Weight Pull Information, Rules and Guidelines

What is Weight Pull?

In weight pulling, a dog‘s strength and stamina are tested along with the bond with its owner by the ability to pull a loaded cart a measured fifteen (15) feet within 60 seconds. From small to large, any dog can excel at this sport! 

How does it work?

Think of it like tractor pulling, only your dog is the tractor. The dog wears a specially designed padded harness, which is attached to a “trace,” which connects to a “weighted Cart” that is loaded with blocks or other easily weighed objects. The dog is given 60 seconds to pull the loaded cart 15 ft all while the owner praises and coaches them on. At no time can the owner touch or Bait the dog during  pull rounds they must stand in front of the animal and coach it forward.... the dog is never forced to pull, they happily pull on their own accord and work for the owners praise its all about the teamwork and the bond between the dog and owner. The dog who pulls the highest body percentage (weight on cart divided by dogs weight) wins the pull. if more than one dog pulls the same weight then it goes to time.

How could it benefit my dog and me?

One of the main benefits of dog weight pulling is one you probably wouldn’t expect: improved behavior,

Behavioral problems that often land dogs in shelters, problems like aggression, pacing, shyness, hyperactivity, reactivity, or other repetitive, obsessive-compulsive behaviors — can be vastly improved when dogs are given an energy outlet like weight pulling many owners aren’t able to give their dogs the exercise they need and that makes sense when you think about it. A dog who doesn’t get enough exercise (which could mean being walked for several hours a day) is liable to have excess energy that manifests itself as bad behavior, such as:

  • Chewing on furniture, shoes, or other household objects

  • Aggression

  • Obsessive compulsive behavior (spinning, tail chasing, fence running, self-mutilation, hallucinating (fly biting), circling, hair/air biting.)

  • Shyness

  • Pacing

  • Excessive barking

second is the benefit of weight pulling, specifically, is that it allows you to give your dog the exercise it needs while building a working relationship and bond between the dog and owner. This is because the owner acts as the dog’s coach during weight-pulling sessions. While the dog pulls the weight, it’s customary for the owner to encourage and congratulate the dog until it reaches the finish line. It turns the two of you into a team, which helps to foster a greater sense of camaraderie and trust.

How do I get started?

Here is an article by Dean Tibbett on training :)

The first thing you will need for training is patience, and lots of it. If you do not have any, let a professional do the work for you. I feel it best that you should train your dog if you are the one that will be competing with him. Once you have established a strong bond with your dog through obedience training, your dog should respond well to you, making any other type of training you undertake a breeze. 


The second thing you will need is a proper fitting weight pull harness. 

You will need a few more items and I will explain what they are and how to use them as we go along. The above is all you'll need for the first month or so. 

Ok... here we go! You will need to do some basic obedience work first (sit, stay, heel, down-stay, etc). If this is the first time you have attempted obedience training with your dog, I strongly suggest you go through a reputable obedience class. After you and your dog have accomplished this, you are ready to put on your weight pull harness. Don't worry about weights, just put the harness on your dog and go for walks. This should get him used to wearing it. Try to expose your dog to as many different safe conditions as possible. Go for walks in parks, through your neighborhood, even around busy streets because the last thing you want when you're pulling a good pull to win it all is your dog to get distracted by a little kid screaming or a car driving by honking! 

Now that you're comfortable with the above, you are ready to add a LITTLE weight behind him. I like to use a 2 liter bottle with some gravel in it so it will rattle and make noise. The amount of gravel all depends on the size of your dog. On a 30lb dog I'm only going to use a couple of hand fulls of gravel. If in doubt, go light on the weight. You will need to tie a rope to the bottle so it will drag about 4 feet behind him. Never pull your dog on concrete or asphalt! Always think of your dog's well being. Start out by going for short walks. Your dog will be curious about what you have hooked up to him. This is natural. Let him check it out and reassure him that it is nothing to be afraid of. You as the trainer must be sure your dog is having fun at all times. Make it a game for him. You will need to come up with a command word for pulling. It should be short and simple. I use the command "DIG". You will want to repeat this command throughout your workout. You will need to repeat this many times in the months to come. 

