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Newfoundland Draft and Team Draft Exercises

(photos by Marc Saunders and Steve Urback)

Basic Control


This is a three part exercise, done off lead.
• The dog will heel at his handler’s left side, making right, left, and about turns; heeling fast, slow and normal pace; and halting, as the judge instructs. The dog is to stay within arms reach, and be under voice control.
• The dog will perform a recall. The dog must remain sitting at one end of the ring, while the handler walks across to the other side. The handler calls his dog, and the dog must come on the first command. Extra commands are allowed once the dog is up and moving. The dog comes within arm’s reach. A sit in front, and finish are desired, but not mandatory.
• The third exercise is performed in a group. The dogs (no more than 10 at a time) are lined up along one side of the ring. The handlers “down” their dogs; they may use their hands to position their dogs if necessary. The handlers walk across the ring and face their dogs, where they remain for one minute. On the judge’s command the handlers walk back together (each to his own dog) and return to the heel position.

basic control

Harnessing, Hitching and Equipment Check

harness A steward takes the dog’s harness and places it in the cart, which is positioned 20 feet away. The dog is commanded to stay, and the handler retrieves his harness from the cart, and returns to the dog. The dog must cooperate for harnessing, and when harnessed, dog and handler approach the cart. The dog must back up on command, a distance of at least four feet within 30 seconds, ideally backing into position in front of the cart. The backup must be less than 90°. The dog is hitched to the cart, and pulls the cart at least 20 feet to a position indicated by the judges.
Maneuvering Course and Basic Commands  

While off lead and pulling his cart, the dog will walk through a course of at least 150 yards as directed by his handler. He will circle around obstacles, navigate broad curves, do at least two 90° turns, and guide his cart carefully through two narrow areas. In addition, there will be a removable obstacle on the course, which must be replaced after passing through. The judge will command the team to slow, halt, back a distance of at least three feet. The back-up must be less than 90°.


Freight Load

Draft Apparatus Minimum Weight Maximum Weight
Travois 5 lbs 20 lbs
Toboggan/Sled 15 lbs 50 lbs
Cart/Wagon 25 lbs 100 lbs
freight load

The handler brings to the test a weight load of his own choosing. The weight must be appropriate to the size and age of the dog, to the draft apparatus he is using, and to the course the dog must travel (see chart above). The dog is hitched to the cart, and the load is placed inside. The judges observe the dogs and handlers move as a group to the beginning of the distance freight haul area. If the load is deemed unsuitable, the dog does not pass this exercise, however the load is adjusted and the dog and handler may proceed to the next exercise.

note: weight is multiplied by number of dogs for teams

Out of Sight Stay

stay 2

Distance Freight Haul


This exercise is a group event with a maximum of six handlers per group over a course of at least one mile. The dog, off lead and accompanied by his handler, will pull his loaded cart through this mile course. At the end of the course, the dog is unhitched, and the exercise is finished.


Intriguing Distraction

This is not a separate exercise, but will occur during the maneuvering course and basic commands, or distance freight haul. While the dog works, a distraction appears. The dog may stop or shift position slightly, but must not move toward the distraction. The handler will command his dog to continue, and the dog must complete the exercise without undue disruption. There may be natural distractions which occur in addition to the “official” one; the dog must perform adequately during all distractions in order to pass this exercise.

Team Draft Exercises are Identical except that the entered dogs must each have an individual Draft Dog Title prior to entering.

team basic team hitch

Team Basic Control

Team Harness and Hitching

team turn

A team hitch working an outside 90° turn

team narrows

Team hitch going through low narrows






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