11 October 2013

Dogs Need Jobs

Your Dog Needs A Job

A study of more than 100,000 Americans found that those who are not in the workforce are the most likely to be depressed. The student was conducted by  Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It says 16.6% of unemployed Americans are depressed compared to 5.6% of those who work full time. 
Simple.  If you have a job to do, you feel better that if you do not have a job to do.   Being employed leads to a sense of self worth, purpose, and feeling wanted.   A job is also an opportunity meet some of our social, creative and work needs.  We feel happy with a job well done, and proud of our accomplishments. 
Your dog is no different.  A dog with a job, is a happy dog! 

Dogs With Jobs

Modern dogs have been selectively bred for generations for purposes that the majority of them never get to fulfil.   A terrier is hard wired to seek and destroy, a herding dog has a brain for running and rounding up stock.  Retrievers would love nothing more than to swim and chase down winged waterfowl.    Our modern lives have mostly eliminated the need for our dogs to perform such tasks.   Yet generations of their ancestors have contributed to genes that tell them they must!  Leaving many of our modern dogs frustrated!
This leaves many dogs seeking other outlets, such as digging, barking or eating your house.  A dog needs a job, and it can be the job you gave him, or one he finds on his own.

Happy Dog! Happy People!  Secret Weapon, Belle, Old School and River-dog work hard and play hard!


Job Options

The list of dog jobs is endless.   You can look for organised and formal classes or competitions like Rally, Skijoring ,Agility, Flyball and Herding classes for you and your pup to enjoy.   Talk to the people at your local pet store, rescue groups or your veterinarian.  The sports are out there, and likely have a dedicated follower or two in your area.  
A few dogs have the proper temperaments to work with seniors or people with special needs as therapy dogs.  Watch your dog for signs of stress and burn out caused by these activates, but know that volunteering your dog and yourself will be a life changing and rewarding experience.

Taking a Class

Before taking a class, do your homework.  Find out how long the instructor has been working in the sport.  There are many passionate people in the world of dog sports, but some may not be experienced to offer you the support and safety you and your dog need to grow and move forward.  Look for an instructor who knows how to talk to people, you will come home feeling more successful, and be more likely to ask them questions.    Just because someone is good at training dogs, doesn't mean they have the skills to train people.


Less Formal Options

You can also do less formal activites like carrying a backpack on hikes, or to the grocery store.   You can train your dog for jobs around the house, just be creative.  Perhaps you teach your dog to lay down and stay while you garden, or bring you his toys by name.  You can instill these simple tasks with a sense of meaning, that will make your dog beam, and be PROUD!  

Dog Park = Party Bar!

Going to the dog park is not a job for a dog, but many people use it as an outlet for their dogs energy.   I equate going to the dog park, kinda like going out to a club.  It's busy, loud and some of us enjoy it!  For other's it's too busy and too loud.   A dog park is a non-stop party, where the majority of dogs are also highly aroused and hyper.  There can be issues with bullying, between the dogs, and the people too!  

If your aim is to have a well behaved dog, with a sense of purpose and pride, a dog park is not the place to accomplish this. 

Giving your dog a skill or a task to learn, and they will work their mind and body, and be satisfied for having done so. 

Oxford Dogs at Work

Here are some of the things that the Oxford Dogs enjoy....

Riv enjoying a tunnel at agility @ Crazy Jumpers Dog School

We use agility training to build our dog's confidence, and the dog's confidence in themselves and with us as well!  Agility gets us some exercise as well! 

In the Yukon, the dogs carry gear and food for us.

We love our hiking packs, these are made by Ruff Wear.  They are water proof, and hold a lot of gear! I like the dogs to carry their own food and poop in, and we tuck in anything extra as well.  We have used our dog packs from everything from panning for gold to walking home from the grocery store.  The dogs enjoy being useful, and with a bit of a heavier load, it's easier to keep up with them on longer journeys.   The dogs are always proud to carry something, and we offer them lots of praise for a job well done.  

 It seems there is always something new to learn as we grow in the sport.   Start  Any dog powered sport is a team sport, you and your dog are a team, unlike any other canine sport, you are both responsible for moving yourselves.   It s a beautiful bonding experience and the thrill of a lifetime! Dog power is a passion at our house, and the dogs go NUTS when they see we are loading the truck for an outing.  

  Our dogs love to play Frisbee and enjoy the challenge and excitement!  It's a great way to work one on one with each dog, and to really bond and build up some excitement.   We use doggie safe discs, which are made of a shatter proof plastic.  If the dogs bit too hard, it punctures the disc, but the plastic is still soft enough not to cut their mouths.     Disc is a great activity for when it's too hot to scooter. 

Our dogs attend training classes through out their lives.  The change to train around new dogs, new distractions and learn new skills is so rewarding.  Training classes aren't very expensive, and they are so worth it for keeping everyone's skills sharp. 
What work does your dog do?   What do your and your dog do that is meaningful?  What is your dog's job? Comments welcome.

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