This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Our dogs have a pretty great life. Free food, healthcare, and all the toys they could play with.
But is that enough? Just like us, they need more than just physical exercise.
They need to exercise their minds! They need a “job.”
So what are some of the best jobs for dogs at home?
In the past year, dogs needed something to occupy themselves more than ever. During the pandemic, many dogs haven’t been able to go as many places as they did before.
So having more stimulation at home is really important.
Contents & Quick Navigation
What Does a “Job” Mean?
Of course, your dog isn’t going into the office from nine to five. But he will be doing some type of activity that exercises his body, his mind–or both.
Your dog needs to burn off steam. And having many different activities he can engage in at home will help satisfy that need.
He may even have to work for his kibble!
The job isn’t necessarily what your pup was bred to do. So it doesn’t have to be teaching your border collie to herd something back to you. Or having your hunting retriever catch a bird to bring to you.
A job is just an activity that exercises your dog’s body and mind.
Jobs really come in handy too when you need your dog to be busy, such as on a rainy day.
Why Give Your Dog a Job?
In addition to exercising your dog’s body and mind, giving him a job has many other benefits, such as:
1. Tiring your dog
The old adage that “a tired dog is a good dog” still rings true.
The less pent-up energy your dog has, the better he’ll feel. And he’ll be healthier if given an appropriate amount of exercise for his age and breed.
2. Challenging your dog’s body and mind
Your dog needs activities that stimulate him. The more he does, the more he can do.
He can be better at physical and mental challenges the more he grows with the challenges.
3. Strengthening the bond with your dog
The more you participate with your dog in his activities, the stronger your relationship will be.
4. Fighting boredom
Let’s face it, staying in the house round the clock can be very monotonous.
Just sitting staring at the wall is no way to live. So having our dogs participate in some activities gives them a fun, energizing life.
5. Relieving anxiety
A dog with nothing to do can be stressed. He may focus too much on every noise and motion in his environment having no outlet for his energy.
So having fun activities can go a long way to helping lower our pup’s stress level.
6. Making your dog less likely to misbehave
A dog with nothing to do will find his own fun. And it’s usually not what we want him to do.
A dog with some structured activities is less likely to chew on our furniture, jump on people, and get into the trash.
He won’t be bored and he’ll expend his energy in constructive ways.
7. Getting rid of pent-up energy
The jobs we give our dogs help them expend mental and physical energy.
So just like us before we go for our walk or play our favorite video game, our dogs have too much energy. Having tasks to do will solve that.
8. Being healthier and less likely to be overweight
You can give your dog some physical jobs like learning agility to help him keep fit.
9. Increasing a dog’s confidence
Giving your pup a job will increase his confidence.
When he’s successful at new tasks, it can really increase his morale and view of himself.
What Are Some Jobs I Can Give My Dog?
There are so many physical and mentally stimulating activities you can give your dog. The sky’s the limit.
You just have to use your imagination. What does your dog like to do?
What do you think he’ll find to be fun and challenging?
The following suggestions are just that. Many dogs love them.
But you can be creative as long as the activity is safe and not too challenging for your dog.
1. K9 Nose Work
Dogs naturally use their noses–they have a “nose brain.”
So, all we need to do is give them some direction to play some games with it.
You can do something as simple as having eight heavy plastic cups. Start with one and put it upside down with a treat under it.
Have your dog sniff at it. When he knocks it over, praise him. And he’ll be rewarded too with the treat.
Over time, add one upside down cup at a time. A treat should be under only one cup. Make sure to space the cups apart so that your dog doesn’t knock them all over at once.
My dogs have a lot of fun with this. It’s a treasure hunt for dogs. They act like they’ve discovered gold when they turn the right cup over and scarf down the treat.
There are even canine nosework classes where dogs learn to sniff out specific scents.
2. Treat-dispensing toys
You can literally make your dog work for his dinner by placing the kibble in a treat-dispensing toy.
They come in many different forms. There are balls that roll and dispense treats as they go.
I also like the Kong Wobbler. It’s sort of shaped like a bowling pin that moves back-and-forth when your dog tips it. The toy releases a treat or kibble you put in,
There’s a square toy called the Buster Cube. You can even adjust the difficulty level as your dog gets used to playing with it to keep it challenging.
3. Puzzle toys
There are so many different types of these on the market. So your dog won’t get bored.
There are various levels of difficulty. Start with an easier toy, then work up to the more difficult ones.
In most of them, you place kibble or treats in the various compartments. Finding the prized edibles just adds to the excitement of the game.
PRO TRAINING TIP: Rotate your dog’s toys every week so that he doesn’t become bored with them.
4. Find-it games
They’re a lot of fun for you and your dog. If your dog can stay, you can put him in a sit-stay. Then, you can hide and tell him to “find me.”
At first, he has to learn what “find me” means.
So I usually train the dog by having someone hold the dog’s short leash or collar. Then, I go hide.
At first, I make it easy. I just go out of the room around the corner.
When I call the dog to “find me,” the other person holding the dog back immediately releases the dog to discover where I am.
At first, you can repeat “find me” until the dog detects where you are.
