Showing posts with label Working Dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Working Dogs. Show all posts

Thursday, November 9, 2017

HUNTING DOGS - Working Dogs

English: Gordon Setter Nederlands: Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For certain types of hunting, a well-trained dog is considered indispensable. For centuries, dogs have hunted alongside humans, often helping humans survive. While hunting with dogs is often just for sport, many hunters provide for their families through their hunting, making the dog an important companion in the field. 

There are several types of hunting that involve dogs. 

* Stalking is done when the prey is out of shooting range, and the hunter sneaks up into range while remaining undetected. Dogs can help catch the scent of prey that is out of sight or range. 

* Driving means the prey is driven out of hiding and into shooting range. 

There is an extensive number of hunting breeds, all fine-tuned to meet specific hunting needs. Here are a few of the more common hunting breeds, and what they are used for. 


Golden, Labrador, Chesapeake Bay, and Flat-Coated are the main retrievers used in hunting. Like a lot of hunting dogs, retrievers do well as family pets, too. Retrievers are bred for work in the water, and have webbing between their toes to help them swim. They tend to have good personalities and are quite trainable, and tend to stick with a task. Retrievers retrieve fallen game like waterfowl, carrying it back to the hunter without damaging it. 


Cocker, Irish Water, and English Springer spaniels are some of the spaniels used in hunting. Their role is to flush out game like birds and rabbits, and thanks to their thick coats, they can get into the underbrush to do so. They do not kill game; their job is to get the prey out of hiding so the hunter can shoot it. They also have a "soft mouth," meaning they can carry fallen game without doing damage. Spaniels make good family pets, too. 


The dedicated pointer identifies prey for the hunter, seeking out prey and freezing into the pointing position that earned them their name. They track down prey efficiently, and are a very intelligent breed. They are an enthusiastic and dedicated type of dog, and can track and identify a variety of game. Pointing breeds include the American Brittany, Weimaraners, Griffons, and the German Shorthair.  


This group of breeds combines the best of the spaniel and the pointer, and they have been around since the 14th century. They flush out game such as quail, and they "set" or crouch down when they find prey, freezing into position. Setter breeds include the English, Irish, and Gordon Setter. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

HERDING DOGS - Working Dogs

Herding dogs encompass an entire group of dog breeds, all bred with specific characteristics. Herding dogs may be large or small, from the little Shetland Sheepdog ("Sheltie") to the big, bobtailed Old English Sheepdog. They must display the ability to keep other animals together, and this instinct is inborn. 

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
(Photo credit: 

Owners who keep herding breeds as family pets speak of the dogs trying to keep children or other pets in a small group! Herding dogs might be trained to herd animals as diverse as ducks, sheep, goats, and cattle. 

Interestingly, it's the behavior of the predatory wolf that is honed and refined to produce the herding dog's distinctive actions. The herding dog goes into hunting-type behavior with the animals it is herding - it circles the group, identifies and retrieves stragglers (whereas a wolf would single out a straggler to attack and kill), nips at the animals' heels, and/or "stares them down." 

Herding dogs work from the rear or the front, with those that work from the rear engaging in the heel-nipping to push the animals onward, and those that work from the front using the stare or "strong eye" to turn the animals back. 

What Breeds Are Herding Dogs?

The main dog breeds that are in the herding group are:

* Australian Cattle Dog
* Australian Shepherd
* Border Collie
* Belgian Sheepdog
* Bouvier des Flandres
* Cardigan Welsh Corgi
* Pembroke Welsh Corgi
* Collie (the "Lassie" type)
* German Shepherd
* Old English Sheepdog
* Puli
* Shetland Sheepdog ("Sheltie")

Some of these animals are kept as pets, too. 

Shetland Sheepdog - Pacarane Political Party o...
Shetland Sheepdog
(Photo credit: 

Training herding dogs is an exacting task. While the breeds' instincts are there, trainers must refine and discipline these instincts to make the dogs into good herders. They usually begin with basic commands like any dog owner - sit, stay, heel, etc. But the herding dog trainer needs to make sure these commands are mastered, not optional. 

Next, herding calls are added, such as "That'll do," and "Come by." "That'll do" is sort of like "at ease" - the dog is to stop performing the given command and return to the trainer. "Come by" tells the dog to turn clockwise. 

When the dog is mature enough to handle these commands without hesitation or fear, the dog can slowly be introduced to the herd of animals. At first, the trainer uses a leash and a whistle to keep the dog in check. He or she trots along with the dog to show the dog the proper positions and directions. Gradually, the trainer will forego the leash and continue going with the dog. Then the trainer works toward giving the commands and standing by while the dog performs its herding duties. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

GUARD DOGS - Working Dogs

The guard dog or watch dog has one of the most ancient types of canine relationships with humans. It's been conjectured that guard duty was the dog's first job with humans - it may be that the dog was originally domesticated because humans needed an animal to keep away other predators. Perhaps they noticed that many wild creatures feared the wolf, so they domesticated wolves in order to use this to their advantage. 

