Carting

UMES

Dogs have been used to pull carts and loads for millennia. This practice has been banned in most of the world during the past century, although it has survived in traditional events and occasions.

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In 1990 a modern carting project was launched in France as a fulfilling sport for large, heavy dogs.

Carting is an exercise in manoeuvrability which demands attentiveness, precision and teamwork between handler and dog. Any dog aged at least 12 months and standing at least 50 centimetres at the withers can take part. Dogs usually work alone although they may also work as pairs.

The carting certificate awarded from 12 months of age proves that both handler and dog have the training to participate in competitions, which they can do from 15 months. These comprise three components:

- Evenness: 20-30 minutes on a natural surface. Each handler has to estimate how long the dog will need to complete the course based on difficulty, which requires a solid understanding of the dog’s capacities for adaptation and initiative.

- Obstacles: 15 in all (slalom, tunnel, slope, seesaw, narrow passage, footbath), which requires precision work and manoeuvrability.

- Harmony: a non-scoring component that puts the sport in its historical context (handler costumes and cargoes represent a traditional line of work).

Special equipment is required. The cart must have four wheels and it must weigh around 15 kg. The shafts must be able to move vertically and horizontally so that the dog can stand or sit. The harness must be comfortable and the chest strap must be at least four centimetres wide. Bearing in mind that abuse and maltreatment led to the original banning of carting for profit, the total weight of cart and load must never exceed the weight of the dog.

This fun new sporting activity is making quite a splash, as a great way to tone up larger dogs that were originally bred to perform hard work.

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