First in a Regular Series: Sixty Days to a Draft Title (maybe)

Daisy and I are embarked on a journey.

Daisy July 2019.jpg

Sixty Days to a Draft Title.

Ambitious and especially for a dog as novice in working events as Daisy is — but what is the worst that can happen at a draft test (barring being struck by lightening, of course)? We don’t pass — but nobody takes away our birthdays and so Big Deal.

Our (okay — my) sights are set on the Inland Northwest Bernese Mountain Dog Club’s two-day draft test in Helena on September 20 & 21. It is a fabulous test at a lovely site with wonderful, cheerful and laid back volunteers and awesome judges — and scones. Click HERE for more info on the test.

But Daisy and I have a lot of work to do to be ready.

Draft tests begin with what is basically a heeling pattern, although it is less “heeling” and more loose leash walking in the handler’s general vicinity. A recall follows before the dog is harnessed/hitched.

Can I just say that I wish they would get rid of those two things — the fake heeling and recall?! For so many reasons. But I digress.

Daisy does not know how to heel. Minor issue — that can be trained and especially because it is not exactly “heel” so it can be less than perfect. We have 54 or so more days, after all!

Recall — agility training has helped with “wait” but this exercise will also need work. However, not as one complete exercise! We will work “wait” by itself and “come” by itself 100% of the time for the next month.

How do you work them separately, you ask? Easy Peasy.

Put dog on a wait, reward for the behavior — and release. Add distance to the wait as the dog can tolerate but always return to the dog and reward — and then release. If the dog breaks the wait, you just got info that you moved too quickly for their current skill/understanding. Slow that training down, sister!

To work on “come” — toss a cookie and let the dog chase/get it, and then say “come.” Give an even better cookie when the dog comes. You can call the dog in the house, in the yard, etc. — this is an easy exercise to practice.

Training a new dog for draft is always a bit of an anxious mystery — did she get the full set of carting genes? A partial set? Or like Harper B for Be Missing Those Completely — None.

Here is Daisy pulling the training cart — her second time hitched up.

It would appear that Miss Daisy has the complete set — whew. That helps so much.

At this point Daisy’s biggest challenge is letting herself be harnessed without playing tug with the harness and/or rolling over with joy that she is being touched. Daisy feels her Feels in big and happy ways — “sedate” is not in the Dog Dictionary next to her name.

Can we do this? Is the Sixty-Days-to-a-Draft-Title doable for Daisy?

I guess we will all see. It sure will be fun to try!