Jobs for My Dog

What does it mean to give my dog a job?

When you give your dog a job, you put him to work by letting him do something that makes good use of his breed’s characteristics. You’ve probably seen working dogs in action at some point or another. Those are the dogs who are doing a specific job like:

  • Police dogs

  • Border patrol dogs

  • Military explosive detection dogs

  • Protection dogs

  • Search and rescue dogs

  • Herding dogs

  • Service dogs

 

When they’re at work, these dogs are performing physical tasks along with obeying voice or hand commands.

Does my dog need a job?

Yes! Benefits of giving a dog a job include:

  • Boosts confidence

  • Creates a strong bond between the dog and handler

  • Gets rid of pent-up energy

  • Fights boredom

  • Leaves dogs tired! We sure love it when our dogs curl up or stretch out and snooze after a job well done. 

It’s actually easy to tell apart dogs who have a job from those who don’t. Those who do are usually well-behaved, balanced dogs because their handlers funnel their energy into productive work. Dogs who are “in between jobs” display unwanted behaviors that are commonly referred to as problem behaviors.

  • excessive barking

  • being destructive

  • chewing on furniture

  •  jumping on people

What jobs can I give my dog –

1. Backpacking

One of the easiest jobs for a dog is to have him carry his dog backpack during a walk. This puts the dog into a working mode. Some dogs walk at a “heel” or without pulling when they wear their pack because they’re focused on carrying rather than pulling. It’s ok to add up to at least 10% of your dog’s weight to the backpack pockets. Just do so gradually. For example, maybe the first couple of walks the pack is actually empty. We like adding dog toys, first aid supplies, rolls of poop bags, water bottles and cans of beans or whatever really, as long as it adds weight. You can use whatever seems easy enough.

Siberian Husky Club of America offers titles in backpacking with their Working Pack Dog Program

2. Agility

Dog agility is a lot of fun for dogs and their owners! The sport is great because the dog and the handler get exercise. Any breed can participate. Many dog-training facilities offer beginning agility classes to the community along with more difficult classes to prepare dogs for competition. You could also build your own DIY agility course in your backyard. You’ll need the following items:

  • Dog “teeter”

  • Basic tunnel

  • Weave poles

  • Jumps

AKC offers several titles in agility

3. "Hunting" with your dog.

Most breeds were originally bred to hunt. Even if you don’t actually go hunting, your dog would love to fetch a stick from water and your dog would love to help flush out birds in a field. Most huskies will actively hunt on their own and sometimes even bring you mice, squirrels, and birds. You can also play “find it” game where you hide objects in a yard or on a field and they have to use their noses to find them. 

4. Sledding or Pull work

This is the absolute best job for huskies as that is what they were bred for, to pull sleds. You can use a cart or sled, but you can also use rollerblades, skis, scooters 4 wheelers there are many names for these depending on what you are pulling.

  • sledding

  • carting

  • skijoring

  • bikejoring

  • scootering

  • Canicross

 

Running in general is a good job for your dog! See AKC 

Siberian Husky Club of America offers titles in sledding with their Sled Dog Title Program

5. Therapy Work

This type of work is great for friendly, well-behaved dogs who enjoy being petted by strangers. With proper training, almost any dog can visit certain schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and libraries. Therapy dogs have to be at least one year old and need to be able to stay calm in distracting environments. If you’re interested in finding out more specifics about how to become a therapy team with your dog, check out TherapyDogs.com.

AKC offers Therapy Dog titles.

6. Obedience Work

Obedience classes are a wonderful way of socializing with fellow dog owners and their dogs in a controlled training environment. For a full hour they are required to respond to different commands and work amongst other dogs and people and it really drains that energy both physically and mentally and leaves you with a happy satisfied dog. They’re a good idea for dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages.

A long walk - It is very mentally challenging for a dog to stay in heel position during a long, controlled walk upwards of 30-60 minutes. Keeping her at your side will tire her out much quicker than letting her run ahead and pulling you all over because it will require her to focus. That being said, it’s also OK to mix it up and let your dog sniff and explore. That can also be a good mental workout. So, mix it up from walk to walk. We also like to incorporate certain obedience commands such as “sit”, “down”, and “stay” on our walks. It breaks the walks up and makes our dogs burn even more mental energy. 

AKC offers titles in Obedience and Canine Good Citizen.

7. Games.

Play games with your dogs! Play hide and seek throughout the house and yard or park. Put your dog in a “sit-stay” or “down-stay” and hide than call them and let them find you, they LOVE this, and it helps with recall should they ever get loose. I would suggest starting at home and continue to other areas once they know how to play. Rewards them with lots of praise and/or some high value treats. It’s a super fun game, especially on crappy days when its’s pouring, snowing or blistering hot outside. Little things like this throughout the day make a dog think, and they make training more fun. Don't forget to involve the kids!

 

Mentally stimulating toys. - We like to fill hollow toys like Kongs with peanut butter, canned food and treats so our dogs have to work on how to get the food out. Freeze them for a longer lasting chewing session. This is another great activity for days when outside time is limited and also for a dog who’s left home alone. Interesting toys will make her less likely to get bored and find her own job.

8. Flyball.

This is a great sport for dogs of all sizes. Flyball is a team sport consisting of two teams with four dogs in each team. It’s a doggie relay race where the dogs run down an obstacle course with hurdles and retrieve a ball.

This is a sport for well-socialized, fast dogs who can jump and who aren’t dog aggressive. Dogs who practice Flyball need to know basic obedience commands like “sit”, “down”, “stay” and be able to retrieve a ball.

AKC offer titles

 

9. Scentwork.

Compared to other sports like Agility or Flyball, it’s a slow activity that asks dogs to locate different odors using their nose in return for a treat or verbal praise. The sport is geared towards dogs of all sizes and breeds as long as they like to follow their nose.

AKC offers titles.

10. Trick training.

Trick training is a great activity for all dogs regardless of age, size and breed. The saying You can’t teach an old dog new tricks simply aren't true.

tricks to teach could be:

  • shake

  • roll over

  • spin

  • play dead

Yes, AKC even offers titles for tricks!

11. Swimming & dock diving

Swimming is a wonderful low-impact sport for dogs of all ages as long as they don’t mind getting wet!  The pool and lakes are great options of where to take your dog swimming. It’s a good idea to keep your dog harnessed and attached to a long lead in order to be able to safely reel him back in should he get distracted.

You might also consider investing in a doggie life vest.

In dock diving, dogs jump after a toy off a dock and into a pool. A judge measures how far each dog jumps, and the one with the furthest distance wins. This competitive sport is great for high energy, healthy dogs who love the water and who have a strong toy drive.

You can win prizes in dock diving.

Dogs need a job

As you’ve seen, it’s fairly easy to give our dogs a job, and it certainly doesn’t have to be anything as advanced as Schutzhund or Search and Rescue. All dogs should have some sort of job!