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Weight Pulling

Weight Pulling

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Weight pulling – Muscles tense, adrenaline levels rise in both the dog and the handler, and the dog, weighing barely 20 kg, sets off with over 2 tons of weight behind it. Almost unbelievable, but this is not a made-up story.

Weight PullingWeight pulling as a sport dates back to ancient times, reaching as far as actively working sled dogs. When these dogs’ owners weren’t on the road, they would measure their dogs’ strength as a pastime. Today, this pastime has evolved into a serious sport worldwide, with numerous enthusiastic followers. The repertoire continues to expand with various skill sets.

As people urbanized, most of their dogs became mere companion animals. The actual tasks they were bred for, and the mental and physical exhaustion associated with them, ceased to exist. It is necessary to engage our dogs in some activity since work, active engagement, is essential to their well-being.

Any shared sport, such as weight pulling, joint preparation for weight pulling, or even competition, brings great harmony between the dog and its owner. It is a stepping stone to a better dog-owner relationship, where we better understand our dog, and they better understand us. We depend on each other. The dog works for us, and we work for them. It fills us with pride that our dog is capable, and they are proud to have met our expectations.

Which breeds are most suitable

Weight PullingNaturally, strong dogs, as this is a strength sport, but only if competition is the goal.
To improve the dog-owner relationship, tire the dog, and work it out, almost any healthy dog can participate in this sport.

As more and more people engage in it, our pets are destined for much more than just being there! Why not challenge our own dogs in this sport as well? However, in terms of competition, the best performances are delivered by so-called bull-type dogs, e.g., American Staffordshire Terrier, English Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, French Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier, etc.

Equipment for Weight Pulling.

Naturally, a completely healthy dog, a good-quality weight pulling harness, motivational tools, weights, high-quality food, a lot of patience, will, and determination. Let’s go through some of these.

Healthy Dog

Just as athletes take extraordinary care of their health, we must consider this for our dogs as well. Only start any sport with a healthy dog! Never involve a sick dog in any sport if they have joint problems, heart disease, are under regular medication, etc.
In case of any doubts related to the chosen sport, it is advisable to consult with our veterinarian!

Weight Pulling Harness

It is impossible to start any sport without proper equipment. The padding of the weight pulling harness is important because it makes the sport more comfortable for our dogs. The harness must be properly designed to fit well so that our dog can give its maximum. You can buy a properly sized harness on the internet, or you can have one custom-made based on the size of our dog.

Motivational Tools

This can be a ball, a bite pad, a loop, a cheeseburger, or anything our dog likes. But our dog can pull on command without any aids for our pleasure.


Essential for training and increasing strength. It can be a chain, a car tire, weight plates, or anything we can use as weight during workouts.

High-Quality Food

“You are what you eat!” – the saying goes. This is also true for our dogs. They draw strength from what they consume, so strive for the best quality food. There are numerous alternatives, from quality dog food to meats, brown rice, vegetables, etc. Adequate nutritional supplements are also necessary to minimize injuries caused by increased physical exertion (vitamins, calcium, joint protectors (green-lipped mussel extract)).

Patience, Will, Determination

These are necessary for both preparation and competition, as the training takes several weeks. Numerous factors can interfere with preparation and competition. I mean weather conditions, our own daily rhythm, and any external factors. We need to overcome these challenges.

How and When to Start

If we have the opportunity, it is advisable to instill in our dog’s mind from a very young age what their future task will be, getting them used to the harness for later training sessions.

However, this should be done in moderation during puppyhood!

When introducing the harness, start by placing it on the dog for a short period.
When it becomes familiar to them, take them for a walk on a leash with a weight pulling harness. Later, you can attach an empty plastic bottle behind them and start getting your dog accustomed to a specific task.

Never be impatient or rush! If your dog doesn’t handle it well the first time, don’t force it!

Weight PullingThey will get used to it after several attempts. Later, you can put water in the plastic bottle to add some weight for the dog. Of course, they will effortlessly drag it along, but even then, patience is crucial. Do not increase the weight because it’s a developing organism. Do not strain it!

  • If we plan to use motivational tools later on, it’s a good idea for our dog to be familiar with these objects. Play a lot of fetch, engage in tug-of-war with a bite pad, and don’t forget to praise them.
  • If we want to train them to pull on command later on, we can achieve this through recalls and rewards. The reward can be a game or a “tasty” treat.

Only undertake more serious loads after one year of age. At this point, you can attach a car tire behind them. Start with a single tire, pulling for only 5-10 meters initially. A few repetitions of this length are sufficient.

Training Methods for Weight Pulling

The training should always be tailored to the dog. Just as no two humans are alike, no two dogs are the same. What benefits one dog may not be suitable for another. Running, swimming, fetching, going for a walk with a chain, and pulling a car tire are all possibilities. Occasionally, a thorough walk can also be beneficial.

During training, we should aim to increase our dog’s endurance and strength. The training should reflect this – a bit of endurance and a bit of strength training.

Regardless of the training method chosen, gradual progression is crucial!!!

The training location should generally be a calm environment where we won’t disturb others, and others won’t disturb us. Simpler ball games and fishing can be performed at home.

Weight Pulling Competitions

During competitions, each participant decides in which event they want to compete. The following events are available: Wall climbing, high jump, speed weight pulling, sled pulling, tug-of-war, and weight pulling.

Wall Climbing
The dog must run up a wall covered with a carpet to reach a baited object. The object must be touched. The dog with the highest jump wins.

High Jump
The dog must grab a freely hanging bait object while running. Again, the dog with the highest jump wins.

Speed Weight Pulling
The dog must pull a three-wheeled bicycle for a given distance in the shortest time.

Sled Pulling
The dog must pull a sled loaded with weights for a specified distance. The time result is considered.

Two dogs facing each other must grab baited objects attached to elastic ropes. The dog that releases the bait first loses.

Weight Pulling
On a freely rolling track, the dog must pull a cart loaded with weights for approximately 5 meters within 1 minute. The dog pulling the most weight wins. Weight categories exist, categorizing dogs approximately every 5 kg. Winners are awarded in each weight group. Additionally, a separate prize is given for the dog that pulls the most weight in relation to its body weight, and the dog pulling the heaviest weight (regardless of its body mass) receives a special prize.


We need to discuss injuries and their prevention. The most common injuries are muscle strains and injuries to the paw pads. Muscle strain can be prevented if we don’t allow our dog to jump while pulling; instead, they should work by stretching into the harness, and a thorough warm-up before training is essential. Strains can often occur during training if the dog slips. Therefore, special attention must be paid to this.

Paw pad injuries can result from glass shards, which are almost impossible to prevent. In such cases, the dog must be rested until fully recovered. Paw pad wear can also occur if we train on unsuitable terrain.

Before every training session or pull, warm up your dog with moderate exercise, and after training, massage them thoroughly from head to toe.

Don’t forget: They are athletes and deserve corresponding treatment!

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