Breeds like this Doberman were specifically br...
Breeds like this Doberman were specifically bred for guard duty.
(Photo credit: 
Nowadays, guard dogs are actually put up for hire in some areas of the world. You can hire a guard dog to protect your business or home overnight, and then the company picks up the dog in the morning right before your business opens. 

Guard Dog versus Watch Dog

There is a difference between the two job descriptions, so to speak. The watch dog's job is to alert its owner by barking. The barking might scare away the intruder as well. Watch dogs do not have to be large or aggressive. The guard dog, on the other hand, takes the watch dog's duty's another step. Guard dogs will attack the intruder or restrain him or her. The intruder does not have to be human; guard dogs that guard sheep and other livestock will attack animal predators such as wildcats, bears and wolves. 


Farmers and herdsmen through the centuries have valued dogs' guarding abilities to keep their flocks safe. This is why many of today's guard breeds have their roots in herding and livestock guarding. Here are some breeds of dogs commonly used as guard dogs:

* German Shepherds - The name denotes the origins of this noble breed. With wolf-like characteristics, the German Shepherd worked (and still does work) as a shepherd for livestock. It is not only good at herding; German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs that will fearlessly defend their owner's property.

* Rottweilers - This German breed was once a farm and herding dog, and you can still see them in that capacity. They are usually associated with guard duty nowadays, however, and they do have a significant intimidation factor. They also tend to make good family pets if they are raised in a loving environment. 

* Weimaraner - Popular in photos, the Weimaraner started out as a hunting breed. They were found to have a territorial instinct, though, which, combined with their large size, means they also make good guard dogs. 

* Doberman Pinschers - Unlike the breeds above, Dobermans were specifically bred to be guard dogs. They are born for guard duty and are staunch protectors and defenders of their families and property. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


CBP officer with his explosive detection dog c...
CBP officer with his explosive detection dog clears vehicles entering the Super Bowl area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Detection dogs are trained to detect even minute amounts of key substances. These substances range from drugs to cadavers to peanuts (yes, peanuts!). Bomb dogs and explosives dogs are trained to sniff out dangerous items in airplane luggage, cars, buildings, and anywhere a threat is suspected. Because the number and types of detection dogs are so numerous, this article will focus on a few of the main types of detection dogs.

1. Bomb Dogs

What good is sniffing out a bomb? Plenty! If there are reports that a bomb has been planted somewhere on public or private property - in a school, under a car, in a mall, just to name a few examples - and no one knows just where the bomb is, it can take precious time for people to find it. And in the meantime, the bomb might be poised to explode. 

A dog's nose can detect parts per trillion, which is far more sensitive than any human nose; this means that a dog can seek out and find a bomb in record time - even if it's well-hidden. This saves precious hours and potentially saves many human lives. 


The exact procedures for training bomb detection dogs are rigorous, and handlers practice with their dogs daily regardless of actual threats. Dogs are taught to sniff out various bombs in a wide range of situations, so the training takes time. Dogs are rewarded when they discover the bombs, reinforcing their desire to keep detecting these dangerous explosives. 


Bomb detection dogs are often German Shepherds or dogs that are related to German Shepherds, such as the Belgian Malinois (most people can't tell the difference). Labs, Bloodhounds, and even Beagles have been used in this capacity, as have mixed breeds. The key is a keen sense of smell, trainability, and a courageous, non-timid temperament. 

Spc. Matthew Hoffman, a Fort Lee competitor, w...
Spc. Matthew Hoffman, works with his
military working dog, Roxy, to sniff out narcotics
(Photo credit: 
2. Drug Dogs

Like bomb dogs, drug dogs are trained to sniff out small amounts of substances even if they are hidden or masked by other scents. This is where drug dogs can truly amaze - they can detect illegal drugs even if the drugs have been packaged in multiple layers and the package smeared with strong scents like coffee and vapor rub!


Dogs are trained on a reward system, getting praise rewards or a favorite toy (usually not food treats) if they sniff out the substance. Drug dogs are used at airports, by police on the street, at borders between countries, and anywhere that drugs may be trafficked or suspected. 


Drug dogs can also be any breed that exhibits favorable traits. Once again, the German Shepherd shines as the most likely breed to serve in this capacity, but Bloodhounds and other hounds are also excellent sniffers.