Draught dog sport is a great way to do sports together with your dog. However, it’s not suitable for every dog breed. Strength, endurance, running will, height and stature as well as health and obedience play an important role in this fast-paced dog-human occupation.
What is draft dog sport?
In simple words, we can say draft dog sport is sports with a dog in which a dog or number of dogs pulls a person (with the vehicle) behind him. A distinction is made between different disciplines, which are carried out either on the feet, skis, on the bicycle, on DogScooter, Dog Trike, Sacco Cart, or sled. In all disciplines, dog and human (or vehicle) are connected with a pull line, which may be attached to an antenna. The dog runs away from the front and pulls what he should have to pull. The fastest dog-human team wins the race.
As already mentioned, the pulling dog sport is divided into various disciplines, which we will discuss in more detail below.
CaniCross is a sport that has its origins in Scandinavia. Dog and owner are connected by an elastic leash a maximum of two meters long and with all feet and paws on the ground, i.e. without a vehicle. During this “cross-country run”, the dog and owner act as a team to reach their destination as quickly as possible. The route lengths vary between 5 and 10 kilometers and can be both a trail in the forest and a run on a normal hiking trail.
By the way, there is also a cross-country run in the tournament dog sport. However, there are differences between CaniCross and tournament dog sport cross-country running: The route length in CaniCross, for example, is not precisely defined and can vary, while in off-road running in tournament dog sports there are fixed-route lengths, namely 1 km, 2 km, and 5 km. In addition, you can start at the CaniCross with two dogs at the same time. In cross-country running in the THS, a team always consists of only one dog and one human.
Bikejoring originates from the sled dog sport. Only in this case, a bicycle is pulled by one or more dogs. Bikejoring can be done both as a hobby and competitively (there are competitions for almost all draft dog sports).
Skijoring is even closer to sled dog racing than bikejoring due to the weather conditions. Before you let your dog pull you through the snow on skis, you should put your skier qualities to the test. Only when you stand safely on the boards yourself, you can (D)strap on a dog and off you go! For skijoring, about two meters long cross-country skis are needed. One or two dogs are connected to their owner by a harness, pull the leash, and pull the belt. The dog or the dog team gives the necessary power to reach the goal first.
The summer variant of skijoring is the DogScooter (a scooter with a dog). Here the dog is stretched by means of a pull leash in front of a scooter, which was specially developed for the dog sport training. The scooter can reach high speeds due to optimal weight distribution. This makes Dog Scooting particularly fun and adrenaline-filled! Despite the high speeds, the Dog Scooter is better suited for beginners than bikejoring. This is because the scooter is closer to the ground and can be descended faster in tricky situations.
The word dog trekking is composed of the English words dog (dog) and trekking (long-distance hiking). Accordingly, one or two dogs are attached to the belt to pull the holder by the harness via an elastic pull line with a rear damper and the tour can start. Czech sled dog athletes have invented dog trekking as a summer alternative to winter sports. This endurance sport is performed over several days and a distance of at least 80 kilometers. If you go privately, you can also trek short distances – for training, a slow increase in route lengths is of course a must.
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The Dog Trike has three wheels compared to the bike or DogScooter and thus ofe for dog teams (i.e. several dogs). The team experience will be perfect if your team and yofers more stability. Since the Dog Trike (train car) already has a relatively high dead weight, it is more suitablu trust each other, the dogs like each other, and everyone goes to the start with enthusiasm.
The Sacco Cart is an off-road vehicle, which is also popular in the train dog sport. The Sacco Cart is driven while sitting, with a second person behind it also being able to ride while standing. The dog is stretched into a drawbar in front of the light cart, through which it can be easily steered. The drawbar can be a great help in learning the commands. A Sacco Cart with one person can be pulled by a large, strong dog (at least 50 centimeters shoulder height and 30 kilograms bodyweight) alone on flat tracks.
Sled dog sport
The classic in the train dog sport is the sled dog sport. In the sled dog sport, all winter friends who have more than two dogs willing to move are in good hands. A sled dog team consists of a musher (human on the sled) and two to twelve dogs. Here, too, the dogs are attached to the sled by means of harnesses and pull leashes. The competitions take place at three different distances: sprint (up to 20 km), medium distance (20 to 50 km), and long-distance (more than 100 km).
What equipment do I need for myself and my dog?
Since we have already discussed the different train dog sports cars (bike, scooter, ski, sacco, sled), we will focus in this section on the equipment that you and your dog also need for dog pulling.
Equipment for you
- Antenna (for Bikejöring and DogScooter)
- Hip belt with leg loops and soft shackle or panic snap
- Sturdy and sturdy footwear
- Breathable sportswear
- Gloves and headlamp if necessary
Which dogs are suitable for draught dog sport?
