Draft Test is a new discipline to Australia, but it is well established in the U.S, Canada, the UK and Europe.
Drafting involves a series of exercises designed to develop and demonstrate a dog’s usefulness as a draft animal, a reliable freighting companion and worker.
Teamwork is paramount in this sport, combining dog and owner teamwork, basic control and stability as well as working in a vehicle.
The course includes visual and audible distractions, approaches by people passing, changes of pace, backing and manoeuvring through a narrow walkway.
A weight of 10kg in the vehicle for novice, and a third of the dog’s body weight for the open course is applied for the freight haul.
The freight haul element to the sport requires the dog and their handler to cover a 1.6 km long course whilst the dog is hitched to the vehicle. The course covers changes in terrain.
These exercises aim to demonstrate skills resulting from inherent draft ability and training, which are applicable to realistic work situations. All elements are completed on a loose lead and in an efficient manner. It is important that a dog is physically sound and a willing worker.
Safety is paramount, with all dogs examined by a veterinarian on the ground prior to the commencement of a draft test.
A veterinarian is present for the entirety of the draft test and each entrant in the freight haul is allocated a steward to assist them if required.
Drafting became a Dogs Australia sport in 2016.
Traditionally draft breeds were used as multipurpose farm dogs moving light loads. This required dogs to work reliably with their owner as they were required to stop and wait while vehicles were loaded and unloaded. Dogs would often meet people and obstacles on the way, so a sound temperament was also required.
There are interested groups in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.
Currently Victoria and NSW hold regular training days. NSW holds draft tests and there’s hope other states will get started soon.
Drafting is a perfect way to harness the inherent traits of draft breeds.
The dogs and their owners enjoy the opportunity to work and supportive and educated trainers are available to give guidance on draft training days.
Draft test competitions are held in the colder months and dogs can be awarded a Novice or Open Draft Dog title at a single competition.
To find your local Draft Test sport club please visit your local State website: