The Old Wolf
DOG WEIGHT PULLING
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Weight Pulling is a sport that is entirely and singularly based on the dog’s performance. In this sport, a dog pulls a sled or cart loaded with a chosen weight over a total of 16 feet on various surfaces such as dirt, grass, carpet or snow. If the event is held on snow they will use a sled, if it is any other terrain it will be a cart with wheels. The total weight can vary depending on the size of your dog. Depending on the weight and type of the cart the minimum amount that your dog will pull can vary from 70-200 pounds, this is the carts weight itself, if it is your dog’s first time pulling, start at a very light weight so they fully understand what they are doing.
The objective of the sport is to determine which dog is more capable of pulling the heavier load in the shortest time. The dog is attached to the sled or cart through a specially made harness which is designed to spread the weight evenly throughout the dog’s body, this harness also reduces the risk of injury for the dog.
Many countries take part in Weight Pulling with various organizations and alliances that create appropriate rules, regulations and tournaments with the overall intention of safety for the dogs. They have season points that can be accumulated during tournament pulls, the top 3 dogs in the province or state are then invited to compete nationally against other dogs from around the country.
Weight Pulling is very controversial wherever you go and generally people think that it is very poor ownership to force your dog to pull heavy weights. This is true, except in Weight Pulling no one is ever forcing their dog to pull the weights. The dogs are trained specifically and are doing so happily and willingly. The sport is very strict when it comes to rules and regulations and their priority is for the dog’s safety during the events.
While you and your dog train and compete in events your dog will increasingly aim to please you. They will always put 110% effort into their hard work, as long as they are treated well and are living a happy life.
The most successful breeds for this sport are dogs that have been used in the past for pulling. Such as, sled dogs or bull breeds due to their stocky nature, size and natural genetics. The dogs are then separated evenly into different weight classes based off their total weight.
Depending on where you are located, the terrain will play a vital role and you will notice husky breeds are highly successful on snow. They are more than often part of a sledding team meaning that they are pulling almost every day. While in the warmer climates events will be held on dirt and grass areas, husky breeds will still be successful but you will also notice that there are other more powerful breeds competing such as bull breeds.
Not much equipment is needed to compete in a Weight Pulling event. Depending on your dog’s weight and size you might be able to borrow a harness off some of the event organisers, this is the only thing you’ll need for your dog to officially compete. You can buy your own but keep in mind that it should be specially designed for Weight Pulling. If it is a regular harness your dog could get seriously injured, and the organizers of the event won’t allow your dog to pull, instead they might offer you to borrow one off them. A leash and collar are also essential to bring your dog to and from their crate, if you decide to bring their crate for them. Once again, the crate is not mandatory but it is suggested.
You will need to get your dog used to the specially made harness. Most dogs might not mind wearing harnesses but if your dog doesn’t like wearing one a good way of getting them used to it is to make them wear it before you feed them or play with them, that way they’ll expect rewards and good things to come when they put the harness on.
Proper pulling posture is critical for effectiveness and to lower the risk of injury. A good pulling posture is your dog walking forward in a straight line. Your dog’s head should be low with his nose very close to the ground while pulling. For heavier loads, you will notice that your dog will start to dig his nails into the ground to create more traction and thus more pulling power. Some serious owners won’t trim their dog’s nails for a good week or two so they are the perfect length for tournament day.
While your dog is pulling, you are coaxing your dog and encouraging them with praise as they make their way towards you, touching your dog is not permitted, once they cross the 16 foot line the race is then completed and you can congratulate your dog with a nice pat.
There are two places where you can be while your dog is competing, either at the end of the 16-foot course or behind your dog. Wherever you decide to stand will depend on how you trained your dog and what they are used to.
If your dog doesn’t pull or cannot pull, this is called a no-pull. Meaning officially, they are disqualified. But to encourage the dog, officials at the event will push the cart from behind until your dog crosses the line. Your dog will believe that he pulled the weight and won’t get discouraged for future weight pulling events.
Remember to always avoid overworking your dog, once your dog is overworked they are more susceptible to injury. Always feed your dog with proper foods and keep them plentifully hydrated. Always encourage and give your dog inspiring feedback, keep in mind that they thrive on pleasing their owners.