Call me old-fashioned, but there is nothing wrong with having a job. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay seems fair to me.
I carry that philosophy through to my dogs. My dogs are paid to work. I pay generously for reasonable expectations so they can enjoy themselves. My dogs never go without. That paycheck comes in the form of treats, tug games and fun stuff.
Snuggles are free. That’s not to say that inappropriate behaviour is rewarded. Rather, I feel it’s just wrong to turn affection and bonding into currency. I expect the same from family. Never in a million years would I tolerate a relationship where hugs came with conditions. Similarly, the idea of “I will pat your head and scratch your chest…if you’re good and only if you’re good,” seems to translate into a veiled, “I will love you only if you’re good.” Cheapens the whole relationship if you know what I mean.
Working for food though is natural. Every animal on the planet works for food. Birds look for worms and seeds. Squirrels find and hide nuts. Cats hunt. People, “bring home the bacon.” Parents who work in the home work to prepare food. Generally, working and having a purpose is considered healthy.
Why are some trainers opposed to the idea of pets working for food? They recommend feeding at predetermined intervals. Food appears in pretty china dishes and not an ounce of effort is required. Working for treats is called bribery, said to spoil the dog. Some trainers say dogs should obey out of love and respect for the owner. Pet dogs are expected to work for free.
Stop right there. Let’s think about this for a minute. Which people receive regular paychecks without having a job? There’s social assistance recipients, billionaire heirs that grace the cover of People magazine for their erratic behaviour, Stepford wives from the 1950’s….”where’s my supper dear, the head of the house is home you know.” and perhaps prison inmates. To be fair I don’t really know about the whole jail thing. However, I am sure they get food regardless of their behaviour.
Before someone starts a hate campaign, I am well aware that some people need a hand up or temporary assistance. I agree with providing assistance for those that physically need that help. I agree with helping people better themselves, or to help get out of a temporary bind. That is NOT what I am talking about.
What I mean to point out is that having a paying job is healthy and productive. There is nothing wrong with being paid.
Not having an occupation is unhealthy when we are physically capable of being productive. Jobs give us purpose, meaning and a reason to get up each day.
When a pet professional says, “Treat training spoils the dog and makes it fat,” it seems odd that having a paid job typically is associated with character building and productivity. Think how odd it would sound for a boss to say, “I’m not paying you today. You might get too uppity and eat too much prime rib and get fat.” It’s utter rubbish.
I fully expect every trainer who derides the use of treats to donate all of their paychecks to a charity. Work for free. Otherwise you too might become spoiled or obese.
Bottom line is that I do not want to intentionally put my physically healthy and capable dog on permanent, unending social assistance. I do not want an entitled billionaire that treats me like a servant. I absolutely disagree with the Stepford wife notion. In addition, I absolutely do not want to run a jail with canine inmates.
I want my dog to have a happy, productive fun life. That includes having a paid job. Let the paycheck of treats and goodies begin.