Over the past six years, financial markets, politicians and many companies and workers have tuned in closely to the monthly unemployment rate. On September 5, when the U.S. Labor Department is expected to release the August jobless rate, most economists expect the rate to be as low as 6% — down significantly from the recession-era peak of 10% in October 2009, but quite the opposite for dogs, where the unemployment rate is close to 100%!
For dogs, unemployment can also have dire effects on their well-being, but getting the “dog unemployment” rate to drop can be as simple as humans interacting with them and giving them a “job” — whether they are being told to sit, shake hands or roll over.
“Every dog breed that has been around for thousands of years has been bred to work,” says Michael Schaier, Founder/Owner, Michael’s Pack. “Whether it’s for hunting, herding, retrieving, guarding, pulling a cart to market, etc., dogs are happier when they have a purpose.”
Schaier says that, contrary to what people believe, dogs are not content to just sleep and be fed. In fact, dogs that are not given “jobs” will act out negative behaviors. He says that they crave the workload and the interaction they have with their human counterparts.
“When you give a dog a task, the dog will be better behaved,” he says. “It changes the dog’s life and it keeps them on point. They want to learn and they want to be engaged. The more you do this with them, the more they want to do it.”
Payment for a dog that works, Schaier says, need not be a dog treat itself; instead, it can be a walk around the neighborhood or in the park, a pat on the head with a compliment or a squeaky toy, but that treat must be given only as a reward.
“Getting your dog to earn a treat by having him or her sit for 20 seconds, for example, will benefit the dog,” he says. “It’s not good for the dog to just give them a treat without doing anything. They have to earn it.”