Carting With Your Bernese Mountain Dog

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Sophie at 4½ with Chloe hitching a ride at 21 monthsCarting with your Bernese Mountain Dog has to be one of the most natural and enjoyable past-times your Bernese can enjoy. After all, Bernese were bred to pull carts and even today most Bernese are never happier than when they're hitched up to a cart. I know that my Bernese's tails wag so much with pleasure when they're carting, much more than when they're showing. Of course not all Bernese will enjoy carting and training your Bernese to pull a cart has to be done with expert help and certainly shouldn't be attempted on your own. We're so fortunate that we have many very dedicated carters in the country who are only to happy to help you in your quest to train your Bernese up to pull a cart. We also have three main Bernese carting Groups, where further help and advice can be obtained.

The carting world couldn't be more different than the showing world of the Bernese. Whereas the showing world is more a beauty contest for your Bernese and is based on they're appearance, movement and conformation. The carting world is based on the dog's ability to pull a cart and in turn do a days work. It doesn't matter if your dog's markings aren't perfect or if it's coat isn't correct. Both areas, of course require many hours of training to achieve a high standard of competence. But the relationship and bond you build with your dog when it's carting is something far deeper perhaps than when showing. Also to achieve a sense of control when carting your dog, your dog would really benefit from having some grounding in obedience, not in a serious way more in a voice control way.

Mervyn with Sophie pulling our Traditional Swiss cartThe people in the carting world are extremely friendly and very helpful. They are very pleased to welcome new people and treat you like one of the family. Once you decide to go down the route of carting with your Bernese, there are several hurdles which you'll probably choose to climb at some point. The first hurdle is finding yourself a good cart. This is easier said than done as good ones don't come about very often. If you're seriously looking for a cart then you're best to contact the Bernese carting groups who'll keep an eye out for one for you. Remember if you want to be able to compete on the carting course your cart will need a full turning circle front axle. The second hurdle is the issue of Swiss decoration. As we only know to well, to purchase the Swiss style outfits is extremely difficult, as a large proportion of the items come from Switzerland. Here again if you speak to the carters, you can often put a request in for the next shopping visit to Switzerland, for whoever is visiting to try and purchase your wanted items. In the carting world, everyone helps each other and it's like one big happy family.

We started off showing our Bernese and were lucky enough to be offered our Traditional Swiss cart before we were actually interested in carting, perhaps fate played a part in getting us involved in carting? The kindness and support we've received from the carters has been very welcoming and in a way we probably enjoy carting more than showing, even though we're very active in both.

When you become part of the carting world and have your own cart and decoration etc. it opens up a whole new world for your family with your Bernese. Several times a year the different Bernese Mountain Dog Clubs hold working/fun days. At these events the carters have several classes they can enter with their carts as well as competing on the carting course. The event classes are usually, fancy dress upon a theme, best carting turnout, judged on just your empty cart, dog and handler & the Swiss theme carting class. The carting course which you compete with your cart undecorated, on a one to one with your Bernese, is also a test of control and skill. It's a bit like an assault course, but in a grounded way. It consists of your dog pulling his cart around a course, round objects, over objects and collecting things. There are four levels of the course, you have to pass each level three times before moving up to the next level, the final level is the master class, which the carter with the most points collected from placings each year becomes the overall top carting dog of the year. Click here The Bernese Carting Group of GB for more information. The sense of achievement when you do well on the carting course is humbling. Also before several of the Bernese Mountain Dog Championship Show weekends the carters are asked to open the weekend with a carting display, which is extremely enjoyable to watch but even better to take part in. Along with all those activities, the carters also open many fetes and are part of parades up and down the country over the summer months. Of course to participate in these events your Bernese would have to be fairly bomb proof and be a confident carter. Camping/caravanning facilities are often available for these events and makes a lovely enjoyable weekend.

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