Remember my enthusiastic canicross post this past winter, when we got our first Non-stop harnesses, running belt and bungee leash?!? 8 months later and I'm even more enthusiastic (and stocked up!) ha ha!
It all started when one of my graduate students (thank you Lara and Pino!!!) suggested pulling for conditioning of Ta who always had problems building muscle... I immediately liked the idea because I guess Ta was trying to suggest that from the day I got her as she would pull always and constantly, on whatever collar, in whatever direction... - nothing would stop her! It can be an annoying habit... - or your favorite sport!!! 🙂 We chose the 2nd option afterall! 🙂 When you get the right equipment, pulling all of the sudden becomes really pleasant for both you and the dog! Pulling equipment is nowadays the one dog gear that I use the most - pretty much daily!
I use it two different ways, one is canicross as such, so having her pull me when we go jogging - such a great resistance training for the dog and so much more fun as unassisted running for me ha ha - sooo much faster!!! Ta is a real natural at it - she will pull constantly, in whatever direction and as strong as 11kg can pull - I love it!!!
This type of pulling is great cardio training for both you and the dog, because of the constant speed and duration you can maintain. It also requires the strength of course.
For strengthening, another way I use the pulling is walking slowly and having them pull me in a slow walk. We do this just for maybe 10min per walk as it really tires them quickly and requires a lot of strength. I love this as I can really see how much it improved Ta's posture - pulling was where I first saw her lower her head and tail and extend her rear feet behind her - what is definitely helping with her jumping form as well as she used to always tuck her rear feet before!
We do this daily, on every walk, and also when hiking - I love it especially when going uphill! My other dogs are not natural pullers like Ta though, so for them, I actually set two static toys and walk them from one to another. Not just as cool as my extra uphill hiking power, but really great, fun and easy to do 10min strength training! - Great cross-training for agility dogs and a great addition to other strengthening tricks we do! I love it as it's such a safe and natural way of conditioning - and real fun for the one who gets pulled around too (- if using a good belt)!!!
In my first pulling tryouts, I was simply using a 2nd leash tied around my waist, but oh my, it's sooo much nicer with a nice running belt that sits much lower as a line around your waist can! I have this one and use it both for running and walking. It's sooo much nicer to your back and really helps with better running posture as well!
Also, a bungee leash is a must that makes pulling way more comfortable for both you and your dog! I love this one for strong pulling dogs and I also just got this one that stretches more easily, so I'll be using this one for my other dogs who still need some encouragement to pull and for Le who is too light for the stronger bungee. And yeah, Freemotion harness for smaller dogs is available now as well!
So yes, the 3rd thing you need is a nice, long pulling harness that attaches at the tail base (don't use short harnesses that attach in the middle of the back for pulling! - they're good for walking, but not for pulling) and of course allows the shoulders to move freely. That also means it needs to be of appropriate size as a too loose nonrestrictive harness can still slide over the shoulder and act as a restrictive harness! So get one that fits quite tightly around the neck - you can adjust the length and width with Non-stop Freemotion harness then for a really perfect fit. - VERY useful when using it for agility dogs that might have a bit different proportions as other dogs!
That's really all you need! Just find a nice woods, hill or beach and you're all set for the fitter, happier and stronger dog AND handler! 🙂
And oh, my dogs' favorite after a good run, agility training or conditioning tricks: Mamut Recovery Drink!
All photos by one and only Maja Rokavec 🙂