When you and your dog are comfortable with the above, you're ready to add a little more weight. I like to use window weights as they drag very nicely and tend not to get hung up on the ground. You must remember that you're building your dog's confidence level. Don't worry about adding a lot of weight. This is a very common mistake made by novice trainers. You will ruin your dog physically and mentally! Remember patience! I suggest using 5-pound increments when adding weight and taking at least 2 weeks between additions. Now that you're getting some weight behind your dog, you will need to reassure him even more. What I suggest you do after you have added your first 5 pounds of weight is start pulling at least 20ft distances. You may need to put a leash on him to keep him at your side. Always use your command word and praise him the whole time he is pulling effectively. At the end of the 20ft mark, stop and give him lots of love and praise. Try to build up to as much distance as possible between stops. Remember, this has to be fun for him. Whatever you do, don't try to take a short cut by using a toy or a rawhide to get him to pull. All you will do is tap into his prey drive and down the line he will quit on you. I guarantee your dog will work harder for you than a toy. You must be very consistent in this, and in every phase of your training. Keep your schedule as regular as possible. The amount of time you train every day will depend on the individual dog. Generally try to stop before your dog gets winded. When you go to a different place to pull other than your own yard, always pull lighter weights to keep his confidence level sky high.


Now that your dog is pulling ¾ of his body weight for at least ½ hour of pulling, you're ready for phase two in building an International Champion. Now we will go over the equipment you will need for this phase of your training. 

Weight pull cart - Depending on how serious you are, you can use a garden cart or you can build your own custom cart as I have done. If you are going through the time and expense to build your own cart, I suggest you build an International Weight Pull Association sanctioned cart, which should be capable of safely carrying a load of 4000 lbs. with 4 pneumatic tires. The tires should not be less than eight inches in height and no more than eighteen inches in height. The bridle should be made of rope or nylon. Chains or cable are not allowed. The cart bridle shall not be tied. The snap should be able to slide freely from side to side. The bridle, when properly installed, will look like a long V. You will also need a rope attached to the rear of the cart. This is for your helper to hold on to so the cart will not run into your dog and scare the daylights out of him. 

Weight - Most anything will work that you can handle and stack safely. I use sandbags, but you can use whatever is easy for you to obtain, such as plastic buckets full of water, gravel or concrete. Just be safe. Nothing will ruin your day more than something falling on you or your dog. 

Pulling surface - I suggest you pull on concrete covered by a very short pile carpet. The reason for this is it will teach your dog to really dig in and use his nails. Believe me, when you compete on a natural surface this will help tremendously. The distance you will pull in a sanctioned competition is15- 16 feet, depending on the Registry. I suggest you pull at least 20 feet. We pull 35 feet, but if this distance is not available to you, you can train on a good level natural surface. If you do go with the carpet covered concrete you will want to cross train on natural so your dog will be ready to pull in any situation. 


Ok... now that you have all of your new equipment and you're ready to use it, let's get on with the training. For the most part, you will be starting all over in your training. What I mean by this is start out very slow and light.You know by now your dog can pull, but you must be patient. Having a cart behind him is new to your dog, so take your time introducing him to it. If you have been doing your drag weighting, don't be surprised when you hook up your dog and he runs with it. This is why you will need a helper; to hold on to the other end of the cart. You will want your dog to pull slowly so he can learn proper form. You can achieve this by putting his leash on and walking next to him. How long you need to do this really depends on the dog. Once he is comfortable with the cart you can add some weight. Do not forget about using your command word when pulling. Be sure to be consistent. Do not change your command as this will only confuse your dog. The cart pulls much easier than the drag weights, so you can add a little more weight than when you were dragging. Again, this is where your helper comes in. If your dog is having trouble pulling the cart, your helper must push the cart enough so your dog thinks he is pulling it. The amount of time you should take between pulls is about one minute. The amount of pulls you do in a day will depend on your dog, but I suggest you make it light enough so 
he can pull the cart 12 to 16 times in one work out session. With that said, once you get to the point where you're adding weight to the cart, I suggest you only do cart work twice a week and do drag weights three times a week. Remember, your goal is to train his mind. Do not worry about how much weight he is pulling. If you are doing everything slow, his confidence will grow, and as he matures into a weight pull dog his mind and body will be rock solid! If at any time you get frustrated with any phase in training, stop for the day because your dog will sense something is wrong and you do not want that. 
It will only confuse him and set back all your hard work. 

