German Shepherds are natural herders. In fact, the reason why this breed was first discovered was…
People rely on German Shepherds for various types of work. This is not only because these dogs are easily trained to work but also because they thrive best when they have a job to do.
But what about companion dogs? Should family GSDs also have jobs to do at home?
This article will list 14 jobs for German Shepherds at home, to help give you some ideas on how to keep your pup busy even when your around the house.
Why Do Many German Shepherds Need a Job?
German Shepherds are working dogs, which means they are energetic and driven. They are also very intelligent and require ample mental stimulation in order to thrive.
If you don’t give them something to do, they will probably make up their own job and what they decide on might not be favorable to you.
So, even if your German Shepherd is a household pet, enabling them to work helps them become a well-behaved and happy dog.
Can German Shepherds Really Do Household Chores?
Capabilities differ between individual dogs, but German Shepherds are generally very smart. Because of their intelligence level, they can learn almost anything with proper training and reinforcement.
For most companion GSDs, having a job to do at home is a must. Doing household chores is an excellent way for them to use their drive positively.
Depending on their capabilities and your ability to train, their chores don’t even need to be particularly useful or productive. All they need are activities that stimulate their minds and help them focus.
14 Jobs for German Shepherds at Home
As working dogs, German Shepherds are best known for their herding, scenting, retrieving, and guarding abilities. The best jobs for them will help them put these abilities to good use.
Among the most useful jobs for German Shepherds are actual household chores. These may not seem significantly helpful to you, but they will work wonders for your GSD’s well-being.
Here are a few household chores and other activities you can teach your German Shepherd:
1. Tidying Up
If your German Shepherd is like any other beloved household pet, they have numerous toys scattered around the home.
You can make it their job to help keep things tidy by teaching them to retrieve all their toys and dropping them into a bin. You can also teach them to take things that fall on the floor and place them on a table.
2. Fetching Packages
Make it your German Shepherd’s job to fetch items from your front door and hand them to you as they come. Items can be mail, rolled-up newspapers, or delivery packages—anything that they can grasp with their mouth.
3. Retrieving Specific Items
Teach your dog the name of specific items and train them to retrieve them on command. For example, you can teach them to find the remote control and give it to you when you ask for it.
You’ll need to teach them one item at a time but, given their intelligence, they’ll quickly build up their vocabulary and you’ll find yourself depending on their searching skills more and more.
4. Carrying Items
Teach your dog to assist you in various household tasks by carrying items for you. They already follow you around the house anyway.
Why not let them do it while being helpful? For example, you can teach them to help you fetch firewood or unload grocery bags from your car.
5. Closing Doors
You can make it your dog’s job to keep doors closed around your home. This can be especially handy when you’re walking through doorways with your hands full.
If you have door levers rather than doorknobs, you can also teach them to open doors for you.
6. Loading Laundry
Make it your dog’s responsibility to load the washing machine with laundry. You can take your hamper to your laundry area, leave it to your dog to transfer clothing into the machine, and then remind you to set it up and start it.
Later on, you can also teach them to take newly washed clothes and transfer them to a hamper for folding.
7. Waking Up People
German Shepherds can be very effective for wake-up calls. You can make them responsible for making sure that your kids get up and get ready for school every morning.
They can be taught to pull on a blanket, jump on the bed, and bark until your child gets up and starts getting ready.
Not all jobs have to be actual chores. Sometimes, all your GSD needs is mental stimulation. This could be in the form of playing or learning something new.
Here are a few fun things your dog can do in place of household chores:
8. Using Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are objects designed to stimulate your dog’s senses and mental abilities while playing. The best puzzle toys will keep your dog engaged and entertained while also allowing them to use up their mental and physical energy.
The best thing about puzzle toys is that your German Shepherd can use them independently.
New toys might require some supervision and training but, once they figure out how to use them, they should be able to use these on their own.
9. Playing Games
Mental exercises for your dog can be in the form of games. It might take some effort to teach them how to play, but playing can be very stimulating for them. T
he best games for German Shepherds are those that can make use of their special abilities.
For example, you can hide items for them to find and retrieve in order to sharpen their scenting abilities. You can also hone their herding abilities by teaching them to “herd” balls into a confined area.
10. Learning Tricks
Learning new tricks can be very stimulating for your dog. The training part is already challenging enough but also every new command they learn is a job they can do at any given time.