In general, almost all healthy dogs older than 18 months are suitable for draft dog sports. Some dog breeds have been bred specifically to pull a sled or other loads. Examples are the Siberian Husky, the Greenland Dog, the Alaskan Malamute, and the Samoyed. Mountain dogs such as the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Leonberger are also strong, large dogs that helped their humans can also move heavy goods. These breeds are of course predestined for dog pulling!
In general, it depends on the physique, the joy of running, pulling power, and obedience, for which draft dog sport your dog is suitable.
Draft dog sport for small dog breeds
Even small dogs are allowed to compete in dog pulling sports. It is also important here to choose the right sport for you and your little speedster. CaniCross and Dogtrekking are draft dog sports suitable for small dogs. These two disciplines do not require much muscle power and are therefore also well suited for beagles, dwarf pinschers, Jack Russell terriers, and other terrier species.
Dogs with short legs (such as dachshunds or Welsh Corgie) and short-nosed breeds (such as the French Bulldog, Pug or Pekinese) are not suitable for draft dog sports.
Draft dog sport for large dog breeds
Bike and skijoring, DogScooter, Dog Trike, Sacco Cart, and sled dog sports are more suitable for large and strong dogs, as the vehicle itself already has its own weight. Suitable here are, for example, the aforementioned sled and cargo pulling dogs, Dalmatians, Rottweilers, German Shorthairs, Gruynts, Magyar Vizsla, Shepherd Dogs, Dobermans, Great Danes, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Eurasians, Weimarans and many other breeds.
We’ll show you five simple ways to get your dog used to pull on command, but first, you should do a little general check:
- Your dog is completely healthy?
- The harness fits perfectly?
- The pull line has a rear damper and you have a hip belt with leg loops and panic snap?
- Your dog is motivated to pull you?
Then you’re ready to go!
In the beginning, you do not need a vehicle but train your dog with CaniCross technique in which your dog is used to run in front of you and pull yourself. Here it pays off if your dog tends to hang on a leash anyway. In this case, you just have to confirm it in it and then add commands to the whole thing.
If your dog usually does not pull on a leash, there are a few tricks on how to get him to do it:
- Place a food bowl a few meters away, visible to your dog, or throw his favorite toy. You let your dog wait until you give him the permission to run with the desired command. With you in tow, of course!
- Put your dog in front of a tire or a weight appropriate for his body weight. Motivate him to pull the tire as you walk right next to him. Of course, you praise him extensively for his efforts. However, there are dogs to whom the weight on the other end of the leash seems suspicious. Here you have to try out whether this tactic is suitable for you. If not, try it this way:
- A second person (at best one that your dog likes) calls him from a few meters away. If you give your dog the command “Go!”, he is allowed to sprint to his humanitarian. This method motivates most dogs a lot!
- Fake rabbit – you need a decoy! This can also be a person who likes your dog very much, a dog-owner team, or someone who is already on the road with his dog in the train dog sport. You just let them run, jog or drive in front of you and motivate your dog to catch up.
- Group training can also motivate your dog greatly. Here it makes sense if dog-owner teams are there, who already have experience in the train dog sport.
Our dogs are all different and the training approach can be just as different. You will certainly quickly find out which method is effective for your dog and what you both have the most fun with because that should always be in the foreground!
Useful Commands for dog sport training
Commands for running, stopping, changing speed, and direction is essential in the sport of training dogs! After all, you don’t want to cause an accident and arrive safely at the finish.
The most important commands in the train dog sport are:
|Stop!||Stop or Whoa|
|Faster||Hike or Yes!|
|Straight ahead||Straight or Ahead|
|Left past/over||Over Haw|
|Passing/over on the right||Over Gee|
Of course, you do not have to adhere to the recommended commands and can choose your terms freely. You should only make sure that there is no risk of confusion for your dog with the sound of the commands.
Draught dog sport – unreasonable burden or terrific occupation?
The answer is: draft dog sport is what you make of it!
If you conscientiously follow the rules, have provided suitable equipment for you and your dog and you are both completely fit and healthy, draft dog sport is a terrific activity! Joint ventures strengthen the bond between dog and owner and ensure mental and physical strain. It is your responsibility to train your dog gently and never send it cold to the start. Pay attention to your dog’s level of training and warm him up in peace before each tour. It becomes an unreasonable burden if your dog is not up to the demands of the draft dog sport or simply does not enjoy it. So it’s up to you to weigh up, assess your dog and scale back your own needs if your dog just doesn’t want to or can’t. The same applies if your dog exaggerates and exhausts himself out of sheer overzealousness – here it is up to you to slow him down to a healthy level.