How to Be Bored

Maplewood Dog

Often times life for dogs involves a fair amount of “hurry up and wait.”

Waiting for meals to get prepared, walks to happen, car rides to end, owners to return home, balls to be thrown, for neighbors to stop chatting and get on with the walk.

For owners with competition goals, they need their dog to have the skills of hurry up and wait in even more intense settings such as waiting for their handler to return from a walk through, waiting for the turn in the ring, waiting for the next run.

Being bored is a skill.

So when’s the last time you trained it?

Sure sometimes the more active skills like jumps and tunnels and heeling and all those flashy things seem more fun. But learning to be bored, to hurry up and wait, is a life essential skill. It’s a stress tolerance skill, a stress recovery skill, an energy conservation skill. Also a “how not to drive your humans to distraction” skill. Sometimes a safety skill. Taking the time to learn to chill out, let the world pass on by, hang, breathe, be. Be bored.

Black and white spaniel lying on a purple dog bed looking bored
Dulce spaniel being bored waiting for more fun to occur

It’s hard for many of us people. Myself included, it’s an on-going practice for sure! And can be challenging for our dogs as well.

So where do you start?

Training a down stay (with or without a mat) can be a start. Then maybe adding in not just any down position, but one that’s likely to increase chance of a more relaxed response like with your dog’s head resting on the floor, maybe flopped on a hip or their side, actively reinforce when they are breathing more deeply or slowly, if their eyes are blinking or even closed. You build to increase time, and resistance to distractions.

Then take your mat and your dog and this skill on the road. You practice generalizing it. Maybe you start in your living room. Then your back porch. Maybe your front yard where the cars pass 30′ away. Maybe your car. Then shopping plaza parking lot with your dog being bored in your back seat or their car crate. Maybe the park to start with on a quiet day. Maybe over time the park on a busier day. Maybe to training class. Maybe to your next dog show. Maybe to your next family dinner at your sisters house.

Maybe over time you help your dog practice just hanging out. Being bored. Embracing they have been taught the skill of hurry up and wait.

In a crate with door open a corgi and a spaniel lie down on a bed, next  to them a black lab lies on a separate bed.  All dogs look bored
Zora, Dulce and Rock-it, all very bored, wishing I’d finish with work and get to the fun stuff with them!

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