Dogs have been by our side for over 30,000 years, helping us hunt, gather and herd, or just being good company. Due to society accepting 30+ hour weeks, many have little time to spend with their beloved friend, or provide the time exercising and giving the dog the mind stimulation and companionship that they love. This can lead to destructive behaviours from boredom, which not only stresses the dog, but causes unnecessary stress for the guardian too. To help tire your dog before having to leave them, you could give them a job to challenge their brain!
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, it’s getting even harder to tell what breeds are around. However they all display similar traits, some more dominant than others.
•Herding (H) – This behaviour can be demonstrated with animals, and can also occur with traffic, and people. For example, you may have noticed that your dog will chase a child on a skateboard.. this can be a sign of herding behaviour.
•Sniffing (S) – All dogs use scent to gather information, however, if your dog is constantly sniffing the ground or the air, you’ve got a sniffer in the house.
•Retrieving (R) – This behaviour can be recognised in a dog if they love to pick things up and return things to you (The return and drop may need to be trained)
•Companion (C) – All dogs enjoying receiving love and affection, but some are designed to sit on your lap all day and crave your attention.
•Guarding (G) – Guarding can be demonstrated through barking, chasing and biting, if necessary.
•Pulling (P) – A behaviour that can be seen in all breeds, unless trained to walk nicely. However, some dogs receive great enjoyment pulling sleds, carts and people.
•Rescuing (RS) – If your dog enjoys finding things, animals or people then this can be a starting point of training a rescue dog
From the list above you should have been able to match your dog up to one or more of the descriptions. Below are some jobs that your dog could enjoy
Find it (S+RS) – This behaviour ties in with rescue/search dogs, so teaching your dog to put his nose to the floor can lead to endless possibilities. Whether they seek out your lost personal belongings or are used to seek out people, specific plants, drugs, food etc, your dog will be fulfilling the strong need of using his main sense.
Hide and Seek (S+RS) – This can be fun out on walks, or when you are at home. When your dog is preoccupied go and hide (behind a tree, in the grass, or in a different room in the house). If your dog doesn’t notice straight away, call your dog. This will get them to come looking for you, and improve recall!
Fetch (R) – To start this behaviour gain your dogs interest in a toy, moving it and making happy noises, then throw it away from you. When the dog grabs the item, run in the opposite direction so that your dog chases after you. This will encourage your dog to bring items back to you.
Doga (C) – Your companion wants to be with you, therefore a relaxing yoga session is a perfect place for your dog to enjoy your presence.
Tug (P) – Does your dog love to play tug of war? Why not sit/stand on a towel on a wooden/tiled/laminated flooring and play tug with your dog. The towel allows your dog to pull you across the floor, which adds to the challenge as well as bonus of cleaning the floor!
Speak (G) – Teaching your dog to bark can be very useful as it can act as a deterrent, but it also means you can train them to stop too! To begin this create an exciting situation that encourages your dog to bark, when he does, mark it with a click and treat. Repeat this a few times so that your dog begins to associate barking with a reward. Practise this, adding a que word before the dogs barks when he is consistently offering the behaviour. When he is successful in responding to the que, start to treat when he stops barking. Each time he is quiet, mark the behaviour with a click and treat. Each time encourage barking, treating with a low reward treat, then waiting for silence and rewarding with a high reward (extra smelly, delicious treat). As your dog begins to associate stopping barking you can attach a que word. As long as you practise and proof both words, you will have a guard dog that now has an off switch!
Seek the toy (S, R, RS) – if your dog knows how to find their toys on command, get your dog to sit whilst you go and hide the toy, either in the same room or somewhere else. Then ask your dog to find it. You can also do this with food.
Puppy In The Middle (H, R, C) – Invite people over and sit in a rough circle around the room, each person taking turns to call the dog to them. Wait until the dog successfully goes to the person who called (everyone else ignore the dog). As the dog becomes more successful, everyone can spread out, and even go into different rooms, or take the game outside! You’ll be amazed at how much your dog’s recall improves.
Hiking (P) – Find a walk that has plenty of hills.. then encourage your dog to pull you up! Perfect way of conquering mountains.
Follow Along (S, P) – Fill your pocket or treat bag with tiny, smelly treats. While you’re walking, occasionally drop treats behind you for your dog to find. This encourages your dog to engage with scents on the floor, and can limit the dog pulling on the lead!
Get it! (H, R) – Attach a toy to the end of a flirt pole or whip, then activate the toy to gain your dogs attention. You can drag it along the floor and encourage your dog to chase after it, saying ‘get it’ (or a choice of word that encourages your dog to engage with the toy). When your dog successfully gets hold of the toy allow them to play, and then wait for them to drop it before whipping the toy away and starting the chase process again!
Skatejoring (P) – Let your pulling dog use his gifts by pulling you on skates! Make sure you know how to slow the dog down to avoid accidents.
Now pick a job from the list and go and have some fun doing what your dog loves 🙂