Working Dogs

Working Dogs perform services for public safety and national defense. These K9s focus on detection, tracking/trailing, and patrol.

We use the term Working Dogs to refer to dogs that perform services for public safety, including national defense. Working dogs are trained to detect a variety of odors (e.g., missing persons, human remains, explosives, narcotics), to use various detection strategies (e.g., air scent, tracking, trailing) and some may be trained for sentry, scouting or apprehension tactics. Some examples of working dogs and related organizations employing working dogs include the following.

  • State and local law enforcement
  • National, regional and/or local Search and Rescue (SAR) units
  • Federal law enforcement agencies
    • Department of Homeland Security [DHS, e.g., Border patrol, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)]
    • Department of Defense [DoD, e.g., Military Working Dogs (MWD), Contract Working Dogs (CWD)]
    • Department of Justice (DoJ, e.g., FBI)

They perform a number of skills including but not limited to:

  • Detection (i.e., the identification of a specific odor)
  • Discrimination (i.e., ability to distinguish between 2 or more odors)
  • Tracking [i.e., following traces (there is a great deal of argument about what they actually detect or follow) left by a person from the point last seen]
  • Trailing (i.e., following traces left by a specific person without requiring a point last seen)
  • Indication (e.g., trained behavior of a K9 specifically communicating s/he has located the source of the odor)

There are many things to consider when it comes to having a Working Dog.

  • Ability to handle the demands of variable terrain and climate
  • Trainability
  • Ability to work independently
  • Work ethic
  • Ability to focus in the face of environmental, physical and psychological stress
  • Resilience
  • Relentlessness
  • Emotional maturity and stability
  • Developmental stages (e.g., physical, cognitive, emotional)

 

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