Weight Pulling

The art of pulling with dogs is not a new one as man has asked canines to pull carts, sleds and wagons for centuries. It was formally introduced in the United States during the 1970’s and now can be seen in many different parts of the world. A dog’s love and eagerness to please its owner combined with strength and determination make many different types of dogs suitable for weight pulling. Many breeders have begun to use weight pulling as one of their ways to help determine quality breeds. People have many misconceptions about weight pull and think it is harmful to the dog and that they pull massive weights they cannot handle. On the contrary, a weight-pulling dog is not to be leashed or tethered during a weight pull so the dog is not forced to pull. When proper training is applied, a dog will have much better physical fitness. There have been speculations that weight pulling causes hip dysplasia but if done correctly a dog will have stronger hip, leg and shoulder muscles causing less stress on hips and other joints providing a better, longer life.

There are several different types of weight pulls. Snow pulls are a much heavier load, but the pulling distance is only about 15-20ft. The rail pulls are weight pulls held on rail systems which are similar to a small set of rail road tracks with a wheeled cart typically about 3-4ft wide and 5-6ft long. Finally, there is the coarse snow pulls similar to a sled like a team of huskies would use in Alaska. There are suitable surfaces for weight pulling, such as dirt, grass, snow or natural surfaces and carpet with concrete or asphalt underneath. Pulling directly on concrete or asphalt is not encouraged because it is harmful to the dogs’ pads and nails.

Popular Weight Pulling Dogs

  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Rottweiler’s
  • Mastiffs
  • Pit Bulls
  • Terriers

Suggested Exercises

Carting Exercises: The Carting Exercises demonstrate the dog’s usefulness as a draft animal in maneuvering loads safely and quietly with a wheeled vehicle over a moderate distance and smooth terrain.

Three exercises are performed:

  • Harnessing & hitching: the dog must stand still while harness and cart are attached
  • Maneuvers & figure 8: pattern of forwards, left turns, right turns, halts and a figure 8.
  • Backup: the dog must back up four feet moving in a reasonably straight line.

Field Work Exercises: The Field Work Exercises demonstrate the dog’s ability to pull a suitable freight load over a moderate distance in cooperation with its handler.

Three exercises are performed:

  • Hitching and loading
  • Hauling
  • Unloading & unhitching

Daily Exercises:

  • Stretching: encourage your dog to stand up on their rear legs and stretch their front legs upward against your chest to massage the muscles of their backs.
  • Conditioning walk: be sure to travel different types of terrains.
  • Running and jogging
  • Swimming

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