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Questions about weight pulling and competitions

Discussion in 'Obedience & Sports' started by HollyT, Sep 19, 2014.

  1. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    I got a puppy a couple months ago and he's 4 months old now. I'm assuming it's too early to get him started with weight pulling, but in the future this or some type of sport/activity is something I would like to pursue with him. I have some questions.

    I don't have papers for him so is he allowed to compete in events except for conformation? If so, does anyone know of any sites that have lists of events in southern central PA?

    What age can he start weight pulling? (I don't want to start too early and cause any damage, and am assuming I have to wait til at least a year, maybe more, I'm not really sure so that's why I'm asking)

    What can I do now to prepare him for any types of competitions? Right now I have him enrolled in basic obedience classes and he's doing really well. Really responsive to commands, focuses pretty well even with distractions,etc.

    Thanks, I'm new to this and just want to find something that I can do with my dog that he would benefit from.
  2. BCdogs

    BCdogs Good Dog Staff Member Super Moderator

    You can definitely still join some fun competitions, I do believe that your dog must be spayed/neutered though.

    I started doing light weight work with my dog (water bottles in a backpack, starting with small bottles half full) at a year old. It's definitely not wise to do strenuous activity until around 18 months to 2 years, but upping exercise or adding very light weight has been fine for us just after a year old. I can tell what is too much in order to adjust or when it's time to head home if he's pooped.

    As far as preparing, obedience is great, also make sure your dog is used to be handled, wearing stuff that may seem different to them such as a weight pull harness, etc.

    I'm sure others who are involved in sports will have more in depth answers for you. :)
  3. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    Would wearing a regular harness get him used to wearing different things? Also what about a sweater or costume? Would that be beneficial? Because I'm not going to get him a special weight pulling harness until he is old enough. I do want to do some research about them, so if you or anyone knows of any good suppliers please let me know.
  4. BCdogs

    BCdogs Good Dog Staff Member Super Moderator

    It's always good to get them used to all sorts of different equipment, you never know when you may need it. Although I doubt a costume will ever really be necessary, lol.

    Yeah, it would be pointless to get him a harness now as he obviously has a lot of growing to do. Just get him used to different regular harnesses and such, as well as something dragging behind him. Maybe leave his leash attached in an area where he can't get it caught on anything so he gets a feel for it being behind him.
  5. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

    We compete in 3 organizations in and around central NY: IWPA, NWDA, and a new org called APDA. Pennsylvania is a fairly active area for weight pull so you're in luck :) You can begin imprinting your pup with a harness at this age to get him used to the idea, although since they are upwards of $60, the best way to do that would likely be attending some pulls (competitions or practices) and borrowing one, and just letting him walk around with it on. I don't think a sweater or costume would translate well. He does not need to be registered or fixed to compete with any of these orgs. IWPA and APDA each have a $40 yearly membership fee.

    Some people do let their young dogs begin dragging very light items such as empty milk jugs or plastic sleds before they are a year. This is a personal decision. All of my dogs started WP after age 2.

    I would absolutely recommend you attend some pulls and start getting to know the competitors in your area. It's very helpful to know the rules and how things work in general before you get started. WP is a fairly small, tight-knit community and we all like to help each other.

    Here are some links for the organizations, but, note that they are not great about updating their websites with their events... lol. Mostly they do this on Facebook in their groups. I'm also including a Facebook page I created about WP because one of the PA WP people likes to post the events he hosts down there, there is one coming up in October I believe.

    IWPA - International Weight Pull Association

    As for harnesses, I 100% recommend Coldriver Supplies, and so do the majority of people I pull with:


    If you think of any specific questions let me know! It really is a great sport.
  6. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    If he's playing in the yard I always leave the leash attached to him and he's been dragging that around behind him since he was 8 weeks old.
  7. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    I want to start conditioning/preparing him for it but obviously nothing too strenuous that would harm him. At what age would it be ok to start the milk jug dragging behind him? He's 4 months old now and about 22 lbs.

    I'm assuming they have different weight classes based on the size of the dog or different divisions. Is that correct? Or how is it done?

    how many years of training do you recommend before they start competing?
  8. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

    You really can try a milk jug at any time. It weighs about 6 oz at most and it's not going to hurt him. The only concern people have is that it could scare the puppy because he may think it's "chasing" him and could shake his confidence in the future, so you want to start slow and keep a very close watch on progress.

    I do want to mention that if you wind up going to a practice and talking to other competitive weight pullers, you will get mixed advice about when to start pulling heavier weights with your dog. In IWPA, dogs can't compete until they are year old, but in NWDA dogs can compete at 9 months as novices and in APDA I believe they can compete at 6 months as novices. Many people, particularly those who breed dogs specifically for WP, start fairly early. This is different than what many other "dog people" consider appropriate, which is waiting 12-24 months for the dog to finish physically maturing to do any grueling physical sport. Perhaps ironically, most WP dogs have very long careers. In the end, it will be a personal choice that you make, and as I said, my dogs all started pulling after age 2. I just wanted you to be aware that you will likely receive conflicting advice in this regard.

    Moving on, yes, weight classes are divided as follows in IWPA and NWDA: 20 lb class, 40, 60, 80, 100, 125, 150 and unlimited. APDA is A class (40 and under,) B (41-70) and C(71 and over.) Placements are determined based on most weight pulled and most weight pulled per percent (ex. if my 38 lb dog pulls 1200 lbs she pulled 31x her body weight and "beat" the 50 lb dog that pulled 1500.)