Make it a party when your dog finds you. Say “Yes! Good dog!” And give him a couple of great treats. You can even pet your dog as part of his reinforcement if he enjoys it.
PRO TRAINING TIP: When training your dog, have pea-sized treats that your dog loves ready. We like using Zukes Mini Naturals when training our pups..
My Aussie mix puppy Millie loves this game. She’s quite an explorer going from room to room to locate me. And spins for joy when she discovers where I am.
As a bonus, it’s also helped her recall.
Other find me games involve you hiding a few treats or toys in a room. At first you hide a treat and make sure that your dog watches where you put it before telling him to find it.
After he gets the idea, you can hide them when he’s not in the room. Then. take him in the room where the treats are hidden and tell him to “find it.”
It makes the dog think as well as use his natural instincts of finding something by scent.
5. Obedience training
Even if your dog knows the basics, you can up the ante.
If he knows how to stay, add distractions. Teach him to stay for a longer time. Keep making it more interesting and challenging for him.
Teach him more commands, such as to go to a place or to heel. Work on attention.
The more he learns, the more he can learn.
6. Trick training
Tricks are fun to teach. You can teach your dog to spin in a circle.
Or to dance on his hind legs. Or to catch a treat you throw.
Even older dogs can learn many tricks. You’ll be amused and your friends will be impressed!
7. Use a flirt pole
This is a toy that has a long cord with a toy dangling from the end.
You wave the toy at the end around and the dog chases it. It’s a lot of fun and can help tire out your dog.
You can make one yourself or buy it.
I use this with my dogs. My sheltie Murphy especially loves chasing the toy at the end of the pole. And after a few minutes of play, it helps tire him out.
8. Snuffle mat
This is a mat with many pieces of cloth held together. You throw some treats or kibble in between the pieces of cloth and the dog has to sniff them out.
Dogs have a lot of fun using their sense of smell. And the food reward when they find it doesn’t hurt either.
9. Obstacle course
Even inside, you can set up a mini agility course in a large room or hallway.
You can purchase a kit or make your own obstacles.
You want to keep the obstacles low and safe even if you have a larger dog.
You can use the pole from a broom as a jump set on two blocks.
You can set up five emptied laundry jugs in a line and lure your dog with a treat in front of his nose to weave in and out of them.
10. Impulse control exercises
Practice wait, stay, leave it, and settle.
These training exercises help your dog to learn self control. This is a very important skill for all dogs to know.
11. Chasing bubbles
They make dog-safe bubbles that some dogs love.
They really enjoy chasing them, and it helps exercise them too.
12. Stuffed Kong
I love the Extreme Kong. It’s really durable.
I freeze it overnight with some good quality mashed dog food. It takes my dog some time to work on it and clean it out.
My golden retriever Riley thinks it’s the greatest thing! He gets really excited and jumps for joy when I take it out of the freezer.
13. Free shaping games
This means that you place a safe item in a room and see what the dog invents to do with it.
When he performs something that you like, you praise (“Yes!”) and reward with a treat.
You can use a large box cut to about six inches high and see what your dog does.
He may first sniff it, then put a leg in it.
If your goal is to have him get into the box, you praise and reward that step.
In shaping, you praise and reward each approximation of what you want for the final product.
Dogs then get to understand what behaviors you want. So you would keep praising and rewarding when he puts legs in the box.
Eventually, if you’re patient, he should get in the box.
This may take a few sessions depending on the dog.
If your dog already retrieves toys to you, great! Have him retrieve a toy to you and teach him to drop it in front of you or give it to your hand.
If he doesn’t fetch, teach him. It’s fun and it provides good exercise.
Get a favorite toy your dog loves and wave it around in front of him, getting him excited.
When you see that he wants to get it, throw it a few feet away. When he takes it, move away a few feet as he approaches you.
Praise him and give him a treat for the toy.
Do it a few times, adding the cue, “fetch” as he takes it, adding “give” when he releases the toy to you in exchange for a treat.
15. Household chores
Your dog can actually perform work for you.
You can teach him to fetch the newspaper, close doors, pick up trash and put it in the can, fetch your slippers, and even pick up his toys and put them in his toy bin.
The sky’s the limit. Of course, you have to teach him basic behaviors of taking what you tell him to take and to bring them to you or put them in another place.
It takes time–many training sessions–and unlimited patience.
16. Carrying things
Teach your dog to carry things in a doggie backpack.
They make them in various sizes. Don’t put heavy items in them. Of course, a larger dog can carry more.
Your pup can carry poop bags, his ball, and other light things. A larger dog can even carry a small water bottle for your hike.
Build up your dog’s endurance over time.
All dogs need a job. The more they stay at home, it’s important to still work their minds and bodies.
During the pandemic, it’s crucial that they remain active.
Of course, there are many types of jobs. Some are practical like putting away their toys. And other jobs like playing fetch are just for fun.
Dogs with jobs generally have lower anxiety levels, more confidence, and happier lives.
How about you? What games do you play with your dogs?
What are the best jobs for dogs at home?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
Save To Pinterest
Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack – Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST CHEW TOY
We Like: KONG Extreme – Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites – One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.
16 Top Jobs for Your Dog at Home was last modified: June 15th, 2021 by