For as long as domestic dogs have been associated with humans, they have worked in a partnership with their human families. This was never truer than on the farms, where dogs earned their keep in a variety of ways – guarding the herd, herding the livestock with their humans, even tracking lost animals. In Switzerland in days past, dogs like the Bernese Mountain Dogs were used for these chores and more, to include pulling butchers carts around the farm, hauling milk down from the hillsides to the dairy and then wheels of cheese and milk to market. They were sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s draft horse”. There is even anecdotal evidence of these beautiful dogs hitched to mail carts, delivering mail through the small towns without benefit of human company.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Central Virginia supports drafting as our primary Club performance competition. While individual members often compete successfully in other performance tests, such as Rally, Obedience, Herding, even Tracking, as a Club our focus is holding Drafting competitions and workshops.
We had a a great draft workshop in March, 2017. We look forward to doing it again in 2018!
Two days of Premium Draft Trials in Crozet, Virginia on September 16-17. Click here for information and an application!
Your first draft test is a few weeks away, and you and your canine partner (whom I shall call Partner) have been working hard on your training and preparation. You and Partner can execute nice tight turns around the trees in your yard and Partner slides the cart through those narrows like nobody’s business. You have both mastered the freight haul and can comfortably pull at least 35 pounds (just to be safe) at least two miles without panting (that goes for both of you). Read more here.
This stage is lots of repetitious practice to develop teamwork and fine tune your performance. Work off-lead occasionally as you and your dog begin to work together better so you are not so dependant on the leash for control.
Read this for lots of tips.
The Draft Test is one of the events at the specialty that always draws a crowd of both knowledgeable and curious spectators. For the newcomer, the National provides an opportunity to learn about the working history of our breed and how we keep that heritage alive. Read more here!