working dog/pet dog

This is where to talk about Pit Bulls!

Postby babyreba » March 2nd, 2006, 12:17 pm

Hey, so I just read the post on Michelle's lovely new boy Riggs.

And it's clear to me that some of us (including me) don't really understand the distinction between "pet dogs" and "working dogs."

I know that there are many very serious protection dogs that aren't pets in any way shape or form--they live in kennels, do a job, and work with really experienced handlers in training.

But how does it work when you are a sport enthusiast who is working on titles and such and you obtain a dog solely for the purpose of that sport?

Do you interact with the dog only when you are training and working?

Do you keep the dog separated from the rest of the family?

Does the dog have any companionship with humans, similar to the kind we offer pets or is that out of the question?

Does the dog view the training as "work" or as a "game?" If it's strictly work, does the dog ever play like a regular old dog would with toys or springpole or whatever?

How much of the dogs day is devoted to training and working, and how much is downtime?

How do dog lovers keep the professional distance necessary to maintain a working relationship w/o letting it morph into a pet relationship?

What happens when a working dog, that has never been a pet, is too old to compete? Does he remain with the handler and engage in less active sport? Or does he totally retire and become a house dog?

Anything else that would make a working dog's life significantly different than a pet's life?
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Postby pLaurent » March 2nd, 2006, 1:27 pm

That's funny, I was thinking the same as you!!:)

To me, a working dog should also be a "pet", in the meaning that it's part of the family, lives in the home with the family/handler and has close bonds with the owner.

To me, this type dog would work harder for the person it loves. "Pet" doesn't have to mean lazy and spoiled couch potato!

Most police officers take their dogs home when the shift is over, and at home, that dog is a pet. These dogs know very well when they are working and are off duty.
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Postby JCleve86 » March 2nd, 2006, 1:38 pm

I tend to agree. At the same time, I could imagine a dog like Riggs would eat a couch in ten seconds flat if allowed to, so I don't think it would be EASY to incorporate a true high drive dog into the home. In fact, it'd probably be more difficult than training the dog to work, since working comes naturally to him but being a house dog doesn't...being mellow and not doing anything is kind of exactly the OPPOSITE of the dog's entire reason for being.

Having never had a REAL high drive dog before, I don't really feel it's my place to decide one way or the other...but I do tend to think that if the owner is willing to put in the effort and manage appropriately, even a dog like Riggs can be incorporated into the family...he may not ever be capable of lounging around all day watching movies, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind napping on the couch instead of in his crate/kennel/tie-out.
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Postby mnp13 » March 2nd, 2006, 1:45 pm

Like I said in the other thread, once we are on good terms and he is listening to me, he'll have more freedom. Right now he's getting plenty of exercise and work.

Right now? Yes, he would eat my couch, chair and probably my brick fireplace. :wink:

being mellow and not doing anything is kind of exactly the OPPOSITE of the dog's entire reason for being.


that is exactly it.
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Postby babyreba » March 2nd, 2006, 1:46 pm

I know so little about this subject that I don't even know what my opinion is, to be honest!

Emotionally and sentimentally I do feel like a dog should/could be both a pet and working dog, but I have so little working information on what constitutes "working dog," how that kind of dog is handled, and why, that I'm not sure what I think logically . . . does that make sense?

ETA, because I just saw Michelle's post: This isn't just about Riggs and whether that dog specifically should be a pet or not. This is about all of these dogs and what it means to own one.
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Postby DemoDick » March 2nd, 2006, 2:20 pm

I think it really depends on the dog, handler, and work in question. But these are just my opinions.

Some police dogs do interact with their human families and household in much the same manner as pets. However, this is generally done after the working relationship has been established. Also remember that Police dogs "work" for about 40 hours a week. The bond that results is much harder to compromise with "pet time" than a dog that is worked for even one hour a day.

I believe that in order to "figure out" how to build and maintain a true working relationship the handler must first divorce him or herself from the idea of the dog as a "pet" and treat the dog as an "employee". I know this may sound cold, but remember that dogs as "pets" is a relatively new concept. Up until about 200 years ago the only people who kept dogs as pets were the aristocracy. The general public kept them as working animals, if they kept them at all.

