Our dogs can do a lot of wonderful things. They’re great at playing with us, snuggling on the couch, and make great hiking companions. But dogs can also help humans by working with us in more practical ways. There are even some jobs that only a dog can do. In honor of working dogs everywhere, here are the most popular canine careers.
Detection dogs are trained to locate an item by using their ultra-sensitive noses. Most of us know that dogs can find various illegal items like drugs or explosives, but dogs can learn to recognize almost anything imaginable. Some popular alternatives include:
- Cell phones
- Bee colonies
- Bedbugs and/or termites
- Endangered animal species
- USB drives
- Fire accelerants
Aside from these more straightforward smells, dogs can even learn to detect diseases in humans. Some dogs have been trained to sniff out various types of cancer, helping to catch the disease earlier than other diagnostic tests. Dogs can also detect low blood sugar in people with
Diabetes. The most common breeds used for this work are Labradors and Beagles.
Service dogs are trained to help people with disabilities with any number of every-day tasks. The first trained service dogs were German Shepherds trained to guide their blind handlers. Since then, dogs have been trained to mitigate all types of disabilities. They can alert to different sounds for people with hearing impairments, pull wheelchairs, retrieve stuff, open doors, turn on lights, and the list goes on. More recently, dogs have been trained to provide psychiatric support for people with any number of mental health challenges, respond to seizures, and help people with diabetes.
Service dogs go through at least eighteen months of training because their jobs are quite demanding. Unlike other canine careers, service dogs must often put their natural instincts on hold in order to help their human partner. Only half of all service dog trainees make the cut and graduate with their human partner. Most popular service dog breeds include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Search and rescue dogs
Search and rescue dogs are trained to find lost or missing people. These dogs are trained to find specific people by their scent. They can also detect human scent in more general terms, which makes these dogs incredibly useful during natural disasters or other mass-casualty events. Aside from learning to track, search dogs also learn how to push debris out of the way and to maneuver safely in areas too small or unstable for humans.
Search and rescue dogs must be very brave and have lots of energy. They generally have a high interest in toys and get to play ball as a reward for their hard work. They don’t work every day like a service dog, so search dogs need regular training sessions to keep their skills sharp. Most common breeds for this work include Labs, Bloodhounds, Belgian Malinois, and German Shepherds.
Police and military dogs
Police and military dogs are trained to do all kinds of things. They must learn to find drugs, explosives, and other weapons. Also, they need to know how to track humans for all kinds of reasons. Police dogs may also do search and rescue work, or they might need to track a fleeing suspect. Military dogs learn to find missing soldiers and keep them safe by alerting to explosives. Also, police and military dogs generally have some protection training. For police dogs, this training helps the dogs control dangerous criminals and keep their human handler safe. Military dogs must be able to do protection work as well.
Ideal police or military dogs usually have lots of energy and confidence. These dogs often work long hours in some pretty stressful environments, so they must also be adaptable. Both military dogs and police dogs are considered officers and get ranks just like their human partners. In the military, the dogs always get ranked above their human! Typical breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers.
Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort to people in all kinds of places. They work in hospitals, nursing homes, and even on college campuses. A therapy dog’s job is to improve morale, provide a calming influence, and comfort anyone who needs it. Generally, therapy dogs don’t need the same type of intensive training as a service dog or a search and rescue dog. However, they should have good basic obedience training and good manners around new people and other dogs. Above all, therapy dogs should be friendly and really enjoy meeting new people. While Golden and Labrador Retrievers tend to be associated with therapy work, any dog with the right temperament can do this job.
Our pet dogs have certainly become important to us, working dogs have an important place in the world as well. Working dogs really love what they do. Our lives wouldn’t be the same without the help they give us. It is a month to celebrate helping dogs help people.