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The American Staffordshire Terrier and Weight Pulling Contests

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Tags: American Staffordshire Terriers, Exercise

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There are a number of activities and events in which you can involve your American Staffordshire Terrier to make sure he gets enough exercise and is also mentally stimulated while he's at it. Many of these events involve activities similar to those that the dog was called on to do at the beginning of his development; indeed, many activities recreate the purpose for which the Amstaff was bred. One of these events is weight pulling. In this event, a dog is called on to pull a loaded cart or sled over some kind of non-smooth terrain, including carpet, grass or unpacked snow. In a weight pulling contest, a special harness is used to hitch the dog to a cart; this harness ensures that the risk of injury for the dog is minimal.

The dogs that participate in this sport are separated by weight; a variety of different breeds are involved in weight pulling contests, but pit bulls (along with sled dogs) seem to do extremely well. These weight pulling contests date back quite some time, and were most likely instituted to test, and show off, the abilities of draft dogs, or dogs that were bred to pull plows and/or carts. Pit bulls do so well in these competitions because this was one of their many jobs around the farms that they inhabited early on in their development. Today, there are quite a number of organizations both specifically regarding Weight Pulling and that sponsor and sanction weight pulling events.

Weight pulling may seem to be a mindless competition of strength, but dogs must also possess a sense of intelligence in order to pull carts. Indeed, the dogs must demonstrate an understanding of friction, being careful if the ground is slippery or slick, for the cart may move suddenly and gain momentum quickly. They must also be trained to understand whether the cart or sled is sticky and difficult to start moving; dogs that must move sleds over frozen terrain must be especially gifted, for they will have to first break out the runners from the ice. In this case, you'll see these dogs first pulling left or right to break the ice around the runners.

Dogs must have the proper technique when pulling weighted carts or sleds; they should keep their body low and try to keep the force they apply as horizontal as possible. Frustration often sets in, and the more inexperienced dogs began to jump high into the air and forward, while pulling; this is not good technique. With good technique, pit bull breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, have been known to pull more than one thousand pounds. Often, winners are not determined by the absolute amount of weight that they pull; rather, the weights of dogs are compared and the winner is often the dog who has pulled more compared to his body weight. This is the reason why the dogs are divided into weight classes. For example, it doesn't matter if one dog pulled 500 pounds and another pulled 600 pounds. If the first dog weighed 10 pounds, he pulled 50 times his body weight, while if the second dog weighed 20 pounds, he only pulled 30 times his body weight; the first dog is the better weight puller.

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