Human Interaction with Domestic Animals

Throughout modern history, man has been depicted with various animal companions. Drawings form early humans in caves often show companion animals, typically dog-like creatures, hunting alongside the men in the family group. Today, dogs are one of the most common types of animal companion, and they not only provide companionship, but also useful services for their owners.

Companion Animals

Dogs are often used as companion animals. In many homes this means the dog is a pet, or a treasured member of the family. There are numerous therapeutic reasons to keep a dog as a pet, as they provide psychological and health benefits to their owners. Studies have shown that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and stress levels than those who live without a companion. These animals also help to combat loneliness for their owners, and can help children learn responsibility and self esteem. Because of these benefits, calm, well-trained dogs are often taken into hospitals and nursing homes to provide companionship and positive interactions with the residents. Good companion dogs need proper training in order to make them a positive addition to the family.

Seeing Eye Dogs and Horses

Besides companionship, dogs and other animals can provide services for their owners. Blind individuals often benefit from the services of a seeing eye dog, a specially trained dog that leads its owner and helps the blind individual avoid dangers and hazards. Seeing eye dogs are typically larger breeds, like labs or retrievers, which are easily trained and calm in nature. Miniature horses are also trained to serve as guide animals, and their longer lifespan makes them ideal as a long-term companion for a blind person. For more information about the training and selection of these special animals, visit:

SeeingEye.org – The official website for Seeing Eye dogs

Guide Horse Foundation – The official website for Guide Horses

The Puppy Place – Provides information about training Seeing Eye dogs

Tracking Dogs

Because of their keen sense of smell, many dog breeds can be trained to be tracking dogs. These dogs can take a scent, such as an article of clothing from a person, and then track the origin of that scent. This can be used in finding a criminal and in rescuing a lost individual. It can also be used to track animals on a hunt. Training a dog to track takes some skill and understanding of a dog's behavior. If you are interested in a tracking dog, be sure to pick a breed that is known to be a good tracker.

Drug Sniffing Animals

Drug sniffing animals, usually dogs, use their strong noses to detect the presence of illegal drugs in a variety of situations. These animals are taken into schools, airports, bus stations, and other areas where illegal drugs may be present. Through special training, they are taught to show their handlers where drugs are, allowing the proper arrests to be made.

Protection Dogs

Dogs can also be used to protect people and their property. Some breeds of dogs are extremely territorial and possessive. When trained properly, they can be taught to keep intruders, both human and animal, away from someone's property. Protection dogs need to be handled with care, however, because of the high risk that they may bite someone. Dog Breeds of the World provides a helpful list of good dog breeds to choose when shopping for a guard dog, as well as information on choosing the right animal.

Herding Dogs

Some dogs are born with a natural in-born desire to herd things. They will herd people, children, or other animals that are in their area. This desire can be harnessed through proper training and used in a farm setting to herd animals such as sheep, goats, and cows. Many of the shepherd breeds earned their names because of this ability. Herding on the Web offers multiple resources relating to herding, including information about training and the best breeds for training. It also contains links for various herding organizations around the world.