This article is very generalized, but it is my opinion that it is a good guideline for you to start training your dog to pull weights. It has worked for me and I'm sure it will work for you. I hope to see you at a pull real soon. 

AADRI Rules and Regulations

Revised 1/14/2015

Section 1 – Equipment, Pulling Area, Surface

All AADRI, LCC sanctioned weight pulls will be on rails unless otherwise
approved by the AADRI, LLC board.

1.       Physical Area

The dimensions of the track should be a minimum of twenty four (24) inches, a maximum of sixty (60) inches between rails.  The length of the pulling surface shall be a minimum of twenty five (25) feet from the start line to the end of the track.  Acceptable surfaces shall be carpet or dirt.

2.       Rails

Can be v-grove, flat, or round.  Casters which fit around the rails are also acceptable.  Provisions for positive stop of the cart shall be made at both ends of the rails.  The rails must have provisions for leveling or angling the track.  The weight pull track must be verified at an incline of no more than 6 inches by the judge before the pull begins.  The incline will be announced by the judge at the handler’s meeting to the participants.  Grooming of the track can be done at the beginning of the weight increment.  Downhill is not permitted. 

3.       Cart

The cart shall ride along the outside of the pulling surface on the rails.  The cart will have a single lanyard which will extend from the front of the cart no less than three (3) feet but no more than six (6) feet.  The cart will be equipped with either a manual or mechanical braking system. 

4.       Casters

The casters may be any configuration as long as they match the rail they are being used on.  Bearings and bushings are acceptable on caster wheels.  Maximum load weight is  not to exceed the combined load rating of the casters. 

Section II – Officials


1.       The chief judge of the event must be an AADRI, LLC certified judge and in good standing with the registry prior to the event.

2.       The chief judge shall supervise the overall event.  He/She shall make all final decisions in any protest or dispute, before, during and after the event. The chief judge has the right to disqualify any dog or handler for any violation of the rules or unsportsmanlike conduct, before, during, or after the event.

3.       The chief judge of the event shall be responsible for the completion of all forms and information required by the AADRI, LLC.

4.       The chief judge shall be responsible for the safe and proper stacking of the weight on the cart, proper positioning of the cart, hooking up of the dogs to the cart, and maintenance of the pulling course.

5.       The chief judge will be responsible for timing of the pull and reporting it promptly to the scorekeeper.  The scorekeeper shall accurately record the time and the weight pulled on the official score sheet.

6.       The chief judge will determine the first weight round for all dogs in each class.

7.       The chief judge will determine the increase in weight increments to be pulled for each round.  The judge’s decision is final.

8.       The scorekeeper will keep an accurate record of the weights and time pulled for every dog, as well as recording fouls and passes.  The scorekeeper is responsible for figuring the percentages for each dog for the purpose of placement and overall awards.

9.       Cart handlers will load the weight and reposition the cart for the next pull.  The cart handlers should pay special attention to the dog while pulling in case the handler requests assistance with the completion of the pull.


Section III – Contestants


1.       Eligibility

a.        All AADRI, LLC registered dogs are eligible.

                                                               i.      All dogs must be AADRI, LLC registered.  You may register the morning of the show.

                                                              ii.      All non-APBT breeds can pull, but must be registered as with the Working Dog Program.  This can be done the day of the show.

b.       All dogs must be at least nine (9) months of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age to complete in any AADRI, LLC event.  The physical condition of the dog should always be taken into consideration and the chief judge may disqualify any dog they feel will be in danger of injury.

c.        No bitch in season shall be allowed to compete or allowed on the premises.

d.       No pregnant or lactating bitches shall be allowed to compete.

e.       For the safety and protection of the dog, all dogs shall be fitted properly with a weight pull harness.  Chief judge has the right to disqualify a dog if the harness is not a weight pull type harness and one cannot be found for the event.

f.         Flat buckled collars only.  No choke chains, martingale, prong, or any correction collar permitted while pulling.  Dog does not have to wear a collar to pull.

g.        All dogs must be crated individually when not using the bathroom or pulling.  

