Give your dog a job!
Many think that you have to do dog sports that stimulate a dogs instinct to be able to give your dog a job. The truth is that it does not matter if you live in a house, on a farm, or in an apartment. You can find a job for your dog! Trust me, if you do not give your dog a job; he will create his own. Chances are you will not like your dogs job ideas, which usually consist of barking at people or things passing by, chewing up your furniture, going through your laundry basket of dirty clothes, getting on the counter tops, digging in the trash, or destroying your favorite pair of shoes. These “behavior problems” could simply be avoided if the owners gave their dog acceptable jobs to do. You might be thinking, what kind of job could I possibly give my dog? Well the answer is simple!
When you are out of the house and your dog is home alone…
Try feeding your dog his breakfast by taking the kibble and hiding it around the house. Dogs love to find things and this is a great way to stimulate your dogs mind.
If you do not usually feed your dog breakfast, then you could hide a few of his favorite toys or acceptable chew bones around the house.
There are some amazing food dispensing toys out on the market right now that allow you to put dog food or treats inside the toy and the dog has to knock the toy around with his nose or paws to get the treats out. This is a challenge for the dog, stimulates their mind, and helps them work off some energy they might have stored up.
Hiding stuffed Kongs is another fun thing to do for your dog. You can make it more interesting for your dog by stuffing the Kong with different things. Maybe one day the Kong is stuffed with peanut butter and the next day it is stuffed with cream cheese. This will make it more interesting to your dog when he is sniffing around trying to find the Kong. Get creative with the hiding spots, don’t hide the items in the same spot, and challenge the dog by hiding the item in difficult places.
Hide toy’s, then encourage your dog to go find the toy’s and give them a treat for every toy they find. At first you might need to start with easy hiding places (maybe even in plain view) and then as your dog gets better at finding the toy’s start hiding them in more challenging places. We play find the tennis balls at our house and I try to get really creative as to where I hide the balls (on counters, under dog beds, inside boxes, and in every room of the house and yard. Make sure to count the toys that you hide, because they might try to pretend not to find the toys so that they can play with them later. LOL! My Border Collie Bandit loves to pretend that he can’t find the last toy and when we are watching TV he will come running in the living room with a ball in his mouth. He is one clever pup! Here is a youtube video that I did to show how to train a dog to find an item. Treasure Hunt
When you are home and you want to give your dog something to do…
Train your dog to do a trick. This is a fun job and it is a win win for the human and dog. The dog gets to earn yummy treats or toy rewards and what an sense of accomplishment for the human.
Take your dog to class to learn a dog sport. Dog sports are a fun way for humans and canines to bond and enjoy each others company. In addition, your dog will be tired from all that learning.
Play recall games with your dog. My favorite one is hide-n-seek recalls, where I hide and then call my dogs to me. They have to run around and find me. Once they find me they all get a treat or to play tug with me.
If you are busy and want your dog to just chill out, you can give him a yummy chew bone. I love to use antlers, bully sticks, and stuffed frozen Kongs, but there are literally a ton of different types of chew bones.
Take your dog for an exploration walk to sniff bushes and check out the environment. Sometimes I will hide things (tennis balls or treats) as my dog is distracted and then get excited when they find the items I hid. Sometimes my dogs find cool sticks, pinecones, and balls that were dropped by other dogs (Woo Hoo, Score).
Go on a hike! If you have a really energetic dog, you can get a backpack for him and make it his job to carry the water bottles. I would only put one on each side to even out the weight.
Teach your dog to find, fetch, and bring you things; such as the TV remote, your keys, slippers, get the clicker, and anything you might want.
If your dog loves people, consider training him to become a Therapy Dog and take him to hospitals, rest homes, and to visit children at schools.
The ideas are endless as to what jobs you can give your dog. The more you teach them the less they have time to create their own work. The bottom line is to stimulate your dogs mind to prevent boredom.
By Pamela Johnson