What does giving a Working Dog a "job to do" really mean?

In my other thread about our new 6 month old Siberian Husky\Border Collie mix, I mentioned some anxiety about leaving him home during the days as we don’t want him to rip apart everything in the house. We live in 2.5 acres of Mountain meadow so he’s got all the space he needs with a 5.5 foot fence around the whole thing.

Today I took half a day to work from home and when I got home, all of our living room pillows were in the back yard, and the table runner and gourds on the table were yanked off and half eaten. He left the leather couches alone - thank Og.

So, can some of you who responded to the other thread about giving a working dog a job to do, tell me what you mean by a job?

And can some of you dog trainers out there let me know the best way to keep a puppy busy while we are at work, so he doesn’t tare the place apart? We have bought all kinds of chew toys, and other stuff that he certainly plays with, but in the end there are still pine cones and outdoor stuff in our living room, and all the pillows outside strewn about the back yard…yes we have a doggy door.

Obligatory pics here, hereand here.

Erm…that dog needs to be in a crate during the day. My dog is of the “I will happily get your ducks!” working variety, not the “omg omg omg omg sheep!!!” variety and even she was in a crate when left alone for about 2 or 3 years.

Usually “jobs” refer to walk time or exercise time, not alone time. For example, I’ve seen Cesar Milan give poor walkers a backpack to carry as a job during a walk, or an anxious beagle a specific “find it!” game during play time.

There’s no job any dog is going to do while you’re away because dogs will only do jobs to please you. If you’re not there to be pleased, there’s no job.

He needs to be tired out with exercise before you leave for the day, left in the crate, and exercised at night. If you can manage mid-day walks then ALL THE BETTER.

I second the crate suggestion above. I have a border collie who is crate trained and it’s his den, he feels safe there and can’t get into any trouble when he has to be left on his own. As to the “job to do”, it can be anything from obedience training, to walks, to playing fetch in the yard. If your dog doesn’t like to fetch/retrieve, try a soccer ball or basketball you can kick to him that he can push around the yard with his nose or legs, mine loves that. Get a Kong and stuff it with treats for him, that will keep him busy mentally trying to figure out how to get the treats out. Do obedience training 2 or 3 times a day for short periods, his attention span isn’t long at 6 months old.

Unfortunately, crate training is not an option, as we are gone from the house 8-9 hours a day, and I personally do not believe in keeping a pup in crate for that period of time. If we had someone who could come up and take him out that is a different story, but we don’t.

I am understanding the “job” thing a little more. I was thinking of appealing to his Border side and starting him on frisbee training.

Don’t people have puppies that are not in crates that DON’T destroy things? Do we have to go through a period of acceptable destroying first?

I think it’s too much to ask that a puppy not get into things while you’re away, and it’s not like he’s going to learn not to do it, or grow out of it, if no one is teaching him that it’s unacceptable, which can’t be done if you’re not there. If you won’t use a crate, can you block off a safe area of the house for him?

A buster cube is a good toy that is like a job, but it’s not going to solve your problem.

That’s the thing, he’s an angel when we are home. We have been obedience training, and taking him for long walks…I think perhaps the lower level of the house needs a dog door, because there is less for him to get into down there, we’ll see.

He’s an angel when you’re home because he’s not bored. When you’re not home, he’s bored. He’s going to find himself something to do, and that usually involves chewing, digging, or otherwise destroying.

You either need to have someone come and let your dog out during the day and crate him (i.e. hire a dog walker), keep him in an enclosed room in your house where there’s nothing to destroy, or have a house that’s destroyed. There’s not really another option. Giving a working dog a job to do entails you being there to give direction while he’s doing it - retrieving, herding, etc. all require human involvement. He’s not going to occupy himself with something productive while you’re not there.

It wasn’t until my dog was around 2 years old that I was comfortable giving her the run of the house when I wasn’t home. Until then, I supervised her in the house and crated her when I was out. It helped that I’m a stay at home mom right now, and was never gone for more than a few hours at a time.

You might think seriously about getting him a playmate; also, maybe think about an outdoor run with a shed where they can hang out safely during the day.

At six months, he’s still learning what he can and can’t do. If he’s able to chew up the house items during the day, he’ll just get confused when you try to stop him. Scolding him after the fact won’t get the point across. You need to puppy proof your house now (or maybe just “his room” and then you can reintroduce things to him a little at a time. He sounds smart. He’ll get it eventually. But he’s got some growing up todo.

“Dog plays fetch with himself”

I endorse pretty much everything that people have said so far.

Okay,up until the Youtube video. Don’t leave any animal alone with a machine with moving parts.

Your dog does have a job - it’s to herd all the cushions outside and chew everything else up it can find.

