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If you were to come hang out at my house on any given night, you would see two of the laziest lapdogs in the world. Janice and Leroy may be full-sized Boxers, but they think they are just the right size for snuggling, and would rather do that than anything else. You can typically find them snoozing on the sofa, taking up more than their fair share of the bed, or lounging on just about any sunny patch of floor they can find. They do sometimes help out around the house – but for the most part, they think they rule the roost, and like to flaunt it.
But unlike my lazy mutts, there are actually dogs out there that hold down a regular 9 to 5, and they do it with style. I happened to meet a therapy dog not that long ago when Janice, Leroy, and I went to a meetup for Boxer lovers. This dog spends his days working with children who struggle with illnesses and then goes home for some much needed downtime after clocking out. That was pretty amazing to me, so I started looking up other dog jobs – and you’d be surprised by how many there are!
(1) Search and Rescue Dogs
Probably one of the coolest dog jobs out there, search and rescue dogs are found all over the world wherever there are disasters. They help search for people that are caught in rubble, lost in natural disasters, or just generally in need of assistance; then, they rescue them with the help of their human trainer. These dogs are often a special subset of police dogs and may be deployed with services like the National Guard to help anytime there’s some sort of disaster. Some work exclusively in specific environments, like in the mountains during avalanches. You can usually spot them thanks to their Search and Rescue harnesses.
A much less stressful job, a dog that is a mascot gets to hang out at sporting events or marketing events and be the face of a team, brand, or organization. This dog may need to know some tricks or be comfortable wearing a costume, orhe may just need to show up and hang out. A lot of college sports teams will have a dog mascot, who usually lives in a fraternity with many of the players. You might also see small indie shops, like bookstores, having their own “mascot dog” who hangs out in the store all day. These dogs may not have much to do, but their presence is important for the team spirit or the organization’s image, so they are still definitely doing a job.
Military dogs go into areas where soldiers are deployed and work with the soldiers in a lot of different ways. They are often bomb-detecting dogs, and today’s bomb-detecting war dogs have a 98% success rate. However, they may also be therapy dogs for the soldiers, offering relief from PTSD symptoms. They could also be guard dogs for the base camp, cadaver-detecting dogs, message deliverers, or even attack dogs. There are a lot of ways that dogs are used in the military, and this has been the tradition for centuries of human history.
(4) Drug Detection Dogs
When you think about police dogs, you probably immediately think of drug-detecting dogs. The fact is that police use dogs for a lot of other reasons, but this is a big one. Dogs have incredible noses, and once they are trained to search out a specific scent, their success rate is unparalleled. They are used in schools, prisons, airports, police stations, at boarding crossings, and many other areas. They are also used during drug busts and undercover operations. Talk about having an exciting job!
(5) Herding Dogs
Eons of dog and human history have involved using dogs to herd other animals, and that hasn’t changed in modern times. Dogs are still regularly used for herding sheep, cattle, and various other livestock. There are many breeds that can’t help but herd (generally anything in the Shepherd family), and will do it even if you don’t technically train them for it. Dogs that are used for herding on farms will typically head out to the fields with livestock, or follow the farmer around all day like a shadow, doing as commanded. Some breeds are independent enough to perform this work solo, and are allowed to herd goats and sheep into remote parts of the countryside, and are trusted to bring them back home at night.
(6) Therapy Dogs
I’ve mentioned therapy dogs a few times now, but honestly, there are so many types of therapy dogs out there, it would be hard to sum them all up. From PTSD or depression to cancer patients or people with dementia, dogs can be used for all sorts of therapeutic purposes. A lot of dogs visit nursing homes, children’s hospitals, or disaster relief areas to offer comfort and soft physical contact to those who may need it. Some dogs help with physical therapy by being a place to lean when walking, while others just offer a calming presence. Studies have shown that a dog can help reduce depression and suicidal thoughts, which makes this job a pretty special one.
(7) Racing Dogs
Yes, being a dog that races is considered a job, just like being a pro athlete. Greyhounds and other dogs that race generally aren’t in the circuit for very long. Just a few years into their careers, these dogs are usually retired. But for those years, racing dogs are generally treated more like racing horses than pets. Their jobs are to train, rest, race, and repeat. Because of concerns about the welfare of racing dogs, only nine states in the entire country still host legal dog races, so this job may be going the way of the Dodo soon.
