I introduced Tikaani to the sport while attending a malamute only weight pull when he was around 11 months old, that consisted of introducing him to wearing the proper harness designed for the activity, and asking him to move forward while the harness was attached to an empty cart hours before the real competition started. Throughout the day we watched and got advice from experienced pullers, and met alot of great owners and dogs.
When Tikaani was 18 months old I entered him into a local weight pull in the novice class where you can use a leash for training purposes, afterwards I entered him into the competition to try it out, he pulled 750 lbs. Over a period of weeks with simple training and praise for pulling light objects in harness we tried next month and he pulled almost twice as much weight. The following month he had his own custom harness. Over the next 15 months while training my sibe and sibe mix and Tikaani improved some, but he was a stubborn teenager (malamutes mature physically, and some mentally around 3 years old, some take longer mentally). He always had the ability to do far more but chose not to. He always seemed to stop at 1875 lbs, and once at 1900 plus.
My sibe Duke seemed at first like he would not pick the sport up, he was over 6 years old when introduced. At his first competition when he was in the chute, he looked me straight in the eyes and the "light clicked on", he became a very good weight puller in no time at all. Within a short time at 67-68 lbs Duke pulled 3360 lbs. Last year in one organizations national championships Duke pulled 2500 lbs plus for 7th place, the only dog that pulled more weight got 1st place, from 2nd though 7th place the deciding factor was the amount of time the pull took (just seconds separated them all).
Koda my mixed breed pulled here and there, but never did very good at all, just making a few light pulls for fun was what he usually did.
In a matter of months Tikaani outgrew his harness due to his continuing growth. At that point I invested in one of the the best custom weight pull harnesses made. 2 months shy of his 3rd birthday Tikaani suddenly pulled 2100 lbs on a tough carpet chute, and almost got most weight pulled in the competition against an older, larger, more experienced malamute. The following month he pulled 3225 lbs (Duke only pulled 3000 that day) and gave me effort that he never offered before (keep in mind that you cant make them pull, they have to want to do it for you when you ask them to). The next month competing against malamutes from all over north America in a malamute only weight pull, against malamutes ranging from 59-138 lbs Tikaani got 2nd place in his weight class (81-100 lbs) and 4th overall against all classes. During this time I had made changes with his training to make it more fun, increase his confidence, and get him to a point where we could work on increasing his physical ability (weight pull is 90% mental, 10 % physical).
Last year I introduced them to a snow pull, Duke matched an experienced malamute twice his weight, and was awarded "most weight per pound" in the competition (highest body percentage).
The activity of weight pull, just like any other activity you must make it fun for the dog or they will not do it at all. Over spring, and summer I trained the dogs late at night when it was cooler, took them swimming on leash when it was hot when we could (Duke doesnt like swimming very much so he likes to hang out in chest deep water instead). I started rewarding the dogs with a K-9 body builder supplement mixed with water then refrigerated after they finished training, more so for Tikaani than the other 2 to maintain their body weights easier.
The first pull of this season in september which is still pretty warm, Tikaani pulled 4575 lbs for 2nd place against one of the best 100 lb weight pullers in the country on dirt, Duke pulled 3420 lbs for 5th place in the 61-80 lbs class., Koda pulled 1900 lbs.
The following month Koda did not do as well, Duke pulled a little less, and Tikaani looked like he might get 5475 lbs, he chose to stop at 4800 lbs. We have now competed in a few states, and sometimes compete anywhere from once a week to once a month, and sometimes 2-4 times a weekend (some organizations have multi pull weekends, Duke does better in his 3rd and 4th pull, Tikaani on his 1st, 2nd and 3rd) depending on the schedule of events in 3 organizations.
In training Tikaani is my hardest worker, I think the combination of his breed, genetics, his willingness to work, his willingness to please, and physical conditioning make this possible. Most of all he is such a loveable dog, and just loves people. He has a great attitude, and is very friendly with other dogs (malamutes in general are not known for being very peaceful with other dogs of the same sex, and can have a strong animal aggression, also they are very highly pack oriented dog.)
The sport of weight pull is great for increasing the confidence of your dog, and keeping them in top physical condition. Believe me, if my dogs showed that they didnt enjoy weight pulling so much we would not do it at all. We enjoy the sport so much that aside from the investment of time, money, loads of training and effort, I have since become an apprentice judge in one organization, I have been helping to set up pulls in a neighboring state, starting other people and dogs in the sport, and helping others to train their dogs.