Why And How To Put Your Dog To Work
Dogs enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
Much like us, they feel pride and satisfaction in a job well done. At the same time, it is important to them, as pack animals, that they have clear structure and leadership. It is important to be consistent with your rules and boundaries. Gaining your dogs’ respect and loyalty will have a dramatic effect on their attitude and your relationship as well as your results in training.
One of the easiest ways to allow your dog to obtain the satisfaction of working, while gaining their respect, is by utilizing a simple program, Working for a Living, before meals, play time, getting up on furniture, or other things your dog wants, practice the following:
Working for a Living
Do 30-60 seconds of homework practice. You can work on anything you want, including tricks and new tasks.
Intermediate and Advanced students, as well as ongoing lifetime:
Make a list of the cues that your dog knows and does well. It can be anything from “SIT” or “DOWN” to “shake” or “roll over”.
Ask him to earn his keep by performing a minimum of 3 tasks or 30 seconds of work before you GIVE him what he wants. Asking him to do more is fine, as is doing a minute or so of work – so long as you work at a reasonable level for your dog’s abilities.
Upon successful completion of the 3 tasks you requested, release your dog using your verbal release command. Then fulfill your end of the bargain and GIVE him what he worked for.
Avoid turning your dog into a robot
Mix up those commands! If you use the same 3 over and over, your dog will have them finished before you’re done asking for them. If he performs tasks you did not ask for – they don’t count; follow through on having him do the job you asked of him. Be creative, use different commands in different sequences and stimulate your dog’s brain. This should be done at regular meal times before his food is dispensed. This should also be done anytime your dog is seeking something from you.
Depending on your dog and your situation, follow the above guidelines as strictly or loosely as you need to. If Rover is behaving like a fine gentleman, you can be more easy-going about his work. On the other hand, if Rover is out of control, be strict. Think of yourself as a thermometer that goes up and down with your dogs’ behavior.
Find jobs around the house for your dog to do…they can bring in the mail, fetch your slippers, pick up a fallen object for you, carry small items, and so on.
One man tied a towel on the refrigerator door and taught is dog…upon the command “beer me”, the dog would pull on the towel, open the refrigerator door, grab a beer in his mouth and deliver it to his owner.
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.