Letting Your Dog Pull
Does your dog strain and pull against the leash every time you walk? Well, leash training IS in order, but consider getting into an activity that uses your dog’s natural instinct. Pulling as an activity and a competitive sport can be an outlet you want to try with your dog. This is not limited to the big dogs either – dogs of all sizes and breeds can pull.
CART PULLING OR DRAFTING
Many dog breeds, especially larger ones, have worked as draft animals, pulling carts hauling to help their owner’s business, farm, or household operate. That doesn’t happen so much now, but many working dogs still like to have a job to do and like to pull. Dogs transport firewood, carry groceries home, give rides to children, or even pull you.
In drafting or carting competition, dogs are challenged to demonstrate things like obedience, how well they can maneuver with the cart, and the ability to pull a load.
Like it sounds, the dog, wearing a special harness, pulls a heavy object or a cart that has weight loaded on it across a distance. If you are thinking “that doesn’t look like fun” or “that is cruel”, this may not be the activity for your dog. However, many dogs are downright enthusiastic about pulling and love the challenging work.
In competition, weight pulls always start at the lowest weight or an empty cart (or sled in snowy areas) and more weight is added each round. The dog pulls the cart a certain distance within a certain time—while her owner cheers her on—she goes on to the next round.
First, this activity can add some variety to your routine outside of a walk. Second, pulling can really allow active dogs to work off a ton of energy. Third, pulling any weight at all helps dogs build muscle mass. if long brisk walks aren’t in your capabilities for whatever reason, weight pulling can tire out your energetic dog, but with less stress on you. It can be just a fun activity that is an effective workout and a wonderful way to spend time together.
Before starting a dog in any type of pulling, it is good if he or she has already master “Sit/Stay” and “Come”.
For any type of pulling, you have to start with the harness. There are different types of harness for different types of pulling, all designed to keep the dog safe for the particular activity. Weight pulling harnesses are wide across the chest to distribute a great deal of weight. You want to select the cart harness that works best with the size and maneuverability of the type of cart your dog will pull.
The first phase of training typically is just to let the dog get used to wearing the harness at all, with nothing attached. You then want to work on a command to associate with pulling. Let him wander a little, then call him back to you. Praise him. Eventually, you will introduce a word like “Pull” or “Work ” or some other command when you call. Eventually, you will add more commands or body language for other directions such as left, right, stop, and backup.
If interested in weight pulling, the next step is adding weight, starting very low, 5-10 pounds. A milk jug, an empty pop bottle with rocks, a small tire (such as from a mower), or even an empty “dog weight cart” work for weight in the beginning, something that can be drug over grass, gravel or dirt.
With drafting, you next want to start work on walking in public and dog being able to follow commands, before you think about attaching the cart. No one wants a distracted or distressed dog with a cart attached.
There are a few things you want to know about introducing your dog to pulling. There are several good books about dog pulling but a local dog club for your dog’s breed or local canine organization that organizing pulling competitions can also direct you to good training information, lessons, and equipment suppliers. As long as training time is a fun time with you, weight pulling could be a special activity that excites and happily wears out your dog.