Dog Sports - Weight Pulling

Narrated from: Dog Sports

Humans might be good at weightlifting – but they sure couldn’t pull a sled through the frozen tundra!

Well, truth be told, many dogs wouldn’t be up for that task either – especially French poodles (no offence!). What some dogs are up for is weight pulling.

At first glance, this might seem a cruel sport – a dog pulling a loaded cart that you yourself would find hard to move! The sport is quite organized though, and is supervised by several organizations. No dog is allowed to pull weights that might be harmful to it in any way.

Actually, all dog-contestants enter such competitions after extensive training which is quite beneficial for the dog’s overall health – just as jogging in the park is beneficial for you.

Dogs have been pulling sleds for a long time – you’ve all seen the proud Siberian huskies, which have been known as fabled sled-pullers for centuries now. Weight pulling, though was introduced as a sport only four decades ago. It started in the USA, but quickly gathered popularity and now competitions are being held all over the world.

The basic idea of the competition is that the dog is supposed to pull a sled, loaded proportionately to the dog’s own weight, over a set distance within a specific time allowance. Either a wheeled cart or a snow sled is used depending on the surface. The dog’s handler is not allowed to interfere, so it’s all up to the dog’s own willingness and training. There are several rounds with the weight increasing at the beginning of each round. The winner is the dog that pulls the heaviest weight the furthest.

In the “big league”, the all-time record belongs to an Alaskan Malamute that managed to pull 3300lbs! There are also different professional titles awarded to dogs that have excelled and completed certain criteria in their pulling.

Some of the breeds considered best suited for weight pulling are: Alaskan Malamute, American Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Dobermann Pinscher, Dogo Argentino (Argentinian Mastiff), Dogue De Bordeaux (French Mastiff), English Mastiff, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Neapolitan Mastiff, Old English Bulldog, Patterdale Terrier, Perro de Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Siberian Husky and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

On the other hand, a lot of smaller breeds that don’t seem like sporting dogs have been doing quite well! A Welsh corgi (weighing about 20-23 pounds) is known to be able to pull ten times its body weight!

The sport is open to all participants, and any dog could do well. Weight pulling is based on good will and building up both the dog’s fitness and confidence (also, on proudly saying “My dog is stronger than yours!”). The most effective methods of training proven thus far rely on positive reinforcement with lots of praise and treats.

Basically, if you want to spend time with your dog, you could train it to weight pull in your own back yard or in the park.

You should know though, that dog weight pulling requires a special harness! The “weightpull harness” is quite different from the usual X-back harness, in order to allow the pulling of greater weights. Basically, the harness costs about $90, and it’s fitted especially for your dog. A cart with weights costs more ($200-300), but if you wish to train your dog just for fun, you could do it with some make-shift equipment. (Do not try it with dogs younger than one year though – it could be dangerous for their health!)

And the best part of weight pulling is that it is a quite effective way of burning your dog’s excess energy!

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