I’m not sure why you’re personally against crating him. Do it for a week, and see how he reacts. Tilly took 6 months of crate training before she was allowed to free-roam, and now she’s fine. Toby took 4 months (helps to have that second dog around to teach the new guy).

As long as the crate is sufficiently large, there is absolutely no problem with crating for 8-9 hours a day. My roommate rescued a mutt (looks similar to a lab but smaller) and she crates it to sleep at night because it tears up her stuff if not attended (she tried letting it sleep with her and it ate her pillows). During the day she blocks it in the kitchen with a baby gate. Either of those would be fine options.

You absolutely cannot give a puppy the run of the house when nobody is around. They’re not cats. They’re not content to sit lazily on the heater for hours.

So if you’re still opposed to crating for whatever reason, barricade it in the kitchen or basement. Without expensive fluffy things available to be ruined. If you allow the situation to continue, you will get exasperated and give the dog to a shelter (I saw this happen too many times among friends in college). And crating, no matter what your take on it, is far preferable to THAT.

That is one beautiful dog you have. He looks smarter and more alert than most people. Unfortunately, the fur and eye color combination mean that is will probably pure evil which isn’t a bad thing in my book.

I am strongly against crate training a dog like that and I am not a PETA member by any stretch. How would you like to be put in solitary confinement many hours a day. That isn’t fair to a dog like that. You chose him so you have to make it work or give him to someone that can. Have you considered a herd of sheep as an accessory?

I don’t understand the problem with the fence. Can’t you just leave him outside with a nice doghouse? He will probably dig but husky mixes aren’t scared of the cold.

My main advice would be to get another dog that likes to play but can also take care of itself like my dearly departed Samoyed Bear. The combination of high stamina and hyperactive intelligence means this one is going to take some work on your part like raising a gifted child. If you wanted a dog to lay around, you need a greyhound or a hound dog, not a border collie mixed with a sled dog.

The border collies I have known herd things by instinct but also like to learn complex tricks. One was a fiend on a swimming pool diving board and slide and could do any trick you could think of and then some. They like outsmarting other animals and people and to play games like Frisbee.

I would like to know if some of the people that answered before have ever known any border collies or huskies. Neither of them are just regular dogs that you can just lock up until it is convenient for you. Don’t try that with Jack Russell Terriers either. It is cruel and unusual punishment for them and will drive them even more insane.

When I think of “give a dog a job” it generally means “provide mental and physical exercise.” Obedience training is a good one, as is a nice game of fetch. That keeps your dog from getting out of control when you’re around, but a young, energetic dog like yours is going to get into trouble home alone for an extended time.

I’m a fan of crate training. My dogs have always loved their crates. But, if you don’t like crates, try dog proofing one room and putting the dog there when you leave (as a previous poster mentioned).

When my dogs got older, they were fine left outside of their crates if I provided them with a stuffed kong toy or hid treats around the house. Then again, my dogs have never been canine geniuses. What kept my lovable doofuses busy all day may take a border collie mix busy for 15 minutes.

So don’t leave him in the home!

Leave him outside during the long day when you are away. Get an appropriate doghouse for him, where he can be sheltered from rain, cold, & heat, and just let him have the whole 2.5 acres to roam. That doghouse will become his crate, his safe space that he will return to when he is tired or roaming. Except in extreme weather, he will do fine outside, and no damage to your house. And he will see being inside the house as a treat that he gets when you are home with him.

Have you looked in to doggy daycare in your area? It’s quite popular here.

Can you gate off the kitchen and put a doggy door in there to the (fenced) back yard? Then all you have to do is dog-safe the kitchen and he can go in and out as nature dictates.

Re: the original question – while people are right in saying “a job” usually includes interaction with you (with the possible exception of livestock guardian dogs, but that’s a special case), I want to emphasize that what makes an activity “a job” is that the dog learns that the behavior pleases the pack leader(s). The dog can then perform the behavior to win approval in the pack and to feel confident in his or her position. This is an important part of doggy psychology; it helps them to feel secure and successful. It gives them a little bit of control in a big complex world they don’t entirely understand.

Doggy daycare might be another option, depending on your budget. When my dog was in her anxious, chewy stage (lasted until she was 2) I put her in daycare once a week – on Wednesdays. Getting so much exercise and stimulation seemed to help her be calmer for her home days.

Everybody repeat after me: “Dogs aren’t people.” “Dogs aren’t people.” “Dogs aren’t people.” “Dogs aren’t people.” “Dogs aren’t people.”

How would you like to eat cat poop and roll in dead skunk? How would you like to eat the same kibble every day and be forced to perform menial and degrading tricks for a tiny bite of poached chicken? How would you like to walk on all fours all day? Go around naked? Greet your friends by sniffing their asses?

Dogs and people are different and have different wants and needs. Dogs are OK with crates. Really, they are.

He looks like he would make a great frisbee dog!