Clock In: A working dog refers to a canine working animal, i.e. a dog that is not merely a pet but learns and performs tasks to assist and/or entertain its human companions, or a breed of such origins.
Want Ads: Within this general description, however, there are several ways in which the phrase is used. The first is to identify any dog that performs any task on a regular basis to assist people. In this context, a dog who helps a rancher manage cattle or who performs tricks for a trainer and receives pay is a working dog, as is an assistance dog. This might be in comparison to a companion dog, whose purpose is primarily as a pet.
Worker Bees: The term working dog can also distinguish between show dogs that are bred primarily for their appearance in an attempt to match a breed club's detailed description of what such a breed should look like, and working dogs that are bred primarily for their ability to perform a task. For example, a Border Collie that is a champion show dog is not necessarily good at herding sheep; a Border Collie that is a champion at sheepdog trials might be laughed out of the show ring for its nonstandard appearance. It is possible that a specimen may excel in both appearance and performance, but it is very unlikely.
"Working dog" is also used as a catch-all for dog breeds whose original purpose was to perform tasks that do not fit into a more specific category of work. For example, the American Kennel Club uses
"working dogs" to describe breeds who were originally bred for jobs other than herding or hunting. Such jobs might include pulling carts, guarding and so on.
Services Provided: Although most modern dogs are kept as pets, there are still a tremendous number of ways in which dogs can and do assist humans, and more uses are found for them every year. The following list provides an idea of the versatility of dogs:
They are used a assistance dogs to help people with various disabilities in every day tasks. Some examples include mobility assistance dogs for the physically handicapped, guide dogs for the blind, and hearing dogs for the hearing impaired.
Therapy dogs visit people who are incapacitated or prevented in some way from having freedom of movement; these dogs provide cheer and entertainment for the elderly in retirement facilities, the ill and injured in hospitals, and so on. The very act of training dogs can also act as a therapy for human handlers, as in a prisoner rehabilitation project.
Rescue dogs assist people who are in difficult situations, such as in the water after a boat disaster. Search dogs locate people who are missing, such as lost in the wilderness, people who walk away from nursing homes, covered in snow avalanches, buried under collapsed buildings, and so on. Herding dogs are still invaluable to shepherds and cattle herders around the world for managing their flocks; different breeds are used for the different jobs involved in herding, and for guarding the flocks and herds. Modern herding dogs help to control wild geese in parks or goats used for weed control. A good dog can adapt to control any sort of domestic and many wild animals. Sled dogs, although today primarily used in sporting events, still can assist in transporting people and supplies in rugged, snowy terrain.
Performing dogs such as Circus dogs and dog actors are trained to perform acts that are not intrinsically useful, but instead provide entertainment to their audience or enable human artistic performances. Canine mascots, who accompany their teams or organizations for support and publicity. Hunting dogs assist hunters in finding, tracking, and retrieving game, or in routing vermin. Less frequently a dog, or rather or a pack of them, actually fights a predator, such as a bear. Guard dogs and watch dogs help to protect private or public property, either in living or used for patrols, as in the military and with security firms. Fighting dogs are used (or abused) to generate income in dog fighting.
Tracking dogs help find lost people and animals or track down possible criminals. Cadaver dog or Human Remains Detection Dogs use their scenting ability to discover bodies or human remains at the scenes of disasters, crimes, accidents, or suicides. Detection dogs of a wide variety help to detect termites in homes, illegal substances in luggage, bombs, chemicals, and many other substances. War Dogs or K9 Corps are used by armed forces in many of the same roles as civilian working dogs, but in a military context. In addition, specialized military tasks such as mine detection or wire laying have been assigned to dogs. Police dogs, also sometimes called K9 Units, are usually trained to track or immobilize possible criminals while assisting officers in making arrests or investigating the scene of a crime. Some are even specially trained for anti-terrorist units, as in Austria.
Dogs are commonly used as search and rescue workers in cases of lost persons and disasters. The St. Bernard was historically used in Europe in the case of avalanches and lost travelers. Search dogs in the US are used in lost person searches each year, saving human lives. Several breeds of dogs were used during World War I to locate wounded soldiers in the field. In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in New York, search dogs searched the rubble pile for survivors and cadaver dogs again searched the removed debris for human remains. Several cities in Italy are experimenting with working dogs as rescue swimmers. In this situation, a strong and well-trained dog is equipped with flotation devices and dropped in the water near a floundering swimmer. The swimmer then grabs onto the dog, and the animal tows the swimmer to shore. The Newfoundland has long been used for water rescue, not only on shore, but from fishing boats as well.
Good Stock: The breeding of working dogs has resulted in highly intelligent, hardy, alert dogs that are often attractive and extremely loyal. As a result, many working breeds are sought after as family pets.
Keep Them Busy: Working dogs make excellent pets as long as potential owners realize that these dogs must be given 'work' to do. Dogs that are not to be used for their original purpose must be trained from a young age and are best suited to active persons and families. Obedience training, dog sports such as flyball, dancing and agility, informal or novelty shows, and trial work are all excellent channels for these breeds' energy. At the very least they must have daily walks or other exercise at
an appropriate level for the breed, given toys, played with, and provided with
Working dogs that are chained, left alone, or ignored become bored, vocal, and even neurotic; they may exhibit malaise, lethargy, destructive behavior or attempt to escape. Working dogs inappropriately chosen as pets are often surrendered to shelters for these reasons.
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