Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Temperament

The standard of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever temperament states: “The Toller is highly intelligent, alert, outgoing, and ready for action, though not to the point of nervousness or hyperactivity. He is affectionate and loving with family members and is good with children, showing patience. Some individuals may display reserved behavior in new situations, but this is not to be confused with shyness. Shyness in adult classes should be penalized. The Toller’s strong retrieving desire coupled with his love of water, endurance, and intense birdiness, is essential for his role as a Tolling Retriever.”

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Holding A Bird

Many Tollers have a slightly sad or worried expression when they are not working. The moment the slightest indication is given that retrieving is required, they set themselves for springy action with an expression of intense concentration and excitement. The heavily feathered tail is held high, in constant motion while working.

They are incredibly fast learners and require creative and mentally stimulating training. A tired dog is a happy owner, and bored Tollers will often find something to do that usually involves taking something apart. Toller owners often find it’s best to find their dog a job rather he become self-employed. The resulting self-employment is seldom pleasant. They have been known to do such jobs as peel drywall, de-stuff couches, and shred photographs and important papers. Although energetic, Tollers are not known for being neurotic and are less intense than a Border Collie. Toller owners will often find, with some physical and mental tiredness, the Toller is a loving family dog that is happy to cuddle at the end of a day’s work.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Holding A Bird and swimming

Since they need to work and take well to training, owners of a Toller often find it’s important to do some sort of training or activity with their dog. The Toller is an extremely versatile breed, able to excel in a wide variety of dog sports and activities. Tollers love to work with people who love to work with them. They can excel in (and be your best friend) doing just about anything from obedience, rally, agility, and field to dock diving, flyball, lure coursing, tracking, nosework, barn hunt, even trick training and more. Of course, they are always up for fetching, hiking, and swimming. They are able to go from couch potato to bounding retriever in mere seconds! They like new experiences and are easy to take traveling.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and Owner Playing

Tollers are physically and emotionally sensitive though, so care does need to be taken with how much pressure is applied in training. They are easily motivated, and food, toys, and anything that moves can be used to engage a Toller. Many are eager to please and all are goal oriented. Using positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise, and food rewards works well for Tollers. With this breed, it’s important to establish rules, be consistent, and above all, prevent the dog from getting bored. Training them requires flexibility and a sense of humor. Tollers tend to put their own spin on things and often ask what’s in it for them. Training sessions are best kept short, upbeat, and challenging.

Considering Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever temperament, Tollers are highly adaptable and can even fare well in apartments or condos, as long as their humans can keep up with providing them with enough physical and mental activities. A Toller thrives when he lives with a family that is willing to spend plenty of time training and exercising him.

Compared to Golden Retrievers, most Tollers are less submissive, less outgoing with strangers, and less adaptable to low-exercise households. This is a high-energy breed and, while they do have an “off switch,” those who are looking for a casual pet that doesn’t need much exercise and sleeps most of the day may find that the Toller is too much dog. Having a Toller is a mental and
physical commitment.

A Toller’s love for life is infectious and they try to engage everyone around them in their play. If you are standing near a Toller, they will drop a ball or toy at your feet. They are the world’s best mood-lifter! It is hard not to feel joy in your heart when you see a Toller retrieve.

Toller owners will often tell you the best thing about having a Toller is that there is never a dull moment and life is never boring with them!

  • Jennifer Hollis is the Public Education Coordinator for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club. She is currently owned by two Tollers: “Dodger,” who started it all almost 14 years ago, and his son “DJ.” Jennifer and Dodger and DJ participate in conformation as well as a wide variety of dog sports, including obedience, rally, agility, field, CAT, FAST CAT, dock diving, and barn hunt.

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