Give Your Dog a Job

Almost all breeds of dogs were developed and bred to have a job.  Even breeds like French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Chihuahuas that are often considered lazy or difficult to train can excel if given the right job.  We have seen French Bulldogs employed for detection work, therapy work, and fly ball and Chihuahuas racing their legs off at barn hunts and agility courses.  Your dog doesn’t have to be an amazing obedience dog to try their paw at dog sports.

Oftentimes, dogs that are labeled as problem dogs, like dogs that end up in shelters have not been given enough mental and physical challenges.  Once these dogs are given a chance to use their instincts in an appropriate way they can truly relax when they are at home with you.

Don’t be intimidated it really isn’t that hard to get started.  Normally, you get started by finding a club or drop in session to get started with.   Try just by googling it or looking on Facebook. 

You don’t have to turn your pet into a show dog, there are variations that you can do with your own dog!  You can find DVD’s online, you tube videos, and plenty of how to’s.

Nose work

Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours! The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing, and asks a dog to sniff to their heart’s content; turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It is a terrific sport for all kinds of dogs, and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.  It is a terrific way to teach your dog that he can communicate things he wants to tell you, by how he acts.  This can be very empowering to shy dogs, help calm anxious dogs and give high energy dogs a job.

-You can do this in your own house really easily.  All you need is either their favorite toy, 3-4 card board boxes, a q-tip and any sent… that’s right you can even use hair gel, essential oils, or perfume.

Barn hunt

Barn Hunt is a fun sport for all dogs of any breed or mix that like to hunt with their noses. Dogs search for one or more rats (safely housed in aerated tubes) on a course made of straw bales. The dog has to find the correct number of hidden rats within a set time limit.

-This one is a little harder to do in your house, but there are about 6 places in the City of Denver that offer these for $15 a class several nights a week.

Agility

Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time.  This can be great for adolescent dogs with low-self control to learn how to focus on a handler during excitement and go from speed to calmness.  It also teaches handlers to give clear cues and teaches dogs to focus on subtle cues while running full speed. 

-Do it at home by using chairs, laundry baskets, broomstick handles and large boulders in your yard.  Give your kids cardboard boxes that they can make tunnels out of.

You could also try the next one as an in-home sport.

Canine Parkour

Dog parkour, sometimes known as urban agility, is an activity based on the same principles. It is a challenging, but fun, physical activity in which the dogs learn to interact with their environment.   Parkour is a physical discipline in which dogs move through their environment and conquer obstacles in their path. It includes climbing, balancing, jumping, running, vaulting, creativity and working past fear.  Teaches dogs to listen to their handler and trains them body awareness.

-It’s made to do around the home and neighborhood.

Dock diving

Dock jumping also known as dock diving is a dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.  This is great for dogs that may have injuries or dogs that love toys and water!

-Do it around the house by finding a lake, river or canine swim center.  This is excellent exercise to  tire them out.

Freestyle dance

Musical canine freestyle, also known as musical freestyle, freestyle dance, and canine freestyle, is a modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners. The sport has developed into competition forms in several countries around the world.

-This is so easy to do in the house, hit youtube for some inspiration and turn on your favorite tunes.

Herding

There are three test levels – started, intermediate, advanced. This is not limited to herding breeds as long as the dog has proper instincts I have a good friend who does this with an Akita.  If you are looking to compete there is a little more you need to know, The initial test is called Instinct Test and it is a test for herding breeds, Rottweilers, Samoyeds, Standard and Giant Schnauzers, Pyrenean Shepherds, Swedish Vallhunds, Norwegian Buhunds and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. The dog needs no training before entering this class and may be handled by the judge, owner or a designated handler. The judge is looking for the dogs ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving.

-Live in the middle of the city?  No sheep in sight, but your border collie is going bananas?  Check out this next sport called Treibball!

Treibball

Sometimes called urban herding.If your dog has a nose or a shoulder, he can play Treibball! The game is simple to play and train, and only requires a few fitness balls, some treats and a love of working with your dog. Your dog learns to target the balls, and then goes out into a playing field and pushes balls to you, with direction and control.

Other working dog jobs

Service dogs:

These dogs are owned by someone with a disability and trained to mitigate that disability.  These dogs may be trained to retrieve a cell phone, medication, or pull a wheel chair.  They may guide the blind or detect an owner’s drop in blood sugar as well as respond to that situation appropriately.  They should be 100 percent focused on their handler as they are a medical device and if they are unfocused, they may miss a cue from an owner or may miss a medical issue like on-coming seizure.   That is why owners of these dogs strongly discourage other people from petting their working dogs. These dogs should have good manners and should not harass strangers or other dogs.  These dogs have public access rights.  No certification or registration is required.  Those sold online are a scam.  You do not need to have any markings on your dog, but your dog must behave in public.

Emotional Support dogs:

These dogs do not have public access rights, however they have fair housing act rights.  Your dog doesn’t need any special training, but can have this title revoked if your dog behaves in a dangerous manner around the neighborhood.

Therapy dogs:

These dogs go to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other places to provide comfort to humans.  These dogs are specially trained to be safe, polite and comfortable in the settings they provide comfort and are insured as therapy animals.

Helpful dogs:

These dogs are pets that you provide training for around your house to give them a “job”.  You can teach them to pick up dropped keys, bring you a hand towel, put the laundry in the bin and bring you your slippers.  While it may sound silly giving these dogs these simple and important tasks are sooo important! ff