What Is The Sport Of Dog Puller? (A Beginner’s Guide)
‘Dog Puller’ sports are interactive games played between one dog and one handler using specialised exercise rings known as a Puller. The rings are made from dense foam and are used during a series of challenges that test your dog’s ability to jump, grab, catch and retrieve.
The sports are designed to be fun games that are accessible to all dogs of any breed, shape, size, age or ability.
There are two main disciplines in the sport of dog Puller both of which involve the use of two dog puller rings:
- Puller Jumping
- Puller Running
We’ll take a brief look at each of them below…
Puller Jumping is a test of teamwork, agility and timing.
In it the handler holds two Puller rings, one in each hand, with the aim of the game being for the dog to jump and grab one ring in its mouth, before releasing it and launching to grab the second ring.
This jump-grab-release action is repeated as quickly as possible.
In competitive Puller Jumping there is a points system based upon how frequently the rings can be grabbed inside 90 seconds.
You can read more about the competitive rules and scoring in our deep dive post.
Puller Running on the other hand, is an intensified game of fetch that tests your ability to throw accurately and your dog’s ability to retrieve quickly.
In it the handler throws a ring down a marked rectangular field for the dog to run after, catch and retrieve. The rings are thrown so that they trundle down the field like a wheel as opposed to being tossed like a frisbee.
Just like in Puller Jumping, points are awarded for how many times a ring is retrieved inside 90 seconds, with the rings being alternatively thrown in opposite directions from the handler’s central position in the ‘start zone’.
How to get started in puller jumping
Puller Jumping is a great outdoor game to play with your dog, even if you have limited space.
In the Puller Federation rules, competitive Puller Jumping is played in an area of 10m x 10m, but as long as you have enough space for your dog to jump and turn safely, such as a local park or even your garden, then you can give it a go.
To play either Puller Jumping or Puller Running you first need a set of Dog Puller Rings. The official models are made by a company called Collar.
Dog Puller rings come in 4 sizes: Micro, Mini, Midi & Standard to allow you to choose a size that is appropriate to your dog. The table below shows which Dog Puller Ring might be the right size for your dog.
Tip: It should be noted that Puller rings have been specially designed for playing Puller games only. They are not a chew or heavy-duty tug toy.
Puller rings are made of a highly purified foamed plastic which won’t injure your dog during play. However, the soft nature of the foam means they are not suitable as chew or tug toys, and your dog must not be left alone unsupervised with them.
We found that the Puller Interactive Dog Fitness Tool rings are the best for Puller games as they are lightweight, contain no allergens and come in packs of 2.
How to be a good puller jumping handler
To be a good handler you’ll will have to adapt your technique to suit your dogs’ ability to jump, turn and run.
For small and toy dog breeds this might mean you play Puller Jumping while kneeling on the ground to better allow your dog to jump and land safely.
For medium to large dog breeds, it is best to stand up during play so you can move and manoeuvre easier with your dog.
Please be aware that all handlers should follow certain rules to ensure the safety of the dog during the game. For example, one of the rules states that dogs should be directed to jump from side to side as they leap to grab the Puller.
You should not encourage your dog to jump vertically for the rings as this could cause strain on their joints when landing that could potentially cause long lasting damage.
Holding Puller Rings
The Puller Rings are large in size and have been developed to keep your hands safe from accidental bites when playing with your dog. Furthermore to ensure no self-inflicted damage is caused to your wrists during play, there is a safe way to hold and present the rings (check out the helpful video tutorial below!).
- While gripping the ring, keep the top of the hand facing the sky and the wrist pointing down.
- Keep your elbow at a 90˚ angle with the elbow above the ring.
- As your dog grabs the ring you should move the ring with them as they land.
- Do not turn your dog in the air using the ring as this can cause neck and back damage.
The aim is for you to teach your dog the technique of jump, grab, land, release and turn so they are ready to go again on the opposite side.
How to get started in puller running
To play Puller Running, you need a lot more space than with Puller Jumping. In competitive Puller Running a field is mapped out to include three 10m zones with an additional 7-10m catch zone on each side (think of it as the equivalent of an NFL endzone).
The handler stands in the middle of the field in a ‘Start Zone’ and takes it in turn to alternate the direction in which they throw one of the Puller rings into the ‘Catch Zone’.
The aim of the game is for the dog to chase and catch the ring inside the ‘Catch Zone’ before returning it to the handler.
Points are gained for every Puller ring returned to the handler inside of 90 seconds.
For non-competitive Puller Running, you can use any flat open space like a large garden or park and don’t need to worry about precise distances. It’s a fun game regardless of how fast you go.
When introducing your dog to Puller Running for the first time it’s advisable to start by rolling the rings short distances before increasing them slowly over time.
If your dog has grasped the basics of playing fetch, then Puller Running is a great way to increase both speed and excitement, and burn off any excess energy that might have built up.
Puller training tips
Dog Puller Sports are great training tools as well as fun games. Using 2 identical toys (Puller rings in this case) trains the ability to switch between focal points even when highly engaged.
A great tip to help your dog learn to switch between rings is to practice playing with one ring at a time. Get your dog excited by moving it around and letting your dog grab on to it.
When they are engaged with the first ring stop moving it and instead start moving the second ring to draw your dogs’ attention.
They should instinctively switch their energy and focus to the second, now animated ring.
Practice this back and forth until your dog has mastered the switch then add commands like “drop” and “get it” to cement the newly learned game.
In brief, Dog Puller Sports are both engaging and fun games that you can play with any dog, regardless of their age or abilities.
Just be mindful of making alterations to each of the games to suit your dogs’ size, age and ability and you can enjoy lots of fun and interaction together.