Sometimes we need reasons to try something new. Even if what we are questioning can be the most direct route to success.
I would like to encourage, not only trainers and behaviorists, but the general dog owning public, to add this conditioning regimen to their dogs exercise program. Not only for draining excess energy, and as a rehabilitation supplement, but because its fun!
We spend most of our dogs early, and sometimes constant, training career teaching them NOT to pull. On a leash that is. It is something they clearly have a tendency to do, but often, also something that they enjoy. That being said, it does NOT encourage pulling on the leash when trained properly. They can learn to pull only in when in harness.
Why not LET them pull? Not on the leash, but with a properly fitted *pulling or *freight harness that is padded (custom made for the dog) and distributes weight safely. Satisfying that desire to pull and drain the energy that they need to, that cannot normally be satisfied on the end of a leash without the owner taking up jogging, cross country skiing or sledding.
Some people have even discovered that this form of resistance training works even better than throwing the ball or Frisbee, and other types of running exercise. Again, why? Because this form of exercise is something the dogs do in a calm, thinking state. It requires some focus and does not cause the same adrenaline rush that reactive forms of exercise can do, and takes less time and effort on the part of the owner.
As a method of conditioning and draining excess energy, I generally recommend that my students only need to *drag with their dog for about 20 minutes 2-3 times per week. A 10 minute walk, out and back. It does not require much weight, only enough to create resistance, 20 pounds or less to start with a 50 pound dog.
This generally is sufficient for most dogs. Owners usually seeing a difference in calming that can last a day or 2 and can maintain the dogs’ appropriately calm energy level with this regular regimen.
For more information on this sport, see http://www.APDASports.com. You will find a variety of different videos and training information.