Most of us think of our dogs as our best friends, but there are dogs who do serious work that truly helps others. Working dogs have real jobs that they love and are trained to do! These dogs have natural talents that are brought out with intensive training.
Giving a dog a job they enjoy can help to prevent an almost endless list of potential behavior issues (such as excessive barking, inappropriate chewing and digging, separation problems, and more). It also helps them maintain overall physical wellness.
What types of working dogs are there?
Police, Military and Protection K9s
Police dogs, also called K9 Units, are usually trained to track or immobilize possible criminals. They also assist officers in making arrests or investigating the scene of a crime. Some are also specially trained for anti-terrorist units in the Military! Dog breeds like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers can detect weapons, bombs, gases and drugs more accurately than any available military equipment.
Rescue dogs assist people who are in emergency situations, such as in the water after a boat disaster, people who may be lost and disoriented, covered in snow avalanches, buried after a natural disaster, etc. Breeders, trainers and handlers of K9 dogs used for protection and rescue know the importance of work stamina for your working dog. Therefore, conditioning and strength training is very important for working dogs.
Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs. What is the difference?
A service dog’s job is to help humans perform tasks they cannot do for themselves because of a disability. The “Americans with Disabilities Act” governs the use of service working dogs in public places. They wear vests with the wording “please do not pet,” indicating that the dog is working.
Therapy dogs on the other hand do not have as many rights as the service dogs. A therapy dog and his human visit facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They can be requested to visit for support and comfort to many individuals; whereas a service dog is there to provide support and perform tasks for one specific human with a disability.
Hunting Dogs are working dogs too!
Hunting dogs have been around for thousands of years. They assist hunters in finding, tracking, routing and retrieving game. The characteristics of a good hunting dog often match those of great family dogs. They tend to be obedient, easily trained, loyal and healthy. They are also good with people and other animals since they often run in packs. So, whether you handle a rifle or not, there are hunting dog breeds that make an excellent choice for your family. Some of the top hunting dogs are the Labrador Retrievers, Spaniels, Beagles, Coon hounds, and English Pointers.
Other working dogs can have jobs such as herding livestock, canine cancer detection (yes dogs can smell cancer), or Shutzhund, which is a competitive canine sport that has its origins in German police dog training.
Training and conditioning for working dogs!
Working Dogs are exposed to challenging and unstable surfaces and need to be ready for long hours of field work. Strength-training is a great way to accomplish body awareness and balance. Incorporate FitPAWS equipment for these reasons and also into a puppy program for exposure to moving surfaces and different textures on the paws. Agility hurdles can be used for crawling exercises, jump training, lateral side stepping exercises and other body awareness exercises. Another example, service dogs that assist their human for counter balance will benefit from core strength and balance training on a FitPAWS Peanut.
Adding this strengthening activity to your working dog’s cross-training activities 3-4 times per week, has many benefits, including:
- Improved reaction and control
- Increased trunk and core strength
- Stabilization of weak areas
- Improved balance and proprioception (awareness of the body’s position in space)
- Increased range of motion in joints & elongation of the muscles
- Improved sensory & body awareness
- Reducing the risk of work-related injuries
Dog Bless~ The Dog Connection
Resources and for more information: FitpawsUSA.com