Weight pulling, done well, is a fantastic outlet for the competitive spirit of bulldogs and their owners. In the winner's circle, the pit bull's will to win and desire to please has catapulted the breed over traditional Northern breeds bred for sledge pulling!
Several organizations hold weight pulls open to pit bulls. But only the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA) and the American Pull Alliance (APA) allow ALL pit bulls (meaning rescue dogs, mixed breeds and other animals without registration papers) to compete. The UKC, the CKC, NCC, AAPA and the ADBA - American Dog Breeders Association all offer weight pulls, but dogs must be registered with their organization. In some they cannot even be spayed or neutered.
IWPA trials are well thought out with safety factors like no pulls during the summer heat, and a minimum age of 12 months for pulling dogs. In my opinion, all the other organizations leave much to be desired. Some offer very "easy" titles (some you can earn at just one pull), some allow handlers to continue to pull dogs, over and over, that want to quit. Most allow "baiting" which is unsafe, some even allow young puppies and adolescent dogs to pull, which is completely irresponsible and shows no regard for the safety and health of the animals.
At an IWPA pull, each dog is harnessed and hooked to a cart (or sled in the snow) upon which increasing increments of weight are added. Each dog has 60 seconds to pull the load 16 feet without the handler touching the dog or crossing a line which is in front of the dog. Dogs cannot be "baited". The dog that pulls the most weight across the line (in the fastest time in case of a tie) wins. Dogs can earn three titles, the Working Dog (WD) for pulling 12 times their body weight at four different pulls. The Working Dog Excellent (WDX) for pulling 18 times their body weight at four different pulls, and the Working Dog Superior (WDS) for pulling 23 times their body weight at three different pulls. Dogs can also compete for regional and national ranking.
Some organizations allow the dog to pull on a platform of carpet, while the cart rides on metal rails. This allows for much higher weights than when the cart and dog are on the same surface. Because each pull offers a different surface and conditions, pull weights cannot be compared from pull to pull.
A game pit bull loves to work, and will do so without any force.
Weight pull is a sport for those who want to do something with their dog that doesn't involve tiny leashes, points for color, or special "paper's" and who love to work with their dog to achieve a goal. If that's you, then weight pull may be your thing. While Pit Bull's are excellent at weight pull it's not for everyone or for every dog. Training a dog in weight pull takes time, dedication, money, and if you're like me and live in an area with very few, if any pulling events you'll have to travel out of town to events. Which again costs money and time.
I don't want to turn you off to the idea of getting involved though. I just thought it fair that you know before hand some of the sacrifices that will be made.
Weight pull is a fun and exciting way to meet other Pit Bull owner's as well. Your dog is also meeting new doggy friends and getting some great socialization to boot. Weight pull can also be a rewarding experience as it takes dedication to really excel at the sport.
What exactly is a weight pull? Pulls are held on three different types of terrain. Snow, dirt and rail.
For dirt, a cart with four wheels, and a rail system is set up on rails with the cart on them. Rails is where you see monster weights over 6,000 pounds being pulled. Record weights can reach 8,000 lbs. Whether the dog is on snow, dirt, or rail the distance is usually 16 feet (the ADBA is 15 feet). Dogs are required to pull the weight the distance in 60 seconds or without fail. Once 60 seconds is up and the dog hasn't completed the distance the pull is over and the dog is allowed to complete the pull with help. Different organizations have different rules as well. For example, the IWPA and the UKC do not allow "baiting" while the ADBA does. Baiting is using something to lure the dog to you, like their favorite toy or treats. All three organizations state you can not touch your dog in any manner while pulling and physical corrections are also penalized.
So is weight pull right for you? Only one way to find out, contact the International Weight Pull Association and see if you can find a pull in your area. Go to the pull, experience it, and afterward you'll have a pretty good idea if it's for you and your dog or not. If your dog is registered with the UKC and/or the ADBA you can also contact them. Most people that I know with Pit Bulls in weight pull prefer the IWPA because they are an exclusive pulling club and have high quality events. Weight pull is a wonderful sport for Pit Bulls to display their physical and mental strength. Before you get involved you should make sure you know where to go, what equipment you will need and the training involved.
Let's start with Weight Pull Organizations Two established organizations that hold weight pull events are the United Kennel Club and the International Weight Pull Association. Both organizations offer quality events and have the experience to set up nice pulls with good turn outs. The IWPA is a weight pull specific organization and is widely popular among dog owners who are involved in weight pull.
The types of pulls you will encounter are:
1. Track pulls. These pulls use a track and wheel system. This is where you will see massive amounts of weight being pulled.
2. Cart pull. These pulls use a wheeled cart and while the weights are lower than track pulls they are still quite impressive.
3. Sled pulls. The most difficult of the pulls are sled pulls.
These pulls are held on dirt or snow and use a sled to hold the weights.
The UKC and IWPA mostly use cart and sled pulls during their pull events. This requires your dog to have Superior strength and drive in order to successfully pull the weight.
How Weight Pulls Work Your dog will be required to pull the weight 16 feet and you are not allowed to bait (encourage with food or a toy) or touch the dog while the dog is pulling.
You can encourage the dog from the finish line or drive the dog by walking to the side and behind them while encouraging them to pull the weight.
Your dog has one minute to complete the pull. If they do not pull the weight helpers will come out and assist the dog so they succeed. You do not score any points if the dog needs help. The dog that pulls the most weight according to their size wins the pull.
Using this system you will see big dogs lose to little dogs because the little dog pulled more weight compared to their size in open pulls. Both organizations offer pulls for specific breeds.
The most popular breeds used are:
1. American Pit Bull Terriers
2. American Bulldogs
But other breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Poodles also get involved in weight pull.
Important Equipment You Will Need
Having a good weight pull harness is the key here. Weight pull harnesses are designed for weight pull and come with a "brace" bar that will help stretch out the harness to pull the weight.
You can get these harnesses online by doing a search for them using your favorite search engine. Training Your Pit Bull for Weight Pull Experts advise against getting young dogs started in weight pull and recommend you start when the dog is 18-24 months old. Starting at this age gives your dog time to fully grow so they won't injure their joints, muscles or ligaments. You will find two camps in the training department. One camp suggests that you start out by having your dog pull light weights while working and the other camp suggests that you start training with light weights using the rules, distance and set up that you would encounter at a pull. Having your dog pull the light weight 16 feet exactly as they would if they were compete ting. Whatever camp you want to start in you should get some professional help or find a person who has been doing weight pull with the UKC or the IWPA for a while and ask them questions. Weight pull offers a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise with your dog while giving your dog a job to do.