Training Wheels® Lug-Nuts™ Program




Lug Nuts™ is a program that organizes and hosts informal weight pulling contests. It was created in response to the increasing problems communities are encountering with dangerous dogs. In many areas, the predominant breed types are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and their mixes. Sparring on street corners and casual dog fighting erupt in alleys and basements at any given time. These dogs are being bred in proliferation. Shelters are filled with these unwanted dogs. Most dog fights are not organized by professional dog fighters, but rather by kids spontaneously sparring their own pet dogs. Breeding their dogs and selling puppies, along with winning casual corner fights, can be profitable and compelling for teens.

Many young people have few role models for positive, healthy, constructive interactions with dogs. Often, the only "sport" these kids see is dog fighting or sparring. Weight pulling has all the elements of dog fighting - the excitement, the competitiveness, the machismo, the thrill - but none of the violence, blood shed or cruelty. The Lug Nuts program is an antidote to dog fighting.

Plastic children's snow sleds are loaded up with bags of food. These have known weights and also make great prizes afterwards. Dogs are hooked up to the sled with a dog-sled gang line and wear padded pulling harnesses. The most gifted dogs at weight-pulling are the "muscle" and "bull" breeds and their mixes. There are no age limitations and no prior training is needed. A dog cannot be forced to pull. A good relationship, a strong bond, and a strong dog are often all that is required. Hot dogs are offered as lures for owners to encourage the dog to move forward.

Cash prizes (and pet supplies) are offered for first, second, third and sometimes fourth place. Cash prizes are doubled if the winner is sterilized, and access to free spaying and neutering is offered.




Lug-Nuts™ was first introduced in New Haven, CT in the summer of 2002, and has been started on a regular basis in New York City. There has been interest from shelters and dog trainers in every part of the country to implement this program.

These are just a sample of small miracles that have occurred:

1. Alberto Bolinas, the owner of a young red Doberman, seen in a video tape of the New Haven weight pull, has since attended, with his entire family, a dog training course offered free to the community by one of the volunteer Lug-Nuts™trainers. On the day of the weight pull he was adamant about using his dog for stud. After the course, he was "considering" neutering.

2. We met the winner of the first New York City weight pull when we pulled up to the park and he was in the background, smacking and yelling at this pit bull puppy. We ignored his actions and focused on helping another owner train his older pit bull. We used reward based training techniques, and gradually the young man previously seen yelling and hitting his puppy moved closer to the training session. After working his puppy and instantaneously getting a "sit" and a "lie down" on nothing but hand signals, the owner asked how we did it. We shared the secret of good, positive dog training: treats. We didn't see him again until a few months later for the weight pull. While trying to convince him to enter his pit bull, the owner casually reached into his pocket, which was filled with jerky treats, and lured and rewarded his dog to pay attention and stop barking at another dog.

3. After a cancellation in the series due to a missing park's permit, the winner of the last weight pull a young guy with a huge, black and white, fighting-cropped, intact male pit bull contacted our shelter (a long-distance call) to inquire when the next time the shelter was coming down to do another weight pull.

Each miracle speaks to the success of Lug-Nuts™and its ability to make a connection between the community and the animal shelter, to provide motivation and a model for humane care, spaying and neutering, and having a positive, fun and lasting relationship between people and their dogs.




"Training Wheels® puts such a new light on matters. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make that change." Jane Holt, Quincy, Ill.

"Training Wheels® is still the best thing I do all week." Ulli Mattern, North Carolina


For more information contact:

  Jane Kopelman
Training Wheels® Director
4628 Route 209
Accord, NY 12404
(845) 687-7619