Training will enhance the bond between you and your dog. Dogs who have a solid obedience education are a joy to live with-they respond well to household routines, have good manners in the presence of people and other dogs, and they fully enjoy the company of the owner who took the time to provide training, intellectual stimulation, and a high quality life.
Coming from a working background, Berners enjoy the challenges of learning new things. Most Berners are eager to please their owners and can be trained quite readily in a variety of areas. Because of the breed's eventual large size, it is to the owner's advantage to begin obedience training (household manners and basic obedience commands) at a young age. However, since Berners as a breed are slow to mature, both physically and mentally, owners should not push puppies in training too rapidly; these dogs are definitely not obedience "child prodigies." The training of a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy requires firmness, consistency, and lots of patience, and is most successfully accomplished with many brief, fun training sessions. Despite their large size, the majority of Berners are "soft" dogs and do not do well with harsh corrections. To avoid the possibility of orthopedic injury, a Bernese should not be asked to jump or pull loads before the age of two.
A hundred years ago, Bernese Mountain Dogs worked at guarding the farm, herding cattle, and hauling milk cans to the dairy. The guarding ability is greatly diminished these days (although Berners still make good watch dogs), but the herding instinct and draft capabilities remain intact in many dogs. Although at this time Bernese Mountain Dogs are not permitted to compete in AKC herding events, the majority of BMDs will pass a herding instinct certification test, and some owners actively train their dogs in this area. Berners are eligible to compete in trials offered by the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) and the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA). Many Berners participate in AKC obedience and tracking tests, as well as agility competition. They have also been quite successful as therapy dogs and, to a limited extent, as search and rescue dogs