Dogs as tools

HandyMacSeptember 1, 2007

Over on the Pets forum a member asked about pet laws and a couple of us got sidetracked about using dogs as something other than pets.

As I understand the history of dogs and mankind, dogs were first used as helpers to men. Hunting, mainly. Then the idea of having the dogs guard the camp/herd/flock/etc. got popular. Then dogs began guarding buildings or property. At thye same time---especially in the Far East, dogs were being raised as objects of status---the Emperor had a certain variety which no mere mortal could own. That may have started the dog for pets movement. Dogs who had no job, save be a pet.

However, seems to me the majority of breeds started out as working dogs---or tools to help people.

Now, due to the changes in the workplace and food raising, people seldom need a working dog---save for protection or assistance.

The point was offered that most folks do not have enough possessions worth enough money(museum quality was the term) to necessitate having a guard dog. Weapons were also mentioned---that mine would wind up being stolen and in the hands of criminals.

Those scenarios could happen. But, in the twenty five years I have kept dogs who watch and guard my house---and the last decade and a half has been in a neighborhood with accelerating crimes against property instances----my house has never been a statistic. Three neighbors---beside or behind my place neighbors---have had breakins or vandalism.

I own one gun. I am keeping five guns for a relative to minimize a problem. We have several collectables we prize---irreplaceable items. But the major reason i have so much 'protection' is that I am primarily responsible for my family's safety and my properties safety. Everything I do to protect them is legal and moral. I don't know if I would shoot an intruder---depends on the situation. I have trained in combat shooting situations and know the dangers of shooting in the dark or around panicked family members. One method of minimizing those dangers is to have a dog(s) who will ignore a family member and attack or corner an intruder----so I have more time to consider any action and to safely acquire a target and be sure that target is not a family member. The dogs will also attack even if a family member is taken as a shield---creating a multiple division of attention for the intruder. That is my rational for having dogs as part of my home defense program.

Now, when those dogs are not corraling a robber/home invader, they don't have much to do. So, they also function as family pets. We play ball, tug of war, simply keep each other company I scratch, they lick, and we become more closely attuned to each other.

One of my current dogs was uncontrolled when I got him. He did not even act like a dog. Now, he plays with the other dog, plays ball(He had no idea of how to play before), is in much better physical shape---since I can now take him to the vet and the vet can actually touch him---and has ceased most of his antisocial behavior. He still has a nagging dog aggression issue when in the yard---out of the yard on leash he is fine---and he hates cats. But those things are curable and getting to be less of a problem.

So, using dogs as a tool is nothing of which to be ashamed, nor is it wrong.

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No but tying your dog up to a tree in the yard and getting a scary pit bull or one of those to ward off impeding trespassers is not a good job for a dog to have. Nor does it alone satisfy the mental and physical exercise needs of the dog like other jobs such as herding, hunting and therapy work.

In fact it's a terrible life for a dog and it speaks volumes for the owner. Mainly that they are yellow bellied chicken livers and need to have a big angry dog to keep others away.

Well handymac before you go getting all upset about my comments, remember you said you priotitize the needs of your dog? I'll take your word for it. You also said your dog is a a guard dog first and a family dog second. But if you're meeting the needs of the dog then I would argue that your dog is a family dog first and a guard dog second. Thus you are not a target of my remarks then are you?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 6:57PM
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Hmmm, I guess your intention for the definition of a chicken liver is different than what mine would be. It seems to me that with your definition, a K-9 officer would be a chicken liver----since the dogs used for K-9 work are all dogs with other breed instinctive jobs and trained to attack humans on command. But, those same dogs are often taken home to the officers family at the end of the shift and become pets.

My point is that dogs need a job---and they need to be treated like they would be treated in the wild by the pack. Dogs need rules(from the pack leader), a purpose(job), and affection from the other members of the pack. Any dog that does not get those three things can become an unhappy dog. And virtually all dogs that are treated like they were human are not balanced dogs.

I have dogs for several reasons. Early in my life I wanted companionship. Later, I wanted my sons to learn to value dogs and learn to treat them well. Both my sons have families and both have companion dogs. I have found the need in the last 20 years to have dogs(I always have two) that are a visible sign to people who do not respect the privacy of others that they need to respect my privacy.

But, I still enjoy the companionship a dog offers. So, I train my dogs to be a deterrent and a pet. If you were to come to my neighborhood and walk by my yard, my dogs would bark once or twice. Kind of an announcement. If you ignore them, they ignore you and you continue on your way. If you saw me and stopped to talk, the dogs would bark more aggressively, until I stopped them. If I invited you in, I would tell you to ignore the dogs until they indicated it is ok to acknowledge them. That procedure is strictly from pack behavior---the way dogs greet any stranger. Once they have greeted you, then you can talk to them, pet them, and play with them. This procedure works even if people are afraid of the dogs---it has been tested many times.

