Last winter, I witnessed a sport called carting. Dogs representing many different breeds, pulled carts through an obstacle course designed to test their skills. With signals from their handlers, they wove around cones and through a gate. They walked and trotted on command then finished with a group test. All the dogs were lined up, placed in a down position and then ordered to stay while their handlers walked away. It was a great obedience test with one extra variable, the cart. Cart dogs must learn to accept the poles which confine their movement and the cart itself which ‘chases’ them.
Training begins with acclimating a dog to a harness then pulling something attached to their harness with ropes. They learn to pull on command. When I practiced in Minnesota, I took care of several dogs who pulled their owners on skis’ in the winter and rollerblades in the summer. As a kid, I hooked our German Shepherd to my sled and flew down the road. Duchess was great as long as she was going in a straight line. She never learned to slow down for turns, wiping out my sled every time! When snow isn’t available, cardboard boxes can be substituted for this first step.
Once they are comfortable with pulling on soft lines, they are hooked up to the cart. They learn to ignore the noisy thing behind them in addition to a new obedience command, back up. Carts come in a variety of materials, sizes and weights making this sport popular with many breeds. According to carting enthusiast , Dawn Clark, “Any dog can do it!” Please click on “Carting with Greta” to see this girl in action. She is handled by Mark Henning with narration by Dawn.
For information on carting in Arizona, please contact the Grand Canyon State Rottweiler Club through their website at: www.gcsrc.org or their parent organization the American Rottweiler Club at: www.amrottclub.org.
For additional information on training your dog for carting, Gale Werth has written a terrific article called “Carting with Bernese Mountain Dogs – Training Article” that can be found at the following link: http://www.bmdinfo.org/bernerpedia/Carting_with_Bernese_Mountain_Dogs-Training-article.php