Boredom Can Affect All Animals from Dogs to Pigs!
11 August, 2017
We often get bored doing the same repetitive tasks on a daily basis. If we have to do the same thing over and over, it can make us crazy and the days seem endless! The same can be said of our pets when they’re bored. And a new study shows that boredom can affect all animals from dogs to pigs.
What is boredom exactly in animal?
Charlotte C. Burn, a biologist at The Royal Veterinary College of the University of London, captures that feeling in her definition of boredom:
“Boredom is an unpleasant emotion including suboptimal arousal levels and a thwarted motivation to experience almost anything different or more arousing than the behaviors and sensations currently possible. It arises when we perceive that there is ‘nothing to do’ or are ‘tired of doing the same thing’, and is accompanied by a sense of time dragging.”
This definition comes from Burn’s essay in the August issue of Animal Behaviour, where she explains that far from being a uniquely human emotion, boredom is felt by many animals ranging from farmed pigs to companion dogs that may be left alone at home for long periods.
Boredom in animals occurs when arousal motivation is high
“Boredom occurs when arousal inputs are low, but arousal motivation is high,” she writes in Animal Behaviour. Bored animals seek out ways to become stimulated whereas animals who are depressed often can’t summon the will to seek out alternatives.
To some degree and in some situations, boredom may be adaptive. Boredom might motivate young animals to seek out stimulation that helps them learn about their world.
Boredom can even be applied to grazing animals who just eat out of boredom
“More intelligent species may be able to come up with ‘creative’ solutions to their relatively limited environments, such as the playfulness and tool use we sometimes see only in captivity. Also, perhaps almost any animal can get bored if it has nothing relevant to do and all its other needs are fulfilled. I’m thinking here of, say, grazing animals who are fed concentrated food — they’d be happy grazing all day, but now they are not hungry, what else can they fill their time with?”
If animals — no matter their smartness quotient — are forced to endure boredom for a long time, seriously negative consequences may accrue.
Boredom is something that we can help try to resolve with our pets at home
We need to look inward, too — at our own homes. Burn says that this is all a reminder that even if animals are healthy and loved, they can still suffer — and perhaps REALLY suffer — from sameness and lack of stimulation. Taking measures to combat boredom in our animal companions may range from giving them extra time, attention and toys to offering them food puzzles on a regular basis. Boredom might be a severe and highly prevalent animal welfare issue neglected too long.
We all know our pets can get bored, but maybe today we should look around our homes (and even shelters) to make sure are pets are stimulated in some capacity. After all, we hate doing the same thing on a daily basis too!
You can read the full article here: NPR