AmStaff Weight Pull In Australia:                  JUST DO IT !

Runamuk Amstaffs Kennel's have been weight pulling in Australia since 2002 with great results. We are home to the No.1 and Record holding Weight Pull Amstaff in S.A. Luke is owned, trained and handled by S.Barber, and was Certified W.W.P.D by the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of South Australia on the 13/06/2004, he is the first Amstaff Male in Australia to gain a Weight Pull Title. Luke is in retirement now but during his entire Weight Pull career  he was never out-pulled by another AmStaff, and to this day still hold's the South Australian Breed competition weight pulling record for heaviest Weight pulled and for highest power to weight ratio.


A Pedigree say's what a dog should be, 

Conformation say's what a dog appears to be,

Performance say's what a dog truely is !


Luke weighing in at 33-34Kg was never beaten in competition for heaviest weight pulled by "ANY" breed 3 years running, often competing against  Alaskan Malamutes weighing more than 70Kg (S.A.S.D.C)

Lukes heaviest competition weight pulled was 1,330 Kg (2,926 lb) 

His best power to weight ratio was #40.


 A Few Of Luke's Trophy's: 

2005 SASDC 35.Kg Class Point Score Trophy Winner.

2006 SASDC 35.Kg Class Point Score Trophy Winner.

 2007 SASDC 45.Kg Class point Score Trophy Winner. 


Weight Pulling Introduction:

What I have set out below is only a guide to help get you started in training, you will need to see what does and doesn't work for your own dogs and alter it accordingly.    I am in NO way, shape or form claiming to be an expert, but I am only showing you what has PROVEN  to be successful  for my Kennel using my training program and techniques.

Weight Pull Event Overview:

The handler shall be allowed to position his/her dog anywhere between the cart wheels in front of the starting line at the end of the extended tug line, there shall not be so much slack as to allow a "sling shot start." Once the dog is in position in front of the cart and ready to pull, the handler must cross the finish line before instructing the dog to pull. The handler may pass one or two turns but must pull on the third turn, there shall be a set increment weight added to the cart each round, each dog shall be required to pull a loaded cart a measured sixteen (16) feet within 60 Seconds, the dog shall be allowed to complete the pull and the actual time required to make the pull shall be recorded.  During the pull the handler's feet shall be behind the designated Call line (20) feet from the starting line when calling the dog. The handler shall not touch the dog, equipment or pulling surface between the start and finish line until the cart crosses the 16-foot line. In the case of a tangle or equipment failure the judge will direct the handler to physically reposition the dog. Only one handler is allowed to communicate with the dog either with hand signals and or voice commands from the course area, if more that one person has communicated with the dog while on course it is classed as "Double Handling" and is grounds for disqualification if a protest is lodged. The dog pulling the most weight in each class is declared the winner of that class, with 2nd and 3rd place’s awarded also, the dog that has the best power to weight ratio and the dog that has made the heaviest pull on the day shall also be recognized.

AmStaff Weight Pull Harness:

The most important piece of equipment required for the sport of competition Weight Pulling is the Harness. The only one suitable for heavy pulling is known as the Freight harness. The Freight harness will distribute the weight of the load on the chest and shoulders of the dog, usually made of nylon webbing the harness should be padded around the neck and chest area's to prevent chafing or cutting-in .It should have a spreader bar which is a wooden dowel placed horizontally behind the dogs back legs to prevent the side straps from confining his movement or chafing the legs. To have a correct fitting harness is paramount since no dog can pull his maximum in a harness that is uncomfortable. Make sure the chest portion is not too tight as to restrict breathing by riding up and pressing on the windpipe. The neck and shoulders should fit snugly without binding or restricting movement. Your dog’s harness should be checked regularly and if your dog is still growing the harness may need to be adjusted or even replaced. 

I have included this picture below as it demonstrate's an excellent pulling technique:

Note how Tia is keeping her head down low to the ground, leaning forward into her Harness taking the weight of the load on her chest and shoulders. A low pulling angle enables the dog to use their power more affectively and to have better control over the load. 




Weight Classes:

When talking to the novice about Weight Pulling I have lost count of the amount of times I hear people say they think their dog is too small for Weight Pull, for some reason most people think that they would need  a 100kg Mastiff to be competitive, but this idea couldn’t be further from the truth as you only need to be competing against dogs in your own weight class. Some people enter not to compete against other dogs but just to better their own dogs personal best.

There are at least 5 weight classes available for your dog, all dogs are required to be weighed before each event and will be put into their appropriate weight classes.

 Weight classes are-  

(25Kg Class)= all dogs 25Kg or less,     (35Kg Class)= all dogs 25.1Kg>35Kg 
(45Kg Class)= all dogs 35.1Kg>45Kg,     (55Kg Class)= all dogs 45.1Kg>55Kg 
(Unlimited Class) = all dogs greater than 55kg.

