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Old 01-11-2009, 12:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Pulling wheelchair

I am trying to teach Loki to pull my wheelchair. The problem I am having is he doesn't pull me in a straight line. I end up running into walls and that isn't fun. He is afraid of running over his feet. Is there a special harness that I need for him pulling a chair? How do we avoid running over his feet? I am have never had to train this task before and it is frustrating. He has been taught to pull on command when I am standing but it is not transfering to this problem. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

I would think this would depend on how good your hand strength is. It it's good you could just hang on to the harness while the dog is at your side. If it's not good, you would have to use a leash attached to the harness while the dog is out front of you. I would think the second method would be much harder to teach him to go straightas he's got all kinds of room to go any direction compared to as when he's at your side, he kind of has to pull straight. Either way, I would think you would need a second person to help in the beginning to either help guide or lure the dog until he gets the idea.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

i think there is a harness with poles/railings on both sides of the dog so when he stops the chair will stop. becarefull and make sure your dog isn't pulling to much weight. there are other dogs that are more suited for pulling.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

Have you taught him to pull "weight" before starting him with the chair with a person in it? Like ANY weight work you need to start small and build the dog up. Is this the same dog with the sight issue or the one with the HD? IMHO neither should be pulling but that is just me.

With Huskies you do not just take them out and hook them to the sled and let it rip (well some do but it SHOULDN'T be done). Like with any type of dog training it should start small and work up. By teaching them to pull smaller weights you can start them off on pulling straight. You would not teach a SCH dog to heel by going right into the SCH 3 heeling routine and expecting the dog to understand and do it perfectly. You start with postion and then one step, then a couple steps and proofing as the distance grows. Pulling is no different.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

How about getting a motorized wheel chair, that is what they are designed for. I always thought there were programs for people who needed motorized chairs to be able to get them.

Right now doesn't the dog have enough problems with the impending eye surgery, not sure this is the best time to be adding more strain to the dog.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

Black Ice Dog Sledding has the equipment you would probably need, but the others are right. You need to train to pull, just like anything else. Some dogs are bread to pull, like Huskies and Malamutes. Our Malamutes loved to pull, but they had to be trained to do it safely and correctly.

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Old 01-11-2009, 02:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

Quote:
Quote:Right now doesn't the dog have enough problems with the impending eye surgery, not sure this is the best time to be adding more strain to the dog.

I agree AND the dog is going to need recovery time so anything done right now is rather wasted. Wait until the dog is healed to start training. I also suggest a trainer who knows how to train service dogs to help you
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

The others are completely right. All of them.

But I'll go back to your original question.
Quote:
Quote:
there a special harness that I need for him pulling a chair?
You absolutely need the correct harness. I'm not quite sure what you're using for pulling, whether it's a collar or that very lightweight SD vest in your photos, or something else. But you must have the correct harness as a very minimum. If you don't have the correct harness to distribute the weight over his body as Loki pulls you across flat surfaces and up inclines, you are going to injure your dog. (How much weight are we talking about anyhow? Are you sure it's not too much for him?)

It may not be obvious right away, but you will cause serious injury over the long term. And that sort of injury will likely knock him out of the game forever. Please be careful with any sort of task that requires heavy lifting like this.

As a matter of fact, have you had him screened to ensure he's physically capable? My service dog club requires a radiologist rating or OFA rating on hips/elbows before they'll do a public assess test on SDs. It's a good idea IMO, that we make sure our dogs are structurally sound for our sakes, as well as theirs before they devote their lives to repetitive physically demanding tasks (how demanding, of course, depends on our disability).

Something to consider...
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

Good points on the hip and elbow x-rays. The vet should also be aware of the additional stress that will be placed on the dog and do a complete evaluation on the dog's heart, lungs, spine, and legs.

Another thing to consider is a dog trained to pull a manual wheelchair is not expected to do so all of the time. A handler in a manual wheelchair is expected to power their own chair and only use the dog for an occasional pull (length of time based on individual dog), or for extra assistance such as up a slight incline. Someone that needs any extended or full help needs to go to a motorized chair.

Some interesting info on a mobility dog that is trained to work around a wheelchair (sometimes referred to as a wheelchair dog) is the following list of what type of work that they can do.
<u>Partial List of Tasks</u>
* To help pull their handler up a ramp or slight incline
* To stand and brace enabling their partner to change from a wheelchair to a car seat, bed, or other type of seating.
* If the handler falls from the chair the dog will if possible assist the person back into their chair
* To retrieve fallen articles
* To retrieve know articles such as keys, purse, phone, cane, etc. for the handler.
* Help open doors and turn on special light switches
* Place items given by the handler - such as money - onto a store or bank counter and take items from the hand of a counter person or off of the counter to place into the handlers hand or lap.

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pulling wheelchair

Thank you for your feedback. He has been ofaed "Good" and his elbows are good. I have only asked him to pull me twice in a wheelchair and that was on a very slight slope downward (so he wasn't really pulling hard). I wanted to see what his reaction would be with a light pressure on the harness I have.

I wanted to know about the harness as I am going to have to save up for it. When I do get it I want to get him used to it before I ask him to do any pulling.

I agree that it is a bad time to start training him for a new task, but it is a perfect time for me to start finding out information on how to do it right.

Loki is about 31" tall and 115lbs. He has learned to pull me when I am walking, and he has gotten used to that over a year. I wanted to make sure his heel was down pat and his (what I call) standing pull (while I was walking) down before I started on anything harder.

I won't expect him to pull a wheelchair for at least another year (he will be 3.5 years old) and it won't be all the time, like you said it will be only up slight ramps and etc. We are working on "button" for the accesses buttons (we have been working on that for a while).

He will have all the recovering time he needs. I won't push him to go back to work before the vet gives him the all clear.

Like I said I want the information so I can make sure I have it right before I try and start anything. I would NEVER EVER ask Zeus to pull anything! He is the one that has HD. That is why he is retired. If it comes to it I will hire an attendant (or beg my mother to help me) untill Loki is able to go back to work if worse comes to worse.

I am not in a wheelchair full time right now. I am working hard to stay OUT of the chair, so if I am lucky I won't ever need this but it is a skill I would like him to have one day.
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