How to Train a Pit Bull for Weight Pulling

How to Train a Pit Bull for Weight Pulling
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Time icon1-6 Months
Work training category iconWork

Introduction

The Pit Bull is a powerful, muscular, low-built dog that looks like it was made to pull. In fact, Pit Bulls do love to pull. They are eager workers and love to please their people, and so pulling is an activity that they enjoy. Because pulling a cart or weight expends energy while still requiring a good deal of self-control, this is a great training tool for the energetic and sometimes impulsive Pit Bull. A Pit Bull in harness knows there is a job to do and will learn to focus on doing that job. This teaches self-control, which is one of the most important skills for a powerful breed dog like the Pit Bull to achieve. 

A Pit Bull without a job to do may become destructive or act out against other dogs or people. Pit Bulls feel the drive to be helpful, and if they are not given something useful to do they may make up their own job, which is not likely a job you are going to like. The powerful jaws and muscular neck of a Pit Bull can make quick work of your couch or even your door. A Pit Bull who learns her job is to be strong and reliable for you when she is out pulling will be happy to nap on your sofa between work sessions. 

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Defining Tasks

While the Pit Bull is generally a sturdy, powerful breed, some Pit Bull are prone to back injury. Have your dog checked by your vet to make sure your best friend won't hurt herself in your new activity. Pit Bulls are so willing to please many will not hesitate to suffer pain and injury for their human, without even seeming it feel it. For this reason, it is especially important that your loyal friend is healthy enough to undertake training. 

While Pit Bull compete in power pull events in which they dislodge and pull hundreds of pounds, this is a professional canine athletic activity that only very experienced trainers and dogs should undertake. Start slowly with light weights and short sessions until your dog builds strength. If your Pit Bull is under two years of age, don't build up weight until bones and muscles are fully developed. Even puppies can pull light weights and carts, but never cause young dogs to strain into pulling. 

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Getting Started

Most Pit Bull parents learn that their dog is more than willing to pull, pretty much any chance they get. The challenge with Pit Bulls more about reining in their love of pulling than in encouraging pulling. If your dog doesn't seem to get the idea, you can use a toy or food motivator to get her going. It is often best to start with your dog wearing the harness and you providing the resistance so that your dog learns the feel of the harness pulling without the sense of something being dragged behind and attached to her. Once she is very comfortable with the harness you can move towards pulling a light weight or cart. 

Pit Bulls are prone to overheating due to their short nose, so be careful that your sessions are short and your dog can drink plenty of water, especially if your dog has an especially squat face. 

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The Start with Cart Method

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1

Fearless pup

Many dogs are made nervous by being hooked up to a cart if they have not pulled anything before, but some Pits are pretty fearless and may not mind.

2

Empty cart, good control

Start with an empty cart and make sure you have good control over your Pit so she will not be startled and take off.

3

Gentle leading

Gently lead your Pit around pulling the cart until she is comfortable with having it behind her.

4

Gradually increase weight

Gradually increase the weight in the cart, making sure your pit is completely comfortable with each stage.

5

Begin to trust

As your pit builds confidence you can begin to trust her not to run off with the cart, and try riding in the cart yourself to guide her.

The Pull Me Method

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1

Energetic Pit

This technique relies on a Pit Bull who is already energetic and ready to run. If your Pit Bull drags you down the road when you go for a walk, your dog is a good candidate for this method.

2

Get wheels

Whether you are comfortable on a skateboard, roller blades, or a bike, choose the wheeled device that works best for you and that you feel confident controlling and able to stop.

3

Let your Pit pull

Choose a location without any vehicles and not too much pedestrian traffic. Your dog is going to want to run and you want to let her get the energy out.

4

Develop control

Once your Pit has run out her initial energy she should settle into a steady pulling pace. Practice turning, slowing, and stopping.

5

Add weight

As your dog gains confidence and strength, you can add weight to what she is pulling, whether that means adding weight to you wheeled device or hooking your Pit to a cart.

The Increasing Weight Method

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Drag lines

Start by hooking your Pit up in her harness to drag lines with no weight attached.

2

Practice until comfortable

Have your Pit practice pulling the empty lines until she is comfortable with having something drag behind her.

3

Add light weight

Attach something light, not wheeled, to the straps. A rolled up towel or piece of cardboard work well.

4

Increase weight

Increase weight gradually until your pit is getting good exercise from pulling

5

Add wheels

If desired, you can add a wheeled device now that your dog is very comfortable pulling.

By Coral Drake

Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Slim

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Pit bull

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5 Months

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Question

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What is a good way to train my dog not to jump on people?

Oct. 27, 2021

Slim's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Desiree, Check out the jumping article I have linked below. When practicing with guests you can use the Leash method (that minimizes guest having to get jumping on during practice). When pup jumps on you or others in your home and isn't leashed, I generally recommend the Step Toward method, which also rewards pup for sitting. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 28, 2021

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cooper

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Pit bull

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1 Year

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Question

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I am needing him to start listening. I also want to build him up.

Oct. 10, 2021

cooper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out the article I have linked below. I recommend the Obedience method and the Consistency method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Depending on pup's level of obedience, pup probably also needs to work up to being able to obey commands in more distracting locations by practicing in those types of locations, starting with easy distractions and slowly transitioning to harder distractions as pup improves with practice. Just like pup needing to work up to more weights, pup's attention span and training skills need to work up gradually as well. To build him up, I would start with pup just wearing his gear without weights to get him used to the feel of it. Once pup is doing well with that, simply slowly add weights overtime. How often you can add more weights depends a lot on how often you are training pup, how pup is handling the training physically, and the type of terrain and other difficulties in the area. Like a person going to the gym you need to work up to more weight gradually. You vet can be a good source of guidance for your particular dog. Look for signs pup is getting fatigued, like panting, their overall body language, shaking (you are past the point where you should have stopped), and how happy pup looks/vs. ears back, slumped looking. Sometimes you have to end things for the dog before they want to, because their physical endurance is less than their mental endurance is. I would also check with your vet to make sure pup's growth plates have closed, because that will effect what type of training pup should be doing safety wise. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 11, 2021


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