This kind of cynological sport, the name of which consists of two words – “weight” and “pull” – is the movement of a load by a dog at a certain distance.
With properly organized training, the dog’s cardiovascular system is strengthened, the musculature develops, bone density increases, endurance and strength are developed.
The history of the development of this sport
It all started with working sled dogs pulling loads on sleds. When the work was over, they organized an entertaining weight-pulling competition between the best dogs, thereby revealing the strength and endurance of the animals.
The first rules for the competition were developed in 1978 by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. In the United States, the peak in popularity of weight pulling, which had already been singled out as a separate sport, came in 1983. And at the end of 1984, the International Weight Pulling Association was founded, which operates in North America. Gradually, this sports discipline gained popularity in Europe, where the European Weightpulling League and the United Traction Federation are organizing international competitions.
Which Dogs Can Take Part
Healthy, well-physically prepared dogs from 11 months to 11 years old are allowed to compete. The breed of the animal does not matter, but each participating dog must have an identifier – a brand or a microchip.
Representatives of large and medium breeds can successfully participate in this sport. Among the winners there are poodles, but most often the participants are American Pit Bull Terriers and Bulldogs, Staffordshire Terriers and sled dog breeds.
It is imperative to use a special weight-pulling harness to avoid injury during the competition. Externally, the weight-pulling harness looks like a riding harness, only very elongated. The chest and abdomen are padded. The main load falls on the chest straps. The straps are adjustable, which allows you to adjust the harness to the size of the animal. We recommend making a custom-made harness, taking into account the size of a particular dog.
The load is pulled onto a platform, the choice of which depends on the type of surface and climatic conditions.
In winter, when competitions are held on snow, sleds are used, and when competitions are held on unpaved surfaces or indoors, a platform on wheels that can move on rails or in the usual way.
How is the competition going?
Weight pulling competitions are held according to certain rules, which may vary depending on the association.
up to 10 kg
up to 20 kg
up to 30 kg
up to 40 kg
up to 50 kg
over 50 kg
Each dog is weighed before the competition. The weight is rounded down. In the working area, along with the animal, there is a handler who encourages the dog and encourages it to move forward by voice commands. The movement of the animal on a sagging leash is allowed. A dog in a weight-pulling harness, fastened to a platform with a load, must cover a distance of 5 meters in one minute. For a dog, the handler’s command is the start of action. Start with the starting weight of the load, which does not exceed:
100 kg (in the weight category up to 10 kg)
200kg (less than 27kg)
250 kg (less than 30)
300kg (less than 40kg)
350 kg (less than 50 kg)
400 kg (over 50 kg)
It is possible to assign a lower starting weight at the discretion of the judge. After the next round (up to 12 rounds pass), the weight of the cargo increases by 20-100 kg, depending on the weight category. The winner is the dog that has pulled the most weight in its weight category. The winner can compete until the record is set and the title of absolute winner or record holder is obtained, pulling a heavier load with each run.
How to train your dog to pull a load
Socialization is of great importance, because competitions involve a large gathering of people and animals, vanity. The pet must adequately respond to others.
Weight-pulling training should not be carried out on asphalt or concrete surfaces where the dog could damage the paw pads. Discomfort from pain can lead to a loss of interest in classes. It is better to train on the grass or unpaved surface, and you should make sure in advance that there are no dangerous objects along the path of the dog.
Usually, classes begin when the puppy reaches 4-5 months of age, but only after checking the health of the animal and consulting with a specialist – dog handler. Training in weight-pulling begins with teaching the puppy to the harness, and then they teach him to pull a small load – an ordinary chain, the weight of which is constantly increasing, then they practice towing with a chain to which they attach an old tire, a stone of a suitable weight and shape, a wooden pole. The puppy needs to develop a desire to engage in this sport, in every possible way motivating him to achieve the desired result, causing extremely positive associations.
Therefore, training is carried out in a playful way, encouraging the dog for the correct actions, encouraging to run to the intended finish.
It is important to stop training in a timely manner (recommended during peak activity) to maintain the animal’s interest in the training process, and never force the dog to train or overwork it. They move from one stage to another slowly; haste will not lead to the desired results.
As the puppy grows up and taking into account his physical development, the weight of the load increases. You can attach several tires, logs to the harness, thereby increasing the resistance during pulling. It is better to alternate between pulling a light load over a long distance and pulling a heavy load over a short distance.
The load is attached to the harness worn on the dog. Then they move away from the animal for several meters and beckon the pet to themselves, encouraging him with words, patting his hips with his hands. You can squat down and motivate the animal to go forward to get the toy. After completing the exercise, they enter the command word, according to which the pet will begin to pull the load.
Attempts by the puppy to make sharp jerks or move from the spot by jumping are stopped.
You need to act gently, but persistently.
In the future, they practice pulling an empty platform (carts and sledges), then gradually add a load to them. It is important to gradually increase the load, choose a safe weight, train the strength and endurance of the dog without harm to his health. It is allowed to help the animal by slightly pushing the platform, not allowing the dog to feel its own weakness, which can lead to a loss of interest in the exercise.
In addition to strength exercises, aerobic exercise must be present. Swimming, running, overcoming obstacles on the paddle (ladder, boom, low barriers) is a great addition to regular workouts.
Particular attention should be paid to the diet, compiling it taking into account the loads. It is advisable to build a training scheme for the dog in weightpulling and choose training methods together with an experienced dog handler in order to avoid harm to the dog’s health.