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Do you want fun jobs for German Shepherds at home to rescue your active, intelligent dog from boredom?
Well, imagine you could give your German Shepherd Dog a job that keeps them busy and helps improve their behavior.
With a bit of training and patience!
Try these simple household jobs for a German Shepherd that they can do almost anywhere, even if you don’t live on a farm.
What does it mean to give a German Shepherd a job?
The German Shepherd is the perfect breed for a job around the house. They’re naturally hardworking and you’ll be amazed at their intelligence and their need to have a job to do.
German Shepherds are so trainable and do so many jobs already, ranging from their service in the military, police, tracking, search and rescue, and they are even used to sniff out cancers!
They also work for pennies…
Well, for cuddles and treats, so German Shepherd jobs are very affordable!
German Shepherds that are left without a job tend to become bored and even destructive.
People tend to forget that the German Shepherd is more than a family pet, he’s a highly intelligent dog that needs activity to do to prevent boredom.
Good Household Jobs for German Shepherds
Maybe you’re wondering, “What job can I give my German Shepherd?”
Consider that jobs don’t need to be complicated or hard to teach.
There are only a few things you need to remember about what and how to give a German Shepherd a job.
Keep in mind the definition of a good job for your German Shepherd is:
an activity or event that gives your dog an opportunity to use their mind (mental stimulation) and bodies (physical abilities)
performed on a schedule and at regular times
an action where your German Shepherd is doing the job with consistency, and
rewarded and reinforced when the work is complete and there’s a job well done!
Contrary to what you might have heard, the best jobs to give your German Shepherd around the house don’t have to involve herding, barking and guarding, or take months to teach.
Keep your active breed engaged with you and their world by giving them one of these exciting household jobs for German Shepherds.
1. Tidy Those Toys – The Cleanup Job
Training your dog to pick up after playing with their toys is not only cute, it’s a useful skill that you can transfer to other tricks. Plus, it’s a fun job to give a German Shepherd so that you don’t have to clean up yourself!
Here’s how to give your German Shepherd this job:
First, you’ll need a few of their toys and a basket or box that you want to have them put the toys in. Your dog will already need to know the ‘retrieve’ and ‘drop’ command, so teach that first.
Hold your hands out over the basket and ask your dog to retrieve their toy. Praise them greatly when they bring you the toy.
Next, ask them to ‘drop’ the toy into your hand (which you’ll then quickly open so they drop their toy in).
Have them repeat this a few times before asking them to simply ‘drop’ the toy while they’re reaching over the box to give you the toy in your hands.
Reward them when they drop the toys in the box!
After more successful rounds of this game, give it a name, such as ‘tidy toys’ or ‘clean up’.
After your dog’s next playtime, ask them to tidy up after themselves and watch the fun!
2. Close the Door Behind You
Ever forget to close a door and wish your GSD could do it? Well…
Here’s your chance to teach them!
For this job, you’ll need to have taught your dog how to ‘target’. It’s an easy skill to teach, but you’ll need to practice this before teaching your German Shepherd how to close the doors. It’s best taught through clicker training.
You can read about how I taught my German Shepherd to ‘target’ along with dozens of other tricks using fun games and the brain training program I used here…
It’s one of those house jobs for working breeds that you can do no matter where you live to keep them happy and fit.
It takes little space and is great for improving your German Shepherd’s mobility, balance, concentration, and attention.
Who knew jobs for German Shepherds could also make them more athletic?
5. Puzzle King (or Queen)
Want your dog to be smarter than your 3-year-old?
Then teach them how to work their own puzzles! Even a German Shepherd puppy can learn a new job.
And puzzle games are great activities for busy little puppies.
There are so many benefits to your German Shepherd learning how to complete puzzles as their job at home.
increased mental skills
more impulse control
A puzzle can be as hard or easy as you like, although it’s best to start with easier puzzles to make sure your dog understands what their job is.
I’ve found one of the best puzzle games in this very inexpensive beginner puzzle game because it’s easy enough for puppies to figure out, but fun enough for even your energetic German Shepherd to stay interested.
You can give this puzzle activity to your German Shepherd every day to help their behavior and keep their minds engaged with a job.
Teaching your dog puzzle games is a great low-key activity that keeps energetic dogs busy.
Set up a puzzle for your dog, and he’ll see it as his job to figure it out, especially the inquisitive mind of the German Shepherd.
6. Carry Your Stuff Activity
Your German Shepherd is the perfect candidate to follow you around and carry your things for you.
It’s a simple enough task to teach as long as the things aren’t heavy and your dog has convenient handles to put in their mouth.
You could even have a special bag you place items in as you walk around your house and let your dog carry for you. This simple task of carrying things is hugely satisfying to a working breed dog driven to do a job for their owners.
How about training your dog to carry in the grocery bags from the car for you?
Or what about getting them to help carry your newspaper or mail inside?