Power To Weight Ratio's:

When dog’s are competing for the Strongest dog in Competition (best Power to Weight Ratio) it is worked out by calculating the amount of Kilo's  your dog has pulled by the amount of Kilo’s that your dog weighs. …. I have set out a few example's below--   

If a 100.Kg Mastiff pull’s 1,000 Kg….  100 will go into 1,000 (10) times, so as the Mastiff has equaled pulling 10 times his own body weight , his power to weight ratio  is (10 )

If a 30Kg Amstaff pull’s 330 Kg….30 will go into 330 (11) times, which gives the Staff a Power to weight ratio of (11)…. as the Staff has a higher power to weight ratio he has out-pulled the Mastiff so is the stronger dog. 

The same applies for, if a 5 Kilo Jack Russell Pull's 60 Kilo , his power to Weight Ratio would be  (12), as he has the higher % ratio than both the Mastiff and the Amstaff he is the Stronger Dog.

You can see from the examples set out above that this is clearly a Sport where Size does "NOT MATTER" but it's definitely how you use it!! , as a matter-of-fact , when competing for the best power to weight ratio it favour's the lighter dog's!



Luke at S.A.C.A Park  pulling a new P.B and a new South  Australian breed record of 1,330 Kg (2,926 Lb)

Power to Weight Ratio # 40

For a 100 Kg Person to equal pulling this ratio they would have to pull 4,000 Kg  = 4 Tonne



American Staffordshire Terrier/Amstaff Weight Pull Training In Australia:

The dog that is mentally prepared for competition shows enthusiasm for the process of pulling weight. He has confidence in his ability to pull and can concentrate on the task at hand in spite of distractions; he also knows that his handler is very much a part of the weight-pulling team, offering constant encouragement at all times .

Successful Weight Pull trainers will always refer to "Attitude" or "Heart" as a well conditioned and trained dog with fairly good physical capabilities will invariably outperform a poorly trained dog of superior physical strength.  It is not unusual for a well trained weight puller to defeat other dogs twice his size, my 34Kg Amstaff has beeten dogs that has weighed more than 70Kg, so the biggest and strongest dog in your weight class isn’t necessarily going to be the winner, it’s the attitude and the willingness to please which will be key elements to success.  Weight pulling is very objective, and it’s just the handler, the dog, the load and the clock. When push comes to shove being Pretty, being Male, being Female or wearing your Sunday best will not help your dog in the weight pull chute. Short fun lessons and positive reinforcement in the beginning can go a long way in developing the proper attitude, a bad experience in the early development can be a major setback………Most importantly keep training “FUN” for your dog and never let him fail a pull.



Pictured right is of my favourites!.he's a 2 year old male owned,trained and handled by Vance R.  Desiel is Sired by my Guss dog and was bred by W.Wallace of S.A. 

On his Weight Pull debut Desiel weighed in at 33kg,for his final pull for the day Deisel pulled an outstanding  880Kg with a Power To Weight ratio of 26.66%,he also took out 1st place in the 35 Kg Class.....Well what can i say except..The Ability Is In The Genetic's, The Training Is Just The Pollishing !




When you've got a Harness for your dog introduce it to him by letting him have a good sniff of it especially if another dog has been wearing it, you don't want to spook him by just throwing it straight over his head as he may be hesitant of wearing it in the future and it will always be a battle to get it on him. People that already use a walking Harness on their dog should find their dog will except the weight pull Harness allot easier than those who don't. When you have it on him give him a good walk around the yard, take him around the block or to his favorite park, or let him wear it when you are feeding him his dinner; You want him to start associating the harness with something that he already enjoys, and as training becomes more frequent he will eventually get to know that it also means spending good quality time with his master. 

When you feel your dog is relaxed wearing his harness and you want to begin training find yourself an old tyre and attach a five foot long tug-line to it, put a bulldog-clip on the end so you can clip it to the Harness-ring.  Now this is the part where all that early Stay and Recall training that you would have done at Obedience Classes comes in handy, if not, then you need someone to hold your dog for you. Make sure the person holding your dog totally ignore's him, and that means no kissing, cuddle's, praise, rubbing the dog's belly or pampering him in anyway, if you permit them to do so it may cause major problems in the chute for you and your dog in the future, you can give your dog all the praise he wants but only when he is responding well to your commands...... your dog is there for "WORK".

