Canine weight pulling and the IWPA American Weight Pulling Alliance

canine weight pulling
An red nose American Pit Bull in a IWPA International Weight Pulling Alliance competition

If you have a competitive spirit and want to get your dogs involved, canine weight pulling might just be the answer to your itch for a new sport. These competitions are offered through several organizations in the U.S., including the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA), and the American Pulling Alliance (APA). Your dog must pull a specific amount of weight for a distance of about 16 feet in the fastest time possible, and the competitions usually consist of several heats. Like any athletic endeavor, you can’t just wake up one day and expect to excel in a weight pulling competition with your pup. It takes careful training to get prepared and earn a spot in a competition. Here are some tips for getting your dog ready for a canine weight pulling competition.

Equipment needed for Canine weight pulling

A dog must wear a special harness during a weight pulling competition. The harness that your dog typically wears to go for a walk won’t work in a weight pull – the sport’s harnesses must pull the cart or sled carrying a designated amount of weight. When you begin training your animal, it’s imperative to use the correct type of harness so he is used to its feel and can function while wearing it. At first, you may want to simply let your dog play in the harness before training him in it; this lets any shock or discomfort wear off and he can better concentrate during training. You also need a clicker to train for weight pull competitions to help reinforce positive behaviors, along with treats or another reward.

Food and Muscle Products for recovery and health:

Beginning Stages of Training in weight pulling competitions for dogs

In the early part of training, you want to teach your animal to drive forward for even a few seconds at a time. You can reward with a click and positive response when they move forward for even a foot or two. Over time, you will need to require a further distance before you give the click and treat, eventually building to the full 16 feet that will be required in a competition. After the full distance is achieved, add a small cart or sled to the harness. Teaching your dog to drive forward with the harness and cart gives him a lesson on the basic technique. Driving forward in the harness will become routine, and he will associate your clicks with the positive progress. Make sure to have someone behind the cart to stop it from hitting your dog – before you add weight, there will be nothing to stop the cart or sled from slamming into his rear end, and if the dog gets hurt he may be timid to try again in the future.

Working With Weight

Once your pup has gotten the hang of driving forward quickly while wearing the harness and cart, you can begin to add some weight to the cart and make the task more difficult. The exact weight required at a competition depends based upon the organization running the event, but in general the weight is determined largely by the weight of your dog. For instance, if your dog weighs under 80 pounds, he is often required to pull at least 23 times his body weight. The larger your dog, the smaller the percentage of his weight he needs to pull. Keep in mind that you should not start out with this weight on the cart. Use a cinder block or other heavy object, and slowly build to a heavier cart or sled. You dog can become injured if you cause too much muscle strain with a difficult weight at the start.

Muscle Strength

Just like humans, dogs need to build up muscle strength to be involved in a lot of athletic activity or lift weights. Animals can experience muscles tears or other injuries if you aren’t careful. In order to keep your animal healthy enough to compete, and function in everyday life outside of the races, you can incorporate a supplement like Bully Max into his diet. Taking care of his muscles will give your dog the stamina and muscle strength to be successful in weight pulling, and keep him resistant to dangerous injuries.

Canine weight pulling takes a lot of time, energy, and hard work. The sport requires dedication on the part of both you and your dog, as well as responsible training and diet health. If you think this sport might be right for you, give yourself plenty of time to prepare; a hastily attempted weight pull won’t give you much of a chance to win the race, and can hurt your dog physically.