Do Our Working Dogs Owe Us Work?

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Sarah Stremming and Erin Jones regarding what we owe our working dogs, and what they owe us.

Science Highlight: Buzzing with possibilities: Training and olfactory generalization in conservation detection dogs for an endangered stonefly species 

What DO we owe our dogs?

  • Meeting all their needs includes welfare needs such as consent, respect, training skills to teach them how to navigate their environment, etc.
  • Dogs do not owe us anything. We chose to bring them into our lives, not the other way around
  • Give them a way to use their athletic and intelligent bodies to do a job, depending on their abilities. Your elderly or overweight dog may not be happy doing agility, but your healthy high energy dog might. It depends on the dog. 
  • Competing in sports is for the human, rather than the dog, so it’s important to consider how to minimize sacrifices your dog has to make in order for you to compete in events.
  • If you’re going to do sports, make sure your dog actually enjoys it
  • Giving dogs jobs increases your bond, their skills and training, and in turn it creates a better life for our dogs. It is important to just make sure they are happy doing what you ask of them.
  • Even if you set them up for success, be prepared for your dog to still be uncomfortable with certain things. Not every dog can tolerate the same things. ie) flying, working, etc. 
  • It is important to consider risks of whatever sport, activity, or job you put your dog into. ie) injuries during sport, wildlife accidents during off leash hikes, risky jobs like search and rescue, etc.
  • However, anything worth doing does have risk – some of which dogs need for their welfare such as exercise, hikes, etc. 
  • It is important to consider things things from the point of view of our dogs, not from us
  • Sometimes high drive dogs will work through pain, so it’s important to be an advocate for them when they are unable to
  • Not every dog wants to go to outdoor bars, dog parks, or be around children. And that’s okay!

Standout Quotes:

  • “What are our goals for our dogs to succeed? And think about their success rather than what we want.” – Erin Jones 
  • “We owe meeting their needs as an individual. And for some dogs, that means giving them work to do, because they aren’t designed to not have it.” – Sarah Stremming 
  • “They don’t owe us work, but maybe we owe it to them to give them the work.” – Sarah Stremming 

Where to find Sarah Stremming: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Podcast | TikTok

Where to find Erin Jones: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at

K9 Conservationists Website | Merch | Support Our Work | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok