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The Wonderful World of Dog Carting

 by danielle on 10 May 2014 |
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Huskies aren’t the only dogs that can pull people! Increasingly popular worldwide, the sport of Carting turns the family pet into a carriage-horse. Specially designed harnesses and carts take the work out of daily walkies for owners. Your dog can run its heart out, while the owner sits back and relaxes, guiding the dog with ‘reins’ and voice command. 

Using dogs for cart animals has a long history. Dogs were used as a cheaper alternative to ponies by poor peddlers up until the 19th century as well as deliverymen. In Belgium and the Netherlands, bread and the morning milk carton traditionally was delivered from a cart towed by a dog. In WW2 dogcarts bearing stretchers were used to navigate the battlefield and return wounded soldiers to hospital. 
Many breeds were developed especially to have ‘pulling power’. The Bernese Mountain dog, Newfoundland and Greater Swiss were all notable draft dogs required to pull goods and people to earn their keep. 
Over time, modern means of transportation replaced the need for dog-muscle in daily life, however recently the rise of Carting amongst pet-lovers has tapped into the old instincts lying dormant for decades in draft dogs-cum-family pets.

Carting, also known as ‘dryland mushing’ has been used to keep sled dogs in condition over the summer months and is a great sport for energetic breeds who generally thrive when given a task to do.

A sulky holding an adult can be pulled comfortably by dogs with a body weight of 15 kg or over. A rule of thumb used in the carting world is that the total load (sulky and drive) should not weigh more than three times of the dog’s body weight who is pulling them. Smaller dogs can join in the fun if carts with hitches for multiple dogs are used.

Dogcarts are designed with canine anatomy strictly in mind. Sulkies for humans to ride in are designed to put little to no weight on the dog’s back, circumventing spinal damage that might otherwise result. A common modern sulky uses a single dorsal hitch which attaches from above to the dog’s harness, as opposed to a design with two shafts attached either side of the dog. This dorsal hitch has the advantage of not interfering with the dog’s movement. 

Whether the dog intended to pull a cart is a traditional draft breed or not, all dogs require training to become accustomed to participating in the carting sport. Carting enthusiasts usually begin by attaching milk jugs filled with water to the harness to get their dogs used to dragging things behind them. Obedience to voice commands is also essential training. 


Great exercise for dogs and an exciting – and attention grabbing! – pastime for people, the Carting craze continues to spread.  



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