A Short History of Weightpulling
Most well known examples of weightpulling would be found in the books by Jack London "White Fang" and "Call of the Wild." Evidence of pulling dogs was recorded in the years of the gold rush, as well as in the settling of Canada and the American West.
We cannot escape evidence that both the migrating American Indians, as well as
the Eskimos, used dogs for draft work. Of course, how far this dates back cannot
accurately be determined. Across Europe however, there is some photographic
evidence, as well as some surviving historical carting and drafting equipment, that
can be accurately dated into the middle ages and earlier, confirming that the
Europeans understood the value of dogs as draft animals.
Since it is human nature to compete, in sports and work, it is easy to imagine friends and neighbors occasionally challenging one another's pride in their draft animals, dogs and horses alike. Friendly competitions to see who had the strongest, or fastest, and most willing working partner surely grew and evolved, and today we see the continuation of these challenges with tractor pulls and car races.
Nowadays the need for animal draft work seems to be more acceptable as a hobby, or an art, except for situations in which machines are not practical, appropriate, or available. An example would be Amish farming or logging, or for philosophical reasons, such as the increase of small, organic farms.
We seem to have lost touch with the fact that not
only were several of our current dog breeds today bred SPECIFICALLY for draft work, whether
carting or sledding, but that all dogs, of any size
or breed, seem to particularly enjoy the
opportunity to be fulfilled by this type of work.
Consider that owners spend MILLIONS of
dollars each year, as well as dedicate many hours
to teaching their dogs NOT to pull. While this is helpful for the control,
safety, and relationship with our pets, we shouldn't ignore the fact that our
dogs do enjoy pulling!
There are many canine recreational pulling sports such as sledding, weightpulling, skiijorring, bikejorring, drafting, carting, and more, many of which include organized competitions.
There are also many ways to enjoy pulling with your dogs at home. Consider how helpful your dog may be with chores, such as pulling in loads of firewood, grain, hay bales, removing rocks or weeds picked from a garden, even bringing in loads of apples or the freshly cut Christmas tree. And what fun your children with their canine companion pulling them on a sled! We need to not only recognize that our dogs can be helpful to us, but want to be as well. Having a "job" to do can be important to both their physical and mental well being.
Common behavioral training techniques will naturally assist in correcting behavioral problems. We are finding now that utilizing resistance training, in the form of weightpulling, can be especially significant in behavioral rehabilitation in the form of building confidence in shy or nervous dogs, building trust with the owner and improving the human/canine bond, and in draining nervous energy (which can create painful muscle tension, and increased anxiety). Learning to manage these issues will help the shy or nervous dog be able to relax.
Our busy lifestyles often don't provide appropriate energy outlets for some dogs, no matter how hard we try. Adding resistance training to your current exercise program doesn't require any more time and effort than an average walk. Adding resistance (with a proper pulling harness) to a walk of 10 minutes out and back (20 minutes total), 2-3 times per week, can make a noticable difference in your dog's calmness, level of relaxation and re-activity, and start to help you make desirable behavioral changes. Many owners comment that they notice a difference in their dog's behavior after the very first training session.