Dogs need a purpose, a job to do.
I have lost track of the number of clients who have come to me because their dogs have wrecked the house, or who have received noise complaints because their dog barks all day, or run off on walks and don’t come back until they’ve exhausted all possibilities of finding rabbits, or dug up the garden and ruined all the lovely plants. More often than not these dogs are simply bored and have nothing at all to focus their mind on and have no purpose in life. Dogs weren’t born to lie on the sofa for 8 hours a day while we go out to work and manage with a quick 20 minute walk round the block once a day, if they are lucky and it’s not raining!
All dogs need a job that provides appropriate releases for their mental and physical energies. Even before domestication, dogs “worked to survive”. They formed stable packs for survival. This meant the pack members worked to define, protect, and retain their territory. Additionally, pack members worked together to provide resources that allowed their “pack” to survive. After many years, dog and man came together to serve each other. When man recognized the significance of certain canine traits and characteristics, man began selectively breeding to enhance, develop, and take advantage of the most valuable of these traits and characteristics. Through the subsequent years, dogs truly came to “serve” man. A dog whose genetic code makes him accustomed to working 12 hours a day in a field is going to need somewhere to spend that energy and, more important, the sense of participation in human life he would get from working.
I think we can say that the dogs have an innate and instinctual NEED to work, to have a job. Even today, all across the world there are dogs who still work for their keep. Some dogs herd their flock across fields. Some dogs protect property, livestock, or crops for their masters. Some dogs hunt with their masters to provide food for the family. Some dogs serve mankind through their work as police, military, search and rescue, arson, drug, cadaver, or explosives dogs. Some dogs work to provide self sufficiency to their masters who have a variety of physical limitations. Some dogs alert their masters to imminent and specific physical problems. Some dogs work to provide emotional therapy for people of all ages and in all different circumstances. Some dogs entertain us on television and in the movies.
If you understand that the dogs innately and instinctually NEED a job, you will recognize how important it is for you to provide your dog with specific job responsibilities. Our dogs are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthier and happier when they fulfill a “sense of purpose”.
Having job responsibilities provide mental stimulation, emotional stability, and better physical health for our dogs. Additionally, channelling their mental, emotional, and physical energies into an activity we select and/or design for them, can prevent the dogs from devising their own. More times than not, the jobs our dogs come up with for themselves is not to our liking! Canine jobs in our home can be as simplistic or complex as is feasible for an individual dog. You will be amazed at the difference you will see in your dog when they have “purpose” beyond just living with you.
EXAMPLES OF DOG JOBS
- The more simplistic end of the job scale can include having your dog “sit” for food,
- Bring the lead to you for their walk.
- Teach your dog to load the washing machine.
- Carry a small bag or box for you when you take out the rubbish.
- Fetch the newspaper for you.
- Carry in a small bag or box from the car. You may want to keep a “spare” in the car so they always have something to carry for you.
- Have your dog “open or close” cabinet doors for you.
- Have your dog pick up and place their toys in a toy box or basket.
- When playing ball with your dog, have them place the ball in your hand.
- Have your dog “wait” before exiting a door or their crate.
- Have your dog hand you things you drop.
- Bring you your slippers
- Fetch the TV remote
- Bring you the phone when it rings