By Jen Lupo, CANIDAE Special Achiever
There are many dog lovers out there competing in various different events. Back in 2009, I found one that sparked my interest: weight pulling. This dog sport has been around for a while, although it's not as popular as conformation, agility, obedience and dock jumping. Weight pulling involves strength and endurance, but it also creates an amazing bond between an owner and their pet!
Most dog owners are unaware of this interesting sport. Any breed of dog can compete or just have a good time with it. From the smallest toy poodle to the biggest Great Dane, each dog has fun and gains confidence and athleticism. It usually involves a dog in a specially designed harness, hooked up to a sled, cart or rail type system. The dog is then given a command that the owner chooses to get the dog to pull forward. Typically, the object being pulled has to be accomplished 16 ft in 60 seconds or less.
When I start training my dogs for this sport, they just wear a harness around. This helps them get accustomed to wearing the harness and the noise of it clinking around. From there, I have attached a milk jug to the D ring on the back with rocks inside. That’s a great way to get noise going on back there, while walking them around on leash. A buckle collar is the only one I train with. It is the only collar approved for competition, and it’s safe. Chokers and other types of training collars to me get in the way or cause too much correction. Remember, it should be something happy for the dog. Any negative feedback will cause a dog to not want to pull.
The Next Step
Drag sleds are helpful endurance gaining tools. They are usually metal, with a pole in the middle for an easy way to place weights. Never make your dog drag weight that’s more than what they weigh for long periods of time. When you are out training your dog, always keep the leash on them and step in front of them in the beginning and teach a command. Always keep this command the same. If you switch it up too much or get frustrated, it will just frustrate your dog and confuse them. I like the word "pull" or "work" but whatever works for you and your dog is great.
A drag session should be very light for a young dog, 5 or 10 lbs for bigger dogs and much less for the little guys. If you have a small dog, a simple small chain from your local hardware store will work just fine. But always make sure the dog isn't struggling. Round weights are needed for a typical drag sled, although I have used a small kids snow sled in the past with weight on top. Puppies have to finish growing, so putting too much stress on their joints at a young age is never a good thing.
Do some research online. Try and find a local club in your area and see if they have a set up to train. Talk to other dog owners and network possible training opportunities. There are several well known organizations out there to begin with if you are looking to compete.
Taking your time is very important. Have fun with it and remember about the bond it can create and the fun your dog will have. It is very important to understand how to train and to be positive with your dog at all times! It’s you and your dog on the track together, no one else.
My experience with weight pulling started in 2009. My dog Panda was my 1st dog I ever attempted to pull. She wore the harness around for a few months and had some drag weight experience before we went to our 1st competition. Here comes the reason to stay positive! Panda and I attended an event, 3 days of weight pulling on a rail system. She went up for her 1st turn, she stood there, turned around, jumped up on the cart and licked all the cart handlers. She did that all 3 days but I kept it positive, each time walking her through pulling the cart the 16 feet. After that she sailed on!
We started attending more events. She obtained her 1st weight pull title shortly after, then another and another and another! She earned 7 new weight pull titles from January 2010 to January 2011. After that long year of traveling, Panda had earned a Most Weight Pulled award, pulling the most weight for dogs under 60 lbs, and earned a Most Weight Pulled Per Body Pound award, pulling the most weight per body lb than any dog under 60 lbs there. She also finished off 2010 as the # 6 American Pit Bull Terrier UKC Weight Pull All Star. Her personal best pull is 4,213 lbs and she weighs in at 45 lbs.
Other than good training, what got us to this point? CANIDAE ALS has done wonderful, amazing things for Panda and my other dogs. Weight pulling is just one of the sports Panda participates in, and CANIDAE food keeps her healthy, fit and gives her all the energy she needs to compete and just be her happy self. I hope you have gained some new information from this and have happy, healthy dogs!
Thank you for reading!