I am considering getting a cart harness for Butch, my 14 month old GSD to pull a little red wagon with big inflatable tires. I love for my whole family, including Butch, to go on walks but my youngest son, who is 3 years old, gets tired after about 3/4 of a mile. Butch is a very strong and pretty big dog and I don't think he would have any trouble pulling it. I would pull it myself, but I have Butch on a leash and my wife is usually walking Lucy, our little mixed breed pup. My oldest son, who is 5 years old, is so energetic that he has no problem walking with us, but he is too little to have to pull his little brother in that wagon. Have any of you ever used your dogs to pull a cart? Personally, I think Butch will enjoy it but I have never done anything like this and really don't know of anyone else who has either. Any advice?
There are health considerations, though. Your dog is still very young and should only be training to pull which means very light loads (tires, just the wagon, etc). It's wise to have the dog's growth plates in the legs x-rayed so you can be certain they're closed before starting such intense activity. Hip and elbow problems are very prevalent in the breed so always err on the side of caution. Dogs must be eased up to this plus must be very well trained. You do not want an accident happening while your dog is pulling your kid!
Butch's harness came in today and I was so excited to get home and try it. When I got home I noticed the box was relatively small. Evidently, I didn't read close enough because the harness didn't come with the shaft. After looking at the picture pretty carefully, I thought "I can make that". I went to the hardware store and bought some PVC pipe and fittings and commenced to constructing a shaft. It was actually very easy. I am a smoker (I know, I know, it's bad for me and I'm going to die.), and I managed to complete the entire project from start to finish in the time it took me to smoke 3 cigarettes. After hooking Butch up to it, I quickly realized that it is a little long. I will have to shorten it tomorrow, but that shouldn't be a problem. I went ahead and let Butch pull my boys in their wagon for a few minutes. He wasn't too sure about it at first, but after a few minutes he started doing pretty good. Pretty soon, he was actually pulling the wagon instead of me dragging him and the wagon. I am really proud of him. When he pulled, I gave him a lot of praise and I made sure to end the session on a good note. I think Butch is going to have a very bright future as a cart dog. I am so proud of him.
That sounds like it was pretty easy. I bought a Siwash carting harness for Doerak and I still need to make a little cart. It's just going to be 2 wheels and the base to start. I'll build the side later after we have some practice. Now I'm motivated.
Our Jesse (non-GSD, malamute/golden retriever) use to pull carts loaded with whatever we put in her cart that day. She’s 11 now so we did retire her a few years ago but she use to love it. My husband also made the cart. I think the most important thing to know is this does take training. It’s not something you can just jump into and expect the dog to know and be capable of doing right away. They need to build the appropriate muscles and learn. I’d start slow and build up to your goal.
Gazira, my 2y/o GSD loves to pull her wagon! We had a festival here about two months ago and we loaded up a 6 ft table on her wagon and she pulled it to our booth site and we had every head turn to see her (she made a total of three trips that morning and again that afternoon). We got so many comments on how she looked happy to be doing a job!
I made the shaft to her wagon and currently we are usin a weight pulling harness to hook her up to it, but I am planning on getting her an actual carting harness made.
I finally finished building a draft cart. I'm getting my girl used to having the thing behind her. She's pretty squirrely, though. It's going to take some time. So far, she'll stand between the shafts for a little while.