Beginner Draft Dog

This optional level is performed with the dog on leash and is designed to provide a gateway to the Draft Dog division. Six sections make up the BDD division.

Basic Control

There are two parts to basic control; controlled walking and a recall.

  • Controlled Walking: The dog must walk with the handler in response to the commands given, and on a loose leash the majority of the time.  
  • Recall: Will be performed following Controlled Walking. Once the dog is in position, the leash will be switched to long line. With the commanded to stay in a sit position, the handler will walk to the end of the long line and call the dog to come.  The dog will come close enough to be touched by the handler.

Beginner Harnessing, Hitching, and Equipment Check

The dog and handler will then walk on a loose leash to a spot close to the cart. When ready the handler will instruct the dog to cooperate for harnessing

Next, the handler hitches the dog to the draft apparatus.  Once attached the dog and handler are to move forward to an indicated spot. As the dog moves forward, the judges observe the equipment to verify that the equipment works safely, efficiently, and in harmony with the dog's anatomy.  The judges will then go over the equipment to be sure that it fits and is adjusted correctly.


The maneuvering course must include the following: Two 360-degree circular patterns (one in each direction), minimum of two broad curves (one in either direction), ninety-degree turns (at least one to the left and one to the right), two narrow areas six or more feet long, and a removable obstacle where the dog stops and waits until the handler removes the obstacle and continues to wait until the handler picks up the leash and proceeds through the obstacle. A backup with the dog attached to the apparatus is also required.


One-Minute Stay and Freight Load

This exercise is divided into two parts: One minute stay and freight load.

  • One Minute Stay: Is done as a group exercise with the other dogs.  The handlers will leave their dogs upon command from the judges and will go to the end of their leash for one minute.
  • Freight Load: The judges will watch each individual handler, load and secure a freight into the apparatus. The judges will check that the load is appropriate and that the cart is balanced after the weight is added.

Distance Freight Haul

The Distance Freight Haul is a group exercise. Each dog will haul a loaded apparatus on a course that is at least one-half mile in length.

Intriguing Distraction

Though a planned distraction is not required, if a naturally occurring intriguing distraction appears during the test, the dog’s reaction will still be judged. If the dog stops to watch the distraction, the handler should encourage the dog to proceed when appropriate to do so.

The NCA has a Beginner draft dog tutorial with YouTube video links.