I once had the honor of working with and caring for a German import Schutzhund III dog named Rita.She was a true work of art,beautiful, intelligent, alert and loving. She was brought to the United States to become a conformation show dog and brood bitch as she was the last of a coveted bloodline.
Rita was bored out of her mind.
All of her life she had been learning the intensive levels of Schutzhund and now her purpose was to be a beauty queen and do nothing except pose and gait for the judge.
She became a constant barker and a shredder of anything destructible, so I gave her a job to do.Puff was a puppy and in the obnoxious puppy stage and Rita was assigned to watch him and not let him run out the door,which he was prone to do. She became quite content with her assignment and stopped tearing things up and barking all the time. It was also good training for the special litter that her owner had planned for her.
Herding breeds especially need a job to do to make them happy.
This trick worked well on my Standard Poodle but I never considered it for a toy dog.
Toy dogs are meant to be a lapdog/companion and nothing else, or so I thought.But I was wrong.
Two years ago the girlfriend of the guy in the apartment next door got mad at him and set the place on fire..ok she said it was an accident. Puff alerted me to the fire and I was able to extinguish it before the place burned down. He was praised profusely.
A few months later at 1 a.m. while I am fast asleep,my laptop battery starts smoking,Puff tried to wake me ( he can't bark, a pecuilarity of some Chin) to no avail.So he jumped on my chest and started digging on it furiously and pulling my hair. I got up and followed him to the front room where I smelled some awful sulphurous burning odor to discover it was my laptop.Again he was praised profusely. This changed his attitude and he began to look for things amiss,often to my chagrin.I didn't care if the neighbors were outside smoking,but each time they were he woke me up and because he made an honest effort I praised him. I wasn't getting any sleep so I gave him a new job.Remembering Rita I assigned Puff cat duty. If I needed the cat for feeding, grooming or petting,I had Puff herd the cat to me. The cat is very laid back and he was o.k. with this. So every day I ask Puff to "go get Casper".
This has worked out fine until a few weeks ago I bought a chair.
Not just any chair, but an 18th century Louis XV fauteuil 'a la reine, still wearing the mohair velvet from its last reupholstering in the 19th century.
I brought it home and as I set it down,Casper walked up to it just to smell, and I said casually to him"I am sure no cats have ever been on this chair".
Little did I realize that Puff had taken note of that comment.
After admiring it all weekend I left for work on Monday and forgetting something I went back inside to find Puff on the fauteil. I lifted him off and corrected him mildly and went to work. I never caught him on it again and there have been no telltale signs that he has gotten on it behind my back.However he is under it, in front of it and beside it most of the time.
Then I realized he is protecting the chair from the cat. He took note of my comment and took it upon himself to protect this special chair to please me....proof that every dog needs a job to do...