“Give your dog a job that fits with your life and not only will you have a happier dog, but you’ll also have a much better relationship with them.”
For hundreds, in some cases even thousands of years, all types of dog breeds have been developed for various purposes. It’s only been in the past one hundred years that humans have shifted our symbiotic relationship with canines to be one based more in companionship than work. Even dogs bred for pure companionship also had the job of being an alarm system that would call guards and their larger guard dogs. This is just one of the reasons why little lap dogs bark so much. They really do think they’re doing their job.
When we say, “Your dog needs a job” we really do mean that. All dog breeds and the various mixes that form our favorite mixed breeds all have hundreds of years of dedicated breeding towards a specific purpose. You’re not going to overwrite that to a companion dog in one hundred years. Any dog can be a fantastic companion for your family, provided that their need for a job is met every day.
Think about the student in an elementary school class who is always disruptive. That one child who just can’t sit still, can’t focus, and is always talking to other kids. What do we usually find out about this kid? They’re bored! The same is often the case for our dogs when we don’t satisfy our dogs’ need for a job.
This need for a job really is a true need. If you’ve never had the privilege of watching a dog do the job they were bred for, I highly encourage you to watch some videos online. Watch a Border Collie herd. Watch a pack of Great Pyrenees coordinate livestock protection. Watch a Bloodhound track a scent. Watch a Labrador Retriever bring in a bird. Watch a Husky pull a sled. Even the little dogs have their jobs. Although many of those little dog jobs involve digging for and disposing of rodents so viewer discretion is highly advised. The one constant with all these dogs you’ll see is how happy and fulfilled they all look.
Think of that Labrador Retriever. Consistently one of the highest ranked picks for a family dog on internet lists. That is certainly true. I have a Lab myself and she is wonderful. However, think of the primary purpose of a Labrador Retriever. What were they bred for? They were bred to retrieve dead birds that were shot down from fields or lakes. Run out or swim out, bring back, wait for next bird, repeat. All day long. Therefore, most labs have high energy and high drive. If we don’t satisfy this need through exercise and mental stimulation, you develop behavior problems. We all know that one Labrador who is just vibrating with excess energy every second of the day who just will not listen to their owner. They’re like a bunch of firecrackers going off in every single direction.
If we do not give our dogs a job, they will pick a job for themselves. If a dog makes a dog-decision in a human world, we’re going to have problems. Just like you must teach your kids to color in coloring books and not on walls, we must teach our dogs what behaviors are appropriate and where. We never want to tell our dogs that their natural instinctive behaviors are forbidden. A Beagle is going to bark. A Border Collie is going to herd. A Retriever is going to want things in their mouth. What we want to do instead is find an appropriate outlet for those natural behaviors. Give your dog a job that fits with your life and not only will you have a happier dog, but you’ll also have a much better relationship with them.