4th September 2017
For a lot of dogs, their lives mostly consist of eating, sleeping and playing. But others have a much more serious job to do, with incredible results. From police dogs to guide dogs, millions of people all over the world rely on a dog to keep them safe, or in some cases, to keep them alive.
Here at Asda Money, we want to celebrate the amazing jobs our furry friends are doing, so we’ve looked at their main duties and what training they must go through to become a professional pooch.
Police dogs, often known as K-9’s, play a vital role in our police force. They’re trained to assist the police in many investigations. From searching for drugs and explosives to locating missing people or finding evidence at a crime scene, there’s not a lot a police dog can’t do. There are around 2,500 police dogs employed in the UK, with the German Shepherd being the most popular breed.
Like humans, there is a lot of training involved when it comes to being a police dog. The puppies start training at a young age, and begin by learning to obey basic commands. Using their incredible sense of smell, the dogs are trained to track people down, as well as teaching them to detect and react to certain substances, such as explosives and illegal drugs. Some pooches are also trained in public enforcement, helping to assist officers in day-to-day life, such as chasing down suspects or guarding an area. Also like humans, police dogs never stop learning - when they’re not on patrol, they’re being trained. They also tend to live with their masters, making their relationship stronger every day.
The Malinois and German Shepherd dog breeds are genetically better for protection and patrolling tasks, whereas Labradors and Bloodhounds are more talented in detection. The personality of the pup also plays a huge part in whether it can become a police dog. Police dogs need to be calm, alert and obedient, so if they’re shy, anxious or disobedient, a life in the police force probably isn’t for them.
As well as being cute and playful, some dogs also have an important purpose; to keep a person alive and well. Assistance dogs are specially trained to help a person with a disability. Whether somebody is blind, has hearing problems or has epilepsy, there’s a dog out there to help them get through everyday life.
One of the most well-known types of assistance dogs are guide dogs, which help the blind and visually impaired get around. As well as helping a person get from one place to another, guide dogs also give their owners more confidence and security. The most popular guide dog breed is the Labrador Retriever, because of its size, short coat, and a gentle yet willing temperament.
At 6 to 8 weeks, the puppies will start their guide dog training. Puppy walkers introduce them to sights, sounds and smells, as well as teaching them to walk ahead and follow simple commands such as ‘down’, ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. As they get older, they’ll learn things like waiting at kerbs, judging the height and width of objects so their owner doesn’t hurt themselves, and how to deal with busy traffic. Once fully trained, the pup is matched to an owner, which depends not only on the owner’s length of stride but also the lifestyle they have. If you’ve always fancied owning a dog but work all day and think it would be unfair, you could be in luck. Guidedogs.org are always looking for people to foster a dog whilst it’s in training. The process is simple; the puppy lives with you, but goes to puppy school Monday to Friday, meaning you won’t be leaving them alone whilst you’re at work.
Another incredible assistance dog is a seizure alert dog. Epilepsy is one of the most common of neurological illnesses, and many people are unable to control their seizures through medication alone. A seizure alert dog is trained to give their owner up to a 50-minute warning of an oncoming seizure, helping them to find a safe and private place.
To be an assistance dog, a pup should be people-orientated, and should have a fantastic sense of smell. Seizure alert dogs are trained to identify odours that are collected from the owner when experiencing an episode. If you’re interested in finding out more about these amazing dogs, Support Dogs is a national charity, helping people to have a better quality of life with these inspirational dogs.
Video sourced from BBC Earth
There’s no denying that a cuddle with a cute pup can makes us feel better if we’re having a bad day. Research has shown that stroking dogs has a positive effect on human health, particularly when it comes to emotions, and it’s easy to see why. Some dogs, also known as therapy dogs, actually have the job of visiting people to make them feel happier and healthier.
Bringing joy into places such as hospitals, retirement homes, schools, hospices and disaster areas, a therapy dog’s job is to be caring and affectionate. They’re also used to help people with mental disorders, such as anxiety and autism. A visit from a therapy dog has a range of benefits, some of these include a decrease in stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness, and an increase in socialisation, attention skills and self-esteem. There are also many physical benefits, including lower blood pressure and heart rate, higher levels of fitness and an improvement of motor skills.
It might seem like an easy job, but in fact, it takes a certain type of furry friend to gain a therapy dog certificate. All breeds of dogs can be a therapy dog, but they must have been with their owner for at least 6 months, be over 9 months of age and must be fully vaccinated. Generally, a dog has to be comfortable in crowds, friendly, confident, will initiate contact, and must be able to cope in stressful situations. They should also be happy to be touched by strangers and children, must be able to leave food or toys on cue, and should feel comfortable around health care equipment. Does your four-legged friend match up to these requirements? There are plenty of websites where you can sign them up, including Therapy Dogs United and Pets As Therapy.
A herding dog, also known as a stock dog or working dog, has a natural ability to be able to move larger animals and cattle. They are trained to act on the sound of a whistle or word from their commander, and they move herds along by either nipping, barking or circling them.
Although Collies are a popular choice, there are many other breeds that make good workers too, such as Shepherds, Sheepdogs and Lancashire Heelers. Herding dogs are extremely intelligent, energetic and outgoing, meaning dogs like Collies are much better as working dogs than just family pets.
Think your pup has what it takes to become a herding dog? According to the Daily Puppy, although herding dogs are born with the ability to herd, they also need a lot of training to do the job properly, most dogs being trained from a young age. Firstly, they must understand basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘lie down’ and ‘stay’, before learning herding calls such as ‘come by’ which turns the dog back clockwise, and ‘that’ll do’ which prompts the dog to stop and slowly return to you. Practice these alone at first, before slowly introducing your four-legged friend to the herd.
Is your dog your hero? Whether your furry friend has a job or not, every pup is special to us and deserves to have the best life possible, so it’s important to make sure they have suitable pet insurance (Please note, we will not cover dogs that 'work' as part of the owner's job or employment). Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance underwritten by Fairmead Insurance here.
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