The PWDCA Water Trials are based on the traditional work that the dogs did on fishing boats in Portugal. While most of the exercises require training, they also use the dogs natural instincts to work, swim and retrieve.
If you've trained your dog to for basic household manners you can do water work. There are water trials held all over the country and in Canada, and it's an opportunity to meet other active PWD owners, as well as prove your, and your dogs skills.
You will find the official water trial rules at the PWDCA (Portuguese Water Dog Club of America) site.
Getting Started in Water Work
You can start a PWD of any age in the water. If you have a puppy you want to make sure that the water and air temperatures are warm enough for them. Usually training in the water is done in the spring and summer, but there is lot's you can do to get ready.
It's important to train all the exercises on land before you attempt them in the water. Once the dog really knows its job on land it will be much easier for them to transfer that knowledge to the water. You don't want them to worry about what they are doing, while they work on swimming.
Although all PWDs can swim, some take to it more easily. If your dog doesn't jump in and start swimming don't worry. With practice they will become more comfortable in the water. If they seem fearful, or aren't exposed to water frequently you can use a life vest to help them gain confidence. Start working on basic obedience exercises (come, sit, stay, fetch) and you'll be ready for the Junior test next summer.