Weight pull events for dogs provide a standard venue to test your dog's strength, training and drive. While a big, hulking dog may come to mind, any size dog can have fun training for and competing in weight pulling.
Many organizations regulate and sanction weight pull events for dogs. The most common in the United States are the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA), the United Kennel Club (UKC), and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA). While the ADBA allows only American Pit Bull Terriers to compete in their events, the IWPA and the UKC allow dogs of all breeds and mixes to participate. Each organization has a different set of rules, guidelines and expectations for events.
The only equipment you, the handler, will need to bring to a weight pull event is a specially-designed draft or weight pull harness. A weight pull harness allows your dog to lower his center of gravity and use his entire body to move the weight, while keeping him safe, and his joints and spine aligned. The hosts of the event provide a cart, sled or rail system, weight and a safe pulling area with good traction that's as close to level as possible.
Every single breed can compete in weight pull events equally. Dogs compete by size and are placed into classes by their weight. Typical classes are divided into 20-pound increments. There may be a 20-pound, 40-pound and 60-pound class, among others. Commonly seen breeds include American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.
Training for and competing in weight pull events provide multiple benefits for dogs. Not only does your dog receive the physical benefit of solid exercise, he gets mental stimulation, as well. Weight pull is known best for building strength in a dog's hips, back legs and shoulders. The more strength a dog has in a joint, the more support the joint has and the less likely the dog is to suffer joint problems long-term. Often, weight pull events offer prizes and awards, ranging from cash to dog food to ribbons.
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.