I know that sounds like the lead-in to a joke. It’s not. And let me now make my case for how a Newfie is like a gym membership. Every year, many people start off with that standard resolution about losing weight and getting in shape. We often hit it hard and heavy in the early days. Then…life happens. Pretty soon, our several times a week trips to the gym become more infrequent. Eventually…they stop altogether and we wait for the membership to expire.
The same can happen with your Newfie. Here is how. When you first get that bundle of fluff and bring it home, you have hopefully been meeting with and speaking to members of your local Newfie club. Maybe you attended a draft cart test, or perhaps some water training. If you really got ambitious, you might’ve attended a conformation show. You saw those beautiful dogs in the ring and thought, “Wow, all I have to do is take my dog in, walk in a square or triangle, and then I get a ribbon for my dog!” (If you read my post about one of my experiences in the ring, then you know that ain’t how it goes.)
So, you finally get your Newfie home and start in on the basic puppy training. She does great. You get a taste of success, and then maybe you enter a show. Perhaps you get a ribbon. But when you don’t win it all and realize that you spent longer getting your stuff loaded in the car than actually showing your dog for a fourth place ribbon, maybe you decide to really get serious about it. Perhaps you get a win, but most likely, being brand new and not having the knowledge of how to show your dog’s strength, your first several shows will be hit and miss.
So, you decide to try water or draft cart. That is when you discover that just a few minutes here and there aren’t going to cut it. The most common question/reaction I hear at these events is something like, “Wow, your dog really nailed that qualification trial! How did that happen?” The answer is simple: work…lots of hard work. Hours…possibly HUNDREDS of hours. And you have so many small parts of the whole to teach your dog that it starts to feel overwhelming. Maybe you get really lucky and he takes to one aspect very fast. But then you try the next part and he just does not seem to understand what you are trying to teach. First, let me suggest getting together with club members. They often have clinics to teach YOU how to teach your dog. Then, you have to know your dog well enough to tailor that to how they learn.
Pretty soon, that early enthusiasm becomes too much like work. News flash…for YOU, it is. For your dog, it is what they live for. They have ALL of your attention, and a Newfie loves that. They might struggle with some aspects, but if you stick with it…they will learn. You have to overcome your frustration and remember that you are doing this for them; your Newfie needs that mental and physical stimulation. They are not going to care one tiny bit about a piece of paper. THAT will be your reward. Do you have the endurance?