I receive many emails from people wanting to know how to get their dogs to be weight pullers.
I thought it was about time I added a few pages to our site that covered this topic.
Training a dog to pull is not an overnight occurance. It takes time and patience on your part.
This section is a few pages long as I have included more than one person's techniques.
~~Enjoy~~
~~TIBBETT'S COMPETITION KENNELS~~

Hi... thanks for your interest in this page.
What I have written here will be very general
due to the fact that dogs are a lot like humans;
no two are exactly alike.
That said, have fun reading.
~~ Dean Tibbett~~
TCK's "Baby Girl" pulling 100 times her body weight on an ADBA rail system.

The first thing you will need for training is patience, and lots of it. If you do not have any, let a professional do the work for you. I feel it best that you should train your dog if you are the one that will be competing with him. Once you have established a strong bond with your dog through obedience training, your dog should respond well to you, making any other type of training you undertake a breeze.

The second thing you will need is a dog from proven working stock that is mentally and physically sound. You could use a mutt from the pound, but I feel if you want to consistently win at the major competitions you need to start out with proven working stock. This is my opinion and it has worked for me.

The third thing you will need is a proper fitting weightpull harness.
These are available from cdpits www.itsmysite.com/cdpits
TCK's "Taz" at an IWPA weight pull.

You will need a few more items and I will explain what they are and how to use them as we go along. The above is all you'll need for the first month or so.

Ok... here we go! You will need to do some basic obedience work first (sit, stay, heel, down-stay, etc). If this is the first time you have attempted obedience training with your dog, I strongly suggest you go through a reputable obedience class. After you and your dog have accomplished this, you are ready to put on your weight pull harness. Don't worry about weights, just put the harness on your dog and go for walks. This should get him used to wearing it. Try to expose your dog to as many different safe conditions as possible. Go for walks in parks, through your neighborhood, even around busy streets because the last thing you want when you're pulling a good pull to win it all is your dog to get distracted by a little kid screaming or a car driving by honking!

Now that you're comfortable with the above, you are ready to add a LITTLE weight behind him. I like to use a 2 liter bottle with some gravel in it so it will rattle and make noise. The amount of gravel all depends on the size of your dog. On a 30lb dog I'm only going to use a couple of hand fulls of gravel. If in doubt, go light on the weight. You will need to tie a rope to the bottle so it will drag about 4 feet behind him. Never pull your dog on concrete or asphalt! Always think of your dog's well being. Start out by going for short walks. Your dog will be curious about what you have hooked up to him. This is natural. Let him check it out and reassure him that it is nothing to be afraid of. You as the trainer must be sure your dog is having fun at all times. Make it a game for him. You will need to come up with a command word for pulling. It should be short and simple. I use the command "DIG". You will want to repeat this command throughout your workout. You will need to repeat this many times in the months to come.

When you and your dog are comfortable with the above, you're ready to add a little more weight. I like to use window weights as they drag very nicely and tend not to get hung up on the ground. You must remember that you're building your dog's confidence level. Don't worry about adding a lot of weight. This is a very common mistake made by novice trainers. You will ruin your dog physically and mentally! Remember patience! I suggest using 5-pound increments when adding weight and taking at least 2 weeks between additions. Now that you're getting some weight behind your dog, you will need to reassure him even more. What I suggest you do after you have added your first 5 pounds of weight is start pulling at least 20ft distances. You may need to put a leash on him to keep him at your side. Always use your command word and praise him the whole time he is pulling effectively. At the end of the 20ft mark, stop and give him lots of love and praise. Try to build up to as much distance as possible between stops. Remember, this has to be fun for him. Whatever you do, don't try to take a short cut by using a toy or a rawhide to get him to pull. All you will do is tap into his prey drive and down the line he will quit on you. I guarantee your dog will work harder for you than a toy. You must be very consistent in this, and in every phase of your training. Keep your schedule as regular as possible. The amount of time you train every day will depend on the individual dog. Generally try to stop before your dog gets winded. When you go to a different place to pull other than your own yard, always pull lighter weights to keep his confidence level sky high.
TCK's "Baby Girl" setting the national record at the first IWPA Championships.
Now that your dog is pulling of his body weight for at least hour of pulling, you're ready for phase two in building an International Champion. Now we will go over the equipment you will need for this phase of your training.

Weightpull cart - Depending on how serious you are, you can use a garden cart or you can build your own custom cart as I have done. If you are going through the time and expense to build your own cart, I suggest you build an International Weight Pull Association sanctioned cart, which should be capable of safely carrying a load of 4000 lbs. with 4 pneumatic tires. The tires should not be less than eight inches in height and no more than eighteen inches in height. The bridle should be made of rope or nylon. Chains or cable are not allowed. The cart bridle shall not be tied. The snap should be able to slide freely from side to side. The bridle, when properly installed, will look like a long V. You will also need a rope attached to the rear of the cart. This is for your helper to hold on to so the cart will not run into your dog and scare the daylights out of him.

Weight - Most anything will work that you can handle and stack safely. I use sandbags, but you can use whatever is easy for you to obtain, such as plastic buckets full of water, gravel or concrete. Just be safe. Nothing will ruin your day more than something falling on you or your dog.

Pulling surface - I suggest you pull on concrete covered by a very short pile carpet. The reason for this is it will teach your dog to really dig in and use his nails. Believe me, when you compete on a natural surface this will help tremendously. The distance you will pull in a sanctioned competition is15- 16 feet, depending on the Registry. I suggest you pull at least 20 feet. We pull 35 feet, but if this distance is not available to you, you can train on a good level natural surface. If you do go with the carpet covered concrete you will want to cross train on natural so your dog will be ready to pull in any situation.
TCK's "Taz" at an IWPA snowpull.

Ok... now that you have all of your new equipment and you're ready to use it, let's get on with the training. For the most part, you will be starting all over in your training. What I mean by this is start out very slow and light.You know by now your dog can pull, but you must be patient. Having a cart behind him is new to your dog, so take your time introducing him to it. If you have been doing your drag weighting, don't be surprised when you hook up your dog and he runs with it. This is why you will need a helper; to hold on to the other end of the cart. You will want your dog to pull slowly so he can learn proper form. You can achieve this by putting his leash on and walking next to him. How long you need to do this really depends on the dog. Once he is comfortable with the cart you can add some weight. Do not forget about using your command word when pulling. Be sure to be consistent. Do not change your command as this will only confuse your dog. The cart pulls much easier than the drag weights, so you can add a little more weight than when you were dragging. Again, this is where your helper comes in. If your dog is having trouble pulling the cart, your helper must push the cart enough so your dog thinks he is pulling it. The amount of time you should take between pulls is about one minute. The amount of pulls you do in a day will depend on your dog, but I suggest you make it light enough so
he can pull the cart 12 to 16 times in one work out session. With that said, once you get to the point where you're adding weight to the cart, I suggest you only do cart work twice a week and do drag weights three times a week. Remember, your goal is to train his mind. Do not worry about how much weight he is pulling. If you are doing everything slow, his confidence will grow, and as he matures into a weightpull dog his mind and body will be rock solid! If at any time you get frustrated with any phase in training, stop for the day because your dog will sense something is wrong and you do not want that.
It will only confuse him and set back all your hard work.

This article is very generalized, but it is my opinion that it is a good guideline for you to start training your dog to pull weights. It has worked for me and I'm sure it will work for you. I hope to see you at a pull real soon.

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