By Gary Cassera
The Dog’s Side
What are your dog’s jobs Gary? I get that question a lot…
Do dogs need jobs? Another common question…
Is your dog fulfilled without a job?
Since we are both here I figured I would share my perspective on this common question. I’d love to hear back about yours.
When I hear “JOB” my mind goes in two directions –
- What humans think fulfills dogs.
- What dogs really need to succeed.
I want people to think: does this job/skill I am giving my dog relate to the scenarios they will need to be your stressless canine co-pilot?
– Are you a digital nomad who needs your dog to work with you quietly at the coffee shop ignoring food particles on the floor, running toddlers, and sleeping while unfamiliar dogs walk past? (The walk is important for you.)
– Do you travel to new places frequently? Would a bad Airbnb review about Fluffers be the pits for your rotating roommate reputation? (Preparing your dog for relaxing in new places.)
– Are you expecting kids in the future? More dogs? (How will they share resources after being treated as an only child?)
– How’s your dog in the car when someone approaches the window? (Barrier frustration is a huge problem many people face.)
– Would seeing your couch cushion ripped to pieces make you scream words that would make your mom grab a bar of soap? (How should a dog know the difference between a cushion and a toy? Because you do?)
What works for me is – my life needs dictate their life skills. No barking at the fence, this is how you walk, this is where you sleep, this is how you feel in the car. First before anything!! Maybe you care about other things. That is GREAT!
People will spend tons of dough teaching their dog nose work or agility because they feel their dog needs a job. They toss the ball for them at the park for hours. What confuses me is what most people want is to take Branson their golden retriever to brunch and not be embarrassed or fearful of his impulsive behavior.
So how do these jobs correlate to good dog behavior?
Fortunately my clients find out fast you can’t throw a ball to good behavior or have dogs walk on a treadmill to good doggy nirvana. While they are chasing and killing their ball or walking on the treadmill all the good dog information doesn’t magically appear into their brains through the power of advanced physics and cosmic intuition.
Our actions need to meet our intentions? We can’t judge ourselves by our intentions (I didn’t want him to learn to do that) and judge the dogs for their actions (why did he bite that dog?)
So, what do my dogs do and what does the title of this article mean? Well, I do really feel my dogs have subpar leash manners for my standards. For most people they would be really happy. It would be a dream. They don’t pull, bark, lunge, or many of the other things that cause stress in humans. I think it could be better, but in all honesty it’s not that important to me – right now. I have other things I need first from them.
Everyday my dogs serve a much higher purpose than themselves or me. Lily’s job right now is to get strong as she is battling an autoimmune disease (IMHA), but all the others (even my foster Q-tip) tap into their super powers everyday. That’s their job.
We wake up around 6:30am -7am everyday.
Right to the yard. Seems easy enough right. Nope! There is a lot of things happening at that time they have to think about. We live directly across from a elementary school. Kids running to school, doors slamming, parents lecturing, dogs walking by, it’s all there for them to think about and process behind a 3 foot picket fence within inches of their territory.
Then it’s brekkie time. Should they go back to their beds, should they be near the fridge, should they be in the kitchen at all? Thinking. More mental challenge.
After brekkie I usually have a client drop off or two at my house. I purposefully leave the dogs in the yard loose and go out and talk with clients, grab their dogs, say hi to strangers. Practicing stress behind barriers and how to cope. More and more thinking for them which slows their physical energy down. They haven’t even been to work yet 🙂
More chances for them to be wrong so I can tell them what is right. That’s my job. Prepare for them to fail, but have the answer so they learn. Consequences and their repercussions is a law of nature.
Around 8am the school bus loads up (my van) where they all have to share space in a friendly tolerant way. We pack up to 8 in there so everyday it’s different.
The rest of their day is all thinking. It’s like a prison social yard – our daycare. They need to keep their senses about them. We have all kinds of dogs at all different stages of learning and socialization. They have to act accordingly to stay out of trouble. They have to think and feel – should I go through the gate now, observe who is a potential new friend, who can I wrestle with, who should I give space too because they are a weirdo, all while listening to what I need – trusting I will keep them safe. You can watch all this on my Instagram stories.
After this full day of helping dogs and intense concentration, we are all ready for a rest. They watch my body language for what is happening. I grab the leashes and walk towards the door and they follow thoughtfully knowing the pattern.
This is their job. At the end of the day they sleep well mentally and physically fulfilled. I fulfill them first, so they give me what I need – their attention, trust, loyalty, and respect. I am completely out of balance on some skills and completely in balance with others.
But, my dogs do the one thing all owners need no matter what, Listen to me above all else in the face of any stimulant. I take the time to teach them step by step what I don’t like. For example, did you see my video claiming the cat on Instagram?
Once the teaching is done then it becomes the job of the dog to act accordingly to what they have learned. That’s their responsibility. My job is to set them up to have the foundation to succeed.
What is your dog’s job? Does your practice make them perfect?