I have several questions about whether or not it would be feasible for me to get and train carting dogs and I am having a hard time finding people who can answer my questions. I have done a lot of research and these are the only questions I have that remain unanswered.
1) How far can a dog or dog team pull a loaded cart in a day? According to Google maps my mom lives about 9 miles away from my property if using bike trails and 12 miles if using roads; I will be visiting her fairly often. Would they be able to pull, say, 100 to 120 pounds for 9 to 12 miles twice in one day? (Those numbers are the max weight I would ever need pulled. Regularly it would be about 50 to 90 pounds.) The terrain in the area is fairly flat.
2) Acquiring a dog team. My father-in-law refuses to fix his American Bulldogs (Ranging from 50 to 85 pounds depending on the mother.) which means he ends up with an unwanted litter of strong, energetic pups every other year or so. Would it be better for me to help home these pups by training them to pull carts or would I need to search animal shelters for dogs with pulling breeds in their heritage?
3) Would I be able to ride a bicycle alongside the dog cart while they pulled? Research is a bit hazy on this one.
4) Would it be better to use dogs or goats for traveling these distances on a fairly regular basis? (I will be raising meat and milk goats already so I would have the housing and feed available.)
I don't have any specific cart knowledge, but I will say dog sled teams do 100+ mile runs easily. You can't expect this the first time out, but with training I think 9-12 miles is doable. I just checked google, and they actually make dog cargo carts.
I used to let my mutt pound dogs pull me on the skateboard. I weigh about 200 lbs, and these two dogs could get me going 30+ mph. I was going for quick, efficient exercise, but even then they could flat sprint for about 3 miles. I actually melted the wheels on my board once, because the bearings were old and got too hot. The dog sizes were about 40 lbs and 75 lbs. The way I trained them was hooking up harnesses and yelling "squirrel" and we were off. Once they got used to the board behind them, they were fine. Both dogs are still alive today. One is 14+ and the other will be 13 in May. I stopped running them with the board after they were about 5 or 6 years old.
With proper training, I bet you could get them to run next to you and your bike. My dogs got to the point where all I had to say was 'left' or 'right' and they knew which way to turn.
Dogs pulling carts ( as opposed to sleds ) were quite common in central europe mostly larger breeds like St Bernards . I doubt however they would be much use for moving people usually light loads to assist folks who walked along side . The carts I have seen were mostly one or two dog only carts .
see this wiki link to a typical breed plus picture of a dog cart
I think you would make those dogs verry happy.That's a working breed, and they would probably love the interaction and challenges of pulling a cart.
Look to diy bike carts for inspiration, and please keep us updated!
I've never worked with American Bulldogs but they strike me as a drafting/carting breed rather than a roadster/trotting breed of dog. To understand what I mean, visualize drafters being oxen and roadsters being horses. Oxen are strong but move slowly while horse can trot for miles.
Another thing to consider is the dog's conformation. If the dog has the wrong conformation, even a Siberian Husky can't trot a mile. A trotting dog needs to have a non-barrel (rounded) or wide chest. The American Bulldogs I've seen are broadchested, good for drafting but not distance trotting. Also the legs need to be straight with toes pointing forward while at a trot, like a horse. Dogs with crooked or bowed legs, dogs with their hocks pointing in or out, dogs with their feet pointing in or out are all poor candidates for distance trotting.
Training the dogs to carting is a fine idea, in my opinion. Most of my dogs enjoy having a job. The idea is to train them to think it's a fun game and they'll love it. I ran a recreational sled team for years and my dogs would go crazy with excitement if they saw a harness in my hand. They loved it even if it was real work at times.
12 miles is a long distance for a carting breed. With conditioned, trained drafters expect it to take around 2 hours (I'm guessing). If your dogs get good at a consistent trot, it will take a bit less. As I said, I've never worked with drafters at distance, so I'm not sure.
Yes, you can train them to follow your bicycle. Training them to lead in front is more difficult, but they will naturally follow you.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Hmm. You have several variables here. You need strong healthy dogs with good training and good harness. If your team is underpowered, you could use more/stronger dogs, pull less weight, get out and push on the uphill parts, find a more level trail, slow down/rest, have enough dogs that two are generally resting each mile (leashed but not harnessed?.)
To me it sounds like a job for a horse/mule/donkeys. The advantages being 1. they are herbivores, cheaper to feed and their manure is easier to use. 2. Every individual animal has a lifespan, training needs, vet needs etc. Just consider the time difference in training two mules that live twenty-five years, vice training twenty or thirty dogs in that time. Or the difference in vet checkups alone.
What is the cargo? you and a twenty pound pack?
What is the trail? Will a cart roll or is it too rough? Hilly or flat? muddy? Are there animal hazards?
What is the weather?
posted 5 years ago
The cargo would be one or two small children (small enough to not be able to ride a bike with me) and maybe twenty pounds or less in extra cargo such as books, extra water for kids and dogs, or produce for my mom. The area is very flat, the tallest hill is an anthill, and rural. The weather is mostly very hot and humid, with frequent rain storms in the winter. When it rains the mud can swallow you whole, but the areas I would be traveling are hard-packed and generally well-drained, and I wouldn't drag my dogs or kids out into the weather. There are wild dogs and coyotes, but they generally run away if you yell at them and I carry a gun for emergencies.
I was leaning towards dogs because I wouldn't have the room for horses or mules on my property, I am intimidated by horses, we will be raising dogs anyway, and the nearest vet that deals with horses is a good two hours away while the nearest dog vet is a mere half hour away.
posted 5 years ago
You might consider a pair of small donkeys. But, not unless you want to.
I'm just thinking that a lot of the carting dogs seem to have too much fur for hot/humid weather. You/they would have to carry a lot of drinking water. Some say heavy fur insulates from the heat, but when the dogs trot with a cart, their muscles will generate heat that has to dissipate through the coat. But this is speculation on my part, just because I find it interesting. Let us know if you find something that works.
No one addressed goats, so I'll share what little I was told. If you wanted to use them for carting, they need their horns, because they help them to stay cool. Poled goats are prone to overheating. However, you mentioned little ones, and I have been warned about the safety of keeping horned goats around them. That is the extent of my knowledge. If you do go for it, please post pics and details. I was hoping to build some carts, so my dogs and/or goats could help haul stuff up on our land.