Carting With Your Rottweiler

Respectively offered by Wayne Budwick, Von Hawkwind Rotteilers


What I will attempt to do is give you a general feeling of what it takes to do carting and how much
fun it is to train your dog to pull. Whether he pulls a cart, wagon, sled, travois, a truck load of dog food,
or you on skis, there is nothing that is more fun!

Let's go over a few things first. When I refer to a dog, I mean either
male or female of any breed. (My preferred breed is the Rottweiler so you
will occasionally find them referred to here!) The dog must be of adequate
size and have a disposition that will allow you to train him easily to the
task of carting. A dog that can compete at the Companion Dog (CD) level
has a good start on the right training to be effective at draft work. The
amount of fun you and your dog will have depends on his temperament and
your ability to train him properly for draft work. Common sense must be
the byword for this very special endeavor. There is no such thing as too
much obedience training. Don't
assume that your dog will leap at the chance to do draft work. The chances
are that he will more than likely "leap" desperately in the opposite
direction to start.

Because a dog's structure is not like a horse or an ox, you must consider
the type of rig/cart/wagon that you will use. A wagon is a four wheeled
vehicle. A cart has two or three wheels instead of the wagon's four. A
sled or sledge is a vehicle on runners used on snow or grass.

The type of harness (freight, cart, siwash, nylon web, or leather), must
be the best you can afford. There are a multitude of harness types on the
market today. Freight and Siwash style harnesses are easily adapted to
carts or wagons with a little ingenuity. Make sure the harness fits well
and is padded. I have seen dogs chafed and cut to the bone because of
improperly fitted harnesses.

Besides the obvious benefits
to heart and lungs for both you and your dogs, draft work can be both fun
and useful. Your child can use the dog and cart to help on his newspaper
route. You can have him pull the groceries home. In the country, he can
haul fire wood back to the house. What better publicity for your breed of
dog than seeing a well trained team in a parade or at special events? Sled
dog teams can be registered with local police departments to help
transport people and supplies. What better reasons could you have for
training your dog for draft work?

Most dogs will show an interest in pulling right from the start. A few
will want nothing to do with the whole idea until they learn how to do it.
Don't be disappointed if your dog is not perfect the first time out. Dogs
that work willingly on the first attempt are rare. As with all training,
your confidence and a firm hand will go a long way in achieving that
perfect draft dog.


You must use common sense when training
your draft dog. Most problems occur because of a lack of understanding
between the dog and driver. When you become angry, confused, or impatient,
put the dog away. You can only do more harm than good if this happens. One
person must do all the training. Everyone has a different way of saying a
command. Commands from several different people during training will only
confuse the dog.

Your dog must be in top physical condition. Toe nails must be short. A
good quality food should be provided. The stresses placed on the dog
mentally as well as physically may require a higher intake than normal.
This doesn't mean over feed your dog. Obesity is the worst enemy of the
draft dog. Never let your dogs get fat.

All your training instincts must be in use while working with your dog. Be
alert to his posture. When you have him in harness, and he is trying hard
but unable to accomplish what you have asked him to do, STOP. Is the load
too heavy? Is the weather too warm? Is the harness chafing or cutting into
him? You must solve the problem in such a way that he still has confidence
in his own abilities. Remember, if you want to be part of a good draft
team, MAKE IT FUN!

I have just touched on a few of the basic items involved with starting
draft work. There are many more areas that I could cover. If you like what
you see and want me to publish more information, write to me at the
address listed below.


GEE Turn Right.
HAW Turn Left.
WHOA, STOP, HOLD  All mean stop. 
HIKE, MUSH OKAY, ALL RIGHT, LET'S GO All are forward commands, varying
according to the
preference of the driver. 
GEE COME! HAW COME!  are commands to come back and reverse
direction on the trail. 
ON BY!  used when you want your dog to continue
past some
distraction that has caught his attention. 
TIGHTEN UP  is called to the leader when he is to
stretch the gang line tight and hold it, or be ready for a start. 
LEAD DOG  is the first dog in line, sometimes two
POINT DOGS are fast eager dogs making up the first
pair behind the leader, and are often leaders in training. 
SWING DOGS  are all the other pairs except those
closest to the rig.
WHEEL DOGS  are the closest to the rig, almost
always, dogs with stamina.  They control the behavior of the rig


A Travois is a primitive vehicle used by the plains Indians consisting of
two trailing poles serving as shafts and bearing a platform or net for the
load. A travois can be made from PVC (plastic) pipe. It is a very simple
training device. You can use 1/2 or 3/4 inch PVC. You will need 2, 90
degree elbows, 2 T's, 2 lengths of pipe and a can of PVC glue.

Two Wheel Carts
Carts are two wheeled vehicles pulled by a horse, pony, or a dog. Sizes
vary depending on the
animal used to pull it.

Four Wheel Wagons
Wagons are low four-wheeled vehicles with an open rectangular body and a
tongue or shafts used to pull with. Four wheeled wagons with their widely
spaced wheels are less prone to tipping over. They can also support the
larger weights loaded into them without putting to much stress on a dog's
back. Wagons can be as simple as a flat bed or frame mounted on the
wheels, or include seats, cargo areas etc. But remember, your dog has to
pull the additional weight that this adds to the wagon. One of the
disadvantages is that a wagon usually requires a larger turning radius
than a two-wheel cart. It is also much harder to back a wagon in a
straight line if you get stuck in a narrow area.

A sled is a vehicle on runners used for transportation. It may also have a
solid bottom such as a toboggan. It is usually used on snow or ice.

A harness is used as a way to attach the dog to the rig. It can be made of
any material. A harness is used as a way to attach the dog to the rig. It
can be made of leather, nylon web or any other suitable material. There
are several different types of harness, freight, cart, siwash, and x-back.
Freight and Siwash style harnesses are easily adapted to carts or wagons
with a little ingenuity. Even a tracking harness can be adapted to draft
work. Make sure the harness fits well and is padded.