A few years ago a good friend of mine named Tami McLeod introduced me to the phrase "rich dog"/"poor dog". So what does this mean?
Your average well cared for pet dog is a "rich dog". These are dogs who have everything available to them at the drop of the hat. They live in the house, are free fed, receive attention anytime they demand it, have a toy box full of toys, and life is pretty much wonderful. They "inherited" their wealth and therefore do not have to work a day in their life for all the things they enjoy.
An example of a poor dog on the other hand, is a dog who lives in a manner that many times prompts the neighbors to want to call the pound. They live in the backyard, on a chain or in the kennel, they get fed once a day if they're lucky, and they're basically ignored. They have no extra resources, no toys, little to no attention, etc. They basically have enough to maintain life from day today and not much more.
In the working dog world, some owners feel their dog should live in the poorhouse to make it the best possible working dog it can be. The belief is if the dog has to earn every single resource it ever receives, it will work that much harder for those rewards. While this does work in some cases, I would present the idea that maybe if this is how your dog must live it's entire life so it will perform the work you have chosen for it, you should consider doing something else with your dog or getting a different dog. Not every dog is suited for every job.
Dogs, just like people, inherently have different levels of motivation. Some people born into wealthy families still have the drive and desire to work 60+ hours a week every day of their life to build even more wealth. In the dog world this correlates to the housedog who has an entire toy box of toys, chewies, etc. but if you pick up a leaf, stick, piece of kibble, etc., they are immediately on task and willing to do whatever it takes to earn this new reward.
Others simply want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of somebody else's labor and will happily expend more energy fighting against having to earn those resources, then it would require to simply earn them in the first place. Your average lower drive family pet falls into this category. They may be willing to expend some energy for a reward, but it’s inconsistent and not very long lived.
Finally you have the self-made millionaire. Someone who started out with minimal resources, yet through hard work managed to earn greater and great rewards. If your new puppy is showing good drive and worth ethic, but maybe only 75-80% of what you would like to see, they may do well with this lifestyle. Starting out poor, and learning at an early age to work for what they want, can lead to a dog who as a young adult can live a rich lifestyle yet maintain the work ethic to continue working throughout their life
At Dantero our motto is "working dogs that can live with you and work for you". That is our goal in the dogs we produce, dogs that can live if not rich, at least middle class, and still work well. Not dogs who have to live in the poorhouse to find the motivation to work. On occasion, it benefits all of us to take a short visit to the poorhouse, and this may be true if you're a working dog also. It never hurts to be reminded of how good life is and how it can change. But if you find your dog living in the poorhouse for it's entire life, you might want to ask yourself "why".