Fun with Your Swissy!
Swissys are a working breed who were initially bred to pull carts and herd livestock. They seem to know they're Working Dogs and are happiest when they have a "job" to do. Since they are one of the most versatile breeds in the world, you'll find plenty of "employment" opportunities for your Swissy!
The first step is deciding what job is right for you and your dog... finding an activity that you'll both enjoy. You can scroll through the slide show below to get a glimpse of the activities in which many Swissys and their owners participate. You can engage in activities just for fun, or you can participate competitively and work toward earning titles for your dog.
Find something that interests you and do some research to learn more about what's involved. Then locate a training facility near your home, join a local dog club, or buy a book/video to learn on your own. AKC's publication - Getting Started in Events (click here), is a good source of information for beginners.
Have fun with your Swissy and give your dog a job!
Conformation is the judging of breeding stock against the Breed Standard. Dogs are evaluated to determine their value in the breeding programs across the country. Dogs compete first and foremost for their Championship and Grand Championship Titles, but many go on to compete as a Champion for National rankings.
Dogs and handlers enter obedience trials to demonstrate their ability to complete various tasks amid a high level of distractions. Competitive obedience offers a very stylized manner of skill in performing on lead and off lead control. Dogs are judged on different skills at different levels.
Rally is an AKC that provides a bridge for peoople moving from the Canine Good Citizen program to the more exacting world of Obedience or the more energetic world of Agility. Rally is a fun, energetic sport, requiring teamwork between the Swissy and its handler and is a great event for the average pet owner.
Agility is a sport in which a dog, under the guidance of a handler, runs through an obstacle course full speed, while having to perform accurately and safely on A-Frames, Dog Walks, See-Saws and a wide variety of jumps and tunnels.
Drafting tests are designed to mimic the types of obstacles a working Swissy may have had to negotiate while pulling a cart. Standing calm in harness and working steadily, dog and handler demonstrate their proficiency to work as a team to navigate a set course and earn various levels of draft titles.
Strap on a pack and join the fun! Pack Dog hikes offer an opportunity to get back to nature amongst the support and encouragement of other Swissy owners. Hike intensity will vary with terrain, but this is a sport that most Swissies can excel in with just a little effort put towards preparation.
Though bred to function as a draft dog, the Swissy was truly multi-purpose and was also used to manage livestock in the mountains of their native Switzerland. Swissies demonstrate their herding instincts and abilities through herding trials with various types of livestock.
Weight Pulling demonstrates the physical brawn of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the strength of heart this breed exhibits to please its master. Working away from the handler with no physical contact allowed, the dog must start a cart from a standing position and pull the cart a total of 15 feet.
Tracking demonstrates the ability of the dog to follow a human trail over various terrains and distances. Tracking is a formalized demonstration of search and rescue abilities as dogs follow an aged human trail and signal any objects that may have been dropped along the trail.