My whole point is that dogs need to be treated like dogs. Humans can feed them, take them to the vet, give them fluffy beds on which to sleep, and lavish love---and be hurting the dog mentally.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 9:17AM
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"But, those same dogs are often taken home to the officers family at the end of the shift and become pets."

Are you going to argue with yourself the whole time or do you want to involve me too? Maybe you haven't noticed this but the police aren't chaining dogs to trees and having them bark at people that get too close.

"My point is that dogs need a job"

And having them spend all day in the yard barking at people that get too close is supposed to be a good job? Because it's not a good job. There is no mental or physical stimulation involved and it actually requires some degree of anti-socialization. Gosh is that even a word?! So they can distrust everyone they haven't seen before.

"I have found the need in the last 20 years to have dogs(I always have two) that are a visible sign to people who do not respect the privacy of others that they need to respect my privacy."

Ok ok, so this is really all about you. Don't you think? Not really about the needs of the dogs is it? You don't want people on YOUR territory or playing with your toys. So you get a big mean dog to scare them away. Way to get along in a civilized society. This isn't 12th century mongolia you know.

"This procedure works even if people are afraid of the dogs---it has been tested many times."

It really and truly sounds like you have anti-socialization training down to an absolute science.
And what if the dogs just don't like to bark. Then what? What if they get used to people coming close to the property and they just sit and watch? Or what if they wag their tail and walk over to the stranger to get petted and give kisses? What then do you do with a broken tool?

Handy mac, with all due respect of course, I don't see how having barking, standoffish and suspicious dogs is something to brag about. I've busted my butt to get my dogs to love all people and expect everyone and everyhting to hand them cookies for being sweet. It requires a regular ongoing maintenance involving exposure to people of all shapes and sizes, have them handle the dogs and lots of unusual positive experiences. I like to take my dogs into crowded public places and have them be confident, quiet and well mannered. I don't want to chance it that they will be aggressive with anyone. If something is out of place or if somebody is outside in the middle of the night, you better believe they will bark. The rest of time time they are happy dogs, not stressing over every person that walks by.

As for our jobs, the boys got off early today after an hour and a half of playing fetch, working on obedience, heeling for the duration of a long walk, chasing one another around after a bath, and polishing out the insides of their kongs. Now they're passed out on the floor in the safe confines of the house. Today they definitely earned their keep.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 1:18PM
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Something to think about. . .

Here is a link that might be useful: Outside Dogs

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 5:56PM
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My dogs bark as a warning----they do not bark all day----or even excessively. And where did I say standoffish or suspicious----or for that matter tied to a tree?

You say you want to debate, and then sort of agree with me, I guess. Or assume things I have not said nor intimated.

Now, my dogs are only outside when myself, my wife, or my grandchildren are with them----they are not outside unsupervised. That means I take them out four to five times a day---exercising them by playing 'Fetch', Tug, or a kind of touseling tag the dogs and I invented, or supervising interactive play between the two. Since they are both unneutered males, I supervise that kind of play closely.

When we are at work, both dogs are inside, nice and comfy in the AC or heat in the winter---with lots of water and toys.

I rescued an out of control 70 pound dog that was going to be euthanized as too dangerous to be around humans and have created a dog who now is happy and secure. I got a puppy at 6 weeks that was misrepresented as a certain mix that turned out to be part pitbull instead---and am raising him instead of dumping him in a shelter. I did not intend, nor do I now have, vicious dogs. If I invite you into my house/yard, the dogs will also welcome you. Or, leave you alone.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 5:48AM
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Sounds to me like, overall, you are a great dog owner. You do, however, need to neuter your dogs: this will prevent eventual medical problems, and will also cut down on any aggression they exhibit. As dogs get older, they can lose bite-inhibition--for example--when they are in arthritic pain and a child pulls on them. Neutering them now will help to alleviate any possible reversion to instinctual aggression and/or self-protectionism over and above training.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 3:57PM
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Yeah, I think, handymac, you came across like most dog owners in my area, that tie out their dogs in an infenced yard (or not tie them at all!) They do not supervise them or appear to ever spend any time with the dogs whatsoever. They want their dogs to look mean to scare away the boogieman, I guess. Their dogs are outside in every weather extreme and when they go out of town, the dog stays there all alone.

