Canines have fought alongside humans for centuries, assisting the military in a variety of ways. It was not until the year 2000 that military working dogs, known by the abbreviation MWD, were given the "oppawtunity" to come home after completing their dedicated service to the country. Because of "Robby's Law", though, these pups now not only have the chance to return home, but they're "offured" to their service handler or their family first for adoption.
As a result, hundreds of service dogs have returned home and are looking for "pawsitive" activities to fill their schedules. Right now, there are currently more than two thousand military working dogs in service for the United States alone who one day will come home. If you have a service dog, you know that they deserve a world of experiences outside of the military, which is why it's crucial to find engaging activities to keep them stimulated while also giving them a new purpose.
Therapy dogs brighten up the lives of hospital patients and elderly nursing home residents by offering stimulation and socialization. Typically, once certified, a therapy dog can register with a facility, like a hospital, and schedule regular visits throughout the week.
Special requirements for therapy dogs include obedience training, which MWDs have mastered as they're highly intelligent and extensively trained. They also need to be socialized and friendly and must complete a series of certification courses to become an official animal-assisted therapy team with their handler. The process can be somewhat lengthy, but different municipalities offer various animal-assisted therapy programs, so doing your research is essential! Once you know the requirements for therapy dogs at your local hospitals, you and your MWD can lend a helping paw to those in need.
Going for a daily walk is one way to reintroduce your MWD to the norms of society outside of war. Military working dogs have very different lives than those who are outside of the military. They've spent most of their days completing missions and tasks set out for them. That’s why it’s “impawtant” to show them a new way of life outside of the military.
Start your day off with a long walk through the neighborhood. Remind your pooch of their leash manners if needed when taking your walks. Try exploring different areas in your community to give your pup a feel for the area. This activity is easy to do and only requires a leash and waste bags. You can walk rain or shine, so long as you’re prepared to get wet. Though a walk may seem simple, this activity is sure to make your MWD develop a sense of routine and normalcy, which is precisely what you want!
As mentioned, military working dogs have spent their lives receiving vigorous training to prepare them for complex tasks. That's why it's recommended that you continue to provide your pooch with mental and physical stimulation through regular obedience training.
Your pup has likely learned all the basics, so just practicing these skills using fun techniques and treats is one way to make their work much more fun than what they're accustomed to. Playing obedience games can be done daily, from anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. The activity is entirely free unless you choose to use treats in addition to verbal praise as a reward.
Give your MWD a chance to let loose and play by visiting your local dog park. Socializing and playing with other pups is key to healthy development, which your pooch likely missed out on when deployed by the military. Treat them to this new experience by visiting the dog park weekly.
After spending countless days and nights in extreme temperatures and uncomfortable situations, it would be nice to be pampered and comforted. That’s why treating your pooch to an at-home spa day is an excellent way to meet their needs. Grab the necessities from your local pet shop, set the mood with relaxing music, and enjoy pampering your pooch with a manicure, pedicure and bath.
Without a doubt, military working dogs have spent an enormous chunk of their lives fulfilling roles and working loyally alongside humans. This is why it’s essential these pups receive a peaceful yet stimulating life once they've served their duties. Help give your military working dog a new purpose by looking into opportunities for becoming a therapy dog. As a therapy team, you and your pooch can visit patients and help improve the lives of those who need it. In addition to therapy work, walking your pooch daily will expose them to the norms of society and give them a chance to socialize with others.
Throwing in daily obedience sessions that are flexible and fun is another way to help them adjust to their life outside of deployment. A spa day is a comforting activity that will provide your pup with some much-needed pampering. Finally, continue to socialize them back into society by visiting the dog park weekly. In essence, retired war dogs have done their duty of serving their country, which is why it's now our duty to give them a meaningful life back home!