The AKC defines “working dogs” as those trained to perform practical tasks or assist their handlers in performing meaningful work. Quick to learn, alert and strong, you might find working dogs guarding property, pulling sleds, hunting, performing rescue missions or serving on the front lines alongside military or police. (Herding dogs also fall within the greater “working dog” category.) Popular working dog breeds include German Shepherd, Malinois, Doberman Pinschers, Siberian Huskies and Great Danes, all known for their size and strength.

Chances are, you don’t intend to train your dog to help search for missing people or nab criminals (although kudos if you do). However, with a little patience and a lot of practice, you can train your dog to do basic searching and other tasks.

Establishing trust is the first step in successfully training your dog. It’s important for your dog to respect you and want to please you. A simple exercise you can do is to hide food or treats for your dog to seek and gradually increase complexity and difficulty as their skill develops (using, for example, a shirt that has your scent). Reward your dog for completing a search with treats, toys or praise and be consistent with training—even if it’s just for fun.