But in reality it sounds like you care about your dogs and contrary to what you say, it sounds like your dog is not merely a tool but instead sometimes a tool. Debate over, I'm going home.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 9:19AM
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My dog is a tool. By his own choice. He prefers to spend time watching out the window, looking for anything that might harm us. We've never once tried to teach him to warn us that someone is on the property, or lingering too long on the property. He's never outside alone. He wants to protect us.

He investigates every noise he hears that is abnormal. He's always watching out the window, even when getting love. And he sleeps in the loft, where he's able to see us in our room, and the street out front.

He's got different barks for play, "I'm going to pee myself and I don't know where you are!!!", "Oh, someones here!" and "Someone whos definately not supposed to be here and doing what they're doing, is here!"

I think some dogs just NEED jobs. This, is his own job that he has given himself. A dog intended for pet, has appointend himself family guardian. And I am okay with that. He still gets everything a plain old pet would get. The loves, the hugs, the toys, the walks, everything. But we get the added security from him, that we might not from a poodle.

I can safely and confidently say that I would trust my pitbull to protect a child, before he'd hurt one.

My beagle has given herself the job of "Cat Crusader."The cats abide by her laws, and her laws are based on when we decide they are being bad or good. We have never once taught or encouraged her to go after the cats and chase them out of the room when we've instructed them to get down/out/off of something. But she does.

I think you'll find most dogs give themselves jobs and make themselves tools, even if its something of no use to you or something you'd rather they didn't do. Or something silly like chasing the kitties away when they're misbehaving. They need a purpose, and if you don't give them one, they'll find their own.

So whether you get a dog to be a tool, I bet if everyone here picked apart their dogs behaviour and routine, you'd be able to find something they do on a regular basis that might be seen as helpful, or job like.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 3:58PM
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Ok, I'm really confused here. It's like querky is responding to a completely different OP. Is there a computer glitch and I'm reading something completely different?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 2:26PM
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QQ is probably talking in the 3rd person again. OP came across as a dog neglector but in reality is more like a dog neglector-poseur. So the debate has collapsed when handymac admitted to being a responsible dog owner.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 12:37PM
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That's just it, I did not read this "dog neglector vibe" you seem to have assumed. He was simply stating that his dogs had a job(protection/alarm) other than just being the family pet. That does not automatically equate into dog neglector. Are you prejudiced against people who want dogs to be protective? Is that why you read so much into the OP's statement that wasn't there? Would you have reacted the same if he had said that the dog was there for assistance? It's very dangerous to make assumptions. I have a dog who is my companion but he's also the best alarm system I have every had. In fact I wish I'd had him when my kids were teens. They never would have been able to sneak out. LOL

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 4:37PM
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Gee, was not aware I gave birth to the discussion and then killed it---lol.

Some folks seem to think dogs should be treated as people---I happen to know from experience that is one of the worst things humans can do to an animal. A lot of people are not stable humans, much less caring for an animal to boot.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 6:54PM
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Bluebarby- read the thread in it's entirity and it might also help to read some other thread that this stemmed from in the pets forum but I forgot which thread that was. Basically handymac was saying they have an outdoor dog that stays outside all the time and its job was to bark at people that got close to the property. As it turns out handymac supplements this with real mental and physical stimulation, only allows the dog outdoors when supervised and is not chained up as previously thought. So what are we debating here? Handymac says give your dog a job to do, I agree. Handymac said their dogs job is to stay outside and bark at would-be intruders. I argue that is not a job but instead what my county refers to as a nuisance animal. Handymac agreed and said that's not really what they do. A debate is where two or more people disagree on something and present evidence and argue why they are right. You can't have a debate if everyone agrees with each other.

So there, that's it in a nutshell.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 1:35PM
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QQ: I did read the whole thread, at least this one. Now don't take offense but is English your second language? Everything you are claiming he states actually only you stated. It's one of those instances where you're reading between the lines, things that haven't been said, at least on this thread.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 2:55PM
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I no longer have dogs, but I have always considered my dogs as both tools and pets. Except for a Collie, all of our dogs had a purpose as either working or hunting animals. The Jack Russels were used to hunt ground hogs, coon and other vermin for sport and to keep the population under control. The hounds were for coon, fox and rabbit hunting for both competition and fur harvest. The English Shepherd was used on cattle. As well bred animals they also provided a means of income from the sale of pups and stud fees. Dogs, as well as other species of animals can serve as both a tool and a pet. The same animals can also serve as warning that something is amiss on the property. All of our dogs were maintained in kennels outside, some tied and some in raised kennels. I feel their care and well being was always met, they were my friends as well as tools.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 5:30PM
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blue barby yes english is my second language. I must be really dumb so I won't bother to reply anymore.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 6:41PM
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