problems with weight or getting it moving?  

Listening to a powerlifting podcast today, and one of the hosts said something pretty profound that honestly slaves right over into teaching dogs. Now, many people reading this and who are following the program might not be quite ready for the information, but it’s better to hear and know NOW, as opposed to having to go back and fix a problem you could have avoided. We are going to discuss the idea of:

Is it a problem with the weight or the Movement of the weight?

Now, you might be thinking…. what the hell are you talking about? Is there even a difference? It’s always a problem with the weight when it’s heavy… that shit is heavy.

Hear me out on this one. The difference is there….and can be monumental in your training. A strong, genetically gifted dog can and will pull a ton of weight. Some are so gifted and have raw talent, that you can place them on a cart and it’s like they will pull anything and everything on there FOR anyone, regardless of the weight. We see it far too often. Dogs are placed on heavy weight and every session the owners add more weight, thinking he or she is capable….and all of a sudden…now we hit a number that won’t budge and we have a dog that is stuck and failing. That’s right, I said it… “failing”.

I preach, fairly religiously, how you should really take time to train up to not only the heavier resistance weights, but also the wheeled implements. It is smart and safest for the dog. There is no need to rush…especially if you know and understand that most of your work with dogs leading up to an event should be done at submaximal effort anyways! ( if you didn’t know that, check out the blogs!) There should be much time devoted to technique. With the Level 1 Building Blocks programming….we spend a good bit of time really focusing on building enthusiasm, love for the dig, and proper form development. I don’t care about numbers, competition, or obedience when I am working a newer dog.  Level 2, Digging Deeper, starts the process of challenging the dog, physically and mentally, with the use of heavier weight, as LONG as those dogs have met the criteria for which they should be starting their dogs on dynamic work.

Now if you are diligent in your training and following a program that minimizes the potential backlash that can come of adding too much weight, too rapidly….then this issue should never be a problem for you.

 But what do we do when we see a dog struggling? When the dog we have in front of us is failing? We automatically blame the weight selection…. hopefully we never fail to see the dogs struggles and demand they muster through it (but that will be a different topic for another day). At some point, if you are advanced in your training and have aspirations to compete in the sport of weight pull, then the dogs need to learn a few things. Here is where good training matters… successful dogs need to know two things to be successful.

  1. What heavy weight FEELS like. Now I don’t mean, slap them on a high weight out of the gate because it’s “ work”.  Believe it or not though, even with the best training and lead up in the world,  once a weight gets to a certain point, many dogs stop trying. They stop trying because we have either taught them to do so (with the use of training tools), or because we have never taught them good technique UNDER heavy weight. Some of the most talented, competitive dogs out there, effectively pull weight, not because of their genes…but because of their unwavering attempt to get that cart moving. Some of the most profound, inspiring moments are the first 10 seconds of any competitive scene. Good technique and form, will move weight. Focus on form….not numbers.

  2. Self doubt is strong. This will be another reason why it will seem like a dog hits road blocks in training. Competitive dogs in the sport of weight pull need to be not only taught good form and technique to move heavy weight, but also the value in overcoming adversity and the feelings of self doubt. When they hit a weight that they have never attempted before… they will either stop trying because they are convinced it will not budge (so why try)…. OR, they will give you 10 to 15 seconds of trying as HARD as they possibly can… and that weight will move. It’s the “try” that counts.

You hear me say over and over again…. don’t rush, take your time. This isn’t about numbers. It’s about creating a mentality that is crafter over time, not 3 months. If your dog is pulling heavy weight in under 3 months of training… you’ll never know what is your problem that needs fixed when you stumble into it. Is it a problem with the weight, or the movement of the weight?

Ashley Sculac