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7 Fascinating Careers For Dogs In The Human World

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on June 05, 2024

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We can all agree that dogs are pretty great. They’re warm, they’re fuzzy, they’re just plain adorable. But dogs are actually far more than just our loyal companions. They’re also hardworking members of society who’ve been assisting us humans for over 10,000 years! 

Beyond their roles as beloved pets, dogs have adopted a wide range of jobs and careers of their own. From search and rescue to helping humans in therapy, their unique abilities can help us in remarkable ways. We’re taking a look at a few fascinating dog careers and how dogs help humans throughout society.

1. Assistance Dogs

One of the more common examples of dogs helping humans you’re likely to come across are assistance dogs such one of our charity partners: Dogs for Good or Hounds for Heros. These dogs are specially trained to assist individuals with disabilities, helping them to navigate their daily lives with greater independence. These dogs have remarkable intelligence and will generally need both an even temperament and a strong drive to work. 

All that while also being a great companion, too!

Hounds for Heros

Hounds for Heroes assistance dogs help those who are serving or have served in HM Armed Forces and the Emergency Services who have become disabled through illness or injury. Their specially trained dogs help overcome some of the physical barriers and obstacles caused by a disability; promoting an increased sense of freedom, providing a loyal comrade and just maybe the beginning of a new life.

Dogs for Good make life-changing differences for people with disabilities through the power of expertly trained dogs. Their assistance dogs help adults and children lead more independent lives, at home and in the community around them. They also provide support to people who want a pet dog that can help them overcome specific challenges within their family. They train and support community dogs and their specialist handlers to work in activity and therapy in communities and schools.

2. Search and Rescue Dogs

With their exceptional olfactory abilities, search and rescue dogs will often play a crucial role in disaster situations. Trained to detect specific scents, these dogs can find individuals buried under snow or debris such as after an avalanche or earthquake. The Saint Bernard breed of dog – from the Western Alps in Italy and Switzerland – is said to be able to detect a person under more than four metres of snow!


Saint Bernard dog against snowy backdrop.

3. Herding Dogs

Utilised by farmers for many centuries, herding dogs need to be incredibly fit, agile, and keen to follow their human’s signals to shepherd livestock. Whether working with sheep, goats, cows, or any other type of animal, these dogs have a fantastic ability to control and protect the livestock under their charge without causing harm. 

There are a number of dog breeds that are particularly suited to different aspects of herding. From the instantly recognisable Border Collie and German Shepherd breeds to lesser-known breeds such as the Icelandic Sheepdog and Swedish Vallhund, this highlights the diverse range of dog jobs in agricultural settings.


Border Collie shepherding a flock of sheep.

4. Detection Dogs

Detection dogs are trained to identify specific scents ranging from explosives and landmines through to drugs, foodstuffs, and even bed bugs. Once they’ve detected a scent, a detection dog will alert their human through specific behaviours such as barking or lying down. This example of dogs helping humans has proved particularly useful within airports, police stations, border crossings, ports, and wildlife protection teams.

Incredibly, medical detection dogs can also detect the change in scent related to specific health conditions. For instance, some dogs can detect impending hypoglycaemic episodes for diabetes, oncoming seizures, and even cancer. Having this early warning can make all the difference when it comes to saving lives.

5. Therapy Dogs

Simply being around and stroking dogs has been shown to promote the release of ‘happy hormones’ in us humans, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that dogs have proved so effective in therapy! Therapy dogs visit hospitals, schools, retirement homes, and disaster relief areas, offering emotional support in various environments. 


Therapy dog interacting with a teenager in a wheelchair.


A therapy dog’s ability to adapt to different situations and interact with a variety of people perfectly showcases how dogs help humans emotionally and psychologically. That being said, they’re also a great example of when humans need to look out for the wellbeing of our dogs, too. Interacting with so many people in different settings could become overwhelming or unsettling, so important that each dog’s carer is attuned to their dog’s body language. This way, they can ensure they’re comfortable and relaxed during each session.

In fact, this is good advice for all dog parents no matter the situation. Learning to understand your dog’s body language is a helpful way to monitor their overall wellbeing. And if your pooch does struggle in certain situations, don’t forget that ThunderShirt by ADAPTIL can offer a helping hand. ThunderShirt provides a gentle, calming pressure, much like swaddling a baby, and many dog parents don’t leave home without it.


6. Dog Actors

A great many dogs have made their mark on the big screen with a number even becoming the lead stars of their own movies and TV shows. Who can forget Lassie the Rough Collie or Toto the Cairn Terrier from “The Wizard of Oz”? Trained to perform specific actions on set, these dogs work harmoniously with humans, contributing to the creative world while showcasing their versatility and intelligence. Quite the prestigious profession as far as dog careers go!


Small dog on camera.

7. Sleigh Dogs

Sleigh or sled dogs embody strength, discipline, and teamwork as they pull sleds through snowy terrains to transport people and cargo. Their ability to work effectively in harsh conditions demonstrates their impressive physical capabilities. In fact, a number of famous explorers have employed the services of sleigh dogs during their expeditions, such as Ernest Shackleton when attempting to reach the South Pole in 1914. 

In areas without snow, carting dogs do much the same job, just without the snow. These tend to be large breeds as they require a great deal of strength to pull their cargo along without the benefit of snow to slide along.

Beyond the Limelight

As we marvel at the range of ways we can witness dogs helping us humans, it’s important to remember that even working dogs need time to relax and play. After all, being a professional hero can be tiring! At the same time, if you do spot any working dogs in action, it’s best not to distract them. They’re concentrating on their job, and you could be preventing them from picking up cues from their human.

What about your own canine companion? Do they have any special skills or abilities they’re budding to put to good use? Perhaps you can train them to pick up their toys and put them in a box, or even create a scent game in which they help you find lost items. These can be great activities for a dog’s physical and mental health and can also be an effective way to bond together. Just remember, and as with all the dog careers mentioned above, positive, reward-based training is key. This helps dogs to look forward to their next session as they’ll associate their ‘work’ with positive experiences.

Are there any jobs for dogs we haven’t mentioned that you think are worth shouting about? Get in touch! We love hearing from you and talking about all things canine. You can also stay informed with our latest tips, guides, and product information by signing up to our newsletter.

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

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