Weight Pulling with Dogs is a wonderful, safe and fun sport. Dogs, unlike men, do not have an ego, so dogs quit pulling when the load is too heavy for them to pull. Dogs will stop when the weight is too heavy.
My German Shepherd Dogs (GSd or GSDs), Tamar and Tabitha were Weight Pullers and did wonderful at the Sport. I trained and conditioned them and kept them in condition all year, for the most part, Weight Pulling is a Winter Sport.
It just really hurts me not to have photos of my first GSDs. We lost the photos, my books, and many other precious items to Black Mold in N WI. My first GSDs were so lovely and correctly built....and I am not just saying that because I am Kennel Blind (can't see my own dog's faults), they really were nice looking, good temperamented dogs. <sighs>
Let me stop here brag on my Black German Shepherd Dog (GSD or GSDs) Tabitha, who won Weight Pulling Titles, Awards and lots of Prizes during the several years she Competed. One year Tabitha fed all of our four large breed dogs for over EIGHT MONTHS with the Dog Food Prizes she won. It would have been over a year, but we shared that food with friends who helped us get the bags of dogfood home (from another state).
Tabitha remained 59 pounds which put her at the top of her Weight Pull Class. She was full fed, meaning I had good food out for my dogs at all times, but she remained lean and strong. I sure wish I had photos. We lost so much to that Black Mold in WI. It just breaks my heart.
Tabitha was very easy to train, I kept her in condition with Weight Pull Training, Sled Dog Work and daily walks. She was fed all the correct foods and cross trained with Backpacking, Tricks and such too.
I don't know that I will ever compete with my new set of GSDs, but I am sure that I will train them. It is just a fun thing for them to do and keeps them in good shape and great health. Plus the fact, I need <grins> some great photos of GSDs on this page too!
Training and Conditioning Your Dog for Weight Pulling
To start training your dog to weight pull you, as I have said, need a well fitting harness in good repair. You also need something to pull that has four tires and some kind of weight to add as the dog progresses in training. We found that car wheel routers worked great for weight to add to the weight pull cart and they stored well.
You will also need a place to train your dog to pull. You need a flat to slight up hill area. The closer that you can set it up to what the competition weight pull chute looks like the better, however changing the place, surface and scenery is also good training for the dog.
I am going to assume that your dog already has learned Basic Obedience and is well versed at it and it also knows how to pull in harness. "Sit", "Stay" and "Come" are very important commands for the weight pull dog. Many times a dog that can not pull as much weight as another has won the match just because the stronger dog did not obey a command or was distracted and it was illuminated from competition. So if your dog is not obedience trained or is in training, start there before trying to go on to pulling weights. Take the time it takes (and that varies per dog) to obedience train your dog well.
Train your dog the basics of Weight Pull BEFORE you enter into a Competition. The day of an event is not a day for your dog to learn for the first time. Know the rules BEFORE you enter the competition, there is no excuse not to have read the rules, they are printed on the Internet and everyone, even in very small towns, have a Library with Internet they can visit to look up the information.
I have been to a lot of Dog Events, a Bunch, Tons, as they say, Do NOT take a dog to a Dog Event that is unruly. Make sure your dog is well behaved around people and other dogs. Not only does an unruly dog disrupt the event, it upsets other dogs and the handlers. People that train for events, whatever the event, will not look at you kindly if your dog disrupts the event. These folks have a lot of time training and a lot of money on the line BEFORE they came to the event. Plus the fact that one unruly dog will be what spectators remember about the event.
The Correct Equipment For Weight Pulling
Please for the safety of your dog, use the correct equipment.
First off is the harness. You can not use any ole harness for weight pulling. You need a Weight Pull Harness that properly fits your dog...not fits your dogs, but each individual dog that will be weight pulling. Even if your dogs are only Weight Pulling at home, even for practice, even "just trying the sport", make sure the harness is a Weight Pulling Harness that fits the dog well. Each and all of your dogs should have it's own well fitted harness, well padded, Proper Harness, if you are going to have them weight pull.
It is also important to pull the right types of items, not only at an event, but also when training.
You must have the proper harness for weight pulling and it must fit correct. There are two types of harnesses used in competition. The Freight Harness, that fits over the dog with a spreader bar in the rear past the dogs hind end to keep the weight distributed correctly and so that the harness does not colaps around or on the dog. The Weight Pull Harness (my favorite), is the same harness as a Freight Harness except it has two layers of padding around the chest/neck of the dog as a collar is on a horse pulling a wagon. Usually the double padding is a layer of neoprene and another thick soft padding.
