A working dog is a canine working animal, more than just a pet they perform tasks to assist humans, these dogs are trained from a young age to do their tasks. Certain dog breeds have become associated with certain tasks, many are even born with the working gene in their DNA. Although most dogs are kept as pets, there’s still a number of ways in which dogs can, and do assist humans.

Dogs were used as draught animal’s to pull small carts on farms, to deliver mail or to pull carts carrying people as a means of transportation. In some remote areas especially in Alaska, Canada and Greenland dogs are used to pull sleds carrying people and supplies. The Alaskan huskey, the Malamute, the Chinook and the Siberian husky are some of the breeds associated with these tasks.

Assistance dogs are used to help people with various disabilities in everyday tasks, some examples are mobility assistance dogs for the physically handicapped, guide dogs for the visually impaired and hearing dogs for the hearing impaired, everyday tasks, we take for granted would be impossible without the assistance of these dogs.

Search and rescue dogs are used to locate missing people after a natural disaster. or for tracking people who may be lost in the wilderness, they are trained to detect human scent. From their training search and rescue dogs can be classed as either air scenting dogs, or trailing dogs, they can also be classified according to whether they scent discriminate, and under what conditions they can work. Scent discriminating dogs have the ability to track an individual person, after being given a sample of that persons scent, non scent discriminating dogs follow any scent of a given type, such as any human scent or any cadaver scent. Search and rescue dogs can be trained to search through rubble, search in water or for avalanche searches, some dogs can smell people that are under 15ft of snow. Popular breeds of avalanche dogs include the St Bernard, the German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever.

When it comes to herding sheep and cattle, dogs still have a big part to play, and they herd animal’s in a variety of ways. Some breeds like the Australian cattle dog nip at the heels of the animal’s, for this reason they are called heelers, other breeds most notably the Border Collie get in front of animal’s, using what is called strong eye to stare them down, these are known as headers. The headers are used to keep animal’s in a group, they go to the head or front of the animal’s forcing them to turn. or stopping the animal’s movement. The heelers are used for pushing animal’s forward, typically they stay behind the herd.

Hunting dogs have been used by man for hundreds of years, dating back to when their survival was based on their hunting skills, the quarry caught, provided man with food and clothing. In modern times advancements in agriculture and weaponry saw the need for hunting dogs diminish, with hunting becoming more of a sport, . Retrievers, pointers, hounds and setters are often used in this so called sport to track and capture the prey for a group of people following on horseback, this type of hunting is currently banned in the UK and some other countries.

Law enforcement and the military use specially trained dogs to help catch criminals and detect illegal substances, contraband and explosives. Detection dogs can sniff out drugs and other substances even when they are packaged, disguised and mixed in with different scents, they provide the police with the potential to conduct searches without just cause. Military dogs have been used in every conflict since World War 1, potentially saving thousands of lives, through sniffing out explosive materials and warning of enemy combatants, some dogs have even received medals for their service.

A lot of work premises will have guard dogs on the premises, to keep people out overnight and during non-working hours, even if they have hired security they’ll often have a dog with them. Most pet dogs are natural guard dogs, a burglar would think twice about entering a premises if they see or hear a dog, when you’re asleep at night if someone is knocking about your dog will let you know. In general dogs hearing is more sensitive than humans, so if someone is knocking at your door, you might not hear them but your dog will.

Without dogs to help out in everyday tasks, things would be a lot different.

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michael simpson

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