Portuguese Water Dogs are happiest when they have a job and, thankfully, today's dog sports, competitions, and activities provide our working dogs with outlets for their remarkable drive. The PWD's medium size, temperament and working drive enable them to excel in a variety of activities. The capable minds and agile bodies of these ancient swimmers readily take on different tasks, but training a PWD is not without challenges. Gifted with an innate sense of humor, PWDs will often interpret tasks in their own unique ways!
PWDs compete for titles and certifications in:
- Agility - In these canine obstacle course competitions, dogs and their handlers work together to quickly and accurately navigate different obstacles.
- Conformation - At dog shows, dogs are exhibited to judges who measure their quality against the standard for their breed. Dogs who "conform" most closely to these standards earns points towards an American Kennel Club championship.
- Obedience - Obedience trials test dogs' abilities to perform specific behaviors as directed by their handlers.
- Rally - At Rally trials, dogs and handlers walk through courses, made up of 20 or more stations, demonstrating their abilities to perform obedience exercises as directed by their handlers.
- Therapy - Therapy dogs visit people in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, special education classes, and schools, to bring comfort and stimulation to people who benefit from the healing power of dogs.
- Tracking - Tracking dogs earn titles at competitions when they demonstrate that they are able to follow a scent course to locate a lost object or person.
- Water Work - Uniquely available to PWDs, water work competitions test a dog's ability to perform the tasks they were originally bred to do for the Portuguese fisherman including retrieving items, relaying messages from boat to boat, and diving for items underwater.
- Other - PWDs also train and compete in other areas like herding, draft, freestyle, flyball, hunting and carting. A few very special PWDs are FEMA certified in Search and Rescue - one very special breed representative worked the World Trade Center site after 9/11 and performed rescue missions after Hurricane Katrina. Other PWDs are trained service dogs and a few work as "seizure alert" dogs.
With proper training and an enthusiastic handler, the PWD has virtually unlimited potential to showcase its talents and abilities.