This is a photo our St. Bernard named Montana. You can see he is wearing his Weight Pulling harness to pull this wagon full of wood. To use the Weight Pull Harness to pull a wagon, the wagon must be set up to accommodate this type of harness.
You can have your dog pull any type of cart at home for practice and training. HOWEVER! Make sure that the cart, any cart, wagon, sled, sledge, anything your dog pulls in this Weight Pull manner, has a rope on the back with someone there holding the rope, that can stop the cart when the dog stops. This way the cart will not continue up behind the dog and hit the dog in the rear....that will ruin your dog's Weight Pulling Career.
Do not think you are clever and have your dog pull the cart uphill for your stop. That is not fair to the dog. When that cart stops, it will roll backwards, this can pull back on your dog's harness. This too can ruin a Weight Pulling Dog.
While there are many rules and regulations set up by the weight pulling organizations, you also need to keep safety in mind. Even if you are storing or using a regulation weight pull cart for training at home, make sure you have someone behind the cart to stop it. You can not catch the cart as it comes forward and train the dog properly.
If you do not have an official weight pull cart for practice there are many items you can use to train your dog. Just make sure it is safe and will not hold the dog back. The idea is for the dog to succeed while training, not be so bogged down it looses heart trying to pull something it should not be asked to pull.
You can visit Weight Pulling Event Holders websites for rules and regulations. Be sure to read the rules.]
Cross Training Your Dog For Weight Pulling
If you want your dog to succeed at weight pulling competition, cross training is a must. Not only is cross training good for the dog's body, it keeps the dog active, happy and the bond between you will grow.
There is so much you can do with a dog to cross train for weight pulling. Something as easy as throwing a stick in and out of the water for your dog to run and catch can be very beneficial.
Many people over look the obvious....take your dog for a walk every day. This will keep you and your dog in good shape. Add a backpack with some weight and the dog is weight training.
Having your dog pull you on a sled, skis, a scooter or the like will really build the dogs muscles and endurance and keep it in shape between weight pull competitions. Your dog will also love the opportunity to do something different then just pull the same weight pull cart over and over in the same space. Keeping the dogs mind sharp will also keep it happy, and a happy dog is more likely to pull those higher weights for you in competition.
While on keeping yourself in shape, I might mention...you will not need to do much in weight pull competition but place the dog at the starting line and walk to the other end of the chute to call the dog...however, every photo shot or video of Weight Pulling people take with a camera of your dog weight pulling will probably and I mean really really probably, 99.9% <grin> have your butt in the front of the photo of the dog pulling toward you/the camera.
This is a photo of me and two our our Racing AKC Seppala line Siberian Huskies out for a run with my Adult Sized Scooter that was an idea of mine to "cut open" a Mountain Bike, bought at a Garage Sale for a couple of dollars, and to bend metal conduit, weld it all back together, and add a kick plate. This Scooter has seen 100's of miles. I LOVE IT!
Groom For The Weight Pull (or any) Event
Many people over look this....grooming. I don't just mean the dog. If you think "Well, the weight pull is just in the complex and no one really comes to watch." Then you have a lot to learn about this sport.
Serious competitors have from the beginning tried to keep this sport above board in the public's eyes. In today's "politically correct" world we live in many people think that the dogs are being abused when they weight pull....wish those folks would read up on the sport with an open mind and see the good that comes from it.....
Anyway, you really need to dress clean and nice and do something with your hair. Be clean shaven and have a clean well groomed dog. You never know when the wrong people will show up at an event and try to make a fuss.
"Dress for success" if you will. If the public shows up for an event and the dogs are roughty and ungroomed, the people are in old and perhaps torn clothing, I ask you, how does that look? To the average person it looks like a group that got together with the "junk yard dogs" and are pushing the dogs to see who has the "badest" dog.
This harness in the photo is fringed with deer hide. Petey wore this harness to a competition in WI. There were 63 dogs in his weight class and a few folks mentioned they thought his harness was KOOOOL. After he started winning (he came in fourth, but pulled the sled with the most weight, just not all the way across the finish line <sigh>). As he did better and better and people started taking him seriously, Deron and I got a kick out of all the folks that were then mentioning how much they like his harness and what a beautiful dog he was. My point is, they thought he was a "fluffy dog out to play" but found out he could not only dress nice, but pull well too.
I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.
-- The Working German Shepherd Dogs Team
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 13:42:52 -0400