Dog jobs I daydream about

Me in my daydream day job... Click for source.

When I’m sitting in my gray cubicle, staring at a computer screen, I can’t help but daydream about what I’d rather be doing instead. Those daydreams usually involve me frolicking in a field with my future dog, or a whole pack of my future dogs. These are some quasi “jobs” that I often daydream about having, even though I’m sure they’re all far less glamorous than they are in my imagination:

  • Reinforcement trainer, a la Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller, or Karen Pryor. I daydream about this a lot. I’ve even sporadically browse the CCPDT website to read about their testing requirements, recommended reading, and timeline for becoming a certified trainer. I love watching dogs learn and teaching them–and especially their humans–how to shape appropriate or desirable behavior. I still have so much to learn in this area, but I’m looking forward to the trial-by-fire that will be coming our way this summer.
  • Full-time dog walker/runner, a la Lindsey Stordahl. That is one fit and adventurous woman! I say I want this job now, but in reality, I’m not sure how long I would love it, since it calls for being outside regardless of the weather (I can’t believe she does it in Fargo). Mostly, though, I’m up for it, because hardly anything brings me as much joy as walking dogs.
  • Agility trainer/co-competitor. (What do people who do agility with their dogs call themselves?) I am probably not as competitive as most of these people are, but everyone looks like they are having such a darn good time! I love watching agility trials and it’s a nice daydream to entertain, raising up an agility champion…
  • Shepherd. Or a farmer with lots of dogs, I guess. But having a team of dedicated herders at my disposal is also a nice dream.
  • Volunteer in some dog-based therapy program. Dog-assisted therapy is so moving and meaningful to me. I am especially fond of the programs in elementary schools, whether teaching kids how to behave around dogs or being reading partners. I also love the idea of visiting nursing homes. I wonder if I’ll ever have a dog calm enough to do either of those things…
  • Writing the daily blog from the perspective of Martha Stewart’s French bulldogs. OK, maybe not really, but whatever intern has that job has it made! Just hanging out around her estate, photographing the dogs doing silly things, and then writing about it? Yes, please. I’ll take that job.

Do you entertain any dog job daydreams? Or do you actually HAVE one of these jobs? If so, I envy you… in my imagination…

Review: The Latchkey Dog

The Latchkey Dog, by Jodi Andersen

I saw this book the library and was intrigued by its title and premise, even though I’d never heard of the book or its author before. The author, New York dog trainer Jodi Andersen, makes the case that our 21st-century schedules are profoundly influencing the behaviors of our dogs.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but it seems like most people assume that dogs will adapt to the busyness of our lives just like we do. Unfortunately, this is not the case–as anyone with a dog with separation anxiety can tell you.

Throughout the book, Andersen shares anecdotes of her many clients and the behavioral problems she helped correct. One of the main problems Andersen returns to is the issue of people treating their dogs like children. As couples delay the age at which they bear children, many take in dogs and start treating them like surrogate children. This sounds pleasant enough, but these pampered pooches develop untold behavioral problems. Simply, remember that your dog is not a human, Andersen urges. He may seem like he perfectly understands your rambling about the stresses of your work day, but in reality, he just wants you to stop talking so you can take him outside where he can smell stuff. Give him discipline and structure, just like you would to a child, but with the keen understanding that he is a dog and he will thus think, act, and react like a dog. This, Andersen notes, will save you a lot of heartache.

Although I didn’t learn a lot of new training techniques, I did come away from this book with a refreshed perspective on how to care for a dog while working full-time. Start training very early. Work on preventing separation anxiety before it even starts. Make your dog do chores. Lavish affection AND discipline. And then maybe your dog will bring you a bit more joy than insanity.