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It is important to keep in mind that Berners are working dogs—not sporting dogs. They love to work and feel happiest when they have a job. There are lots of jobs for the Bernese Mountain Dog.


Some people get involved with herding or droving. There are a few sheep farms in the area that allow people to work their livestock. Despite their size, some Berners really enjoy agility. This can be a lot of fun for the handler and the dog. Most people who have been involved with the breed for a long time will have at least trained a Berner to pull a cart. This is their heritage—and many dogs love it and take to it instinctively. As a steward of the breed, I encourage Berner people to try to get involved with drafting.  Please note that a Berner can be trained to retrieve a ball, a Berner is not a retriever. This skill is not innate to them. In fact, some Berners may chase a running rabbit or squirrel however, the prey drive has been bred out of these dogs—let me remind you—their original job was guardian of the farm and drafting. (Think milkshake…) If you are looking for a dog that will run (and please consider summer heat)  with you or play frisbee, you may want to consider a different breed. Again—they can be trained…


Berners are slow to mature and can be stubborn. Training may take some time. Housebreaking can take six to twelve months.  They are soft dogs; harsh training methods do not work well with them and tend to cause a shut-down. Use positive training methods with Bernese, and always remember—when things go wrong it is the fault of the handler. Pay attention to the signals your dog is giving you. Dogs do not use words, but they certainly do communicate. They will tell you. Please listen, watch and learn from your dog. One of the many things that makes dogs so special is their ability to problem solve. They do this by seeking human assistance. It is quite remarkable. Take the time to know your dog. Bernese are large sturdy dogs. For many reasons it is imperative that your dog is well socialized and exhibits good manners.  Bernese will take you for a walk and possibly provide you with a skinned chin or knees if leash training is neglected.  Puppy training classes are a must as is teaching your dog to look at you (focus), to sit, to stay and to come.  Berners are intelligent, and pretty much always hungry. Train positive—use lots of treats.

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