12 Jobs Your Dog Can do at Home
Working dogs need a job to do to be happy and healthy. If they don’t have one, they will often find one on their own. Even dogs that are not considered to be working dogs still appreciate having a job as it usually makes them an involved member of the family, provides some mental stimulation, and more. Here are a few jobs your dog can do at home:
1. Practice Commands and Learn New Tricks
Reinforcing training and learning new things are things that can keep your dog mentally engaged throughout their life. Training or learning something new are some classic ways to enrich your dog’s day. These activities can also satisfy the need to work that working dogs have.
You can practice basic commands as needed to keep things fresh. And, you can also move to more advanced training where your dog is learning new things. You can teach them new tricks, train them to respond to hand signals, and more.
2. Clean Up Their Toys
Once your dog has mastered some basic commands, especially retrieval, recall commands, and leave it commands, you can start to teach them some other things. One of the jobs that your dog can do at home that is also extremely helpful to you is to teach them to clean up their toys.
If you have already taught them how to play frisbee or fetch a flying disc toy, ball, etc., then you can likely also teach them how to pick up certain items and place them in a certain place. It may take a while to make all the connections and get them to clean up their toys on command regularly, but patience, consistency, rewards, and praise will get you there eventually.
3. Carry Items in a Dog Backpack on Walks
Not only can carrying a dog backpack while out on a walk give a dog a job, but it can also improve how they walk on the leash. Plus, depending on what you have them carry, it can help free up your hands and reduce the number of things you have to carry.
There are some dos and don’ts of dog backpacks, and not every dog will be a good fit for them. Make sure the sizing is correct, that you’re not adding too much weight, and that you ease your dog into it. Get them used to wearing it and make sure they are comfortable. If they hate it, don’t force them into wearing it.
4. Train for Dog Sports
Even if your dog won’t be competing, or isn’t eligible to compete, in official competitions, you can still train them for dog sports. This is a great opportunity to make sure they get enough exercise, provide some mental stimulation, and also give them a job to do. You will want to run things by your vet to make sure your dog is cleared for whatever sport you want to try.
Then, you want to start easing them into whatever training is needed for the chosen sport. Agility training is a popular option for dogs that are a good fit. You can even create a DIY obstacle course in your backyard for your dog to use.
If your dog loves to swim and can handle jumping into the water, you could try dock diving. This can be a fun summer activity for dogs and owners alike. You don’t want to force your dog into any sports they clearly don’t like, so you may need to try a variety of dog sports before you find a few that they enjoy.
5. Practice Scent Work
Although it’s not necessarily a job or action that your dog performs on command, you can play some games that allow them to practice scent work. There are several indoor scent games for dogs that can give them nosework, provide the satisfaction of a job, give them something interesting to do, and more.
6. Teach Them to Find and Retrieve Lost Items
If you are prone to losing or misplacing certain items, one of the most useful jobs your dog can do at home is to help you find them! You will need to have the item first in order to teach them what it is and connect it to a specific find command.
For example, if you’re constantly placing your phone, keys, or glasses down in the house and forgetting where you put them, you can train your dog to find it. You’ll need to start by using a clicker, praise, and treats to teach your dog nose targeting in general and for the specific item, like “Touch, glasses”.
Once your dog is consistently touching the glasses with their nose on command, even in the presence of other objects, then you can work on hiding the item from your dog and teaching them to find it and bring it back to you. This does require your dog to already have mastered basic retrieval.
7. Work For Their Dinner
With plenty of food-dispensing toys and puzzle food bowls available, make your pup work for their food.
You can try a kibble dispensing ball. Your dog will have to roll it around and the kibble will slowly dispense. Or try a puzzle bowl. Dogs need to work for the food and is a great tactic if your dog tends to eat too fast.
8. Perform Chores
If you’ve trained your dog to put away their toys, why not train them to do other chores? If they’ve mastered basic commands, it might be time to take it up a notch. Many dogs have been trained to retrieve the morning paper.
But you can also train your dog to fetch your shoes, pick up trash, and even fetch things from the refrigerator. These tasks require more specific training, but the benefits are worth it!
9. Wake Up Family Members
Not everyone loves mornings. But if your wake-up call is a cute pup, it may be a bit more manageable. Teach your dog how to gently nudge family members to wake them up. You can even train them to pull off the covers if need be.
10. Deliver Messages to Family
Similar to waking up family members, you can teach your dog to deliver messages. Make sure your dog knows the names of family members. Then, stick a note in their collar and ask them to go to a family member. This is a unique way to communicate with your kids and can be fun for your dog, too.
11. Open and Close Doors or Cupboards
This is a reasonably easy job for your pup to grasp. Start with closing doors or cupboards and use nose targeting. Once they grasp the concept, move on. As they touch the door, gently nudge it closed. Repeat the process until your dog closes the door on their own.
To teach your dog to open a door or a cupboard, attach a rope to the door and have your dog tug on it. Work on this until they can respond to the command to open the door. Or teach your dog to nudge open a door with their noses. And depending on the type of door knobs, you may even be able to teach your dog to open a latched door.
12. Ring a Bell to Go Out
Most dogs let you know they need to go out by whining or staring at you intently while standing by the door. But you can train your dog to ring a bell so they can get your attention much more quickly.
Get a bell and teach your dog to touch it with their nose. Praise them when it makes a noise. Once they master ringing the bell, place it by the door they normally exit to go outside for bathroom breaks. When they ring the bell, open the door even if they don’t need to go out. Soon they will associate ringing the bell with going outside.
These are just a few jobs your dog can do at home. By providing some extra training and structure by teaching them a job and praising them for doing it, you can help reduce boredom while also providing some training and socialization as well. Plus, training them to do the job can be a great bonding activity that also helps prevent or redirect undesirable behavior.