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About Our Dogs (Text Version)

About Our Dogs (Text Version)

About Our Dogs: Header

What is a Working Dog?

You ask, “What is a working dog?” “Is it a dog that does more than hang out at the house all day and bark at the mailman?” “Is it a dog that gets in the car like Mom and Dad and goes to the office?” Well, sort of...

Working dogs are amazing animals specially trained to protect people and to make life easier for them. Some working dogs act as eyes for blind people, ears for the hearing impaired, and helpers for the physically challenged. They also protect sheep from wolves, and they can help a police officer catch criminals. These special dogs can find victims of disasters under lots of rubble, and they can find people lost in the woods. They are awesome.

The FBI has some very special working dogs. Hannah is one of the newest additions to the group of Working Dogs in the FBI. Her job is to sniff out bombs, explosion debris, firearms, and ammunition. Other FBI Working Dogs find drugs, money, and people. Just how do they do it?

Dogs instinctively know how to find things. A Handler, the dog’s human partner, teaches the dog what to search for. A dog can use all of his/her senses, like hearing, seeing, and smelling to find a specific person or thing. To do this, though, requires a lot of training. They are always practicing, but the dogs love it because it is what they were born to do.

At the FBI, the Handler is usually an FBI Special Agent or an FBI Police Officer. The Agent or Police Officer and his or her dog work together as a team. The Handler teaches the dog to find very specific things in all kinds of weird places like in a tree, in the woods or a field, in a suitcase, in a car, on a street, in a closet, under rubble, or in the water or under snow.

Did You Know?

  • We all give off cells, gasses, and vapors. These cells and odors act like smoke. So dogs, who have 44 times the sniffing power of humans, can pick up the scent and follow it.
  • A much larger part of a dog’s brain is devoted to processing smells than yours.
  • Dogs can be trained to ride in anything from helicopters, trucks, and boats to sling harnesses and chair lifts.
  • Some search dogs locate people buried under the snow of avalanches, search for evidence in crime, and find people in the water.
  • Cloudy days, mornings, and evenings are the best times for dogs to search.
  • Dogs navigate in brush better than humans.
  • Depending on the conditions, dogs can pick up a scent up to a half a mile away!

Service and Therapy Dogs

About Our Dogs: Service and Therapy DogsA service dog is placed with an individual who has a physical disability and can work with his or her dog independently. Service dogs perform practical tasks, such as opening and closing doors for their handlers, turning light switches on and off, picking up things from the floor, pulling a wheelchair, and even carrying a purse or a bag. In addition, service dogs can be specifically trained to retrieve objects such as a phone! Service dogs can even be trained to take off a handler’s socks or coat. Service dogs are certified (tested) to prove that they can behave well in public and can follow instructions.

Therapy dogs have a great job. They provide comfort and joy to people in many different situations. Some therapy dogs visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, children’s shelters, and many other places. Their job is to give and receive love. They get lots of hugs and pats, give kisses, and just make people happy. Some therapy dogs, like the one in the FBI, even visit people going through something bad or scary to help them feel better. Therapy dogs have to pass a lot of tests to prove that they will listen to their handlers, that they have good manners and obedience in public, and that they love people! The FBI Office for Victim Assistance started using a therapy dog for the first time in March 2009. It is a very exciting program that has been incredibly successful!

Narcotics Detection Dogs

Like most of the FBI’s working dogs, narcotics detection dogs have great sniffers! They use their excellent sense of smell to find drugs that the bad guys have hidden. They search cars, trucks, airplanes, houses, and apartments! And they almost always find what they are looking for.

Chemical Explosives Dogs

About Our Dogs: Chemical Explosives DogsWhat do you think that the FBI’s Chemical Explosives Dogs do? They are trained to “sniff out” different explosive chemicals. During their extensive training, explosives scents are imprinted into the dog’s memory and the dogs are trained on every type of explosive. This means that they can detect approximately 19,000 different combinations of explosives.

Search and Rescue Dogs

Can you guess what Search and Rescue dogs do? Anytime there is a crime or a disaster (like an earthquake), Search and Rescue dogs—we’ll call them SARS—are brought in to help. SARS work hard to rescue people who are trapped or lost. They also track people who have committed crimes and fled. The dogs’ noses are so good they are almost always able to sniff out and find what they are looking for—even if it’s underground or underwater!


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