Working Your Newfoundland
The Newfoundland is a very capable and versatile dog. If you, as an owner are willing to teach, the Newfoundland is willing to learn. They will try anything for you. Briefly, the following section highlights a few of the things this breed is capable of, with a brief description of each. Some are just for you and your dog, and others can lead to titles of recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club. Similar titles can also be earned in the U.S.A. but some slight variations may occur in the required tasks.
Draft Work Canadian Titles earned:
DD (Draft Dog) & DDX (Draft Dog Excellent)
Carting is something that can be done and enjoyed by anyone willing to take the time to learn. A properly trained dog who happily does his work, is a joy to behold. If you decide you would like to learn how to cart your dog you should speak with your breeder as they may be able to advise you or put you in touch with someone that could help.
You cannot do any serious carting with your dog till he is at least 1 year of age. In the mean time plan on attending carting workshops that are being held in your area and talk to other people that are involved in carting regarding the types of harnesses available, as many are adjustable depending on the size of your dog.
You will find that once you and your dog have learned to cart safely it will be an activity that you will both have fun participating in. You can earn a draft dog title, march in parades, get involved in charity events for children giving them cart rides, the smiles it will bring will make it well worth the effort. It is not unheard of, for a Newfoundland to begin training as late as six years of age or older.
Canadian Titles earned:
TD (Tracking Dog) TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent)
Newfoundlands make particularly good tracking dogs, as they have what is commonly referred to as "a wet mouth". This enables them to take and hold a scent well. Once your dog learns how to track, be prepared to hang on for dear life as he/she will lean hard into the harness with great strength, being totally focused and anxious to work. During training, don't be surprised if your dog is so eager to track, that you are pulled along faster than you may be prepared for. Newfoundlands are keen, and almost nothing will entice them off a track once they begin.
In competition, a dog must be at least six months of age and registered with the CKC. In a tracking test, the dog is kept on a three to fifteen metre leash, and must find a leather article no larger than a pocket book or a glove, which has been dropped by a tracklayer on a designated track. A tracklayer is someone who is a stranger to the dog and who has held the article long enough to allow his/her scent to permeate it. An area of about one square meter is trampled and stood upon by the tracklayer for one minute, and then he/she proceeds along a designated track and drops the assigned article directly onto the track. No track will cross a body of water, and there is no time limit, provided the dog is working.
Search & Rescue (SAR)
The Newfoundland is an intelligent, multi-purpose dog with natural life-saving abilities. Because they are generally calm, have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, and love people, it is only natural that this breed is useful in search and rescue situations. They have been known to locate victims lost in avalanches, in dense bush and have even found bodies under water. In the past there have been organizations which have taught owners and their dogs to hang from a helicopter, rappel down a cliff, travel on a ski-lift, canoe down a river and search all day through heavy underbrush in any kind of weather. The best way to locate an organization involved in Search and Rescue is to contact police and/or rescue groups in your home area, who specialize in this field.
Showing your dog in the Conformation Ring can be rewarding, but it requires a great deal of training for you and your dog, as the dog must be groomed to perfection. Daily brushing of the entire dog must be done to keep the coat in 'show condition'.
Your dog has to be trained to stand still while the judge examines him and taught to allow the judge or handler to open the mouth and show the bite. The judge will want you to gait your dog at a controlled trot, therefore regular training for this is required until your dog knows the procedure. If you decide to show your Newfoundland at Championship Shows it is advisable to contact your breeder for advice. He will be able to tell you about training classes in your area and of any dog shows you can attend to watch and learn what is required of you and your dog in the show ring.
Alternately, you can hire a professional handler to show your dog. If you decide on this, be sure you understand all the fees and expenses involved. Do not be discouraged if your dog does not always get a first place ribbon. While judging is in accordance with the official standard, much depends on that judge's interpretation. When your dog has accumulated the required number of points for the title of 'Champion', the Canadian Kennel Club will issue you a certificate showing your dog's registered name reflecting his new title.
Canadian Titles earned:
WRD (Water Rescue Dog) WRDX (Water Rescue Dog Excellent)
The Newfoundland is the ultimate water dog. They have a water resistant double coat that allows them to swim in cold water. Their deep chest and large lung capacity allows them to swim for a long distances. The dog's well muscled tail acts as a rudder and their swimming style resembles the breast stroke more than the dog paddle.
In Europe, the lifesaving abilities the Newfoundland is widely recognized and they are used to patrol the beaches with the lifeguards. The French Coast Guard has determined that a well conditioned Newf can tow an inflatable life raft full of people two miles to shore without being unduly stressed.
The lifesaving instincts of the Newf can often be seen when his family is in the water. The Newf fearing for the safety of the children will be seen swimming circles around his charges, trying to "herd" them to shore.
Not all Newfoundlands take to the water the first time they are introduced to it, but with care and understanding, a Newf can begin water rescue instruction at four months of age. Teamwork is the basis for this and all other training you will do with your dog. The Newf can be taught to retrieve objects from the water, tow a boat to shore, rescue a drowning victim and at the senior level, jump off a boat to save someone.
In the late 1800's the first formal testing of their water rescue capabilities was done in England. In Canada, the official testing has been done since the early 1980's.
To encourage the working abilities of the Newfoundland, the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada sponsors W.R.D. (Water Rescue Dog) tests and W.R.D.X. (Water Rescue Dog Excellent) tests across Canada.
Whether you decide to train your Newfoundland for water rescue work or just want to have fun with him at the lake, never leave young children and your dog unattended in or near the water.
The Newfoundland is well suited for backpacking. Their heavy double coat serves as protection against the straps and bulk of a load.This enables the Newfoundland to carry a load in most types of weather. Some basic training is essential, and the usual position for a packing dog is behind it's owner. Most people take their dogs backpacking because they enjoy their companionship. You can buy ready-made backpacks or make your own. Be sure it fits properly, does not restrict movement, will remain in place, is durable and comes on and off easily. Get your dog used to outings as early as three to six months of age, and begin training to wear an empty backpack by eight or nine months. Wait until your dog is mature before using full loads and remember it is important to load the pack evenly for equal distribution of weight. You can expect to put in many hours of pre-trail training, which involves getting your dog used to carrying, learning to stay behind you, and getting used to hiking and swimming. Initial training periods should be kept under thirty minutes.
As with all dogs who enter the wilderness, your Newfoundland should be taught not to chase after wildlife.
Being extremely intelligent and always willing to please, the Newfoundland makes a great partner in Obedience Work. There are several titles which you and your dog can work towards earning, by entering Trials sanctioned by the Canadian Kennel Club.
Newfoundland puppies can begin obedience classes at four months of age. Teaching your dog is very rewarding as he learns to do the things you ask of him, but it takes at least 1/2 an hour of training a day. Contact an All Breed Club or Obedience School in your area for the availability of classes. Always remember, an obedient dog is welcome anywhere.