I have no problem with pets or people who keep their dogs as pets. If it makes you happy then go for it. However, I don't like to see people try to turn "pets" into working dogs. Working dogs are all about boundaries and expectations before rewards. Working dogs should earn their food, praise, and "free time". Pets get rewards for just being there. It isn't fair to take a dog that has been getting rewards without working for them and then take those "good things" away and expect him to work for them. He's been getting them for free, so why should he have to do anything now? Often the dog will wonder what he is doing wrong to suddenly be treated this way. This induces stress and can create neurosis.

On the other hand, if the dog has been taught from the beginning that he has to do something to earn his meal, praise, or any other reward, then he will accept it as the standard operating procedure and will happily work his little furry butt off.

To me, a working dog should also be a "pet", in the meaning that it's part of the family, lives in the home with the family/handler and has close bonds with the owner.


There is no closer bond than a working relationship between a dog and handler. Unsupervised house time is not really "for the dog". It's for the owner. In a working relationship, work is "for the dog". There is no happier dog than one who lives to work, and is worked often. I don't believe that most handlers can do this if they blur the line petween "pet" and "employee".

Now, understand that I'm not saying that you MUST crate or kennel your working dogs unless they are working. I'm also not saying that if you treat your working dog like a pet that he will not work. What I'm saying is that most dogs and handlers do not have the ability to maintain two distinct relationships, those being a working relationship and a pet relationship. In the end, it's not fair to the dog to confuse him by being his unconditional loving best friend in the whole world one minute and a demanding drill sergeant the next. Confusion creates conflict and stress within the dog as well as the handler.

I won't be petting, feeding, sweet talking, or rewarding Riggs in any way (except of course for leg bites). I haven't touched him or talked to him. This is not easy for me, because I love dogs and want very much to take him out and play with him. However, that play time would not be for him. It would be for me, because it is what I want. Riggs just wants to be rewarded, and right now he doesn't care where that reward comes from. Why should he work for Michelle when I will pay him for free? The way Michelle has structured the relationship now, Riggs will learn that all good things come from her, and they only come when he works for them.

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Postby babyreba » March 2nd, 2006, 3:20 pm

thanks, DD, that's a really thorough answer.
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 2nd, 2006, 3:23 pm

babyreba wrote:thanks, DD, that's a really thorough answer.


That is & makes perfect sense to me. I never really understood the relationship either. Good thing Riggs wasn't given to ME, I would have already ruined him. :)
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Postby Jesseca » March 2nd, 2006, 3:38 pm

cheekymunkee wrote:
babyreba wrote:thanks, DD, that's a really thorough answer.


That is & makes perfect sense to me. I never really understood the relationship either. Good thing Riggs wasn't given to ME, I would have already ruined him. :)

Me too. :) Thank you for explaining it so well.
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Postby bustersmama » March 2nd, 2006, 4:58 pm

Thanks for taking the time DD, for the explanation.

But now I am concerned about Buster who I was going to get into weight pull once his Xrays come back. He is an inside smushy house dog. Although he has ALWAYS worked for what he has gotten, I wonder if it is strong enough to carry over to WP.
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Postby bahamutt99 » March 2nd, 2006, 5:10 pm

Interesting topic, guys!
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Postby pocketpit » March 2nd, 2006, 6:13 pm

Working dogs are all about boundaries and expectations before rewards


I love this statement!! It's so true for a real working dog. I live with both pets and working dogs. I have two dogs right now that are able to fit into both categories.
Don't get me wrong, the working dogs are part of the household but they are not treated the same. It's not a bad thing but it's what their nature dictates and they are perfectly happy with it. My personal dogs that have been "working" dogs only are not very cuddly and don't want to interact the way the other dogs do.
Brody for instance gets housetime with and without the other dogs but it's no where near as extensive as the "pet" dogs get and he really doesn't know what to do with himself when he does. Mind you this is a puppy that was raised by someone else in a home enviornment and treated like a pet so it's not like someone hasn't tried to treat him well before. He doesn't cuddle and he's anxious and restless because he wants to do something. When he's not training he spends the vast majority of his time in the yard running non stop or playing with his boomer ball constantly. There is a reason he lives most of his time with us now instead of his other owner! Being treated like a pet and not being utilized for what he was bred for was simply not working out for both parties.