Training for tricks—whether useful ones or those merely for entertainment—is an excellent way to keep your dog well behaved, enable them to express their eagerness to please, and keep their mind sharp.
Additionally, it is one of the best ways to improve your communication and deepen your bond.
11. Learning Sports
Like learning new tricks, picking up a sport can be mentally stimulating for your German Shepherd. For example, you can explore the world of Schutzhund, which starts with the Companion Dog trials.
Training your dog for this won’t just give them a job to do but will also make them more obedient, confident, and well-behaved companion dogs.
If you have the space for it at home, you can also train your dog in agility. This canine sport involves navigating obstacle courses that require them to do things like jump over bars, run through tunnels, and weave through poles.
This is an excellent sport because it is mentally challenging as well as physically demanding.
If you have more time and resources to commit to training, your companion German Shepherd can also have an actual job to do at home.
Here are some serious responsibilities they can be trained for:
12. Being a Guard Dog
German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs. However, they need extensive training to officially become either property or personal protection dogs. Nevertheless, you can teach your own dog to perform simple guarding duties.
For example, you can teach them to alert you when a stranger is within your property line. You can also teach them to bark on command, which can be useful for scaring off a threatening presence.
13. Being a Service Dog
If you or someone in your home has a disability, you can train your dog to perform certain tasks for them. German Shepherds are incredible service dogs. T
hey are of good size and build to offer physical assistance. They are also alert and able to notice subtle changes in people and their environment.
The specific skills you’ll need to teach your GSD to become a service dog will depend on the disability of the person they will be assisting.
You can start with small tasks like picking up items that fall on the floor. Then, you can build up to more difficult jobs like retrieving medicine at the first sign of heavy breathing.
14. Being an Emotional Support Dog
Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs aren’t expected to perform specific tasks that address a disability.
Instead, they provide support by merely being present. Although this might seem insignificant, these dogs could be tremendously beneficial to people with anxiety, emotional, and psychiatric issues.
How you train your German Shepherd to provide emotional support will depend on the person that needs support and how best they can be comforted in times of emotional difficulty.
Generally, emotional support animals are trained for obedience and to keep their human company just as any other loyal and loving pet would.
How to Find the Right Job for Your German Shepherd
The best job for your German Shepherd is something that enables them to make good use of their natural abilities and is a good combination of mental and physical work. Nevertheless, the right job will depend on each individual dog.
Consider your dog’s personality and determine what activities they enjoy the most. Also, think of what they excel at and train them to use it for something purposeful.
Additionally, you need to consider your dog’s training level. What are things they can already do now?
Think of how you can build up from what they already know and make sure they’re always challenged.
Tips for Giving Your German Shepherd a Job
German Shepherds are very eager to please their humans, so it’s likely that they’ll do well no matter what job you give them. Nevertheless, here are things you can do so that your GSD can excel in their roles:
Make it part of a routine
German Shepherds thrive on consistency, so they’re most likely to do their job well when it’s part of their daily routine. The best chores will be based on a schedule or certain triggers.
For example, one of the best household chores for your German Shepherd is to make sure your children get up for school on time.
This is something your dog can do every day as part of their morning routine. You can also set up an alarm as a trigger to let them know when it’s time to get to work.
Train for consistency
Apart from a consistent schedule, you’ll want to train for a consistent action. In the wake-up call example, what specific steps do you want your dog to take?
You could train them to open the door, pull on your child’s blanket, and bark at them until they get up from bed.
No matter the specific actions you train your dog to do, make sure it’s the same every single time. That helps them master the job and gives them confidence that they’re doing the right thing.
Once they’ve perfected a certain action, you can build on it later on to keep them stimulated and also to train them for increasingly complicated jobs.
Reward a job well done
Always reinforce positive behavior with meaningful rewards. This is the best way for your German Shepherd to know exactly when they’ve done a good job, which will make them more likely to do it consistently.
Remember that rewards don’t always have to be in the form of food and treats (although those do work very well and your GSD will love you for them). You can also reward your dog for doing a good job through pets, praises, and play.
Since the German Shepherd Dog is a working breed, they need both physical exercise and mental stimulation in order to thrive. At home, they might not have as many opportunities to keep their minds busy and use up their energy. By giving them responsibilities, you’re able to keep them occupied so that they remain well-behaved and well-adjusted.
Help your GSD be a happy and fulfilled companion by learning more about mental stimulation for dogs.