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Monday, February 9, 2009

Dog Power! Working dogs are everywhere—or can be!

Beautiful working dogs taking a break So many of us have dogs, and for so many reasons. Many dogs are still kept primarily for their protective attitudes towards the family that they love and the home that they keep. Perhaps at least as many are kept only for companionship—and an excellent job they do, too.

But dogs have been kept by man as working animals for most of the centuries that the contract between them has existed. Drafting has been one of those job, and some breeds were even bred specifically for drafting. Any healthy dog can draw a cart or a wagon regardless of their size; just take a look at the pictures here ! Taking into consideration the guideline that a dog can pull his own weight in a well balanced cart or wagon, smaller dogs are not usually seen in harness but it can be and is done. Some dogs really enjoy it for it’s own sake not only because it gives them a sense of importance and involvement but it’s also good exercise. Too many dogs don’t get enough exercise and drafting can be a wonderful answer.

If you are interested getting into drafting with your dog, your first step would be a complete check over for your dog from the vet. Just as you wouldn’t suddenly decide to compete in a triathlon with a check from your doctor, you wouldn’t want to start working your dog without knowing about any physical problems. Once that’s ticked off your list, you’ll need basic training information and a proper harness. You’ll also need a cart or wagon of some sort. What style of vehicle you choose will be determined by your dog and his or her build, and by what you two hope to actually be doing. Drafting is usually a dog pulling “stuff” in a wagon of some version while you walk alongside; carting usually means you ride in the cart behind the dog. Learning a bit about the more recent history of carting is at least interesting. Here are some good basics on the entire concept.

This is a transportation option that you could start working on even before the spring weather comes. It may take you a little time to get the vet check done, find an appropriate harness and actually get it in your hands. Once you have the harness, you can put it on your dog and start working on commands that you’ll need once they actually have a cart. Carts and wagons can be expensive, but you can also build your own.

This is something that I am personally looking into with my Lab/Newfie cross dog. I’m hoping that we can find an existing dog carting group in our area, and failing that I suppose we’ll have to start our own. Do you know if there are any dog carting clubs in your area?


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