Dog trainers, myself included, often tell clients that their dogs need a job to do. I recommend this often, especially with highly energetic and/or smart dogs. These dogs were mostly bred for specific jobs – herding livestock, catching rodents, retrieving birds, and others – but are often these days household companions without their intended jobs to do. So, we need to find other ways to burn off this physical and mental energy they possess.
Giving your dog a job to do, or putting him to work, does not mean sending him out to do those things he was originally bred to do necessarily. Though, if you can find creative ways to allow for these natural tendencies, it will work in your favor! So, what does it mean to give your dog a job, then?
Giving your dog a job simply means that you are asking him or her to do something for you in order to earn things of value, such as meals, treats, bones, walks, playing fetch, or whatever it is that your dog enjoys and wants. Rather than doling everything out for free, most dogs are much happier having a job to do so they can earn the good stuff.
The things you ask for could be the typical “obedience” exercises, like sit, down, stay, come, etc. or they could be fun tricks like shake and roll over. They could also be something more advanced, like putting dog toys away in the toy box, retrieving your slippers, or anything else you can think of that might be useful and/or fun.
Romeo works for his breakfast nearly every morning – and has since he was 8 weeks old. People often ask what we do for breakfast, so I decided to demonstrate it at our recent performance at the Summerset Festival Fun Day for Dogs (September 2012) at Clement Park in Littleton, Colorado. We videotaped it and reposted it here.
If your dog is getting into trouble and doing things he or she should not, it might be time to give your dog more jobs to do. Our demo is just a sampling of the things Romeo knows, but hopefully it will give you some ideas and inspire you to give your dog some new jobs to do!