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The Wrong Job

We sometimes give our dogs jobs which they are not suited for. When we do, we sometimes get unintended consequences.  One consequence we've seen fairly often is a stressed dog.

We worked with a nice couple who own a car repair business. They have a big four year old pit bull terrier they named Tank. They thought it would be a good idea to leave Tank at their business at night to "protect" it. Tank however didn't want to guard their business, he was happiest being a companion, just snuggling and playing catch the bouncing ball. He did not have the temperament to be left by himself and be a guard.

He was stressed. Left alone night after night was too much for him and he started making mistakes in judgment. He had no idea why he was being left alone whereas before he always went home with his family.  

He started growling no matter who approached him. He couldn't tell friend from foe. He even growled at his owners when they brought him his food, especially his dinner meal. That's when they contacted me. They wanted him to stop growling at people during the day, especially at them.  

We discussed Tank and his behavior for a while and I then asked them to get Tank, who was chained up at the far end of their parking lot. I could see Tank stiffen as they approached him. They got him and brought him on leash back inside the garage, where we had been talking.

I had them walk him around a little. Each time he was brought near me he bristled. His hackles came up and he gave me a look which was easily read as I'll rip you apart if I get the chance.

I brought out his ball and just started bouncing it. Tank stopped, looked at me with the ball and his demeanor changed completely. His tail, which had been tucked under, relaxed and started wagging. His mouth, which had been clamped closed, opened and he started a happy pant. Even his eyes, which had been "hard", softened.

I asked them to drop the leash and when they did I bounced the ball to Tank. He pounced on it just like a little puppy. You could see his joy.  I called him to bring it to me and he did. He dropped it right in my hand and backed up so he could encourage me to bounce it again, which I did. I did that a few times then asked the couple to take over.

As they played with Tank we discussed the job they had given him and what they really wanted from their relationship with him. They were really having fun with him and they came to the realization that turning him into their night guard was not in his or their best interests.

It wasn't an easy decision, but they decided to get an actual security system and let Tank be the happy ball chaser he was born to be.

Tank is really very people friendly and it didn't take him very long before he was back to his happy self. Now if you stop at their business it's not surprising to be greeted by a big dog carrying a very wet ball. If you're brave enough to ask for the ball you'll be rewarded with a slobbery ball dropped in your lap. Tank now has the proper job, greeter and ball chaser.

We've seen dogs given the responsibility to be bodyguards, neighborhood watch dogs, heads of families and as with Tank, security guards. Sometimes the dogs are given these jobs on purpose, most of the time however it's inadvertent. Most dogs aren't suited for these jobs. They get stressed when they are given responsibilities they aren't equipped to handle or even understand. Most are more suited to be hiking buddies, walking or running companions, play pals, or like my Rover, swimming companions. Give your dog a job he's suited for and you'll all be happier.   

That's how it is meant to be. . .  Happy Dogs = Happy Families

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