(8) Truffle Hunting Dogs
Here’s an interesting thing that I hadn’t heard of before I started doing this research. Truffles are mushrooms – very, very valuable mushrooms. They are used in gourmet cooking around the world, and they can fetch a very pretty penny. They typically grow wild and truffle hunting is something that dogs are used for frequently in certain parts of the world. Their amazing sniffers let their owners find mushrooms worth their weight in gold, and that makes these dogs very valuable in their own right.
(9) Show Dogs
While you may think that being in a dog show is all about wearing a pretty bow and standing still, there’s actually a lot of work that a show dog has to put in. These dogs are well trained to follow every command, and in many cases, they are also trained to go through obstacle courses or to showcase their talents without needing any verbal commands at all. They also must tolerate long hours of being inspected, standing in a very specific posture, and otherwise behaving even around tons of people and dogs. This is a tough job for purebred dogs!
In some regions of the world, dogs are still used for transportation and delivery service. For example, dog sledding in Alaska is still a common method for getting around, delivering mail, and hunting. These dogs spend long hours in harnesses, strapped to carts, pulling as a team, and training to do this over very harsh terrains. They need a lot of stamina, they need to work together, and they need to understand their place in the “pack”. The lead dog will need to be an even harder worker than the rest, making decisions that impact the entire team.
Some dogs are employed as pest control in certain areas of the world, getting rid of rodents like rats, mice, and moles. While this job isn’t very common in commercial industry, you often see dogs “employed” by farmers to keep stray cats and other pests out of grain stores. Terriers were bred for this job in particular andstill make great pest control dogs today. You can often still find terriers “employed” by owners of small fishing rigs to keep rats off their boat when out at sea. This type of job blurs the line between helpful companion and working dog, but then again, so many dog jobs do that very thing.
(12) Actor Dogs
Dogs that you see on TV, in the movies, or in commercials are very hard working actors that have put in a ton of work. They don’t just show up and do what is required of them on camera day one. These dogs have undergone a ton of training, and they put in a lot of hours on set to get the best takes. Usually, when you see a dog responding to something an actor does on a show, there is a dog trainer just off camera, using visual cues or a clicker to get the dog to do what is necessary for the scene – but even learning how to do that among all that distraction is pretty incredible!
Service dogs are used for a wide range of jobs, from guiding a blind or deaf owner, to offering assistance to an owner in a wheelchair, and more. These dogs can often be spotted in places where you wouldn’t normally see a dog, like a grocery store or a library, and they are always identified by their service dog vest or harness. These dogs spend all day long caring for their owner and go through a lot of training to be able to help their owner before being adopted. Most of the time, these dogs don’t really get to be “off duty” – even in their downtime, they have to be aware of what their owner might need. It’s a 24/7 job for these amazing dogs.
(14) Cancer Detecting Dogs
Did you know that a dog’s nose can sometimes be used to detect cancer? While this isn’t going to replace modern medical technology anytime soon, there are some dogs out there that are used to sniff out medical concerns. Sometimes these dogs are used in pediatric medicine when children are afraid, and other times they are used in third-world countries where cancer-detecting medical technology isn’t available.
(15) Hunting Dogs
If you live in a rural part of America, you probably run into this one all the time. Many dogs all around the world are still regularly used for hunting purposes. From hunting raccoons at night to fetching waterfowl after it’s been dropped, hunting dogs are prized possessions for those who participate in this sport. Dogs have been hunting alongside humans since the very beginnings of our relationship, and it remains one of the best jobs for dogs.
This is just a sampling of the many amazing dog jobs that are out there! Did you know that there is a dog hypnotist? Or that some dogs are artists who sell their paintings? There is even a town in California that had a dog mayor for a little while – talk about a busy 9 to 5! Some dogs evenhelp out with skydiving lessons for people! There are about as many ways that a dog can earn a living as you can name, and that’s pretty neat. Janice and Leroy might not ever be signing up for a job as long as they’ve mastered the art of having me pay all their bills, though.
With so many amazing jobs for dogs, it’s not hard to see why a dog without a job might get extremely bored and a little destructive. I’m not saying that you need to turn your purse pooch into a hunting dog, but it may help to consider what kinds of things they could do. Maybe your little Chihuahua could be a model for a local dog clothing boutique – or maybe they can just be your devoted companion. Either way, giving your dog a purpose is a great way to ensure that they don’t get bored with their every day lives.