The dog at the service of man
Since man domesticated the dog, he began by using his faculties so that the animal came to his aid. Work, rescue, tracking, assistance, and the dog have become indispensable aid for some people.
Rescue and tracking dog
For rescue and tracking, the dog uses its exceptional qualities of flair whatever the conditions. It becomes an indispensable ally for certain professions.
Avalanches are always to be feared in the mountains and if unfortunately, we need to search for men under the snow, the dog’s flair and speed are mandatory. A dog explores a territory 10 times faster than 10 people combined. This speed is its main asset in the mountains.
It is noticed that the dogs adapt perfectly to life in the mountains, to the snow, and the cold.
We mainly use German Shepherds or Malinois, who are trained by the canine teams of the gendarmerie or the police most often.
Sea rescue dog
In some regions, the dog is used as an auxiliary for lifeguards. The most used breed is the Newfoundland, appreciated for its strength, tenacity, endurance, and calm. For this kind of rescue, the dog is an aid: the rescuer controls the victim and is helped by the dog to tow it.
It was in Great Britain during the bombings of the Second World War that the dog was used for the first time to search for people in the rubble. It was after the war that training schools for search dogs were created in several countries. The advantage of the dog is that he can work in all situations: all-terrain, day and night, in the middle of machinery… He can find people, whether they are alive or dead. It is an indispensable partner for research under the rubble and there are plenty of examples where it has shown its effectiveness. The necessary qualities are a good sense of smell, calm, energy, and a taste for play is also essential when learning.
This consists of searching for individuals using olfactory clues: objects, clothing, traces… The animal will look for the different clues to discover the direction taken by the missing person. The qualities of the smell of course, but also concentration and calm are essential to having a good track dog. Complicity with the master is important because he must know how to listen to his dog, be attentive to his reactions and interpret them without influencing him.
Many gendarmeries or police teams use specially trained canine brigades.
In the army or the gendarmerie, the dog is used in the search for explosives, and drugs. We mainly train dogs of the Belgian Malinois breed for their dynamism, their flexibility, and their ability to learn. They are used during interventions on suspicious premises, but also at airports or customs. Dogs are specialized in certain searches, we will not use the same animal to search for drugs or a bomb.
The National Gendarmerie is the entity with the most canine brigade, with more than 400 teams (1 dog – 1 handler) in different categories: search for people, search for explosives, search for drugs, patrol. The animals are educated in a specific training center and work their entire career with their master, until the age of 8 or 10 years in general. It must be understood that this work is not burdensome for the animal because it takes it as a game, and it is this aptitude for play that is used for its education.
The work of these dogs, which in other regions or at other times were essential allies of man, is currently on the way to extinction. Their abilities are now diverted for leisure and relaxation.
Pastoral breeding has almost disappeared in France, dogs are only very little used as a help to shepherds. Their usefulness was nevertheless important: they were used to group the animals and to guide the herds towards the sheepfolds, the pastures, during transhumance…
Today there are competitions for sheepdogs. It is a discipline that requires great obedience on the part of the dog and real complicity with the master. The competitions consist of bringing together a herd (sheep, geese, etc.) in a limited time, directing them to specific places, and isolating certain animals. They are open to all breeds, but the quintessential herding dog is the Border Collie.
If in some regions of the world, sled dogs are essential to ensure the movement of certain populations, in France, they are mainly used for leisure purposes. There are more and more dog sledding clubs in the mountains that offer rides and discoveries at a different pace.
It is the dogs of Husky or Malamute breeds that are used.
Still used, the dog’s job is to be a security assistant for the master. The dog will make it possible to hold certain individuals in respect, alert the master to the presence of undesirable people, and guard a place, vehicle, or object.
The breeds used are those of rather an impressive size but are varied: Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Beauceron, Malinois…
For some people, deprived of part of their physical faculties, the dog is an indispensable companion, present at all times. Some associations support the education of dogs to teach them the gestures of helping their master, those that they cannot do alone.
We choose calm and obedient breeds, for which learning is fast, these are most often Labradors, German Shepherds, or Goldens Retrievers.
The animals are educated by following several phases: education in a host family until the age of about 1 1/2 years (obedience, socialization), then a passage to “school”, where they are taught daily the necessary orders for their future master; about fifty orders are thus instilled in him. Finally, he gets to know his master and adapts to his more specific needs.
Disabled assistance dog
The future master receives his dog around the age of about 2 years. It is important to have a good understanding and a good understanding between the dog and the master. For this, the disabled person, before receiving his dog, participates in a course of about 2 weeks during which he learns to take care of the dog, to give him orders. An examination is planned at the end so that the animal and the master can leave in the best conditions.
Dogs can respond to dozens of commands: pick up objects, bring the phone, turn on the light, open doors or cupboards… It is a precious help in everyday life but also in contact. social because the animal is often an aid in contact with others.
The dog, after learning the basic obedience commands and getting used to wearing his harness, must be trained to avoid obstacles, point them out to his master, and guide him whatever the situation. The dog is first educated by an instructor but very quickly the education will be done in the company of his future master who must also be “educated” to let himself be guided by his animal. This training lasts about 4 months, then the master and his dog can face everyday life together.
Assistance dog for the hearing impaired
Less developed than the previous ones, animal assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing is yet again a great way to get out of the isolation into which disability can plunge.
The dog must learn to react to certain noises to warn his master, but also to understand commands by gestures.
Whatever help it brings, the animal is also a social aid, which helps to break with the loneliness or isolation that the handicap can cause.
Several associations exist in France (ANECAH, HandiChien, CESECAH…), but the number of entrusted dogs is unfortunately too low because their education costs time and money. The education of such dogs costs approximately 15 to 20,000 euros, this corresponds to the costs of breeding, purchase of breeding animals, projections, food, veterinary costs, pre-education in foster families, salaries and expenses of educators, adaptation, training, accommodation of the future master during his internship, as well as the monitoring of the dog throughout his life, and they are given free of charge to people with disabilities.