Dogs Without Jobs
At one point not that long ago, dogs lived with humans because they had a job to do, something that benefited the humans they lived with. The jobs were as varied and unique as the different breeds of dogs that were selected for their ability to do those jobs well.
If you've ever seen a dog snap into a point due to the presence of a bird, or start baying at the scent of a fresh animal track, you've caught a glimpse of behaviours that were selected for and became an instinctive part of our dogs.
Today, some dogs still work in some of the same jobs (i.e. livestock guardian dogs, herding dogs), some dogs work in new jobs (i.e. guide dogs, police dogs, airport agriculture dogs) but most dogs are jobless other than being our companions. For some dogs, the companion role fits them just fine and they are happy to live a life of leisure. Others, however, may have trouble adapting their workaholic personalities to laying around at your feet.
Part of getting the relaxed, calm dog you want in your house may involve giving your dog a job to do, and fortunately there are many to choose from now! You don't need to enter competitions if you don't want to, the act of training for their new job and spending quality time with you is where the big benefit lies for these dogs.
Modern Day Jobs
Don't panic - you don't need to go out and get your dog the exact same job their ancestors were bred for. In some cases, those jobs no longer exist (like bull baiting, which is a good thing) or maybe quite difficult for us to accommodate in our modern lives (not everyone wants a flock of sheep).
Now many jobs have been adapted into sports so you can get an outlet for your dog's instinctive behaviours.
There are also many dog sports that have evolved to either showcase the helpfulness and good manners of our canine companions or their athleticism and entertainment.
Just the Entertainment Please
What if spending time teaching your dog a skill really doesn't appeal to you? That's okay too! There are ways to engage your dog's mind that don't involve you needing to teach lots of new things.
This year I encourage you to try adding some mental enrichment, whether in the form of a new job or different type of entertainment into your dog's life. It will benefit both of you!