Your dog does NOT need a job

It may be a pure semantics thing here, but it's something I need to write about because I really feel like we are doing training an injustice here. STOP saying your dog needs a job, because he or she does not. Your dog needs to work; and there is a difference as far as I am concerned. A job is something that is performed in exchange for payment, that you may or may not enjoy. Work, is something that takes physical and/or mental effort through an activity that is aimed toward production or accomplishment of a task (which you may not get paid for).

Loads of people flock to CRT, competitive weight pull, herding, dock diving, protection sports, as a means to give their dog a "job". How many times a day do you hear dog owners write or call you and say, " I want to enroll (insert dog's name here) into dock diving, or start tracking, because he needs a job to do". I wouldn't have enough fingers to count for every time I hear it...... and it's super annoying. If you have taken a look at my CRT material or ever listened to Jay Jack of Next Level Dogs, talk about the Layered Stress Model---then surely you have heard about biological fulfillment. The idea that you should find activities that your dog finds rewarding and fulfilling, not what you find rewarding and fulfilling--but your dog. Those two activities might be vastly different. You may really enjoy running 15 miles a day, and by giving your dog a "job" assume your dog should be doing that 15 miles WITH you; afterall a "good dog is a tired dog" right?

No....and this is what I am saying. You can tell your thirteen year old child to be productive and find some work to do, for many reasons, whatever those may be (staying out of trouble, engaging his mind, etc).  He may decide he likes to paint or draw.... and spends hours painting and drawing. You gave him a job right? No.....  It's's productive and fulfilling---but it's not his "job". The same concept applies to your dog.

Our job (what we get paid for) as trainers is to take that work that we know the dog loves and make it a productive way to train. For example.... we may have a 4 year old golden retriever that we know just LOVES to chase the tennis ball, and he would spend hours doing so if left to his own devices.... it's fulfilling and entertaining----it's work in his mind. " get the tennis ball, get the tennis ball".  This is not his job. We see that and know that by using the tennis ball as leverage--we can ask for behaviors that we want, such as a down, sit or place. We turn it into a job, but your dog doesn't NEED a job. He needs productive work!

What you really mean when you say "Skippy needs a job, he's got to much energy and he is driving me nuts",....... is that you are picking up on the hints that your dog is basically telling you he or she NEEDS fulfillment. Sometimes, we get really lucky with being able to find the things our dogs find fulfilling, according to their genetic makeup and breed characteristics.

We breed dogs based on the type of work we want to have them pursue. We breed working line dogs, with the intention of the activity we want them to find fulfilling. We then spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to convince those dogs that it's not a job, but rather an opportunity for reward. Agility dogs will weave themselves through plastic poles, balance on planks of wood---all for the reward of a fleece rope toy. Dogs will sniff explosives in suit cases, rats in tubes buried in bales of hay--- because they want the reward----the window of opportunity we have created. Our dogs don't need a job; but they absolutely need mental and physical engagement. They want to work, and if you are paying attention---they tell you what kind of work they enjoy.

The CRT program wasn't intended to give your dog a "job"., I don't advertise it as such even. It was intended to provide them with solid work--- productive work that they gain both physical and mental strength from. If you remember the old saying...

" If you love your job, you never work a day in your life"-----THIS is what we should aim for. If you and your dog are enjoying the process of resistance training, that's what we want! Eventually, it will turn into work if you and your dog stick with it long enough,...but it never becomes a job. If you are doing your training appropriately--- your dog will begin to love the dig, the grind... the process of training.



Ashley Sculac1 Comment