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Have you ever thought about what your dog was bred to do?
Chances are, you’re the proud parent of a dog with a mixed heritage, but what were each of her individual breeds meant to do?
Dogs, especially purebred dogs, used to have big jobs. Sure, some still do–shepherds on the Scottish highlands, drug sniffers, and so on–but most dogs, no matter their blood line, have been relegated to sofas and backyards. Our dogs are unemployed.
Here are three common jobs our dogs used to do… but aren’t supposed to anymore.
Herding: Instead of rounding up sheep, some herding breeds are prone to exhausting that instinct on the family’s children or, more dangerously, cars passing the house.
Hunting: Whether it’s your terrier tracking a vole down a hole or your hound pursuing a rabbit, most suburban and urban dog lovers don’t want their sweet pet exercising that particular instinct – especially if they win!
Guarding: While most couch potato pups bark when the doorbell rings–and the more reactive of the bunch bark when someone passes the house or the wind blows funny–guarding isn’t a generally loved behavior. Most dog lovers want to teach their dog to stop barking, not increase it.
For each of these jobs, though, there are plenty of fun, enriching ways to exercise your dog’s instincts – you just have to get creative. Here are some ideas to get you started!
For herders, let fly dozens of tennis balls all at once and allow her to gather them all up and bring them to you.
For hunting dogs, consider toys and puzzle feeders that encourage sniffing out treats, food or toys within a toy.
For guard dogs, especially the more high-strung pups, well, the best you can do is teach them a “thank you” cue that tells them when to stop barking and to focus on something else!