When Chase was alive he also was not treated like a pampered pet. He was part of my household and spent all of his time with me but he too was not cuddly and could not be treated like a "pet". I tried that route and it just ended creating a monster that thought he could eat anyone at anytime if the mood suited him. VERY strict boundaries were needed with him.

The Malinois in my life could never have been kept as "pets". My house would not be standing if I had treated them that way. It suffered enough as it was! They require very strict rules and handling along with a ton of mental stimulation and job to do that leaves no room for them to decide they can make up their own amusing "games". Both were raised in the house but required crating when they were not directly supervised. As they aged they did begin to mellow out and were slowly allowed more and more freedom. However they still were not able to sit still and act like a normal dog.

Brooks was a show dog and pet before she became a "working" dog. She's the supremely spoiled one of our bunch and is very much a pampered pooch. The fact that she can work and be a pet is part luck and part work on my part. I'm attempting to raise Kimber in a similar fashion.

I think it's really difficult for anyone who has not lived with a true high drive dog that designed for working to understand how they can be a part of your family, you can still have a bond, yet they are still not "pets".

Bustersmama, I wouldn't worry too much about weight pulling with Buster interfering with his couch potatoe lifestyle. There are dogs that can do both and unless you have aspirations to be the best of the best you are not likely to have problems.
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Postby JCleve86 » March 2nd, 2006, 6:51 pm

Plus you have to keep in mind that you specifically have to breed (with A LOT of dedication) for a working dog to get a working dog. Even though plenty of pit bulls enjoy wieght pull or agility or other sports, they aren't wired to NEED to do them...they just like to.

I'd compare it, in an odd sense, to an alcoholic and someone who just likes to get blitzed sometimes. The alcoholic NEEDS to drink, and is out of his mind without being drunk. The person who just likes to get drunk enjoys it, but can live without it too.
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Postby babyreba » March 2nd, 2006, 10:35 pm

So how much time do you have to work a working dog every day to keep him happy and in training shape? Do you have to vigorously work out for a couple of hours or is it mostly training and stuff that's going on to keep his mind stimulated? Both?
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Postby odnarb » March 3rd, 2006, 12:05 am

JCleve86 wrote:I tend to agree. At the same time, I could imagine a dog like Riggs would eat a couch in ten seconds flat if allowed to, so I don't think it would be EASY to incorporate a true high drive dog into the home. In fact, it'd probably be more difficult than training the dog to work, since working comes naturally to him but being a house dog doesn't...being mellow and not doing anything is kind of exactly the OPPOSITE of the dog's entire reason for being.



Not easy, but it can be done. Grant is high drive and energy for a bulldog. Harry is off the charts. Most people can't even comprehend what a spazz Harry is. He NEVER stops, and I mean NEVER. If he isn't sleeping in a crate, he's bouncing around, climbing the walls, pestering everybody, throwing toys around, or just pacing. Grant at least naps occasionally. Harry is always on the move.

A few moments in the life of Harry...

GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG! THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG! On the counter, WOO HOO!!! BITEBITEBITEBITE!
BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
Mmmmm, Garbage! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
Kitty! Kittykittykittykitty! Chase the Kitty! Kitty hiding... Grant! Brando! BITEBITEBITEBITE!
BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!


pocketpit wrote:The Malinois in my life could never have been kept as "pets". My house would not be standing if I had treated them that way. It suffered enough as it was! They require very strict rules and handling along with a ton of mental stimulation and job to do that leaves no room for them to decide they can make up their own amusing "games". Both were raised in the house but required crating when they were not directly supervised. As they aged they did begin to mellow out and were slowly allowed more and more freedom. However they still were not able to sit still and act like a normal dog.



Mellowed with age? There is hope?

Harry is my shadow and constant companion. But, he's still almost more like my loyal servant than a pampered house pet, as the bulldogs are.

