We probably never stop to consider, but dogs are by far and away, the largest unemployed segment of the population. Sure, there are the police dogs, customs-sniffer dogs, seeing-eye aids, therapy guys and plenty of hunting companions, but I'd guess that most pet pooches are like mine, amateur side-kicks.
Understand that virtually all dog breeds were bred to do a job: hunting, tracking, retrieving, ratting, herding, guarding and even cuddling in the case of the Toy Dog group. Over the years however, we've brought these task-specific dogs into our homes and selectively bred them to be, well, more like side-kicks, a Laurel to our Hardy, a Sonny to a Cher, Spock to a Kirk.
So while your Old English sheepdog may not be out there herding sheep in the pastures, he still needs a raison d'etre to keep him happy. Some of the lucky dogs are there doing agility contests with their masters, participating in dog shows or involved in other structured activities and that's ideal, but what about your unemployed side-kick? What's gonna keep him occupied?
Fortunately, dogs are first and foremost social creatures, content simply to be part of a pack. So if you have another dog or even a cat, he's got his pack and all is well. But if your pooch is an only pet, like my terrier, DJ, than you (and your family) become his pack by default.
As long as your dog is hanging out with you, he's at ease, his social needs are being met. I'm lucky enough to bring DJ along with me to work every day, but even when I'm outside of the office, I try to keep him with me. I'll pack my brat in the back seat if I'm picking up the kids, fetching the dry cleaners, or just going for a drive-thru coffee at Tim Hortons. DJ loves every outing and observes the outside world as if he's seeing everything for the first time. His mind is stimulated, he's busy and most important, he's one happy camper.
All this to say is that if you also have a barking side-kick, then take every opportunity no matter how small, how seemingly inconsequential to include him in even your most mundane activities. Transform side-kicking into a full-time job.