Part 2: Give That Dog A Job
Unemployed dogs soon become self-employed so the easiest, quickest, most efficient and enjoyable way to get your dog working is by having him use some of those in-built skills to earn his food, everyday.
Food is Currency
To dogs, food is like currency, euros and dollars. So, if you are to employ a dog, you gotta get them working for their food.
Last time, we looked at the sorts of predatory and feeding related behaviours that dogs come with as part of the package.
We can safely offer our pet dogs outlets for behaviours like the following, using your dog’s dinner:
And we can safely provide more appropriate outlets for some of this behaviour, through the use of games and play:
- stalking & chasing
- grabbing & biting
Don’t let “domestication” fool you!
Domestication has done lots of things to dogs that has made them better pets and companions, but this process has also done a couple of things that mean getting your dog working for their food is even more important.
This process continues to ensure that dogs live closer and closer to humans and the more time the dog spends in the human world, the less time it gets to spend on doggie pursuits.
Domestication has certainly seen a dilution of some more serious predatory traits, but has amplified these traits across various breeds.
Each component of the predatory sequence is exaggerated in some dogs, but played down in others, according to their job or breeding history.
A lot of breed history is mythic but if we look closely at the early roles for many dogs, we can get some clues as to the activities they may love most.
But saying that, teaching your dog to carry out any and all of these behaviours will provide them (and you) much joy regardless.
Our absolute favourite toy:
Choose chews for your dog carefully and know your dog’s chewing style. Your dog chewing anything may be potentially harmful in a particular situation so be aware of ways to reduce the risks.
It’s never a good idea to give your dog cooked bones or very hard bone (e.g. weight bearing bone, heavy antlers etc.) as these can cause damage either when ingested or during chewing to teeth.
Natural chews are generally best but always check and monitor their condition. Look for signs of splitting or splintering, and keep an eye on their size appropriate to your dog.
Chews such as gullets, ‘pizzles’ and scalp have become more widely available.
Cheaper rawhide type chews can be dangerous if swallowed so if choosing rawhide look for chews that are constructed from one piece of hide, that are not bleached or coloured and keep a close eye on your dog as he chews them.
If in doubt, ask your qualified veterinary healthcare team before allowing your pet to chew!
Snuffle ball –
Busy box –
Fill a box with crumpled paper, add treats and close up the box. To make an even busier box, you can add that box to another box too.
Stalking & Chasing:
Energising food dispensing toys –
Give the Treat Launcher a go, especially for those dogs less inclined to chase a ball – they might chase this though!
Grabbing & Biting
Tug is one of our favourite doggy games because if it’s played with appropriate rules we can teach dogs so much with this game, all dressed up in pure fun!
And for the DIY inclined why not consider building a springpole for your tug-addict: How to make a springpole
Enrichment comes in all shapes & sizes
We can give our dogs all sorts of jobs that challenge them in different ways. Giving them outlets for natural behaviour might include providing them with :
- sensory challenges
- physical challenges
- cognitive challenges
- social challenges
Stay tuned for more…