Introduce yourself and your dogs! forum: Bouvier des Flandres

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ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 12:04 AM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
Hi, I ran across this cubits wondering around and thought I'd drop in and introduce myself and our dogs. Right now we have 6 Bouvier des Flandres, a breed that was originally Belgium cattle herding and all around work dogs. Used for just about anything that needed done, from guarding the cattle to pulling the milk wagon to town, to pulling artillary and gurneys during WWI and WWII, to being couriers carring messages and ammunitions to the soldiers. They were taught to pull wounded off the battle field (although the Belgiums or French taught them to leave the German wounded behind while the other pull any wounded off).

The dogs are great herders, from cattle to sheep to ducks to kids and even the occasional cat or two (although the cats will say they weren't being herded, they were going that way anyway). Hilarious!

The Bouvier also is good at rescue, tracking, sniffing out all kinds of things and service work. They aren't used a lot like this though because they are long haired and double coated, so do have come with a grooming requirements that most agencies that use service and working dogs don't want to deal with. But they are naturals in all of these. They are very intellegent and have the ability to reason (a lot of dogs don't) and are bite inhibitated... which means if having to protect their people, they will try everything they can before they restort to biting. We've seen where they litterly will knock someone down and sit on them... of course if you saw their mouth full of teeth inches away from your face, you would lay very very still. Hilarious!

Of course like most breeds, you have good ones and there are not so good ones. We've been very blessed to have some of the best of the breed in the 17 years we've had Bouviers.

Here is one of the things we like doing with our Bouviers (and they like it as well):

Thumb of 2010-09-01/MikeJ/2ce91e


Mike
ImageWindigo
Sep 1, 2010 12:11 PM CST
Name: Deb
Wow, Mike, that looks really cool!!

Gorgeous dogs

Do they take verbal commands to pull the chair, or does someone need to lead? That is a great picture of them.

ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 12:39 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
Hi Deb, and thanks.

All of our dogs take verbal commands to some extent, although some are better trained than others. My wife teaches them the Gee, Haa, whow, steady, giddy up, etc., commands at an early age. We use them even when just walking on a lesh. I never can remember which is left or right, Gee or Haa (I have the same trouble with Port and Starboard), so I always give the command and see which way the dog turns to remind me. Hilarious!

This is only one of several carts we have. We have a 4 wheel wagon, a mushing training cart, a couple of different 2 wheel carts, this carriage, a competition cart and a sulky type cart, and two scooters (one is a all tarain ATV type with big tires that takes two dogs to pull and one is a small bicycle type that one dog can pull very fast and two make it fly). We've been doing carting for a lot of years, although we lost our main lead dogs a while back and a couple of others are 13 now and don't pull any more.

I'll post some more pictures of the carts we have when I get home this afternoon.

Mike
ImageWindigo
Sep 1, 2010 5:13 PM CST
Name: Deb
That is so cool. I've never even heard of carting with dogs. How did you get involved with that? You say you have a competition cart. I'm assuming then that there are competitions. What is involved in the competitions? Well, you learn something new everyday!!

ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 11:17 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
We got involved in it since carting was one of the things our breed was used for from the beginning. And since the Bouvier is a dog that needs a job to keep them from getting bored and finding things themselves to do (and you don't want a bored Bouvier Hilarious! ), and it was easier (and cheaper) than finding them a herd of cattle to herd, we started carting.

At first it was just a small sulky type cart that was basically two wheels, a seat and two shafts. We used that for awhile and then my wife got the carrage in the picture above. It helped that the guy that makes them leaves in Portland near us. Then we started branching out. I bought a mushing rig and the off road ATV class scooter. She got the smaller scooter, then a wagon, sulky (a bigger one) and the competition cart. The competition cart is used mostly by some of the other breeds (Bermease Mt. dogs, Rotties, etc.) but can be used by any breed. In competition your dog has to demonstrate the ability to manuver by voice command around a set up field. There are different levels of competition from very beginning up to very advanced. Some have to carry a certain amount of weight (based on the dog) in their cart. There are AKC titles for some breeds and the Bouvier was only recently recognized by the AKC to be able to get titles based on carting. Taking so long was very narrow minded by the AKC since the Bouvier has traditionally been a carting dog.

To start carting is pretty easy, although you want to start out right the first time so your dog has a positive (at least not a negative) experience. Most people start out with teaching them the commands for going right, left, forward, stop and even backup, faster, slower, move right or left (for passing or being passed like on trails) and others. They also are taught to stand correctly so the harness can be put on and taken off and what ever they are pulling is hooked up.

