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How are Working Dogs Different from Your Family Dog?

Working dogs provide an incredible variety of services for their humans. From guard dogs to sled dogs and dogs who work Search and Rescue, these hard-working canines deserve our respect!

Working Dogs are Different from Your Family Dog

Working Sheep Dog Herding 3 Sheep

Working dogs provide an incredible variety of services for their humans. From guard dogs to sled dogs and dogs who work Search and Rescue, these hard-working canines deserve our respect!

While not all dogs can be working dogs, most working dogs also make wonderful companions in our lives! But while these canines are all incredible in their own right, the working dog may not be a good choice for the first-time dog parent.

Keep reading to learn what sets the working dog apart from your family dog.

Working Labrador Retriever Dog

 

Working Dog History

In the beginning, working dogs were utilized to help their humans:

· Hunt.
· Herd and guard livestock.
· Pull carts and sleds.
· War combat (as early as 600 BC).
· Search and rescue.

 

 

While many of these activities are still done by dogs, today’s working dogs also perform work as:

· Service, Assistance, and Guide Dogs.

(Therapy and emotional support dogs are not legally-recognized Service Dogs.)

· Comfort dogs in courtrooms.A Working Dog in Customs Sniffing a Suitcase

· Military dogs.

· Police dogs:

o Sentry dogs or attack dogs.

o Detection dogs who sniff out:

§ Narcotics.A Rottweiler Dog Paying Close Attention to His Trainer

§ Explosives.

§ Cadavers.

§ Bedbug dogs.

§ Contraband goods at airports (like the Beagle Brigade).

A Shepherd Detection Dog Sniffing Luggage

In 1789, King Frederick II of Prussia coined the popular phrase, “A dog is man’s best friend!”

Working Dog Qualifications

As mentioned above, not all dogs can be working dogs. Even dogs in the working dog breeds may – or may not – be suited to be trained and reliably perform specific tasks.

But all working dogs must have some very specific traits and aptitudes to be successfully trained as working dogs. Not every dog will qualify.

It is estimated only 50% of dogs in an Assistance Dog training program will successfully graduate.

So, what makes a good working canine?

A Rottweiler Dog Paying Close Attention to His Trainer

Depending on the ultimate goal and required tasks, different working dogs need different skills. Below are many of the skills trainers look for when selecting – and predicting – the suitability of a K9 to be a successful working dog.

· Cognitive abilities and flexibility as problem-solvers.

· Temperament and reactivity.

· Physical characteristics.White Jack Russell Digging a Hole

· Well-socialized and unafraid.

· Trainability and the desire to please.

· Short-term memory.

· Sensitivity to human body language.

A Shepherd Detection Dog Sniffing Luggage

Examples of Working Dogs

Dogs who are working as assistance dogs must have:

· Well-developed social skills.

· The ability to pay close attention and maintain eye contact with their handlers.

 

In contrast, detection dogs must have a:

· Good short-term memory.

· Sensitivity to their handler’s body language.

 

Whereas military working dogs must possess:

· Fierce loyalty to their handlers.

· A wariness around strangers.

· Fearlessness and bravery.

While many of these skills can be trained, trainers look for canines who already have the innate skills and abilities that can be developed, honed and molded to the specific requirements of their potential job.

word image 11378 6 Working Dogs

The Arizona Canine Cognition Center is researching the best ways to identify the best dogs for different jobs before expensive training begins.

As you come across these incredible working dogs, take a moment to appreciate their intelligence and unconditional ability to please and protect their humans!

Dog Trainer Adjusting a Collar on a Young Puppy

Looking to become a successful therapy team with your dog?

Reach out to East Valley K9 Services about Our Therapy Dog Prep Program!

 

Call 480-382-0144 or send us an email to schedule.

Serving Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and East Valley areas of Arizona.

 

Arthur Morehead

Arthur Morehead

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