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Just thought I would throw out a thinking thread. I’ve both worked dogs (competing, training, client training) and retired and now have “pet” dogs. Meaning they are here to live life next to me. So hiking, runs, just for fun agility and SAR. What’s that old saying about retirement? ;)

It got me to thinking, which is always a long road for me, who do you think could transition to the other side with happiness and fulfillment still-in place? I don’t mean older dogs that are always going into retirement, but dogs at their peak. Would a working dog happily settle into a life of just living and being involved in what his/her owner is doing, or would a pet companion thrive and be happier being put to work or competition?
I train all my dogs in obedience, that is a no brainer, but other than that, along the years I’ve had many different dogs take me in many different areas of training, working, competing. I’ve always found that my working guys are just as happy to live beside me and have a “break” for working, and still seem to be blissfully happy. I’ve never taken a pet and used them as a working dog though, so I don’t know that they could adjust happily to a working lifestyle.
Thoughts? Any success going either way?
 

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I agree. Seger was retired in his prime. As long as he's doing something with me, he doesn't care what it is. They don't ask to do sports so as long as the bond with the person is maintained, I don't really believe they care what they do.
 

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I retired Sabi at 8 and she was a miserable cow about it. I ended up putting her back to work. At about 9.5 we reduced her to part time work which she did until she couldn't. She adored spending time with me but she was never happy about retirement.
 

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If you are actively engaged with the dog, I don't imagine there is much difference between "working" and "living". The definition is in our mind, not theirs.
 

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Just thought I would throw out a thinking thread. I’ve both worked dogs (competing, training, client training) and retired and now have “pet” dogs. Meaning they are here to live life next to me. So hiking, runs, just for fun agility and SAR. What’s that old saying about retirement? ;)

It got me to thinking, which is always a long road for me, who do you think could transition to the other side with happiness and fulfillment still-in place? I don’t mean older dogs that are always going into retirement, but dogs at their peak. Would a working dog happily settle into a life of just living and being involved in what his/her owner is doing, or would a pet companion thrive and be happier being put to work or competition?
I train all my dogs in obedience, that is a no brainer, but other than that, along the years I’ve had many different dogs take me in many different areas of training, working, competing. I’ve always found that my working guys are just as happy to live beside me and have a “break” for working, and still seem to be blissfully happy. I’ve never taken a pet and used them as a working dog though, so I don’t know that they could adjust happily to a working lifestyle.
Thoughts? Any success going either way?
I think a working dog enjoys working, but I think switching to a lifestyle like yours is now hiking regular exercise or just lounging around every once in a while would be all the same as long as you're there! Unless you don't have that relationship with your dogs
 

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I think our dogs, as generalists in “work”, can have an easier time switching gears into retirement than dogs that are genetically wired for a single purpose.

The dogs in my family and with close friends that haven’t adjusted as well to being benched or retired have been specialists, hardcore single purpose in “work” - legitimate bird dogs that aren’t interested in anything besides BIRDSBIRDSBIRDS, and some border collies that only want to work stock and don’t give a darn about balls or brain games or frisbees or anything else.

Not all are like this - of all the hunting dogs in my extended family, most are content when they aren’t worked anymore, but some had a restless and rocky adjustment. Same with all the working BCs - some shift gears immediately and others never seem to.

I think GSDs, due to intent of the breed/design, should be able to adapt. JMO.
 

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I've kept working dogs as "pets" for various reasons. They are blissfully happy training, so I still do tug play, activities like nosework games, and stuff to work their minds. Some dogs are easier to retire than others. I have two that live for the work, so I still give them jobs, we just don't get paid. Don't forget how many hours, days, even weeks actual working dogs spend kenneled with not a whole lot of out time. Pretty common. So a think a pet who is given some sort of work, is likely happier than many working dogs. I don't know any dog that doesn't love hiking.
 

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I've kept working dogs as "pets" for various reasons. They are blissfully happy training, so I still do tug play, activities like nosework games, and stuff to work their minds. Some dogs are easier to retire than others. I have two that live for the work, so I still give them jobs, we just don't get paid. Don't forget how many hours, days, even weeks actual working dogs spend kenneled with not a whole lot of out time. Pretty common. So a think a pet who is given some sort of work, is likely happier than many working dogs. I don't know any dog that doesn't love hiking.
I think Sabi's issue was that I was still going to work but she wasn't. So in her doggy brain she wasn't doing her job. It wasn't a seperation issue, she only got upset when my phone rang or I put on my uniform.
 

