Dog Training, What is the Difference Between Working and Pet Dogs?

by Mary Haight on March 30, 2012

An Australian Cattle Dog herding merino sheep ...

An Australian Cattle Dog herding merino sheep at Cambden, NSW. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dog training for sport and competition should not be limited to working dogs. Companion dogs need to experience their own innate talents.  Have you seen the YouTube video with the dog who herds chairs when the family is out? Maybe you have been on the receiving end of a dog who is really smart and learns how to open the refrigerator door, or worse, the front door. Dog training for sport and competition helps channel these behaviors and energy in a positive way, engaging the dog’s natural drives, and changing his behaviors at home.

Dog training exercises your dog’s brain, offering a quality of life much different, more goal-oriented from free-wheeling it around at the dog park. Training actually makes high energy dogs more tired than that romp will – trying to figure out what is being asked and responding successfully is a workout. There’s no difference between the needs of a working dog and a pet dog in terms of allowing them to discover and use their natural gifts. There are many sports and games available for all types of dogs like rallys, dock diving, scenting competitions – you get the idea.

When you find yourself with a behavior problem, your dog can be telling you he needs an outlet that will satisfy his instinctual drives. You might not have a pronounced problem at home, but it’s smart to think about training your puppy or dog earlier rather than later. It takes much less time and effort to start off on the right foot right away. Training is not only a gift to dogs to do work they were bred to do, it’s a gift to you to understand and gain a deeper appreciation of the special talents that belong to particular dog breeds.

Kelly Gorman Dunbar, Animal Cafe’s Dog Training Correspondent, spoke with San Francisco trainer Sandra Mannion about dogs who find themselves in trouble due to their natural behavioral inclinations. While owners often think in terms of getting rid of a behavior, like escaping, jumping on or herding people, behavior, according to this interesting discussion, is something to be directed in such a way that produces a positive outcome.  Behavior and energy can’t be suppressed. If this approach is applied, what is suppressed artificially will often come out in unexpected, undesired ways.

To hear more on training companion dogs for sport and competition head over to Animal Cafe!

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16 comments
@jennylmackinnon
@jennylmackinnon

Thanks for great post. We are Australians and have a cattle dog X. She is sooo smart. But when bored, look out! And given that they are designed to travel up to 120km per day, they cannot just be satisfied with exercise. In that respect you are right. Actually, in all respects...

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Thanks Tammy! And I'm sending you an email now.

Tammy Barker
Tammy Barker

Hi, this is a great post! I work for Natura Pet Products, and I’d like to invite you to participate in a Natura-related opportunity taking place in May. In order to share the details, I need for you to send me an email that gives me permission to email you back. If you would like to know more about the opportunity, please email me at barker.tl@pg.com. Thank you! Tammy

Alex Chris
Alex Chris

Nicepost..Dogs are among the most clever animals and the more your train their brain the more intelligent they become...

Lissie
Lissie

Yup I do think some dogs are smarter than their owners - but its the dog that cops the consequences just because they are bored, on unsure of their pack order. Mind you my old lab never bothered with any of this training nonsense - he was too bloody lazy to be bothered with fetch etc !

@browndogcbr
@browndogcbr

Hi Y'all, Great point. I'm a retriever and enjoy helping around the house and yard as well as using my training to locate birds for my Human to photograph. Retrieving chores and training time with bumpers helps me stay a happy camper. Just hopped over to catch up with your happenings and say hello! Have fun this weekend! Y'all come by now, Hawk aka BrownDog

collars-4-dogs
collars-4-dogs

Yes, please help spread the word... dogs DO need mental challenges, besides ways to drain their physical energy.

rumpydog
rumpydog

I wish I was in a position to provide my dogs such a outlet.

Kimberly Gauthier
Kimberly Gauthier

We have Cattle Dog mix litter mates. They're smart and very fun and whenever they act out it's a message for us and we pay attention. Not only did we incorporate training at a young age, we also have play dates, long walks, hikes, and vacation trips. We've been rewarded with great dogs! I love your post and appreciate you sharing what you know about dogs. Kimberly

Pamela
Pamela

This is such a good reminder. So many people think they can bring a dog into their home and expect him to fit into their lives as if he's a little human. The happiest dogs are those with a job--even if the job is fetching socks for the laundry. :) BTW, the pop up ad in the bottom right side of your screen? Cesar Millan's Training and Dog Pack Behavior New Study. Demonstrates the weakness of contextual ads, huh?

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Cattle dogs are something - so smart, curious, eager and in need of total engagement,.mind and body =) Thanks for underscoring the point of this post with your comment, Jenny.

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Some dogs seem almost insulted that you think they are stupid enough to go fetch a ball for you, LOL! I've seen that look before - thanks for sharing!

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Thanks for popping in and explaining what your work is like - I'm so glad to hear you are having a fun and full dog life, Hawk! It's a good idea to plant these ideas in people's heads, so all those couch potato dogs might get a chance to stay young, at least mentally, longer. Happy weekend to you =)'

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Thanks for sharing your experience, Kimberly. It can't be over-emphasized - dogs are a species apart with their own needs and drives. It is up to us to help them lead a fulfilling canine life, and there are so many opportunities to do that without having to spend a lot of money. Thanks for pointing out several activities that don't cost anything - hiking in particular is underscored by a piece in the Sunday NYT today =)

MaryHaight
MaryHaight

Ha - fetching socks...that might even up the count with those snatched by the dryer sock-eating gnomes! Yep, that pop-up feature is less of a feature than a pain since it really isn't very smart, poor thing! Thanks for the reminder!

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