A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks. They may be pets or draft animals trained to achieve certain tasks, such as guide dogs, assistance dogs, draft horses, or logging elephants. Those whose tasks include pulling loads are called draught animals or draft animals. Most working animals are either service animals or draft animals. They may also be used for milking or herding. Some, at the end of their working lives, may also be used for meat or other products such as leather.
The history of working animals may predate agriculture, with dogs used by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Around the world, millions of animals work in relationship with their owners. Domesticated species are often bred for different uses and conditions, especially horses and working dogs. Working animals are usually raised on farms, though some are still captured from the wild, such as dolphins and some Asian elephants.
People have found uses for a wide variety of abilities in animals, and even industrialized societies use many animals for work. People use the strength of horses, elephants, and oxen to pull carts and move logs. Law enforcement uses the keen sense of smell of dogs to search for drugs and explosives, and others use dogs to find game or search for missing or trapped people. People use various animals—camels, donkeys, horses, dogs, etc.—for transport, either for riding or to pull wagons and sleds. Other animals, including dogs and monkeys, help blind or disabled people.
On rare occasions, wild animals are not only tamed, but trained to perform work—though often solely for novelty or entertainment, as such animals tend to lack the trustworthiness and mild temper of true domesticated working animals. Conversely, not all domesticated animals are working animals. For example, while cats may catch mice, it is an instinctive behavior, not one that can be trained by human intervention. Other domesticated animals, such as sheep or rabbits, may have agricultural uses for meat, hides and wool, but are not suitable for work. Finally, small domestic pets, such as most small birds (other than certain types of pigeon) are generally incapable of performing work other than providing companionship.