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Just thought I would throw out a thinking thread. I’ve both worked dogs (competing, training, client training) and retired and now have “pet” dogs. Meaning they are here to live life next to me. So hiking, runs, just for fun agility and SAR. What’s that old saying about retirement? ;)

It got me to thinking, which is always a long road for me, who do you think could transition to the other side with happiness and fulfillment still-in place? I don’t mean older dogs that are always going into retirement, but dogs at their peak. Would a working dog happily settle into a life of just living and being involved in what his/her owner is doing, or would a pet companion thrive and be happier being put to work or competition?
I train all my dogs in obedience, that is a no brainer, but other than that, along the years I’ve had many different dogs take me in many different areas of training, working, competing. I’ve always found that my working guys are just as happy to live beside me and have a “break” for working, and still seem to be blissfully happy. I’ve never taken a pet and used them as a working dog though, so I don’t know that they could adjust happily to a working lifestyle.
Thoughts? Any success going either way?
I retired my first service dog at about 10 yrs. She and I had been mostly inseparable for those 10 years. Telling her no she had to stay home when I left was rough for her. She appeared to be depressed. I wound up starting dog sports with her mostly to cheer her up. I did some trick dog titles with her and a bunch of rally.

I would say it was not a totally smooth transition to her not working. Up until the last six months or so, she still wanted to work and would magically transform into a younger dog if I let her work.

The last six months her health has really gone way downhill and I honestly don't think she thinks at all about working anymore.

I think she was 11 when my husband had a procedure in a hospital and I was between working dogs and none that I had in the works were ready for the kind of day we were going to have and she stepped up and went back to work like she had never left.

At 13, she is FINALLY truly retired. She only thinks about begging for food and going to play with me. I am happy for her. She had a lot of responsibility for a log time.

My competition dog is on hiatus mostly because I can't afford entry fees with the astronomical vet bills my girl is racking up. He doesn't seem to care. We still train, which he enjoys better than competing anyway.
 

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Certainly breed / temperament / type of work / handler objective / environment & home dynamics dependent.

Generally speaking however - i’d say retired dogs transition better than the results gained with getting a pet to work.

First off being that a dog who has the temperament, drive and desire to work is going to be a higher end pet to begin with.... one that comfortably settles into pet life is likely going to have a harder time developing the necessary work ethic to produce optimal results.

my points of reference are labradors and golden retrievers bred for guide dog work.

i regularly coach handlers that are retiring their guides (especially if they are receiving a successor dog) on how to develop a new routine for them, ideally transferring caretaking to a family member, and how to balance interactions with the old and new dog. it’s an adjustment for sure..... but more dogs handle it well than not.

on the flip side, although less common and there are some additional factors to consider.... we may get a dog that has been retired early from breeding and evaluated to train as guides. tapping into the drive can be more difficult, it can take time to develop the mental stamina, and convincing them that work is more fun than lounging on the furniture, eating off the floor and soliciting greetings from strangers....can be a hard bargain. that said, it can be done.

i think it’s much easier, in both directions, when you have a consistent handler and the dog is transitioning between the two roles with someone they have a relationship with.

my pet dog will do as much or as little as i ask of him. as long as we’re together...he’s always been that way.
 

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Certainly breed / temperament / type of work / handler objective / environment & home dynamics dependent.

Generally speaking however - i’d say retired dogs transition better than the results gained with getting a pet to work.

First off being that a dog who has the temperament, drive and desire to work is going to be a higher end pet to begin with.... one that comfortably settles into pet life is likely going to have a harder time developing the necessary work ethic to produce optimal results.

my points of reference are labradors and golden retrievers bred for guide dog work.

i regularly coach handlers that are retiring their guides (especially if they are receiving a successor dog) on how to develop a new routine for them, ideally transferring caretaking to a family member, and how to balance interactions with the old and new dog. it’s an adjustment for sure..... but more dogs handle it well than not.

on the flip side, although less common and there are some additional factors to consider.... we may get a dog that has been retired early from breeding and evaluated to train as guides. tapping into the drive can be more difficult, it can take time to develop the mental stamina, and convincing them that work is more fun than lounging on the furniture, eating off the floor and soliciting greetings from strangers....can be a hard bargain. that said, it can be done.

i think it’s much easier, in both directions, when you have a consistent handler and the dog is transitioning between the two roles with someone they have a relationship with.

my pet dog will do as much or as little as i ask of him. as long as we’re together...he’s always been that way.
Why is care transitioned to someone else?

