The Doberman - Versatility - Carting/Drafting
When we think of a dog drafting or carting,
we normally think of traditional carting breeds such as the Bernese
Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, Saint Bernards, etc.
Carting requires a dog that is muscular, obedient and has physical stamina; things that can come natural to the Doberman breed. In carting a dog must be physically fit, conditioned for endurance, understand directional commands, able to tolerate wearing a harness and traces and able to pull the weight of a cart. This requires time, training and physical conditioning.
The dog must be sound in structure, free of arthritis, hip, elbow, shoulder and/or joint disorders. When a dog hauls, the forward push from the forequarters is transferred directly into the harness; this force from the rear quarters travels through the spinal vertebral towards their neck and chest. If the dog does not have a strong top line, the back may tend to bow and there will be less support when hauling, the dog then uses more muscles to keep the top line straight - therefore tiring easier and being more at risk for injury. Similarly if the legs are bowed, the legs will tend to bend more with added pressure putting the legs at higher risk of injury.
The dog must have an understanding of some basic obedience commands before carting is attempted, the dog will need to learn commands associated with the movement of the cart to move it forward, to follow the handler, to turn left or right, to stop, backup, make gait changes, as well as stand and stay. Training requires patience and lots of practice.
Once the dog is trained in the use of a cart, there are carting competitions. The purpose of competitions is to give the dog owner/handler and their Doberman/carting dog a chance to exhibit their skills and abilities. Competitions are either on lead, off-lead, or with driving (handler seated in cart). The completion may include a single dog or a team of two dogs. The dogs follow a determined course and may use a two wheeled wagon or cart. The vehicle must be easily handled by the dog and maneuvered over all elements on the course. Talking to the dog and verbal praise are allowed during the exercises. Physical praise such as petting or pats may be given between exercises and are limited to touching with the hands only. No other part of the handler’s body should touch the dog. Emphasis is on precision, not speed. A carting dog should move the cart with pride and eagerness yet listen to direction from the handler.
Content contributions by Linda K Grskovich