Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Other Working Animals › Many jobs for my new dog
- November 15, 2011 at 1:22 am #43207
I got a new dog earlier this year whose primary job is to keep critters away from my chickens. He has done an admirable job and I haven’t lost any despite them free range during the day. He is out of a German shepherd and what they thought was a lab (must have been a big lab). Anyway he is just so easy to train that i (we) have starting pulling. This is only his second day pulling, and he’s dragging a couple 6 foot fence posts around. Not the most useful or impressive task, but i thought he was doing a great job with it. I am still not sure what I am going to do with this skill in the future, but it can’t hurt, especially as it looks like he will be 100+ pounds when he’s done growing. He’s only 8 months old now… I think I’m supposed to let him grow a bit longer before I let him pull really heavy things, right? Anyway, just thought I would share. Dogs are so versatile.November 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm #70237Billy FosterParticipant
Look up Pulk on the web; you will find ones with shafts specifically made for dogs.
I raced sled dogs for a lot of years. We would harness the pups at a pretty early age but would not really start muscling them up until they were about a year. A single dog can get distracted pretty easily so I would work on obedience as well. Lots of recourses on the web about training dogs to pull; my experience is if a dog is going to be a good puller it is already evident. If the dog does not want to pull find him another job.
Just my input
BillyNovember 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm #70235
I am not sure if he is going to be a great puller or not. He pulls because I tell him “good boy” when he does it, not out of the shear joy of pulling. Is this what you are talking about? That said, he is usually pretty tentative when he is starting any new task though (he likes to know what is expected of him) so it’s too early to judge yet. He’s motivated almost exclusively by praise (it’s a huge reward for him) so it makes it super easy to teach him almost anything. I doubt he would be a standout sled dog in comparison to dogs bred and trained exclusively for this, but I think of this as just one of many tasks he can do.November 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm #70238Billy FosterParticipant
Him being a happy dog that you are able to communicate with is a big big plus. The dogs I raced with wanted to pull from when they first are put in harness. At about 6 months old we would put them in harness, hook them in line, with some experienced dogs to maintain continuity, and off we would go down the trail keeping them from running to fast and scaring themselves. The term “born to run” really applied. Having said that I had a real hard time calming these race dogs down so I could use the team for work like hauling fire wood. The guys with freight teams had dogs that I would never use for racing, they were very calm, almost board.
If I was in your shoes I would work on the dog following me pulling something so he could stay with me and get praised for it, gradually working up to larger and larger loads. The way I train dogs is always setting them up to succeed. In your case I would be nervous about increasing the weight of the load unless I was 99.9999% positive he would succeed. With dogs I have found that building on small successes is a slow but dependable way to shape their behavior. For the racing dogs letting them run was a good positive reinforcement, I am not sure what your dog will see as a reward, maybe just following behind you?
For fun here is a video of a very good friends dog teem he raced up in Canada this weekend. Notice the dogs tails wagging before the start and how quiet it is after he is underway. As I said the dogs are running because it is what they want to, you don’t hear him shouting at the dogs to go all you hear is the dirt hitting the camera. Notice the dogs tugs are tight all the way, even after running flat out for 8 or 9 minutes (at a little less than 30mph) and they still use a 4wheeler to bring them back to the truck because they would still pull than little rig wherever they wanted to go.
BillyNovember 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm #70236
I have been thinking of workign along side him. It might be unusual, but it might be very practical too. I can lift the front of a light two wheeled rig with a pole easily enough and steer and brake as well. That way, my dog would only have to pull when I pull and the rest of the time he would just “heel,” which he already knows how to do. That’s why I got a freight harness instead of one with shaft loops. If, after training, he can pull half what I can it would still be helpful for some repetative tasks (like watering) that aren’t worth hitching the horse up for. Heck, maybe he can pull the same as me and together we can haul twice the water.March 29, 2013 at 8:45 am #78073
My dog is still guarding well, but hasn’t demonstrated much enthusiam for pulling. I think he’s a little too gentle for this kind of thing. His gentleness is a great benefit in other areas, though. Making a young persons first experience with animals positive is an important good job, too, right?
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm #80995
My great dane loves to pull. Less efficient than just going to get the pickup, but any place where we would be doing hauling by hand she helps out. Hauling leaves and loose hay on a tarp is what she does most often. I’m looking forward to getting her to help drag our little manual lawn sweeper around next time we get it out.September 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm #81022
She did great with the lawn sweeper. We had to use a very short tug as she works best behind me and the handle of the lawn sweeper is not that long (used a wheelbarrow handle). She got over the noise of the machine in about half a minute, and really pulled hard part of the time. She’s not had a ton of training, so pulling hard half the time I think is pretty good. We did have to put her up and finish without her when the sheep came around the corner and she was too tempted to go play with them. I’m willing to try it again though.September 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm #81032KMichelleParticipant
I’ll be camping this winter and maybe next. I’m hoping my German Sheperd/Husky mix will be stoked on pulling groceries up the hill to the house. She’s just a little squirt now, but maybe by February(6 months) I can start her in harness.September 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm #81035
A puppy harness and a light drag like a twig or soda bottle can start teaching the basics without putting too much weight on them. My Great Danes that I trained to pull couldn’t take serious weight until two years old, but they could drag bike tires and such very early. Husky/German Shepard should be ready at 6 months. If you want to do heavy work and need to be very sure, get an x-ray to test if the growth plates are closed.September 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm #81046KMichelleParticipant
HAHA, maybe I can start her in the round-pen too. The horses will all think her twig skidding is silly.September 10, 2013 at 8:18 am #81050
I’ve never heard of using a round pen with dogs, they really like traveling places and ground drive well on trails early. (Besides being so much easier to handle, the extra security of the round pen fence is not as necessary.)
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