dogs, and then immediately chases his tail despite having received plenty of attention and activity, which seems very odd.

We've tried using toys with snacks hidden inside them so he can "hunt" for his food, but they tend to cause fights with the other Cavaliers who are just as greedy to get hold of the nice treats, so it's not something we dare do very often.

Anyone got any ideas to suggest, because we're running out of them!

16th November 2006, 02:34 PM
Tail chasing can be a symptom of other things so keep an eye on him just in case. However a lot of dogs tail chase for various reasons. Some think it is an obsessive-compulsive behaviour for some dogs. Jaspar occasionally tail chases and did this a lot as a puppy so it is not necessarily something to be really worried about. If though he is refusing play inviations and jst wants to sit -- I'd be wondering if there could be other reasons for this -- for example perhaps he is uncomfortable in other ways. I'd be considering having a vet check him just to be sure, and also considering perhaps a neurologist to check reactions and make sure this isn;t part of some larger picture.

On kongs/stuffed food toys -- why not give him this in a crate to stay busy? Or give all the dogs a kong? :) Just giving him one *would* tend to cause problems I think! Most dogs love kongs and enjoy the mental activity and jaw activity of getting at the food.

Also you can do a lot of challenging things with him at home. Why not get one of Karen Pryor's books on clicker training and start him doing that? You can work up to doing 'free form' clicker training where it is a game where the dog needs to figure out what behaviour is wanted to get 'clicked' and once that behaviour is understood then you immediately set a new one, so it is a kind of flowing, very mentally challenging activity. This will really challenge him and tire him out! Many places offer clicker training classes and there are videos too if you want to stick with home training. You can even clicker train a cat! :)


Also you can train him to identify different objects/toys and train to searcha nd retrieve. You can do this with a hidden tea bag, that he has to find in the room and return to you! You can make it more and more difficult. Jaspar, my active boy, really loves doing 'find' command activities like this outside with a toy.

16th November 2006, 03:51 PM
My trainer recommended getting a Mini-Buster Cube and using it to give Cappy his daily kibble ration. I separate my two dogs during this time. Sometimes I use this time to work with Abby. Other times use the x-pen to divide the kitchen into two areas to keep the dogs separate so Cappy can concentrate on getting the food from the cube and Abby can eat and rest in peace. Here's some info:

Here's the distributor in Finland:
Berner OY/Eläinlääkeosasto
Eteläranta 4 B, FIN-15, Fin-00131 Helsinki
Tel.: +358 91 34 511, fax: +358 91 34 51 241

16th November 2006, 04:42 PM
Another good idea! :thmbsup:

Cathy Moon
16th November 2006, 05:26 PM
He sounds like a dog that needs agility!

Some agility equipment is easy to build. If you're interested, there have been threads with links posted on how to build agility equipment. Try using Search. Also, I made my own jumps very easily and will post photos, if you are interested.

Here is information about several Clean Run agility books that have been translated into Finnish and are sold in Finland, you have to scroll down:

I subscribe to Clean Run magazine, and there are lots of lessons and exercises to learn every month in the magazine. :flwr:

I would probably spend three 20 minute periods a day with just him, doing different activities: take him for a walk, visit someone, play fetch, play hide and seek, do fun obedience, practice agility, etc. :flwr:

16th November 2006, 05:52 PM
I used to exercise Zack about twice as much as i do now, i simply was making regular trips to the dog park where exercise was perfect. now that i go less, i can see that he is more likely to show signs of boredom. My plan right now is to get a small bike and to take him for runs in the morning and in the evening in addition to the night walk. How much running, how fast, how far, how long, will depend on Zack. I've been calling people on Craigs list who are selling small kids bikes, just something where i can roll slowly along at a speed that will keep up with zack's galloping. I've heard from a couple of people that this is a good way of helping a dog burn up some energy.