Have Your Dog Work from Home & if you’re thinking “Dog With a Blog” from Disney Channel, that’s not exactly what we mean
Dogs were originally domesticated and bred to have jobs. A lot of dogs around the world still do intense work every day; from herding sheep to acting as someone’s eyes and ears to navigate their world.
Many dogs have tons of energy and their humans are sometimes confused as to why after an extra-long walk or hours of play the energy just doesn’t stop. One possibility is that your dog is not mentally stimulated enough throughout their day.
So, why not give them a job?
“Um, I live in New York City and have no sheep for my dog to herd.”
No worries, there are countless “jobs” that you can give your pet!
One great one is to teach your dog a retrieval command and once learned, incorporate it into their daily routine. If they know to get your slippers every morning or shut the office door, it actually gives them a rush of endorphins to use their brain and make you happy.
Choose a “Job” for Your Dog that Aligns with Their Naughty Behaviors
Tug o War is a classic and has stayed that way for a reason! Some dogs love playing with pull toys and, if done with toys free of small components, it can be a safe way to get some much-needed energy out. Believe it or not, dogs use their brain when playing games (even one that seems as simple as tug o war!) because it requires coordination and focus.
For ones who get into every little thing:
Hide and seek with a Kong (or any stuffable toy) could make their day. Load it up with kibble and treats, cap it with peanut butter or coconut oil and put it in the corner of a room or hide it under blankets and encourage your dog to find it.
After a few times they’ll be able to look for their little treat-bomb and you can begin hiding it in more and more obscure places like on the bookshelf or on the back of the couch.
Imagine not talking to anyone all day – most dogs have this daily routine!
Teaching your dog “shh” and “speak” are a great way to inherently teach them when it’s okay and not okay to bark.
For instance, if you handle lots of Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, start incorporating “shh” with a clicker and treats when the little jingle of the meeting beginning comes on. Conversely, after your meeting, practice “speak” and reward the same way.
*Note: it’s important to focus on one command at a time until it is fully learned so they don’t confuse the two. Once one command is learned, start on the other!
For Rising Stars
If your pup is just destined to be a superstar and you know it, check out signing them up to compete in sports, dog shows, or agility races.
One great sport that needs more recognition is Flyball – basically parkour for dogs that involves teams and tennis balls.
Any activity-based experience that involves physical exercise as well as attention to commands is great for a dog who can do it all. Ensuring your dog’s body and mind gets a workout is important.
Set It (Up) & Forget It
It’s imperative to stimulate your dog’s mind and encourage them to be active. Beyond “tasks” or tricks, here are some other activities you can set up for your pup that don’t require your involvement the entire time.
Homemade or store-bought, dog puzzle games are such a fun way to get them to problem solve, use their sense of smell, and even gain confidence. It might surprise you, but dogs can get the hang of puzzle games in just a few short goes. Dogs can actually adapt and out-smart games to the point where lots of puzzle games even contain more difficult “levels” to continuously push them.
Dog TV Critic
Okay, we kind of made this one up because watching TV and having it be considered a job might be a stretch if you’re a dog. However, dog TV actually can help your dog use its brain and sense of hearing to stay sharp while you work or can’t actively play with them.
Pick a “job” that Highlights Their Best Traits
For the Constant Companion
If your dog goes literally everywhere with you, they probably have a lot of energy and easily adapt to new experiences.
Here are some ways to spice up their routine with an assigned task:
Outdoorsy activities may not require much gear, especially if you’re just doing a short walk or hike, but giving your dog a backpack to carry is a great example of a “job” for your dog. Put a small water bottle or a tennis ball in their bag and you can leave it at that.
This actually uses their brain, helps them get acclimated to a new sensation on their body, and will tire them out.
For the Absolute Sweetheart
Pets can be exceptionally loving to their families but it varies greatly from animal to animal how well they get along with other people and animals outside the home.
If your dog is a perfectly behaved angel that loves everyone and everything, this is a beautiful trait and a great way to show off their amazing personality is to volunteer with them!
Going to a hospital or nursing home to comfort others is not something every dog can do. If yours can, this could be a special way for you to spend time with your pup, carve out an activity for them and give back to your community.
Being given a job to do and being allowed to learn and execute it gives your dog a sense of purpose. It’s bound to be less profound than your own of course, but it still gives them a chance to really use their brain and expend energy in a productive way.