We've all heard people say they have a "service dog" or a "therapy dog" or even an "emotional support" dog. These titles sound like thy would be similar as far as what the dog's job might be, but they are actually all quite different.
A friend of mine who is not only a lover of all things dog, but a talented and gifted trainer recently wrote an article for a private Facebook page hosted by Paws Pet Resort. In the article Sami Jo explains the differences and fun aspects of working dogs and their jobs, and I wanted to share it with you guys. This is a copy of the article shared with her permission.
Recently I was speaking with a customer about the differences between "service dogs" and "therapy dogs." During this conversation, I realized people don't always know the unique and fun differences between these dogs. Below is some fun information regarding different working dogs!
Enjoy~Sami Jo Menning
*These are very simple descriptions of all the work these dogs perform and not an all-inclusive description*
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS:
These are dogs trained to help the public with any missing person. Whether alive or passed they are trained to tell their human where they are located. There are different organizations people can certify through. These dogs should be really good at problem-solving.
HRD - Human Remains Detection is dogs alerting on human remains. Gross right? But it actually is super beneficial for people who are missing more than a week or any type of scene where they need hints on the case. These dogs are trained to perform a final indication when they have smelt the scent of human remains.
Live Find (Area and Tracking) - There are two kinds here but practically a dog will get sent when they know the victim is probably alive. A kid stuck in a snowstorm, a guy missing for 24 hours or any time there might be a kid with a medical or mental illness that has wandered away. The dog is trained to bring their handler to the victim. The dog gets rewarded for finding the person.
Article Search - This is for dogs to help find clues where they indicate in any article that has a scent from a victim or fresh scent. A dog can tell the difference between old scent and new scent from a human touching an item.
These dogs are trained to help the public by providing comfort. These dogs should have good obedience and should be stable and confident around other dogs, people and places.
Organizations - There are many organizations you can go through. The most well known here locally is Therapy Dogs International. These dogs are certified to go into schools, hospitals, and places to offer therapy from just being around them. It is pretty cool to be apart of. Your dog has to have great obedience as well as demeanor to excel in this.
Disaster Relief - There are specific organizations that certify dogs to help with disaster relief. These dogs and their handlers travel where there is a big disaster that people may be staying in shelters for safety. This is a time a disaster relief dog will come. This is a different certification and test in itself.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS:
These are animals that are there to offer emotional support. Sadly, it is something people take way advantage of to get free rent, hotel rooms, etc. They are for anyone who gets relief from their dogs instead of having to be on an alternative plan. These dogs do not get to have public access and there is no actual registered certification for any dog unless you were to get a note from a doctor.
These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help their handlers.
These dogs also do not have an actual certification. There is an ADA registration for the rights of Service Dogs. Most dogs that are true service dogs are bred to be service dogs. There are programs where they evaluate puppies from 4 weeks old to pick candidates for service dogs. They cannot be anxious, reactive, aggressive. They need to have the right temperament and the right drive to work! These dogs do have public access but should only be in public if they can behave.
Task Orientated - These service dogs are trained for people who cannot bend over, open the door, turn on the lights and struggle in their day to day life.
Mobility - These dogs are for people who might have medical issues that affect how they can walk, falling over unexpectedly or not having the strength to always hold them up. Not every dog can be this, there are actually charts on the weight of the person to be matched with a weight-fitted dog.
Medical Alert Dogs - These service dogs alert for diabetes, heart issues, panic attacks or severe health issues. There is a great guy in Texas who trains these dogs and I would love to show anyone what he can do.
Guide Dogs - Dogs who can lead people who are legally blind. These dogs have to be able to have some type of independence and disobedience. They need to be able to make the right call if you are telling them to 'heel' but there is a safety hazard. The dog should know to 'disobey' the command and to not put their handler in danger.
POLICE DOGS / MILITARY WORKING DOGS (MWD):
Really these and military dogs are a different breed. These dogs thrive off of work. The reward for them is to work. These dogs are also handed from handler to handler, there are many people that retire and their dog is still working so they will stay in the unit to be handed off to a different handler. These dogs are trained somewhere else and shipped to different units. A lot of them come from overseas. Most handlers have to attend a 2-3 week camp to become certified handlers WITH their dogs. The dogs already know how to do it, but the handler has to know, too!
Narcotics - Really this is just a type of detection. Many dogs are trained on more than one scent and some units who have many dogs will train their dog to just a few scents. To have a detection dog in the unit you have to meet standards of training and logging hours.
Apprehension - Police dogs are trained to bite dangerous suspects and hold them at the place. In many situations, they are the first ones to put their lives on the line and go in against an armed suspect to protect their human partner. That said, they must be stable dogs, with the ability to know when someone is a threat and to act solely on the command of their handlers.
These are used everywhere! If you can think of it, they probably already have a detection dog on it. They have started cancer detection dogs, hunting for truffles dogs, wildlife biology and of course law enforcement. Really it is endless what you can detect.
There are so many other types of working dogs. These are just popular ones you hear about lately.