Fodder I thought my 1st service dog really checked out when she saw the new prospect was making it and doing the job. Have you seen other service dogs do that?

It may have been coincidence with her age and health, idk.

I actually feel like its been therapeutic at least for me to have done a total role reversal with her where she no longer does anything for me and is totally dependant on me much like I once was on her.
 

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Though it is a tremendous financial and labor strain on me to do everything for her and many days its a real struggle. And if I were in a wheelchair for instance I couldnt possibly do the care I have been doing for her.

It's something I feel is my duty to her though, since I can. I'll still be enormously in debt to her when she leaves.
 

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Why is care transitioned to someone else?

Fodder I thought my 1st service dog really checked out when she saw the new prospect was making it and doing the job. Have you seen other service dogs do that?

It may have been coincidence with her age and health, idk.

I actually feel like its been therapeutic at least for me to have done a total role reversal with her where she no longer does anything for me and is totally dependant on me much like I once was on her.
i imagine if some or many of your dogs tasks are accomplished in your home, yes, i could see some dogs may check out as they observe the new dog handling things. the difference in guidework has more to do with leaving the retired dog behind.... as they wouldn’t have the ability to observe the new kid taking over their previous responsibilities.

transferring caretaking just helps the retired dog bond with the family member in a new way.... easing the workload for [you], but also giving the dog something to look forward to with the new person. seeing the leash and associating that with being taken to the park to play fetch for instance... something different from their work routine.
 

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i imagine if some or many of your dogs tasks are accomplished in your home, yes, i could see some dogs may check out as they observe the new dog handling things. the difference in guidework has more to do with leaving the retired dog behind.... as they wouldn’t have the ability to observe the new kid taking over their previous responsibilities.

transferring caretaking just helps the retired dog bond with the family member in a new way.... easing the workload for [you], but also giving the dog something to look forward to with the new person. seeing the leash and associating that with being taken to the park to play fetch for instance... something different from their work routine.
She does see him work around the house--- and she has seen a lot of training with him, I usually use the stairs in my house to start teaching the dog how to do stairs in harness so she saw that. And she also went on a few training trips with him to set an example. So she definitely knows he is doing it and she has a bed by the door. When I leave I put her in her bed and tell her to wait there for me and he leaves with me. I think she gets it.
 

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Well....I should add...I wouldn't require her to lay by the door. That's what she does-- she remains at the spot where she last saw me until I come back for her. So I put a nice bed in the cubby by the door I go out of so she at least isn't laying on the hard floor.
 

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My girl was retired early due to health issues. To be honest, she hates it. Her mind is still very active and she wants to go-go-go but her body can't keep up some days. With the type of health issues she has it's recommended not to do any strenuous activities so long hiking trips or agility and even some obedience (even sitting some days) is difficult. I know she is not happy about not working or being as active as she wants but we do all we can to keep her as active and engaged as her body and health allows.
 

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So I have an off-breed dog, but he's got pep. When he can't run flat out after squirrels, he is diminished. If I could afford pro agility instruction or even access full facilities, I could fulfil his drives in dog sport. Without, it is a little lesser than. They need an outlet for there potential, it does not need to be formal at all, but sometimes time, knowledge and physicality is involved to give them a good life.
I am privileged to live near off-lead trails, so he gets plenty of running, probably my ego wants to see slam through an agility course at top speed, but he would like the challenge and brain work of getting things right. Staying-within-sight off-lead in the woods contains an element of frustration for him.
We all do are best, and hope it's good enough.
 

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My dogs are pets but my big-boy started in Schutzhund. He is 6 and hasn't done any bite work in a long time. He seems very happy to do fun routines and help around the house. I will say, though, that last spring at a seminar, someone asked to catch him with a long tug. I asked him if he knew what that meant and he said he did and his friend confirmed it. I let my boy go, he raced around the outbuilding where his target was hiding. When I caught up they were both thrilled to be testing their strength against each other. It was beautiful.
Now my dogs' work is to be my companion on walks, help around the house, be watch dogs, and take part in Man-trailing. We go out on some sort of "adventure" most weekends. But when we went on a road trip in our RV my dogs were confused about their place, their duty. Their routine was gone. It seems for my two dogs, it isn't work or not work but their place in the structure of things (and some good energetic "work" always has a welcome place in that structure).
 
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