    As for training, that is all up to you. Sometimes the dog is simply a natural and you'll want to get them in competitions immediately. I doubt you'd need to do more than a few months of training in preparation, although there is so much more to WP than just the dog being strong enough to pull the weight - confidence, focus, etc. By taking him to practices and doing regular dragging at home, you'll learn what you need to work on.
  9. Tiffseagles

    Tiffseagles GRCH Dog Premium Member

    I just wanted to point out that your dog does NOT have to be neutered to compete in IWPA. If you are interested in flyball (NAFA), or dock diving (DockDogs) he also does not need to be neutered. In fact, I'd suggest waiting to neuter him until he's about 2+ years old, but that's a personal decision you are going to have to make. Here's a more detailed discussion.

    Just editing to add the following. If you are interested in flyball at all, find a club and get him started now. There are tons of drills that puppies can do that lay a good foundation. At this age, it would mostly be restrained recalls to you. There are several local tournaments for you. The York Expo center has a couple every year. In The Net sports arena also hosts tournaments. You can drop in during any of the days to watch, or you can email a club ahead of time to see if you can meet up with someone there and talk.

    Local flyball clubs:
    Jet Set Flyball
    Revolution Flyball
    And a list of others that may or may not be closer: North American Flyball Association | Flyball Locator

    For dock diving, check out these facilities:
    Welcome to the Canine Spa Home Page - Dog Swimming | Dock Diving | Rehabilitation | Dillsburg PA
    http://www.westwindkennels.net/swimming-pool.html (they are also your local Ultimate Air Dogs club)
    And this would be your local club for dock diving in the DockDogs organization:
    Keystone Dock Dogs

    If you are interested in any other sports, I could try to help but am not as familiar with them. I believe there is regular lure coursing in central PA in Hanover too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2014
  10. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    Thanks for the information about neutering. I was planning on waiting til at least a year, but may wait til the 2nd year because of the information you provided which seemed to be very thoroughly researched/cited from many sources. I tried researching it on my own earlier but found so many conflicting things and some websites that were biased toward neutering as early as possible, some of which said to even do it at 8 weeks, which upon looking into further I found that it would cause issues with his physical and possibly even mental/emotional development.

    I'm about 30 minutes or so from Hanover and am somewhat familiar with the area and am also close to York (currently living in Dallastown). That's awesome that there are events so close to me.
  11. FransterDoo

    FransterDoo Big Dog

    The thing I tell everyone who is interested in sports ("my sports" or other) is to really focus on developing a good working relationship with your puppy. And teaching them that playing and working with you is the best! That can be tricks or a GOOD foundations class or a good online puppy class.
  12. Tiffseagles

    Tiffseagles GRCH Dog Premium Member

    No problem :) Let me know if you have any questions on finding events in the area. I'm from Philadelphia and go to events out that way all of the time. Also, that's great advice from FransterDoo.
  13. HollyT

    HollyT Little Dog

    So far I have been teaching him basic commands (sit, wait/stay, walk with me on a loose leash, watch/make eye contact with me), and he's doing really well. I have been doing training at Pet Smart. I know it may not be the best training, but I'm doing it for the social aspect (w/ people and dogs, unless of course he becomes DA, but I haven't seen any signs of that yet) and exposing him to new/different areas. The trainer said he is doing really well and that she hasn't seen a puppy his age/so early on in training make so much eye contact and focus so much on me. So I'm really pleased about that.

    Could you elaborate on how to make him enjoy working (he enjoys playing of course) and also on what you mean about a good working relationship? Do I make it into a game? Do I reward him with treats during the process of training him? I was going to start having him drag an empty milk jug and then very gradually adding water to it as he gets older, but want to do it in the best way/have the best approach for him to view it as a fun/positive thing to do with me.
  14. ShanaRowan

    ShanaRowan FlirtPolin' Premium Member

    I've been up since 3:30 AM and drove 6 hours today for the IWPA Lake Placid pull so I'm a little beat to respond in too much detail, but I saw Hanover and wanted to mention that there is an AKC lure coursing trial scheduled there in December. Unfortunately it's too far for me to travel (330 miles) but if you're in the area, it might be worth checking out. Your dog needs to be an AKC Canine Partner to participate in the trial ($35) but I know that sometimes they do allow dogs to do fun runs at these events. It may be a good idea to contact the club hosting the event and ask ahead of time. The info is on AKC's website, just do an event search.
  15. Beatrix Kiddo

    Beatrix Kiddo Good Dog

    I just ordered a harness from Cold River Supplies, she's been great to work with so far. Definitely recommend them also
  16. FransterDoo

    FransterDoo Big Dog

    Dogs must be over a year for the CAT. The OP has a 4 month old puppy.
  17. FransterDoo

    FransterDoo Big Dog

    That's great!

    You and he are learning to work together - to communicatie and to understand! Plus all that foundational stuff is super important.

    Well, yes! Everything is a game and the best thing is playing with you. That can be treats, a game of tug, a ball getting thrown - the possibilities are endless. There are a ton of good articles and books out there. If you google "developing a working relationship with your dog" - a lot of hits will come up.

    But it all boils down to finding what makes you and your dog a team. So when my youngest does a kick-ass recall - we play tug with a toy for a second. Another dog likes to catch treats. A third loves getting a tennis ball thrown at his face.

    It's not my sport but my baby dogs don't see equipment at this age. We do recalls, we play tug, we play fetch, we learn a TON of tricks (check out Silvia Trkman for some fun stuff). That's all relationship building.

    TiffanyEagles might have some recommendations for more fun foundational classes in your area too.

    Best of luck.
  18. Tiffseagles

    Tiffseagles GRCH Dog Premium Member

    Depending on how far you are, Tana would be an amazing resource if you get in touch with her. She also holds "green dog" pulls every few months for people just getting into the sport. If you email her, she'll put you on the email list as the events may or may not go up on the website:
    Weight Pull Heave-Ho

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