Demystifying the Working Dog

Dogs have for a long time been used by humans for specific jobs. The dogs are bred to perform these tasks, and are trained since puppyhood to competently do their work. Most dogs that end up being working dogs belong to the working dog group. However, other dog breeds can and have successfully been trained to perform special tasks. Some of the works performed by dogs are as below.

The most basic job dogs perform is guarding. Guarding includes both protecting and watching. Watching involves scaring away potential danger by barking, while protecting involves taking care of what the dog is charged with protecting. The instinct to guard is taken advantage of by the military and the police. Police dogs, commonly known as K9s, chase and hold down criminals. Military working dogs help military men with work in the battlefield such as tracking, detection or search and rescue. Some of the most common breeds used in this type of work are Rottweiler’s, Dobermans and German Shepherds.

Sniffer dogs, also known as detection dogs, help sniff out illegal substances such as drugs and explosives. These dogs used to be trained to bark when they had sniffed out the target item (active indication) but the method has since changed to passive indication. Passive indication is when the dog sits by the item to let the police know he has found what he was looking for. Most common dogs used for this type of work include Labradors, German Shepherds and Beagles.

Tracking dogs are dogs used to track down a criminal in water or on land by following the scent of their target. Bloodhounds were initially used for this type of work, but now the work is mostly done by working dog breeds such as Milionis and German Shepherds.

In cold areas, search and rescue dogs are used to rescue avalanche victims. These dogs are also used in buildings that have collapsed to search for and rescue victims.

Another type of work done by dogs is herding. They control the movement of other domestic animals and guard them from poachers and wolves. Herding dogs need to be fast on their feet and intelligent. A good example is the Corgi. Although Corgis are short and small in stature, they successfully round up cows back home from the fields.

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with disabilities. For example, guide dogs help their blind owners navigate streets safely, while some dogs are trained to alert their deaf owners when a phone rings or a car is approaching. Mobility assistance dogs help their owners with tasks such as getting in and out of bed and loading and unloading their washing machine.

A more recent job added to the working dog’s list is therapy. Therapy dogs offer patients emotional support in what’s called Animal Assisted Therapy. These dogs often visit hospitals and nursing homes and offer emotional support to the sick.