Is your dog a DOLE BLUDGER?


From birth pups must ‘work’ to survive by scenting out their mother to find a teat. You will never see the mother (bitch) move up to the pup for a feed. The pup must work to find a teat on their own in order to survive. In the wild, this is natural selection – only the strongest survive.


In the normal breeding lifecycle, once pups are weaned from their mother their main source of feed is the breeder, but there is still a need to ‘work’ for their meal. Anyone who has seen a litter of puppies at dinner time would understand the chaos and urgency to get a good place around the dinner dish. Competition is fierce as they scoff to get their fill before someone else eats it.


At 8 -12 weeks of age as pups are ready for their forever homes. With much excitement we take our new pup home. Later in the day we offer the pup its first meal in their new home. We place a bowl of yummy puppy food on the floor and the pup eats for the first time in its life for ‘FREE’! This continues for the rest of the pup’s life and the challenge or mindset of working is lost. Your new pup just became a dole bludger.

Think about how many times a day your dog gets a ‘free’ pat, or you throw the ball for him just because he dropped it at your feet. Or, what about when they are super keen to go for a walk and you clip the lead on without question. What about letting your excited dog off the lead at the park? We often rush this because the dog is bouncing out of its skin to get off and we answer their pleas with an, ‘ok sure here you go’ all for “FREE”! Examples are endless – think about what happens on a day to day basis around your house? How is your dog getting a free ride out of you?

We pay our dogs for doing nothing all the time without considering how little they actually do to achieve it.


What is the result? We get frustrated when we do ask our dogs to do something and they don’t comply. Your dog’s answer though, is why work when they can ‘sit at home’ and get a handsome wage regardless of whether or not they perform for you?!


It doesn’t matter what breed your dog is or how old he may be every dog benefits from a little work – it’s imprinted into them from the first minutes of birth remember! Do them a favour and challenge them a little more, you will be amazed at the difference it makes to both your dog’s behaviour and the relationship between you both.

I’d also like to point out you are likely to achieve your training goals so much quicker. Getting in as much practise as possible is the key to raising a well balanced and well behaved dog. As a full-time dog trainer, I can assure you that changing a handful of your dog interacting routines will make a difference. Using the time you are already spending with your dog will  have you achieving so much more than if you continue to allow your dog to live the life of a ‘Dole Bludger’.


Use meal times to teach your dog something you need him to know. Put your dogs meal ration in a bowl but don’t put it on the floor instead keep it on the bench and feed it out as your dog performs the task you plan to work on. Break your exercise down into small steps and reward often. I do this in my kitchen at night and exercises could be:- Sit, Drop, Stand into Heel; Stay; Come; Place into Bed.

The list is endless and you don’t need a lot of room for most exercises. You might find you feed the whole meal out this way or after several good repetitions of the exercise you are working on you might be happy with the dog’s progress and reward the best effort with the remaining dinner by placing the bowl on the floor.

Have them practise their drop and stay whilst you hang out your washing, ensuring you release and reward them when your done. Teach them useful skills you need in day to day life. Teach them to stand on a platform, this is especially helpful when you go to the vet and need to weigh your dog.

Use the times during the day when you notice the dog is excited in anticipation of an event or reward; praise, play, going out the gate for a walk, releasing them off the lead, getting in the car for a ride, etc… again, the list is endless and depends on your dog and it’s individual motivators. Remember it must be something the dog wants or you won’t reinforce the behaviour you are asking them to perform.

When you use those moments your dog is extra-excited, start off by asking the dog to perform a behaviour he/she already knows fairly well, something you have been working on at dinner time perhaps. Mark it with something like ‘YES’ to indicate they have done as you asked and can now access the reward they want. To begin with relax your expectations for them to perform it perfectly and as they get the idea start to increase your expectations gradually until they can perform a few behaviours before earning their reward.

There you have it. Without too much extra effort you can make massive changes in your dog’s life and in effect your own. Use your imagination, make it interesting, fun and enjoyable for you both.

Nothing in life is free and nor should it be for your dog.

Jemma has been training dogs for over 10 years and specialises in all types of obedience work with a strong skill and passion for behavioural issues.

Jemma offers private consultations and can be contacted via



Mobile:       0400 796 772

Jemma provides FREE MONTHLY HELP to our Black Hound friends.

Send your behavioural or training questions to us at Black Hound via Facebook email us directly at with ‘Canine Behaviour’ in the subject field.



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