Drafting Workshop: Rock Star

Yesterday was the drafting workshop in Barrie. There were about 11 or 12 dogs in attendance. There were about 5 or 6 Bernese Mountain Dogs, 1 Great Dane, 1 Leonberger, 1 mixed breed dog, 1 Swiss Mountain Dog and then Canyon.

The first half hour or so was spent learning about the importance of equipment and gaining the respect of your dog. Then we were given a short demonstration using an older female Bernie named Merlot.

Then we got our chance to start trying things out.

First, they had us walk our dogs around wearing a harness.

Then they had us attach the tracers to the harness and walk around the room.

Next, we placed the spacer between the tracers and had our dogs become comfortable with something dragging behind them. At this point they only used a hockey stick sized spacer.

When the dogs were comfortable, they attached a jug filled with water to the spacer.

Because Canyon had no issues with having the spacer and jug of water following him around the room, the instructor replaced his hockey stick spacer with a larger 4 by 4 sized spacer and a jug filled with rocks.

We then took a break for lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, soup, a cinnamon bun and coffee or a cold beverage. Canyon chilled out in his crate, playing with his new pink squeaky ball he had gotten from the workshop hosts while Huib and I ate lunch.

When the workshop re-commenced, the instructor had us all try out new harnesses with our dogs. The first harness we had used with Canyon in the morning was a red nylon harness, but in the afternoon we used a less stroppy dark leather harness. Once we had the harness secured, the instructor told us that Canyon was such a rock star that she felt he was ready for his first “training wheels”.

Canyon wasn’t too much of a fan of this first “cart” because it was not overly sturdy. He slowly became tolerant of it though, I think because we were comfortable with it.

The final stage of the workshop was with Canyon having an actual cart hooked up to him. This cart is called a training cart and will be similar to the one we purchase for him to use in his initial drafting lessons.

All throughout the workshop we had people come up to us complimenting Canyon on his quick progression through the various stages. I think the main thing which contributed to his success, was that he trusted us and as long as we were comfortable with stuff, then Canyon was also comfortable. Seeing how well Canyon did with his initial introduction to carting, we definitely think drafting will be our next adventure with the golden boy. It costs about $500 to get all of the necessary carting equipment – harness, tracers and training cart – so with a few over time shifts, we’re hoping to have things by the end of the summer.


  1. Wow, what a great workshop. It seems like he really did progress through each step with ease. Good for you all!

  2. awesome, looks like lots of fun!

  3. Canyon is such a quick learner!
    Way to go canyon!

  4. The carting sounds cool. So does that mean he will be like a husky? Will you use the cart for anything?

    Well done!

    Take care, xxx. (It’s Torie but for some reason it will just come up my blog username.).

  5. Hi Tori,
    Huskies usually pull sleds, this is more of a box or seat on two wheels. If we decide to get Canyon’s first drafting title, he needs to be able to pull 40lbs in different terrains, both uphill and on flat surfaces. Huib is thinking that he’ll use Canyon to collect fire wood and stuff if he seems to like pulling the cart. Bernese Mountain Dogs are the more well known breed for drafting and at the workshop there was one older girl who was happiest when there was a little kid sitting in her cart.

  6. wow, you look great~ Berners are draft dogs in switzerland, i bet that is really fun, wish my pack leader had taught me how- i do carry a backpack when we hike. megabarks to you!

  7. Way to go Canyon! You guys are amazing and don’t doubt you will be successful at anything you want to try.

    One other suggestions that might be fun is to try tracking. Canyon’s grandmother on his Dad’s side has her tracking title and if he is anything like his Dad, Canyon will excell at anything he does!

    Keep up the great work!

    Judi Ford
    Ramblin Goldens

  8. Thanks Jesse, Welcome to the blog 🙂 there were mostly Berners at the workshop and for the most part, Berners and Newfs are the breeds who draft. Just recently though, in the past few years or so, drafting has opened up to other breeds, so we thought it might be something interesting to try out with our golden boy.

    Thanks so much Judi, you are so sweet 🙂 I’ve written you an e-mail so I won’t repeat too much here, but tracking is something we’ve talked about so may try out in the meantime while we wait for our drafting equipment. I just need to find a website or something which explains how to teach your dog to track.

  9. So what is the purpose of drafting? I ask because I’ve never heard of it before…well, except for draft horses. Does this mean you’ve given up showing him?

  10. Hi Lynette,
    Drafting is just a fancy way to say pulling a cart lol! The dogs are taught to pull a cart weighing 40lbs and up through various terrains and up and down hills. It is mainly a sport done by breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, but has just recently become open to other breeds.

    We are going to finish up Canyon’s showing title, but we wanted something else to start since showing him can get a little boring after a while. We want to try out as many different dog sports and events as possible so that when we start our own breeding program, we will have an idea of which sports would be fun to do with our gang.

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