How about strapping a doggie backpack to them and letting him carry his own treats and water on your next walk?
Did you know that adding an easy to put onadventure backpack like this on daily walks can provide your German Shepherd a job and activity that may help manage their bad behavior?
Not only does this give your GSD a job to do, but the slight extra weight, as long as it’s not too heavy, will help tire him out.
But don’t add weight to a puppy, as this might harm their joints!
7. Balance A Treat On Your Paw
This is an easy job for older or less active dogs, but even an energetic, boisterous Shepherd can be taught to balance a treat on their paw with patience.
Follow these steps for a game for your German Shepherd:
Start off with your dog in a down position.
Place a treat on one of his front paws.
Put up the treat or cover it with your hand if they go for the treat immediately.
You can say ‘leave it’ if your dog knows this command.
Once they are waiting, even for a second, and not going straight for the treat, tell them to ‘take it’ so he can enjoy a job well done!
Advance this game by placing a treat on the opposite paw…
then on both paws!
For an even harder job, work on balancing a treat on their noses!
8. Balance A Treat On Your Nose
With such a long muzzle it’d be a shame to not teach your German Shepherd how to balance a treat on their nose.
Plus, what a hard job for an energetic Shepherd to do when the food is literally on their face!
This fun German Shepherd job goes like this:
Ask your dog to sit in front of you.
Take the treat and touch it to their nose for just a split-second and then say ‘take it’ and give your dog the treat.
The next time, touch the treat for a second longer, building up the time you have the treat touch your dog’s nose.
Do this until he allows you to place the treat on his nose all the way.
Now when you say ‘take it’ your GSD will flick their noses and move their heads to reach the treat.
It’s OK if your Shepherd chooses to snatch the treat out of the air or let it fall to the ground.
It’s a hard job either way. But what an exciting job to give your German Shepherd!
Don’t let your German Shepherd eat junk while on the job!
This game is also known as Magic Cups because it’s similar to the street game where you have to follow the cup with the red ball or dice underneath to win the prize. In this case, the prize is tasty treats for a job well done!
How to Play the Magic Cup Activity:
Take 3 plastic cups and have your dog sit in front of you.
Place a tasty treat under one of the cups and move them around.
Ask your job to ‘pick’ a cup and see if they choose correctly.
Some dogs are immediate experts, while others take a few rounds to pick up on the game.
If they choose incorrectly just don’t respond or say a soft ‘uh-oh’. This way your dog knows the job is to find the cup with the treat to win the prize!
This is a fun game and a fun job for a German Shepherd adult or even zippy puppies!
It’s one of the best jobs for German Shepherds at home since you can play this game indoors in limited space and it ties into their herding roots.
The aim of this game is for your dog to weave in a zigzag pattern between some cones.
In agility competitions, this is done with weaving poles, but since you want a job indoors these durable indoor/outdoor agility cones are a great setup for a small space. Plus, you can use the jumping poles that come with the set outdoors to start agility jumping and give your GSD and outside job.
Here’s how to train a German Shepherd for this job:
Set the cones up in a straight line with space for your dog to move between them.
Use a treat to lure your dog in and out of the cones.
As he begins to understand the pattern tighten up the course by bringing the cones a little closer together.
Remember to keep enough space for your German Shepherd to move their body and hips through.
This isn’t about speed when playing indoors, it’s about learning new patterns and ways of moving for your GSD.
Once you’ve played a few rounds you can reduce the treats and begin only rewarding your dog when they’ve completed the full pattern.
This German Shepherd job is great for burning extra energy and is one of those activities you can take all the way to an agility competition!
Do German Shepherds Like Having Jobs?
Maybe you’re thinking…
But these jobs look like games.
I didn’t want games! I wanted an actual job for my German Shepherd!
Well, isn’t work supposed to be fun for you and your dog?
What did you expect your German Shepherd to do?
Cook your breakfast? Drive the kids to school?
Write out your grocery list? Tell you who to vote for?
He’s a dog that’s now living in a world far removed from his original job. So, you make adjustments and give activities that suit his more modern lifestyle.
These jobs are supposed to be games that encourage him to work for his rewards and entice him to use his mind and body in a different way.
What if I don’t give my German Shepherd a job?
If you don’t give your GSD a job they’ll make up their own job to do…
And you probably won’t like it (think digging in the garden, excessive nuisance barking, eating your furniture… well you get the idea).
Your German Shepherd likes having a job because it prevents you from becoming upset with him and he earns his rewards. It’s positive work and activity.
He spends time with his favorite person…
Why do German Shepherds need a job at home?
I have seen more German Shepherds with behavior problems than other breeds. And in most cases, the reason for these behaviors was caused by a lack of stimulation and exercise in their daily lives.
Not to mention, a lack of breed-specific German Shepherd activities.
You could hire a dog walker to give your dog some extra attention, or…
You could spend more time bonding with them by getting involved in some fun German Shepherd job training!
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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