Helping your dog find a purpose in life

All dog breeds were originally bred to work in some capacity, so it's important to help all dogs find their purposes in life.

While the American Kennel Club (AKC) identifies breeds such as the Chinook, Rottweiler and Saint Bernard as working dogs, it's true that all dogs work, whether it's in the field, on your lap or guarding your home. Canine psychologists agree that dogs are bred to do something that will expend their physical and mental energy and use the special skills of their breed. According to canine behaviorist Deb Duncan, dogs worked to survive before they were domesticated, forming packs with the mission of protecting each other and their territory. Today, we've come to a working agreement with our pets about just how to help each other. The AKC divides breeds into six groups: working, herding, sporting, non-sporting, hound and toy. And all have a unique purpose in life.

A good place to start

The working group leads the Dogs with jobs parade, mainly because they have been working hard for centuries pulling sleds, guarding property and rescuing travelers. According to the AKC, dogs in the working group are intelligent, quick to learn and capable animals that make good companions, although their size and strength can preclude their suitability as pets for some families. If your pet is from the working group, however, you need to give him or her a job and a purpose. Properly trained, working dogs can make intimidating watch dogs or solicitous and attentive Nanas.

A member of the herding group is by definition a working dog with an easily identified skill: the innate ability to control the movement of other animals. What's amazing is that working dogs don't lord over cows and sheep because of their size. The low-slung Corgi, perhaps one foot tall at the shoulders, can drive a herd of cows to pasture just by leaping and nipping at their heels. Most herding dogs are pets and never have the pleasure of bossing cows around, but their gentle instincts allow them to herd owners, especially children. Because they respond so well to dog training, they really are great additions to the family.

All dogs are working dogs

No matter what the breed, all dogs do have a true calling. Maybe your pet is a Maltese - tiny, fearless and brave. Impish and energetic, your little guy's purpose may simply be to make you happy. No matter what the breed, however, you can help your dogs find the activities, protective or playful, that give them a reason to be - and to be happy.

This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.