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Tips for Finding Work for Your Puppy

Have you ever looked at your puppy and wondered what his ancestors did? What was he bred for - flushing out birds, guarding stock, ratting, pointing to prey, pulling a sled, herding sheep, sighting or tracking prey? Most breeds were bred for a certain job and most dogs today, whether purebred or mixed, are pulled to that desire. When a dog uses his instincts and skills to accomplish something, it's a beautiful sight indeed. Besides the praise he gets from you, a working dog is calmer, more alert and less likely to engage in destructive behavior.

Working breeds also offer a great deal more than their skills. They tend to be loyal and have a good temperament and you'll truly see those characteristics shine through if they work. There are many options in today's world to utilize their original purpose and many to mimic it. If you consider your dog's breed or mix and learn what they were bred for, it's easy to find a suitable pastime.

Our Working Dogs Rundown

Northern Breeds - These were mostly bred to pull sleds, though many were multi-talented as guard dogs and herders. They tend to be aloof and are great escape artists.

Herding Breeds - These dogs were bred to herd stock such as sheep and cattle. Their ability to work on their own is notable.

Retrievers - These breeds were and are used in hunting to retrieve the killed prey. They are often skilled in field and water.

Guard Dogs - These were bred all over the world to guard everything from stock to property. They tend to be large dogs with the Caucasian at the top at around 150 pounds.

Sight and Scent Hounds - These hounds help a hunter by finding the game. Sighthounds are known for their speed and Scenthounds are known for their baying which alerts the hunter that he's tracked down the prey.

Terriers - These breeds were used to bolt the prey, often rats and other small critters, from the tunnel. Others were bred to catch and kill the prey themselves. They are known for their tenacity and misconception that they can win any fight.

Bully Dogs - These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, the English Bull Dog and the Presa Canario. They were bred to bait other animals and then to fight each other. This can mean a Bully Dog is dog aggressive, though other traits from their breeding such as loyalty, playfulness and human affection can make them a wonderful pet.

Companion Dogs - These include the Maltese, the Pekingese and the Toy Poodle. They were mainly bred for royalty to pamper and are often affectionate and docile pets.

Some Jobs for Dogs

  • Service/Assistance Dogs - These dogs assist people with physical or mental disabilities. They must be easily trainable, very connected to their person and pretty darn smart. You often see Labs and Goldies in this role as their retrieving skills are useful for finding and bringing objects to their person, They also have a human-centric personality and they are highly trainable.

  • Rescue and Search Dogs - Scenthounds and other hunting breeds are excellent for rescue work as are Pit Bulls and Terriers. You need a dog who can track and who won't give up.

  • Detection Dogs - Scenthounds are a good breed for sniffing out drugs, food or bombs, with the Beagle leading in jobs.

  • Transport Dogs - Sled dogs are still used to transport people and supplies.

  • Guard Dogs - Many of these breeds are still used for guarding property and are used for patrols in the military and armed forces.

  • Police and War Dogs - The more intense, highly trainable breeds are used fort this work including the German Shepherd and the Pit Bull.

Mimicking your puppy's work is easy to do. There are sledding competitions for northern breeds, herding competitions for herding breeds, simulated hunts for the hunting, Terrier, Scent and Sighthound breeds, and pulling competitions for the Bully breeds.

Even if you don't have a breed or mix who is naturally a working dog, your puppy will benefit from a vocation, such as being a therapy dog, performing agility or assisting children in learning how to read. Whether a Maltese or a Pit Bull, all dogs serve a purpose. The main one, of course, is to keep our feet, and hearts, warm.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething

When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).

~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever

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