5 Odd Jobs Dogs Have Been Trained To Do

There’s a reason dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend.” Throughout the centuries, they have not only provided humans with companionship, they’ve assisted us in a variety of amazing ways. Most of us are familiar with many of the more common jobs dogs have been trained to do, like herding, therapy work, search and rescue, police work and military service. But it doesn’t stop there. Check out these unusual – and incredible – ways that canines lend a helping paw to humans, other animals and the planet.

Bird Deterrent

During taxi and take off, birds and other wildlife can cause big problems for planes. In fact, each year, bird strikes cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, have the potential to endanger human lives and may contribute to the decline of certain avian species. For years, airports have looked for ways to deter birds, with varying degrees of success. But now, a few have begun using dogs to chase the birds away. Not only does it help keep both humans and wildlife safe, it’s great fun for these highly trained canines.

Bee Protector

In the last ten years or so, the rapid decline in honeybee population has been of great concern since approximately 1/3 of our food relies on bee pollination to survive. While the problem has many facets, disease and infection have contributed to the decline. Enter bee-sniffing dogs! Actually, the dogs don’t sniff the bees themselves. They’re trained to detect American foulbrood, a highly contagious bacterial infection which can quickly kill off entire colonies. Thanks to these incredible pups, the survival of honeybees, beekeepers and our food supply looks brighter. 


Wildlife Conservationist

At Working Dogs for Conservation, rescue dogs are getting the chance to save other animals all across the world. The organization trains and uses dogs to track the movements of endangered animals, detect invasive species, and slow illegal poaching and smuggling. The dogs make it easier to collect data, which in turn makes the work more cost-effective and efficient. The organization has traveled to five continents and even does marine work with the help of a dog named Tucker, who is helping save Orca whales by detecting their feces in the water!

Truffle Tracker

Truffles, that highly prized and delicious delicacy, can only be found in a small number of places like Italy and Croatia. And because they can’t be cultivated,  teams of truffle hunters are required to seek them out in forests and fields where they grow. Traditionally, female pigs are used for this task but there’s a problem: Pigs love to eat truffles! So these days, some dogs are giving pigs a run for their money. One breed in particular, the Lagotta Romagnolo, is well-known for its truffle-hunting abilities. Originally developed as a retriever or gun dog, this Italian breed is now more frequently trained to track down truffles.

Farm Worker

In recent years, assistance dogs have become familiar sights in homes and businesses. But thanks to P.H.A.R.M. Dogs USA, they’re starting to lend a paw on farms as well. The mission of the nonprofit organization is to help ensure disabled farmers can stay on their land by training dogs to help. The dogs, primarily herding breeds such as Border Collies and Labs, the perform tasks such as herding animals, carrying buckets and other tools, retrieving dropped items and opening and closing gates. Based in Missouri, the organization provides dogs and services to farmers in other states as well. Your turn: Have you ever trained a dog to do an unusual job? Tell us about it in the comments!

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