‘Your dog needs a job’
How many times have you told a puppy owner this one? What does that even mean?!
Does every border collie owner also own sheep? Does every lab owner go duck hunting every weekend? Heck no!
Can these dogs be successful in a pet home? Heck yes!
So what does “give your dog a job” even mean? It means finding ways to teach your dog what is expected of them while living in your world, and how to be successful in your environment.
It means giving them fair and consistent guidelines on how they should behave in certain circumstances. In my house, my dog’s jobs are to sit quietly while I work with the other dog, wait for a release before running out of their kennels, stay on the rug while I am cooking dinner, and not mug me if I drop food. (I am a mess in the kitchen so this was a hard one for my dogs)
I also give them fun jobs, like our conditioning work or finding their kibble in a puzzle toy. We play with the flirt pole a few times a week and go to sport class sometimes.
In public, my dog’s jobs are not to pull me around, and not rush or scare the other people in the park. (This one is easier for Opie than Pixie. See “I hate walking my dog” from April 2016. She’s a work in progress) Sit quietly in their kennels until I am ready to get them out of the car. (This one is difficult for Opie)
Now, all this sounds like I spend an extraordinary amount of time with my dogs. Each of these things we work on for about 2 minutes at a time. A conditioning session might be 10 to 15 minutes because it’s mostly repetitive, and usually I can do that while waiting for dinner to come out of the oven. The key is to get a bit creative and to DO SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something. This will morph into a plan, which becomes routine, and the next thing you know you aren’t even thinking about the responsibilities you have given to your pup, and the things they have learned!