When some people learn that our Companion Dogs must be certified in order to patrol with us, they ask us what we know about other kinds of jobs for "working dogs" and how dogs can be trained and possibly certified to do those jobs. While we are not experts, and while this volunteer group does not include dogs in these jobs, we will use this page to assist you as best we can.
Jobs in which dogs are employed include:
An assistance dog or service dog has been trained to assist a disabled person. Assistance or service animals (they need not be dogs) include those trained to assist persons with impaired vision (these are often called "guide dogs"); to assist persons with impaired hearing (these are often called "hearing dogs" or "signal dogs"); and to assist persons who have impaired mobility, who are subject to seizures, or who have psychological impairments.
It is our understanding that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a disabled person in the United States has the right to be accompanied by his or her assistance or service dog if all three of the following are true:
It is our understanding that no license or certification is required to qualify a dog as an assistance or service dog, but the dog must have an actual skill to assist the disabled person (not just make the disabled person feel happier or more comfortable) and should certainly be well-behaved.
Nevertheless, there are many laws, federal, state, and local, that affect the rights and privileges of the disabled and govern their service animals. A number of states have programs to certify service animals. Laws are always being interpreted and reinterpreted in courts of law.
A therapy dog has been trained to comfort and reassure persons. Therapy dogs work in such places as hospitals, residential adult and juvenile care facilities, special education programs, and prisons. They may also visit survivors and the families of victims of major accidents and disasters. They are permitted to work wherever they are invited.
A rescue dog has been trained to work with a Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer or professional in locating missing persons and identifying items belonging to a given person. Rescue dogs may have very specific skills, such as following the route taken by a specific person, locating any person within a given search area, or locating victims in a snow avalanche.
A police work dog has been trained to work with law enforcement professionals in tasks that may include search and rescue, public relations, crowd control, drug detection, subject apprehension, and personnel protection.
You may wish to review the following resources (and follow links from them) for more information about jobs for dogs: