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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nipping Away At Boredom

I've spent a lot of time thinking about summer boredom and I've come to one important realization: children are a lot like dogs.

Don't growl at me. I'm serious.

Think about it...

Dogs need lots of stimulation or they will grow bored and find all kinds of trouble. Now, we all know children won't eat a pair of shoes or pee on the rug (scratch that, I know someone whose son does that very thing when bored), but a child will find all sorts of mischief when suffering from an extreme case of ennui.

Bored dogs are unhappy dogs... ones who tend to cause trouble. They bark; they whine; they follow closely nipping at your heels. These dogs aren't trying to irritate their owners; they are just trying to find ways to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, often that involves gouging furniture or digging holes in the backyard. Sound familiar?

Yeah, for me, too.

So what do dog owners do to keep their four-legged friends busy?

Provide the dog with the opportunity to interact with objects. Now, we can bring a dog to a rubber toy, but we can't make him chew. It's not our responsibility to help the dog chew the toy, but keeping it in the house or yard is a great start. What are your children's "chew toys?"

Teach your dog a few simple games like fetch and hide-and-seek. You'd be amazed at how few dogs know these games anymore... and cooperative games really do alleviate boredom. What outdoor games can you teach your children? We look forward to the day our daughter is old enough to play Capture the Flag, but right now we content ourselves with enforcing the rules of Red Light, Green Light and other simple games.

Provide the dog with social interaction at least once a day. Dogs love to play with their owners and also other dogs. It's what they love. It's what they do. How can you help your child develop friendships with peers? What can you do with your child, for at least 30 minutes each day, that you BOTH will enjoy?

Take the dog for a walk every day, since dogs need exercise and a chance to experience the world's smells. We personally love to go letterboxing at least once a week during the warmer months, in addition to our regular walks. What about you?

As man's best friend and helpful companion, dogs were bred for specialized jobs. Terriers cleared out vermin; sporting dogs retrieved the hunt; working dogs protected property and sheep dogs moved sheep. Today, dogs experience that same genetic exuberance as their ancestors, but most live a life of leisure. A Type A person dog with nothing to do - talk about stress!!! How can you put your children to work?

Dogs love to eat, especially when they have to "work" to get their food. Often that activity involves food puzzles for dogs, but for children it can involve gardening or even acting as a sous chef during meal preparation. How can they help you feed the family?

Teach your dogs a few new tricks. Dogs love to shake hands, jump and ... my personal favorite ... roll over and play dead. What "tricks" can your child learn? When my nephews Snickers and 100Grand whine The Boredom Whine to my sister KitKat, she assumes they need to learn new tricks and provides them with school-enriching workbook activities or a book from their summer reading list.

So...

That's it. That's all the advice I've got.

And I sincerely hope your children don't chew the furniture legs or pee on your carpet this summer.

For more Works for Me Wednesday, the "Mom, I'm Bored" edition, check out Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer.

3 comments:

THE ROOST said...

Funny! And so true.. I love dogs too!

Janet said...

Peed on the carpet already! Why didn't you write this SOONER? :-)

Aunt LoLo said...

Yeah...BBJ always reminded me of a little dog. That's why we got her a leash.

Hmm...I wonder what "tricks" I can teach her!