Although many of us go to great lengths to avoid work, it turns out…dogs love to work! (Of course, they don’t have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day…) While most family dogs don’t get to herd sheep or check baggage at the airport, there are simple ways to help your dog feel like he’s performing an important task. Pick one of these jobs to challenge your pup while having fun together.
After I prep my pets’ dinner, I ask my dog to “close up.” He shuts cabinets and drawers with his nose. He takes the job seriously—sitting on his mat, watching carefully until I give the cue—and he loves his dinner reward. Pro Tip: Teach your pup to target a sticky note with his nose, then place the sticky note wherever you want him to target (cabinets, light switches, and so on).
Pick Up Toys
A tough but fun training challenge! Teaching your dog to put his toys in a basket keeps him busy and inspired, while keeping your house organized. Animal Behavior College Blog has a quick tutorial. It combines ‘take it’ and ‘drop it’ in a sequence that will help your dog learn to focus, listen and learn!
Play a Dog Sport
Training facilities offer sports like agility, Fly Ball, and Rally-O. Observe some sessions to pick one that’s right for you and your dog. You can learn more about each of them from the ASPCA.
Carry a Pack
Simple and effective: Clip a backpack on your pup for a focused neighborhood stroll, a walk in the city or a hike up a mountain trail. We love Kurgo’s Baxter Dog Backpack because your dog can carry poop bags, house keys, a flashlight – whatever you need for a daily walk.
If you have a dog who’s never met a stranger, she might make an excellent therapy dog! Organizations like Pet Partners and Therapy Dogs International help train and register therapy dogs, who can then visit schools, libraries, nursing homes, and even some hospitals. Therapy work isn’t for every dog, even the most friendly pups. It takes hard work, focus, and discipline, so start with a training class to see if it’s right for you.
Not sure which is the best fit? Test a few to see what works for you and your dog. But, whichever job you choose to explore, you will build your bond as you learn new skills and work together.
Photo credit: Kurgo