You must try and keep training fun for him but at the same time he must earn your praise, if you see him getting board with the training then end the session, and at any stage if your dog starts to tire during training you can always lighten the load and make it his final pull so he will finish on a great confidence boost , always end on a good note. Training is a confidence building exercise, the more confidence  your dog has and the more trust he has in you, the more he will repay you .You should never let your dog fail a pull so If at any time during your training you need to assist your dogs by pulling them along, NEVER, EVER pull them by their collar while they are attached to a drag weight, always pull them by the Harness, the Harness is attached directly to the drag so it is quite safe. Also when training don't forget to take into consideration not only the weight of your drag but also the resistance of your drag (the surface you are on) as the resistance would be far greater if you where training of thick long grass than it would be if you where training on hard compact ground or low cut grass. 

With your dog hooked up to the drag weight hold the bait (Food Treat) as low to the ground as possible to keep the dogs head low so that he is leaning forward into his harness so he is taking the weight of the load  on his chest and shoulder's, but keep the treat just in front of his nose so he cannot get it, slowly walk backwards giving the command that you have chosen Eg:  "Pull", "Hike"," Bring it to Papa"etc, etc, it must be a command that you will only use in weight pull. Once instructing him to pull take him for a distance of about 10 Ft praising him all the way then unhook your dog, again lavish him with praise and pat's walk him around for 3 - 4 minutes telling him how much of a good boy he was then hook him up again and repeat the exercise. You will need to repeat that exercise as long as it take's until your dog understands what you are asking of him, it may take weeks/month's !! 

When your dog is responding well to your commands then once again hook your dog up... but before instructing your dog to pull, this time take about 2 paces backward from him still holding the bait low to the ground and "then" give him  the command to pull and repeat as per paragraph above. Once he is responding well to you calling him from a distance of 2 steps away try calling him from a distance of 5 steps away, and so on and so on.

Competition pulling distance is 16 Ft, so when my dogs start to get more confident in training I will call them from double that distance . As training progresses make sure to slowly wean your dog of the food treats and replace it with even more praise and pats.  

At this point in time of the training I really cant emphasise enough that  you only need to be conditioning your dogs Mind , the Amstaff is a very powerful breed and has more that enough Strength to get him through the early stages of training, as long as he is kept in good physical health there shouldn't be any problems. So many people just want to build the dogs strength first, but that is so wrong as It's pointless having a dog that is strong enough to pull 2,000Kg but because you haven't trained him to "Pull" on command all he does is stand there barking at you then lift his leg and Pee on the Buggy's wheels,...... and it does happen, very often!!!  So please remember to "Condition the Mind and then Condition the Body".

When your dog understands the command to "Pull" and is responding well then you can start adding weight increments, I started out using an old Jerry-Can with water filled to about quarter of the way up and just sat it on the Tyre. Once your dog is comfortable with that weight then fill it  another quarter, and so on, and so on . Only you will know when your dog is confident with that weight and is ready to progress to another increment of weight, but don't rush it and run the risk of destroying all that confidence and trust you have spent so long trying to build in him. To begin with I will train every-other day for about 6 pull's and then progress from there, but keep it fun for your dog, and after training then throw a ball and give him a run and some good quality play time with his master.

When your dog starts competing don't expect miracles in their first season, just go out to give your dog some chute experience, build confidence and rectify any problems you might come across,and you will come across many. I quite often had to take 2 steps backward in my training program so i could overcome a problem to progress and move forward again. Far too many people expect their dogs to go out and pull a Tonne in their first event, when it doesn't happen they get disheartened and they never compete again.  When I first started with my boy Luke he wouldn't  even pull an empty cart weighing 125Kg , but after he started to realize what was being asked of him ,and found out that I was more stubborn than him and  he wasn't going to get away with messing around in training, then we started to make some progress .....the rest is history!

You really must try and keep your dogs focus on you during the pull, a Terrier can switch or lose Focus very easily,especialy the Amstaff  as he should be keenly alive to his surroundings at all times. As soon as I enter the chute i ask the Chute Steward to hold my dog, he his hooked-up straight away, I'm down to the call line in a flash and instruct him to Pull, I don't give him a chance for his mind to start wondering or get distracted from his Task. Quite often you will lose your dogs attention in the chute, and if he starts to eyeball someone on the sidelines don't allow the person to eyeball him back, if they do kindly ask them to "STOP" bloo#y eyeballing my dog!!,..apart  from them making your job so much harder to get your dogs focus back it's not very sportsmanlike for a person on the sidelines, or your competition to be doing that! .

Please Note:   No dog should do any serious Training or Weight Pulling until they are 18 months of age. A dog whose skeletal and muscular system is still immature can be permanently damaged by the physical stress of pulling heavy weight's at an early age. If you are thinking of doing competitive weight pulling with your Am-Staff, getting your dog Hip and Elbow scored is strongly encouraged.