Back in the 18th Century, records show that Newfoundland Dogs were used to pull heavy loads. Newfoundland dogs were generally seen on board the Fishermen's boats, where they were well known for their lifesaving skills when they would rescue people from the water. They would also trawl in the fishing nets. Once on dry land the fish would be off loaded into carts. The Newfoundland Dogs would then haul the fish to market.
Before starting to teach a Newfoundland Dog to cart there are several points to bear in mind.
Firstly, We would never attach a cart to a Newfoundland until they are at least 12 months of age.
It is important that you have a well fitted harness, and that the weight distribution is right for your dog.
Prior to placing a cart near your dog, it is good practice to take your dog for a few walks with their harness on, to get them used to the feel of it.
Basic obedience is a Must! Making certain that your dog is under control at all times and can walk easily on a loose lead. Once you have this, then start by walking next to an experienced carting dog and owner (have your dog in their harness). This will get your dog used to the noise of the cart etc.
Then, once the above is mastered, you can walk your dog with someone else pulling the cart behind - so again not attached to the dog.
Once you are ready have a short go with the cart attached - on a flat surface, and with an experienced handler with you.
There are several "Tests" that you can enter to see your dogs progress, and more details can be found on these via the main club websites (see our links page).
At Newfs In Action, we undertake demonstrations of carting at some of our events.
Here are some pictures of some of our dogs in carts:
This is Tilly in a decorated cart, collecting funds for a children's charity. The cart is a basic training cart which is used in tests, and then as you can see this has been decorated for Christmas!
At some of our displays we use novelty carts. Below is a picture of Monty, pulling our Fire Engine Cart. This was made by a club member for when we are present at "Energency Services" displays. The children love this cart, and Monty loves to walk around and show it off for us:
We have started to hold some "Introduction to carting" Sessions. We do this by incorporating it into our walks, so that all of our members can be involved. Here are some pictures of our training sessions in 2011:
The picture above shows a dog having his first attempt with the log. The person behind is carrying the log, so the dog can feel the weight, but there is no noise to put him off on this first walk.
This picture again shows one of the dogs pulling the log for the first time. The Newfoundland has progressed from having the log held to pulling it along themselves.
This is one of our experienced dogs pulling the log, and you will see how loose the handler is able to keep the lead.
We will add some more images as we develop our training through the year.
Training Carts can be purchased from www.bigdogcarts.co.uk