2.       Handler Conduct and Control of Dogs

All entrants shall be responsible for the conduct of their dogs and handler’s conduct before, during and after the event.  Vicious or unmanageable dogs shall be barred from competition. Unsportsmanlike conduct towards animals, officials, other handlers or spectators will be cause for disciplinary action and/or disqualification.  All disqualifications will be turned in to the AADRI, LLC after each event with handler’s name and reason for disqualification.  All dogs shall be under physical control, on a short lead, while in the pull area, except when hooked to the cart.  All handlers shall be responsible for the cleaning up after their own dogs.  Abusive or inhumane treatment of a dog shall be strictly prohibited and shall be cause for disqualification.  Abusive or inhumane behavior to be determined by the presiding judge, the judge’s decision is final.


3.       Weight Classes


There will be sixteen (16) different weight classes.  Males and females will be given separate awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each weight class.  The weight classes will be as follows: 

59 pounds and under weight classes

60 pounds and over weight classes

0-29 pounds
30-39 pounds
40-49 pounds
50-59 pounds
60-69 pounds
70-79 pounds
80-89 pounds
90-99 pounds
100-unlimited pounds

All weights will be rounded off to the lowest whole pound.

4.       Weigh-ins

All dogs shall be weighed prior to each AADRI, LLC sanctioned weight pull.  All dogs must be weighed at the pull site by an AADRI, LLC approved scale (hanging or digital) and supervised by the chief judge.  All recorded dog weights shall be rounded to the lowest whole pound.  Dogs shall wear only a standard collar during weigh-in or no collar at all.

You may have two chances to weigh your dog with approval by the chief judge.  If on the first weigh in, you notify the judge that you wish to reweigh your dog, you are required to take the second weight.

If the pull is scheduled as a two day pull, the weight you have on the first day will stand for the second day.  You may not reweigh your dog on the second day. 


Section IV – The Contest

1.       Organizing Club Option

The organizing club has the option to run the weight pull event 0-59 lbs classes and 60-unlimited class or to run combined classes.  Extra care must be taken to keep records straight if classes are combined.

2.       Asking for a lighter increment to achieve body pound percentage


You have the option to ask for a one time, lighter increment to achieve overall percentage for the 0-59 pounds or 60-unlimited pounds.  No dog may ask for a lighter increment other than for the purpose of achieving overall percentage for the pull.  Only the lowest weight dog pulling has the option to ask for a lighter increment. 

3.       Procedure of the Weight Pull Event


a.        Each dog shall be required to pull a loaded cart a measured fifteen (15) feet within 60 seconds. Once the dog completes the pull, the actual time required to make the pull shall be recorded. The pull will not be considered successful and eligible for points until the dog completes the required distance within the set amount of time. 

b.       The handler shall not touch the dog, equipment or pulling surface between the start and finish line until the cart crosses the 15-foot line.

c.        The timing of the dog will begin when the dog has been positioned in front of the cart and has been given the command to pull or forward motion of the dog begins. No physical handling of the dog is allowed once the pull has begun. Handling consists of anyone touching he dog, its harness, the sled, or any other part of the equipment or load. The pull will be considered successfully completed once the dog has pulled the intended weight a distance of 15 feet. In the case of equipment failure the judge will direct the handler to physically reposition the dog once the equipment has been repaired. 

d.       Double handling will be permitted, no more than 2 handlers per dog will be allowed. 

e.       The dog shall be positioned with enough slack in the tug line to prevent the dog from inadvertently moving the cart. No sling shots.

f.         The handler will choose the weight to bring the dog into the competition. It must be within the established weight increments. The handler will notify the judge or scorekeeper before the start of the weight increment that he/she wishes to bring in the dog. It is important to pay attention the track and the increments. If the dog does not complete the pull on the starting weight chosen by the handler, the dog is done pulling for the day and entry fee will not be refunded.

