Give your Dog a Job: Perfect Employment
Before we determine what your dog’s job might look like, let’s look at the definition of a “job.” Google says it is a paid position of regular employment. Time to break this down!
A Paid Position
We all want to think our dogs do things because they “love us” and they “want to please us.” Keeping with the analogy, do you do things solely because you want to please your boss?
There might be some motivation there to please your boss, but really it’s because you get a paycheck. If your boss was not signing your check each week, you would not know him from Adam.
Dogs don’t understand “paychecks” in the way that we receive them. A chew bone in the kitchen after a walk does not translate to you had a really great walk, it translates as far as sitting in front of the pantry. Many people are incredibly stingy on the amount of rewarding they are doing for their dog. Some even find it as something to be proud of. I am here to say, you are not
doing any harm by rewarding your dog more often. A well timed piece of kibble can prevent many unwanted behaviors. Didn’t bark at the mailman, have a tiny training treat. Didn’t bark at Ms. Dot taking out her scary looking trashcan, have a piece of cheese. These smaller rewards are going to make a bigger impact on your dogs behavior because you can reward them as soon as you see the behavior you want to see.
“Reinforcement drives behavior” is one of my favorite sayings. This is because it is based in science and studied across many different species. All behavior is driven by reinforcement. This includes good behavior, and bad behaviors but that’s a blog for another day.
Of Regular Employment
What does it mean for a dog to be employed? Obviously they don’t spend the day at the office. Lets look at some ways you can begin to “employ” your dog through the day.
Here are a few of my everyday tasks for my dogs.
- Sitting at the back door will allow them outside.
- Waiting quietly in the kennel gets the door open.
- If you aren’t pulling on the leash we get to keep walking.
- If a delivery shows up, sit quietly once I say “enough”
It is important to take those skills that you learned in your 6 week group class and begin to incorporate those things into your every day life.
What areas would you like to improve with your dog? Could paying your dog for the alternative behaviors help create new habits?
What if we started asking our dogs for behaviors to get what they want? Before going out for a walk asking your dog to sit and wait while you open the door. Laying calmly on a mat while you get the doordash delivery. These are the areas that your “unemployed” dogs get themselves into trouble. If they do not have clear instructions from you, they are going to come up with their own job, and I guarantee you will not like it. (The job will probably be barking.)
With a few new payment opportunities, and a well written job description, your dog will thrive in their new role as a great companion! Stay tuned as we continue to explore this concept in the next few blogs!