The Toller is an extremely versatile and active dog with whom you can do almost anything. Tolling and retrieving are the original purposes of use for a Toller but the breed has also got good results in blood tracking. In addition, Tollers have succeeded in obedience trials and they can also take part in working dog trials. Due to their agile and playful nature, the Tollers are also well suited to dog agility. Thus, the possibilities are nearly endless and everyone will surely find a suitable activity based on the interests and abilities of both the owner and the dog.
Basic retriever test
The aim of the Finnish basic retriever test is to find out whether the character of the dog is typical for that particular retriever breed and whether the dog has the natural ability to be trained for retrieving small game and participating in retriever working trials. The abilities that are tested include reaction to strange people and dogs, confidence and initiative, reaction to gunfire, use of scent, willingness to hunt and retrieve, game handling, returning of the retrieve, willingness to swim and co-operation with the handler. Passing this test is a requirement for the title of Show Champion. Each year approximately 30-40 Tollers take part in the retriever test and usually less than half of them pass. However, the interest for the test has clearly increased.
Working trials for retrievers
Passing the basic retriever test is a requirement for entering a retriever working trial. The purpose of the trial is to test the ability and willingness of the dogs to work in conditions that resemble practical hunting. The trials have three levels: novice class, open class and winner class. During the last few years about a dozen Tollers have participated in retriever working trials, most of them in the novice class.
In the open class of a blood tracking trial, the dog follows a blood trail that is at least 12 hours old and 900-1400 metres long in a forest with live game. In the winner class the trail is more than 18 hours old and 1200-1400 metres long. The conditions of the trial are as authentic as possible. In practice, tracking dogs are used for finding elks that have been wounded in traffic accidents, for example. Altogether 21 Tollers took part in blood tracking trials in 1998, and since then the number has increased. There are several Tracking Champions in Finland and Tollers have also won regional championships and taken part in the national championship of blood tracking with good success.
The purpose of obedience training is to teach controlled and pleasant behaviour to the dog and correct and appropriate handling of the dog to the owner. Obedience trials test the results of the training, that is, the co-operation between the dog and the handler and the level of training given to the dog. The trial includes such exercises as heelwork, recall, staying and retrieving. There are four levels in the trials: novice class, open class, winner class and elite class. With one first prize you have the right to compete in the next class. For the Obedience Champion title, three first prizes from the elite class are required, in addition to at least a second prize in shows. By the end of 2001 three Tollers have become Obedience Champions. Mintramain Brutus has also represented Finland in the world championship of obedience in the Netherlands.
Obedience training is also an important basis for other activities.
Dog agility is a sport in which a handler directs the dog through an obstacle course as quickly and with as few mistakes as possible. Due to jumping and speed, agility is a tough sport so it requires the dog to have a healthy structure. The dogs are divided into three classes according to their size: mini class (height under 35 cm), midi class (35-42,9 cm) and maxi class (over 43 cm). Tollers compete in both midi and maxi classes. In 2001 altogether 31 Tollers took part in official agility competitions. Tollers have also done well in the national championship in agility.
Working dog trials
In working dog trials there are eight different trials: tracking trial, search trial, general trial, messenger dog trial, guide dog trial, schutzhund trial, search and rescue dog trial and skijoring trial. All trials (except for the skijoring trial) also include an obedience test. There are some Tollers that practice for the working dog trials but so far, not very many Tollers have actually taken part in the trials.
Search and rescue
Search and rescue dog training has gained popularity quickly and there are special training grounds in several locations. The Finnish search and rescue dogs have also taken part in international functions.
The water trial is a new activity in Finland. It measures the dog's life-saving abilities in the water. In the trial, the dog first swims from the boat to a certain place in the shore and carries the rope from the shore to the boat. Then the dog tows the boat and the 'drowning' person to the shore. There are three levels in the trials. In 1998 one Toller took part in the water trial.