Humans and dogs have been working alongside each other for thousands of years. Throughout history, humans have bred dogs to perform specific tasks, and our shared history includes hunting, herding, and guarding. Although dogs are still performing many of the same tasks they were bred for, jobs for working dogs has changed in exciting and fascinating ways over the years.
Jobs for Working Dogs
Our modern society has opened up a world of new jobs for working dogs. These four-legged heroes perform critical functions for humans, including:
- Detection – The amazing noses and ears of military, police, and customs K9s are put to good use when it comes to detecting explosives, drugs, chemicals, cadavers, money, electronics, food and plant material, and more.
- Search and rescue – Search and rescue dogs work to find missing people, including lost hikers, drowning victims, and victims of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. The dogs may work with an official unit, such as police or military, or may be part of a volunteer search and rescue organization.
- Service – Service dogs are essential to the independence of adults and children with disabilities. They live with and perform duties, such as assisting the visually and hearing impaired with daily tasks, detecting a rise in blood sugar in a diabetic handler, predicting an oncoming seizure, and protecting those they assist from harm during a medical event.
- Therapy – Therapy dogs are specifically trained to comfort and support individuals who grapple with a wide variety of debilitating mental or emotional conditions, including PTSD, domestic violence, severe depression, and more. Therapy dogs can also be trained to visit and enjoy positive interactions with sick and elderly patients in hospitals and homes.
Your Working Dog
Whether you have a purebred dog or a Heinz 57 mix, there’s a good chance they still experience the drive to do whatever jobs their ancestry was bred for. Since most of us no longer need the assistance of dogs to provide us with food or protection, it’s important to find other ways to keep their brains and bodies busy. Try out a few of these jobs with your pup to provide exercise and mental stimulation:
- Nosework – Many dogs can be easily trained to find a hidden treat, object, or even person for a thrilling game of hide-and-seek.
- Tug – Even if your dog wasn’t specifically bred for pulling, they still may enjoy a good round of tug-of-war.
- Retrieving/chasing – There’s nothing wrong with a plain old game of fetch, but you can spice it up for your dog in a variety of ways. Try slowly dragging a toy or stuffed animal tied to a string to stimulate your dog’s prey drive, or play a game of “keep away”.
- Puzzle fun – DIY treat puzzles and homemade agility courses are wonderful ways to challenge an active breed.
- Obedience – Practicing simple commands or moving on to more complex training is mentally stimulating for all dog breeds.