I love seeing the joy of a working dog, doing what they LOVE to be doing…. doing what they were bred to do! In a recent portrait session, mom to Bernese Mountain dog, Hazelnut, asked if we could get portraits of Hazelnut pulling her cart. YES! We can and we did! I learned quite a bit about cart pulling along the way, and Hazelnut was the perfect teacher.
Working dogs are used to perform tactical tasks. They have a “job” and they are bred for that job. Working dog breeds are intelligent, powerful, and they are smarty pants and can pick things up pretty quickly.
Some examples of working dog breeds are the Siberian Husky (that’s my world!), Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, and Rottweiler to name just a few.
The Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large working dog with a calm temperament. They originated in Switzerland and were traditionally used as working dogs on farms, where they helped with herding, guarding, and pulling carts.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their distinctive tri-colored coat, which is typically black with white and rust-colored markings. They have a thick, double coat that helps protect them from the cold, making them well-suited for their native Alpine environment. Do they shed? That would be a strong YES!
Along with being stunning in looks, they are big, powerful, and built for strong work. They are know to be sweet and I 100% agree. Every Berner I have met has been extremely friendly and affectionate. This also makes them great therapy dogs.
Hazelnut is best friends with a horse. Here she is taking her buddy, Saint, for a walk on the farm.
I couldn’t wait to see Hazelnut’s cart and to see her in action! Her mom has been working with her and training has been successful so far.
Here is Hazelnut’s cart with her own vanity plate.
- Cart: The cart itself is the main piece of equipment you’ll need. There are various types of carts available, ranging from lightweight carts for smaller dogs to heavy-duty carts for larger breeds. Be sure to choose a cart that’s appropriate for your dog’s size and strength.
- Harness: A harness is essential when teaching your dog to pull a cart. It helps distribute the weight evenly and reduces the risk of injury. Choose a harness that’s designed specifically for cart pulling, as these are typically sturdier and more secure.
- Lines: Lines are the straps or ropes that attach the cart to the harness. They should be strong and durable, with enough length to allow your dog to move comfortably while pulling the cart.
- Brakes: A good cart should have brakes to help control the speed and direction of the cart. Be sure to choose a cart with reliable brakes that are easy to use. This is very important for safety.
- Padding: To ensure your dog’s comfort, consider adding padding to the harness or cart where it comes into contact with your dog’s body. This can help reduce chafing and discomfort during long periods of pulling.
- Water and treats: Be sure to bring plenty of water and high value treats for your dog during cart pulling sessions. This will help keep your dog hydrated and motivated, and will make the experience more enjoyable for them… and for you, too.
Hazelnut’s mom and I chatted about some of the training cues, which are very similar to teaching a dog to skijor – something that my husky, Halo, and I are going to tackle net winter! “Whoa” (stop) is a very important one, haha! “Gee” is to turn right and “Haw” is to turn left. As with any training cues, it doesn’t matter what word you use, as long as you are consistent.
Hazelnut’s mom and I had a nice chat about dogs doing what they are meant to do….and how happy they are when they are working! When they do their job it gives them a sense of purpose and these activities are enjoyable for them.
The simple act of pulling a cart can not only be satisfying for the dog, it can also be a great way to develop the bond and connection with the owner.
Working dogs, like Hazelnut, thrive when given the opportunity to engage in activities that allow them to use their natural instincts and abilities. By providing them with the chance to do what they were bred to do, we can help ensure that they experience a deep sense of fulfillment and joy throughout their lives.
It was a joy for me to see Hazelnut in “work”mode. She went from playful puppy to focused and determined.
Is a working dog right for you?
When searching for a family addition, please learn a bit about the breeds. Some of the pretty ones are high maintenance and do best with a “job”. Also, purebreds CAN be found in shelters, if you do prefer to rescue. Do your research so both you and your dog can have the best life together. So many dogs end up in shelters because their owners try to battle and make their dogs into something that they are not.
Around the Circle
This blog post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle. Click on the link at the end of each post and follow along with pet photographer’s around the world sharing “joy” this week! Net up Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography in Northeastern PA talks about dog joy!