After learning a few basic commands (or while teaching commands) you start putting a harness on so they can get use to it. There are a bunch of different types of harnesses too, depending on what kind of carting you are doing and having the right one can make a big difference. Then you add traces (lines that come back from the harness like reins with horses) and get them use to something behind them. You can also add something for them to pull, like a milk carten, a piece of 4x4, PVC pipe, etc., just to get them use to it. Some are very skittish with having something right behind them, so going slowly with lots of praise and treats can really help. With some dogs, they don't seemto mind at all. What we usually do with new dogs is have someone pull the cart behind the dog for awhile without hooking it up. That way the get use to something bigger right behind them. When they finally get hooked up, you want to take it slowly at first (depending on the dog of course) again with lots of praise and treats. We like to hook up one of our trained dogs with a new dog. Dogs seem to learn faster when they have a coach showing them the ropes.

All of this could take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the dog and your committment to it. Our dogs go nuts when they see the harnesses come out because it's something they really like to do... at least they know they are going to get out and have fun at least. One thing that is important for young dogs. You don't want to have them start pulling to soon. Most dogs take between a year and two years before their bones and joints have matured enough to pull any amount of weight. That doesn't mean young dogs can't be taught the commands or learn to wear a harness. We have a 19 month old Bouvier that regularly wears a harness and pulls lines behind him. Of course he's been wearing a service dog harness or vest for almost a year as part of his service dog training, so he is use to wearing something. He just got his own pack the other day so he can start learning to wear one of those and carry some of his own stuff (poop bags, water, treats, etc.). The other thing about dogs, they are not like horses or mules. They are not weight carrying animals, although they can carry some weight, you have to be carefull that it is up on their front shoulders and doesn't weight too much. I think the standard is no more than 25% of their weight, but I'm not possitive about that. They can pull a lot, because they are using their body and legs, so that's different than actually carrying something. But you also want to make sure that any shafts do not bear down on the dog (like when you get in and out of a two wheel cart). The shafts should go along the side of the dog and not on top to reduce the chance of bearing down on their backs.

If there are any Bermease Mountain dog clubs in your area, you can probably find out when they are having a carting trail or demonstation and go watch.

Here are some more pictures. This is a competition cart that a woman had at a carting session my wife gave...

Thumb of 2010-09-02/MikeJ/f7a5c1
ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 11:19 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
Here are our sulky, competition cart (without the sides on it), our small scooter and the other person's cart.

Thumb of 2010-09-02/MikeJ/bbdf21
ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 11:23 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
This is the mushing rig we have with 3 of our Bouviers on the gang line. The Bouvier in the lead made a great lead dog. The problem was she was also a ground tracker. So when ever we went out she would take off at a fast run with her nose to the ground following every twist and turn of what ever trail she was following. She didn't know how to take a straight line so we had to move her back to wheel dog and move one of the others up. Hilarious!

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ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 11:26 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
This is the big scooter I bought. This woman is trying it out with one of her 3 GSP's. Boy did they love to run and pull. She had this scooter just flying around the parking lot.

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ImageMikeJ
Sep 1, 2010 11:32 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
Here are some friends of ours that have a Bouvier using two of our trained dogs to show theirs how it's done. The two on the right are ours and the one on the left with the leash is theirs. This was a spring day and we had the cart out on the Portland water front walkway.

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Ok, I'll stop before I get even more carried away. Rolling on the floor laughing

Mike
ImageWindigo
Sep 2, 2010 7:28 AM CST
Name: Deb
That is so cool, and it really looks like fun! I'll have to ask around about carting in the area. My brother has a GSD, and is looking for different things to do with him.

ImageCajuninKy
Oct 1, 2010 12:29 PM CST
Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
Truth should be everpresent.
That is so cool! I love the looks of the Bouviers. I have a BC. I have a sulky but my pony pulls it. What is the life expectancy of the Bouvier? I wished dogs lived as long as horses or people do. My BC is 11 and he is slowing down. I have been thinking of raising a nubian wether, a castrated dairy breed goat, to train as a draft goat. They are nearly as big as my pony and they take lots less room and less feed.
Please join me at my Websites:
At Home Away from Home ~ Cajun's Corner

ImageMikeJ
Oct 1, 2010 9:02 PM CST
Name: Mike
Hillsboro, OR
Hi Cheryl, The Bouvier is on par with other larger breeds and can live 16 years (rare but there are those that do) or as short as 8 (assuming normal health). The average is around 10 or 11. We have two right now that are over 13 years old and other than being hard of hearing are doing fine. We had another one that we lost at just over 13 and 12 years. It doesn't matter how long they live, it never is long enough, that's for sure.

Does a castrated dairy goat produce more milk than a non-castrated one does? Rolling on the floor laughing

Goats are neat animals. If we had property, I know we would have had a few. The ones I've been around pretty much had no fear nor shame... pretty much like some of our Bouviers. Hilarious!

Thanks, Cheryl and think Deb for your comments too.

Mike

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