But still, Brando is the only one that has true "just a pet" status. Both Harry and Grant have to be crated when not directly supervised, as they tend to think of themselves as members of a demolition crew.

Grant's latest attempt at interior decorating...

Image

:explode:
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Postby pocketpit » March 3rd, 2006, 1:08 am

odnarb wrote:
Mellowed with age? There is hope?


Yes there is hope but it's still a long way off for you! :P I sold Brody when he was two and he was always the more mellow of the duo. Ellery on the other hand was the one on crack and she began to really grow on me around 4-5 years of age. She still was on crack but I began to rethink my policy of never owning another Mal again! And she and I really had a good working relationship.

You have me cracking up with Harry's rendition of "A day in the life of a Malinois". I think you forgot to add... tear curtains off of wall, find weakness in fence, bounce up and down in front of window, jump through windo, jump on garage roof, carry muliple dremmel batteries in mouth, finger paint with poop, pull things into my crate and destroy them, dump water bucket over and tote around, shove food bowl around and bark at it incessantly, eat car seat, eat 2nd car seat,......
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Postby CinderDee » March 3rd, 2006, 1:14 am

GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG! THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG! On the counter, WOO HOO!!! BITEBITEBITEBITE!
BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
Mmmmm, Garbage! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!
Kitty! Kittykittykittykitty! Chase the Kitty! Kitty hiding... Grant! Brando! BITEBITEBITEBITE!
BITEBITEBITEBITE! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW
THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! Inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside, inside,
outside, THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG! THROW THE KONG!THROW THE
KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG!THROW THE KONG


OMG! :mindblowing:

Very interesting thread everyone!
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Postby DemoDick » March 3rd, 2006, 2:01 pm

Working dogs are all about boundaries and expectations before rewards



I love this statement!!


I have to thank Chris for reiterating it to me at Frostbite this weekend. It's something that I know, but haven't really been living up to recently. It shows. Connor hauled me around the field like a sack of potatoes during obedience because I have been letting him dictate training. I'm addressing this now and expecting to see a major improvement in our relationship and the resulting work.

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Postby Hoyden » March 3rd, 2006, 2:02 pm

Thanks for that explanation Demo - can I post it in my journal for people who say I am a mean doggie mom for making Birdie work for everything?

I wonder if the pet to working dog transition can be confusing to some dogs?

I was bit by a GDS when I was 6 or 7 years old. He was a guard dog on base in Japan. I knew the dog because I used to go to the kennels to "help" since we couldn't have a dog. The MP's would find something for me to do like wash bowls, scoop out food, fold the towels that didn't put me in direct contact with the dogs, then when I was done helping I would get to play with one of the dogs or help brush the dog while supervised.

Long story short - this dog bit me while he was off duty. I had scars on top of my head and on my throat. The incident was reviewed by the command and it was determined that I had done nothing wrong and the dog was removed from duty because it was an unprovoked bite.

The handler brought me back to the kennels a few weeks later, with my dad's permission, to re-introduce me to dogs to make sure I wouldn't be afraid of dogs.

But in the back of my head, I have always wondered if I did anything wrong to cause the dog to bite me. After reading Demo's explanation, I wonder if the transition from pet to working dog and back again isn't too much for certain dogs?
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Postby valliesong » March 5th, 2006, 1:54 am

i understand that a true working dog has a lot of drive and NEEDS a job. (that is why i'd never have one.)

my question is: how does NFL/NILIF for a pet dog fit into this? i tend to think that most dogs benefit from having to work at least a little bit for everything in life. i know the "work" isn't nearly to the same degree, of course.

i am certainly guilty of not following my own advice at times, but my own dogs (minus the foxhound :oops: ) always have to obey commands to get their dinner. roscoe is also trained to sit and ask to get up on the bed, and i am also trying to convince myself to make the dogs sit or complete some other command before being petted, among other things.

where is the line to divide working dog from pet? i know there are certainly extremes to both ends, but i think that the average dog is best being treated somewhere in the middle. after all, most dogs have working dogs somewhere in their background. wouldn't giving all dogs a "job" to do help solve a lot of behavioral issues, even if that job is simply to sit at the door before being left out?
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