g.        Dog can be hooked by handler or a cart handler.

h.       A dog will no longer be allowed to pull after it accumulates a total of 3 fouls. The dog’s last complete pull will then be recorded as the eligible pull for class placement, awards, and points. 

i.         Dogs will pull in order from lightest to heaviest.

j.         No dog will be asked to pull without a five (5) minute rest between weight increases.

k.        Ties will be broken by the fastest time.

l.         The only substance permitted to be placed on the dog’s feet while pulling is water, no exceptions.

m.      No illegal performance enhancing drug will be permitted. AADRI, LLC has the right to request a drug test at any time.   If handler/owner does not wish to submit a drug test, points from that event will be striped and dogs will be adjusted by placement.

n.       The handler will be allowed to ask the cart help to assist the dog by pushing the cart if the dog is unable to successfully complete the pull on their own.

o.       Passes will not start until a qualifying pull has been completed. A dog will have an unlimited number of passes, but must notify the scorekeeper before pulling of the next weight increment has begun. 

p.       The cart shall be positioned against the stops at the end of the rail. The center of the wheel shall be used to determine the completion of the pull.

q.       Bait is not allowed. Food or treats may only be given to the dogs pulling after they have successfully completed the pull and have removed from the pulling area. Handlers shall not have food or bait on their person during the competition. Anyone found having bait of any kind on his or her person will be removed from competition and will receive no refund. 

r.        There shall be a designated “on deck” area. When a dog is called as being “on deck”, they must proceed to this area and remain there while the dog pulling completes his turn and the cart is returned to the starting line.

s.        The judge will determine the increase in weight to be pulled for each round. This increase will not be an unreasonable amount and the judge will take into consideration the weight of the lightest dog still in competition. The judge’s decision is final.

t.         The dog pulling the most weight per pound of body weight (MWPP) in its class will be declared the winner. If two or more dogs tie for most weight pulled per pound of body weight (MWPP), the dog with the fastest time shall be declared the winner.

u.       Nothing shall be set up within 10 feet of the pulling surface except for the weight, judge, cart handler and scorekeepers table.  All crates and set ups must be a minimum of 10 feet from the track.



Section V – Points and Titles


A. Points

1.       Males will compete against males; females compete against females, except for the overall Most Weight Pulled and Most Weight Pulled Percentage awards and points. 
2.  Points will be given for first, second, and third place wins. 
3.  The points will be awarded as follows:

First Place         10 points

Second Place    5 points

Third Place       3 points

4.                   Additional points and award will be given to the dog for being the overall winner of the following:
Most Weight Pulled (MWP) 
0-59 pounds  10 points
60-unlimited pounds 10 points

Most Weight Puller Per Body Pound (MWPP)
0-59 pounds  10 points
60-unlimited pounds 10 points

Dogs may earn both MWP and MWPP and receive both points.


B. Titles


The dog will accumulate points towards titles with each pull. Once the dog has received 100 points he/she will earn the title of Pull Master. Once this is achieved, the points awarded will go towards degrees of the title, such as 200 points = Pull Master I, 300 points = Pull Master II, etc.


Section VI – Hosting Club Requirements and Responsibilities


The AADRI, LLC sanctioned club that chooses to hold a Weight Pull must provide: 

a.        A carpeted rail track system and cart or approved AADRI approved system.

b.       Verified weights of varying increments.

c.        A scale, check weight and weigh in strap. 

d.       A regulation stopwatch.

e.       Entry forms for weight pull and applications for registration.

f.         AADRI, LLC official weight pull score sheets and results sheets.

g.        AADRI, LLC approved awards for 1st through 3rd place for each weight class.

h.       Trophy awards for MWPP and MWP in each division. If no ribbons or trophies will be given, the AADRI, LLC board must be notified when date of event is requested.

i.         Adequate handout copies of the current AADRI, LLC weight pulling rules to be made available for participants and spectators.


**Sportsmanship is very important to the All American Dog Registry International, LLC.  If any unsportsmanlike conduct is witnessed at an event, the person can be asked to leave the premise and can be banned from that days event and/or a lifetime ban which is determined by the AADRI, LLC board.