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Ready. Set. Let's Go! Can your dog pull his weight?

Posted by Christina Potter on

How many times have you tried to walk your dog only to find yourself being pulled behind him as he enthusiastically runs to and fro? Many dogs are such natural pullers that it’s almost tempting to hook them up to a wagon, jump inside, sit back (martini in hand) and enjoy the ride. Weight pulling is a sport that does just that. Well, almost. It fits a dog with a padded harness then hooks him up to a sled or cart, and the dog pulls it. There are different organizations that promote the sport of weight pulling, two of which are the United Kennel Club (UKC) and 

the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA) - each has different rules and offer different titles. The UKC rulebook states that “weight pull competition tests a dog’s strength and stamina based on the dog’s ability to pull a maximum amount of weight 16 feet within 60 seconds. Scores are based on the amount of weight pulled per body pound and the amount of time required to complete the pull. The type of weighted vehicle and surface may vary.” The IWPA website states that a “weight pull competition tests a dog’s strength and stamina based on the dog’s ability to pull a maximum amount of weight 16 feet within 60 seconds. Scores are based on the amount of weight pulled per body pound and the amount of time required to complete the pull. The type of weighted vehicle and surface may vary."

Any purebred or mixed breed dog is eligible to compete in weight pulling events, provided it meets age requirements and is healthy. While you may enter your Chihuahua in a weight pulling trial, this sport mainly attracts bully breeds (Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and the like). Other breeds that are commonly seen weight pulling are Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Rottweilers, etc. There are some dogs that enjoy this sport and others that do it just to please their owners. Either way, any quality time you spend working with your dog will be a bonding experience. Minimal training is required, however your dog must have basic pet manners before he starts competing. He needs to be relatively well socialized to dogs and people, and be under control. Physical conditioning of your dog is a must. Think of a weight pulling competition as you would of a human weight lifting competition. You must gradually condition your dog in order to get him ready to pull the heavy loads required in competition. Weight pulling is an inexpensive sport as equipment costs are low, but it’s a good idea to join a club. Joining a club will give you access to instructors, advice, and answers. 

If you enjoy Christina's writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and "Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.