Lessons in working your dog in Carting with your Dog

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Siwash Harnesses - freight weight and the carting

Frequently, people ask me about harnesses.  Which one is better?  I can't say that of the two siwash harnesses: freight/weight or carting, that one is better than the other.  The both have advantages and disadvantages.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 harnesses now, and the only one I haven't tried for carting is the parade harness.  I'm not a huge fan of the parade harness, and I've heard through the grapevine that many other judges aren't either.  I'll go into detail about that on another post along with specialty harnesses including the Wilczek, weight pull harnesses, and leather harnesses.

Mouse has a freight/weight siwash with a cinch and cinch loop added because I want to do weight pulling and carting. However, the freight harnesses is too "wimpy" for real competitive weight pulling.  Do not take this to a weight pull.  You will need a true, heavy duty weight pull harness to do some serious work.  The disadvantages of a frieght/weight siwash is that it is a one-piece so you must take the entire thing off to let
the dog potty or else hook the spreader bar up to the shoulders of the dog so they can walk around without tripping. On the other hand, being a one-piece is also an advantage as it is easier to
untangle and easier to put on.

The carting harnesses usually is more complicated than the freight weight harnesses. There is the neck piece, belly band, and 2 traces. You MUST be absolutely certain that the 2 traces are the same length so that the weight is distributed correctly. These two traces either attach to a tree or 2 points on the vehicle. The advantage of the carting harnesses is that you can just unhook the traces without having straps hanging off everywhere.

I personally lean towards the carting harness.  It's just a personal preference.  There is no performance differences between the two harnesses if used properly.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Preface and big thanks!

As I write this drafting handbook, now blogpost, I think of all the people who helped me put together this guide.  The inspiration, support, and guidance that helped push me to write this book comes from a plethora of people.  These supporters came from all walks ranging from my training mentors, my academic students, and people who wanted to learn what drafting.  Over the years, people and their dogs have taught me more and more about draft work, and how to deal with problems in drafting.   Additionally, many drafters have also contributed their knowledge, time, and ideas to the construction of this handbook.  I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to those supporters.  

I started in draft with the late Dick Shumer, a serious master drafter, trainer, and friend.  Dick Shumer was a Jack of all trades who taught more than just canine drafting.  He also taught us how to build carts, how to jerry-rig just about anything, and he was the absolute king of bungee cords.  Dick is the kind of person that gives and gives, and never expects anything in return except for the satisfaction of his students being happy.  He taught us the meaning of generosity, patience, and forgiveness.  Thank you for so much you have done for me and the Austin canine drafting community. 

Another big thank you goes to Janice Swenson for all her time, effort, and support.  Janice is a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Should know ever have a question, Janice will more than likely have the answer with all the caveats.  If she doesn't have the answer at the moment, you can guarantee that she'll have it soon with more information than you ever needed to know.  Janice is like google for dog drafting. 

Other thank you to
Debby Quigley, Judy Ramsey, Letty Alamia, John O'Niel,  Kathleen Conway, Molly McNally and family, Karen Kimborough, Barbara Cecil, Connie and Jon Beauregard, Bill and Jeannette Faure, Shannon Hennigan and Sue Urban, Chris Christensen, Ron and Pam Capelli, Don Beard, Glenda Parks, Ann Logan,  Patty Pearce, The Kretchmars, Huck Bothner and Jean Measell, and  Michael and Audrey Starns, and Ron Horn for all your support. 

For those who don't know about my professional life, I began graduate school around the same time I got my first Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Mouse.  Grad school is supposed to be a time consuming and mentally challenging experience.  My graduate school experience was all that and more.  Another special thanks to all those who supported me through dog training and grad school.  Roman Reign is very thankful for those who provided moral support.

And last but not least, a big thanks to Mouse, my first sweet and gentle giant.  He has no concept of his size, and as he matured, he had no concept of his age (you'll be getting a glimpse of what I mean later on).  As a veteran now, he still looks and acts like a 6 month old goofball.  Thank you to Mouse for being incredibly tolerant, incredibly patient, and incredibly forgiving as my first dog.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I've made mistakes with you, and you just kept on trucking.

Another points I must bring up in writing this book is that I was formally trained as a scientist in social psychology.   My field of research was in behavioral neuroendocrinology.  My academic training and many of my dog trainers were very methodological with very structured training programs.  This book, now blog, is similar in lay out and structure.  Each exercise will be approached step by step with supplementary videos on youtube.  My hopes is that with these two methods, you will be able to understand the concept and goal of each exercise.  You should also understand each step and why the steps are important (no skipping around!)  My recommendation for training is if you reach a speed bump in your training, back up about 3 steps.  If you reach another speed bump that isn't addressed in this handbook, do not hesitate to contact me.

Welcome to Canine Draft Work.

Canine drafting is a fun activity for active dogs.  Drafting, also known as carting, is a sport in which a dog pulls a cart, wagon, or other vehicle. More deets on the specifics in later posts.  Many large breed dogs have a history of drafting successfully.  The Newfoundland, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Mastiff, Rottweiler, and Great Pyrnees are some of the more common breeds that participate in drafting.  I've been drafting for seven years with my Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and I've been judging draft trials for almost 3 years now.  I had planned on writing an updated drafting book, but I decided that it would be easier and more logical to post it as a blog.  I can easily answer questions via the comment feature, and I can also edit and add information more readily.