Training Wheels for Training?
It isn't uncommon for owners to write me and ask questions about " when can my dog get on a weight pull cart?" or "can I have them pull a wagon for something fun to do"? I just got a message the other day in fact....so here is my response for anyone with the same questions.
When I first started my weight pull club and helping to coach other people and their dogs, the end goal for everyone was always competition. Even if it was pulling an empty competition cart (which can weigh anywhere from 200-300lbs alone); the cart was the standard for fun and the bar to which everyone had to get to. In the past years, that thought process has changed a bit for me. Here are a few things that I'd like to point out, now that I have put together the CRT program.
1. Wheeled Implements have their place in solid training programs, but don't expect to be on them for a good while if you are sticking to a solid program. The perceived resistance on a wheeled device is not the same as what your dog will be experiencing when he or she is doing her weekly CRT sessions. The amount of weight that would need to be added to a wagon or a cart to make resistance training beneficial would be more than your typical window weights or chains, and most dogs arent ready for that jump just yet! If we are talking about proper resistance training and the benefits of muscular development and better physical health, you don't need a cart or a wagon.....you need time under tension!
2. Wheels MAKE it easier! Hence why in competitions, the dogs can reach upwards of a few thousand pounds! If you are hoping to add a wagon or a cart to evaluate your dog's grit and determination--- you won't get the best gauge by hooking them up to one of these. The most difficult part about the carts, are to get them going! This is the value in a learned dog in their ability to "try". They learn the "try" and the ability to dedicate by doing the duration and dynamic effort work. If you have no clue what I am referring to here, check out the website and programs ;)
3. You better have a "brake person". I talk a lot about the reasons why CRT is so beneficial for a sensitive or not so confident dog, as it helps them realize their potential and capability to overcome adversity. We take a ton of time properly acclimating dogs up to the sounds, sensations, and overall picture of resistance training through our weekly sessions. By putting a dog onto a wagon or cart changes the entire picture! Now you have a larger object on wheels, that moves MUCH faster behind the dog. If that dog stops, that cart or wagon won't!! You run the great risk of doing more damage to a dog's mental confidence if they start getting clipped by the wagon, because you failed to stop the wagon or cart. If you still choose to hook your dog up to a wagon out of haste----get a second person.
4. If all the other reasons above still aren't enough evidence to realize that you shouldn't be adding these devices prematurely, take into account your goals for your dog. If you start CRT to add muscle tone and development, then you already know what is required in your training in order to achieve that ( if you don't, you should read more blogs or sign up for the Building Blocks foundational program!) If you have sights set on competition, then by all means, know that you will encounter adding these elements when you cover the Digging Deeper program, which covers the complex world of dynamic effort.