|What I will attempt to do
is give you a general feeling of what it takes to do carting and how much
fun it is to train your dog to pull. Whether he pulls a cart, wagon, sled,
travois, a truck load of dog food, or you on skis, there is nothing that
is more fun!
Let's go over a few things first. When I refer to a dog, I mean either male or female of any breed. (My preferred breed is the Rottweiler so you will occasionally find them referred to here!) The dog must be of adequate size and have a disposition that will allow you to train him easily to the task of carting. A dog that can compete at the Companion Dog (CD) level has a good start on the right training to be effective at draft work. The amount of fun you and your dog will have depends on his temperament and your ability to train him properly for draft work. Common sense must be the byword for this very special endeavor. There is no such thing as too much obedience training. Don't
assume that your dog will leap at the chance to do draft work. The chances are that he will more than likely "leap" desperately in the opposite direction to start.
Because a dog's structure is not like a horse or an ox, you must consider the type of rig/cart/wagon that you will use. A wagon is a four wheeled vehicle. A cart has two or three wheels instead of the wagon's four. A sled or sledge is a vehicle on runners used on snow or grass.
The type of harness (freight, cart, siwash, nylon web, or leather), must be the best you can afford. There are a multitude of harness types on the market today. Freight and Siwash style harnesses are easily adapted to carts or wagons with a little ingenuity. Make sure the harness fits well and is padded. I have seen dogs chafed and cut to the bone because of improperly fitted harnesses.
|Besides the obvious benefits
to heart and lungs for both you and your dogs, draft work can be both fun
and useful. Your child can use the dog and cart to help on his newspaper
route. You can have him pull the groceries home. In the country, he can
haul fire wood back to the house. What better publicity for your breed of
dog than seeing a well trained team in a parade or at special events? Sled
dog teams can be registered with local police departments to help
transport people and supplies. What better reasons could you have for
training your dog for draft work?
Most dogs will show an interest in pulling right from the start. A few will want nothing to do with the whole idea until they learn how to do it. Don't be disappointed if your dog is not perfect the first time out. Dogs that work willingly on the first attempt are rare. As with all training, your confidence and a firm hand will go a long way in achieving that perfect draft dog.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN TRAINING
You must use common sense when training
your draft dog. Most problems occur because of a lack of understanding
between the dog and driver. When you become angry, confused, or impatient,
put the dog away. You can only do more harm than good if this happens. One
person must do all the training. Everyone has a different way of saying a
command. Commands from several different people during training will only
confuse the dog.
TERMS USED IN DRAFT WORK/SLEDDING
A Travois is a primitive vehicle used by the plains Indians consisting of two trailing poles serving as shafts and bearing a platform or net for the load. A travois can be made from PVC (plastic) pipe. It is a very simple training device. You can use 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC. You will need 2, 90 degree elbows, 2 T's, 2 lengths of pipe and a can of PVC glue.
Two Wheel Carts
Carts are two wheeled vehicles pulled by a horse, pony, or a dog. Sizes vary depending on the
animal used to pull it.
Four Wheel Wagons
Wagons are low four-wheeled vehicles with an open rectangular body and a tongue or shafts used to pull with. Four wheeled wagons with their widely spaced wheels are less prone to tipping over. They can also support the larger weights loaded into them without putting to much stress on a dog's back. Wagons can be as simple as a flat bed or frame mounted on the wheels, or include seats, cargo areas etc. But remember, your dog has to pull the additional weight that this adds to the wagon. One of the disadvantages is that a wagon usually requires a larger turning radius than a two-wheel cart. It is also much harder to back a wagon in a straight line if you get stuck in a narrow area.
A sled is a vehicle on runners used for transportation. It may also have a solid bottom such as a toboggan. It is usually used on snow or ice.
A harness is used as a way to attach the dog to the rig. It can be made of any material. A harness is used as a way to attach the dog to the rig. It can be made of leather, nylon web or any other suitable material. There are several different types of harness, freight, cart, siwash, and x-back. Freight and Siwash style harnesses are easily adapted to carts or wagons with a little ingenuity. Even a tracking harness can be adapted to draft work. Make sure the harness fits well and is padded.