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Hi all! I am seriously considering attempting to train my (future) service dog in training to pull/drive a cart. I won't have him pull anything with any weight to it until he's fully developed, but he's calm enough that I could probably start teaching him that it's okay when things move behind and with him. This would allow me to keep him active and for me to be able to go on longer, paved trails with friends and loved ones without walking in pain.

Has anyone had experience doing this sort of thing with dogs before? I've driven horses a few times (though am by no means experienced) and have been riding for over 15 years, trained my own fabulous gelding, etc. and I have a trainer helping with general service dog training. I'm mostly looking for tips, experiences, what carts people like? I have a standard Australian Shepherd, 11 months old and already very solid.

Thank you in advance! :)
 

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Why do we not have any pictures of your cutie?! :D
 

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Shandula, I know!!! He's such a little model too...just trying to navigate the mobile version of the site since the little butthead chewed the charger cord for my laptop in half and I haven't bothered to replace it yet because smartphones are so...smart. :p I promise I will post many, MANY photos as soon as I am able!!!

Harley, he's an Australian Shepherd, about 50lbs at 11mos. He's not very tall, but he's going to be one beefy boy! He's finally above my kneecap (I'm 5'8" with long legs) and I've already trained him to "step up" and pull when I have the leash clipped on the back of his harness instead of the front where he's supposed to walk on a loose lead. He seems to enjoy trucking along like that where he's attached to my belt so I am very confident that he'll love driving. :) His no-pull harness has enough rings and is secure and padded enough that it will be good for him to do light/practice pulling in, but I'm planning on getting him a solid pulling harness once I build up the sulky for us.

If he's behaved enough by then and Boyfriend is willing, we might try it out around Christmas to go see the lights with me driving and him with a handle on the back end of the cart just in case. If not, maybe Boyfriend can pull the cart? XD

Honestly I just want to be able to do some or the things that I used to do years ago without massive amounts of pain. I'm always going to hurt, but if I can find ways to hurt less while doing the things I love then I absolutely will. I refuse to be in wheelchair unless there are no other options. If occasionally driving my service dog means that I can be more active AND I can have fun with it, then I feel like I am using a debilitating condition to my advantage and to me, that is incredibly empowering. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their issues and they are all valid. That is mine.

/endlupusrant
 

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@OlenaReiner - Eek! He's so cute! He does seem a little short, but you're also much taller than me, so that might be skewing my perspective. My Aussie is "tall" although still within the breed standard so everyone also says "He's SO big for an Aussie", which he's not, but happens anyway.

He's a total sweetheart, I really hope this all works out and you're able to stay active with him. I'm sure he'll be a great helper. :)
 
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