Tag Archives: dog behavior modification

Weight Pull: Macho Dogsport, Or Awesome Exercise Therapy?

Weight Pull:

Tell you the truth, I’ve had mixed feelings about weight pull for a long time. Until recently.

When I was a kid, weight pulls were basically just legal venues for all the guys that fought dogs to gather publicly and check out everyone’s competition. Kind of a meathead gathering of guys living vicariously through their dogs. I was turned off by weight pull around the same time I began railing against dog fighting. So for about the 25 years I kind of disregarded it.

Until recently. I was re-exposed to weight pull in the spring of 2012. And you know what….. It was cool. The tough guy wannabe’s were noticeably absent. People were very friendly. Not a dog fighting supporter in the bunch.

That was when I was able to look at the sport with an open mind.

Yes….. It’s good for all breeds! (I don’t even know if that’s a dog!)

And what I found was, one of the most awesome training modalities ever!

Weight pull takes a dog/handler team that is in perfect sync. It totally appeals to the coach in me! You have to know your dogs mindset perfectly. You have to be able to tell when they’re into it and when they’re flagging. You have to push them, without it ever becoming a bad experience. You have to spend time in training, developing in them the DESIRE to pull FOR YOU.

That’s the cool part, I think. In competitions (and for most in training), you can’t use anything except praise to motivate your dog. Think about that. Not a toy. Not a hot dog. Not cause you’re yelling and they are scared not to pull. They have to pull this absurd weight…… Just to get to you for a hug.

Wow. The first time I saw it, I almost cried. You can really see the true nature of the love, and determination in a handler/dog relationship when that cart gets heavy. It really is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen done with a dog.

Aside from the relationship building aspects of weight pulling, there are a ton of reasons to do it. It’s a tremendous workout. It’s like Powerlifting for your dog. VERY TIRING! It’s also very environmentally challenging for some dogs. Huge harnesses. Sleds, carts, and drag weight clanging around behind you. Not to mention spectators and so forth if you compete.

As I say with most of these sports, if you want to do them with your dog…… Find a trainer and jump in.

If you don’t have the ability to do it with them, call us! We’ll be your dogs very own weightlifting coach.

Let us come give your dog an amazing workout!

Trust Obstacles

We’ve called it all kinds of names. Canine Parkour. Urban Agility. Doggy Obstacle courses.

But honestly, when we’re talking amongst ourselves we call them trust obstacles. Cause that’s what they are. Your dog develops confidence with environmental stuff, and confidence in you. It’s a huge relationship builder.

Waiting their turn!

Now with all exercise therapies, the depth of the work depends on how hard it is for your dog. So, if your dog is bomb-proof and nothing scares it, then this activity would just be a fun way to play. But for some dogs, it can be REALLY, REALLY hard. Psychologically I mean. They have to trust you enough to do the obstacle, even though it’s a weird-looking thing that they never traversed before. That’s tough for a fearful dog. It takes a lot of trust! And develops a lot of confidence! And, for environmentally shaky dogs, this can be absolutely life altering.

Jax’s first Obstacle session. Look at that focus!


We’ve had that experience with our little pack. It had a great effect on each one of our “Bad Bullies”, but they were all different.

I’ll explain:


Milo hates training. As in traditional obedience. I mean, if you use a box of treats, he may stay interested, but mostly he just pouts, and falls asleep sitting up. But not with Parkour (or whatever you want to call it). His eyes light up like a kid at X-mas! Some of his best obedience is done on an obstacle course. It just really engages him. For him, it’s a party.

His ears give him aerodynamic lift.
Dismissed! His favorite part!


Ah, the devil. She doesn’t get excited about obstacles like Miilo, but, she really likes the praise and attention she gets when she does one. She’s definitely on a “nothing in life is free” type structure to reign in her hyper freak out streaks. And the only time she gets the really over the top excited praise, that she craves is when she does a really challenging obstacle! For her the obstacles themselves aren’t reinforcing, but the reward is. For her, the fact that we are asking her to work for reward, goes a long way to solidify our pack structure. So, it’s a very useful tool for miss Mabel.

Miss Mabel getting her Parkour on!
Tolerating a sit stay to get to her big Dismiss, and a make out session!


Bell’s default mode is fearful. If we don’t expose her to novel (scary) things, on a regular basis, and INSIST that she go through them, she would be a shivering mess in the corner. For Bella, obstacles are a way for us to show her that we are safe leaders, that would never ask her to do something that would turn out bad. And, that even though things look scary, if she just trusts us, she’ll be OK. “Agility” has been one of the MAJOR rehabilitative things we’ve done for her. We know her well enough to see her apprehension sneak up on her in situations, but most people from the outside would think she was as brave as any other dog! For her, this work is mandatory!

Wobbly tires are hard for fraidy bulls.
Through the tire is the hardest for her!

Now, add all those great effects to the obvious physical exercise dogs get doing sessions of agility, and you’ve got a pretty awesome method of exercise therapy! The kind of fulfillment dogs get doing something physically AND mentally challenging is a joy to witness.

A little loose time is a great reward for working so hard. Our little pack. 3 bad bullies and a Jackson!

So, that’s our experience with Trust Obstacles, and how they’ve effected our pack for the better.