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Police Dogs and Military Working Dogs

Police Dogs and Military Working Dogs

We all know about the wonderful assistance service dogs provide for people who are seeing and hearing impaired, as well as the “hands-on” skills they provide when teamed with physically disabled people. However, apart from these fabulous canines, there are many more working dogs in America, and indeed around the world, that are highly valued members of the daily workforce.

Police Dogs

There’s no question that dogs are an integral part of police departments worldwide. In most states in the U.S., police dogs, also called K-9s, are considered to be a full-fledged police officer and many are given their own official badge.

Police dogs require special training to ensure they are comfortable in all kinds of chaotic and dangerous situations. Assertive breeds such as the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are great when it comes to criminal apprehension, search and rescue, evidence recovery and tracking. They are fiercely loyal and many police dogs have taken a bullet to save their handlers. Labrador Retrievers are known for their bomb-sniffing and arson-detecting skills.

Many other breeds are working officers, and have qualities that help track and detain crime suspects or escaped prisoners, locate evidence, sniff for drugs or human remains and locate missing or stranded people.

Military Working Dogs

Military Working Dogs are used on patrols, in drug and explosives detection and on specialized missions. They do sentry duty, scout and patrol duties, tunnel exploration, mine detection and casualty search. They are used as messengers and can even be trained to jump out of helicopters (with their human partners).

Government Working Dogs

Dogs that enjoy being around people, like beagles, do well working for the U.S. Customs Department at airports and other facilities. They also patrol U.S. borders and detect prohibited agricultural imports.

Medical Working Dogs

Medical alert dogs, medical assistance dogs and medical response dogs are trained to help their partners in a variety of situations.

  • Medical alert dogs can detect cancer, low blood pressure and low insulin levels–and even alert when someone is about to have a seizure. The training they undergo is very similar to teaching a dog to detect drugs or explosives as it’s all about learning to detect certain smells and odors–and changes in those odors that emanate from sufferers of certain medical conditions. They can also detect peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat or milk for those with anaphylactic allergies.
  • Medical assistance dogs can remind people with mental illness to take prescribed medications at certain times. For those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or severe anxiety, these dogs can help their handlers to mitigate through life more easily.
  • Medical response dogs are trained to call 911, retrieve emergency medication or keep their person safe during a seizure or fainting spell.

Working with Kids

Dogs that have undergone basic obedience training make great buddies for autistic children–at home and in the classroom. Autism is a brain disorder the affects general communication and social skills. Research shows that the presence of a dog can result in improved skills in these children. Dogs of any breed and size make great reading buddies. Children who have trouble learning how to read, or are self-conscious about reading in front of classmates or teachers, are happier reading to a dog. Reading buddies are usually therapy dogs. If you have a dog with a placid nature that enjoys being around kids, you may enjoy training your dog to “read.”

Truffle Hunters

Truffle farming is becoming big business in America, particularly in the northwest states. The truffle is considered a culinary delicacy and is a sought-after, strong-smelling underground fungus (mushroom) that fetches high prices. While the Italian dog breed the Lagotto Romagnolo is known to be the most sought-after canine for this type of work, the truth is that any dog can be trained to hunt for truffles. Every year, the annual Truffle Festival held in Eugene, Oregon offers seminars on how to train your dog to sniff out this delectable delicacy.

Search and Rescue Work

While police departments have their own search and rescue (SAR) dogs, this is one field where pet parents can also get involved because police often rely heavily on volunteers to help look for missing or stranded people. There are local search and rescue clubs around the country that offer training and advice on how to get involved. SAR dogs are trained to work in all terrain and weather conditions.

There are various kinds of specialization within this field:

  • Trailing or tracking dogs are trained to find a specific person by following minute particles of human tissue or skin cells cast off by the person as he or she travels. The dog is given an uncontaminated scent article such as a piece of clothing belonging to the missing person to set them off with his nose to the ground in the right direction. Dogs are trained to work both on- and off-leash.
  • Air scent dogs can trace human scent that drifts in the air, and look for the scent “cone” leading to the actual person. They work best in situations such as large national parks and state forests.
  • Cadaver dogs are trained to pick up the scent of a decomposing body or human remains. They are capable of working both above and below ground.
  • Water search dogs are trained to detect human scent that is under the water. The handler and dog usually work in a boat or along the shoreline
  • Avalanche dogs are able to detect human scent that is under snow to a depth of about 15 feet and sometimes more.

Industry Dogs

These days, it’s impossible to switch on the TV and not see commercials, sitcoms and movies starring canines (and many other pets too). They also work as photography models for a variety of industries. It’s as difficult for pets as it is for people to break into the entertainment industry, but if your dog understands both verbal commands and hand signals, and will take them from a stranger, he could be ready for a Hollywood agent. Some of Hollywood’s most lovable canine stars have been adopted from shelters.

As incredible as it seems, these jobs represent only a handful of the diverse talents our intelligent canine companions are trained to use every day for our benefit, demonstrating that they are truly man’s best friend.