Why Should I Add A Dog Backpack In The First Place?
Very good question! We have been approached by strangers numerous time while out on doggy backpack walks and asked why our pups were carrying backpacks, and if they were in training for any kind of rescue work!
My response has varied in length depending on how interested the person asking the question truly was. The short version has always been: “Our dogs are carrying their backpacks for a combined physical as well as mental workout”.
The slightly longer version goes something like this:
“Our dogs are Boxer mixes, which means they are part of the working dog breed group. This translates into an active, strong dog who was originally bred to perform specific tasks/jobs, such as guarding properties, and being used for police work.
Boxers are medium to high energy dogs, and need to be given physical as well as mental challenges on a daily basis in order to thrive and not develop problem behaviors which can be caused by boredom/pent-up energy.
Side note: The photos above portray my friend Kristina with her
fiancéhusband (update) Kyle & her 2 Australian Shepherds Shade & Solea.
Have Your Dog’s Health Assessed Before Adding A Dog Backpack
It’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before trying a new physical activity with your pup in order to make sure he’s fit enough for it.
We started adding doggie backpacks to our pups’ walks when they were 8 months old, and made sure to check with our vet prior to doing so.
Keep in mind that a puppy’s joints are growing for quite some time, and could be damaged if challenged by excess weight or overly strenuous activity.
Slow Introduction Of Dog Backpacks
Now to the fun part! After having acquired your new dog backpack, take things easy and let your pup familiarize himself with it. You could hold the backpack & let your pup sniff it, then reward his curiosity with a tasty treat or a favorite toy.
Choose his reward depending on what motivates your pup most. Our girl Missy would go for a yummy treat, while her brother Buzz would go for a ball.
You could also place the dog backpack on the floor, and place a treat or toy on top of it. This way, the dog backpack will be associated with something positive. Once your pup has accepted the presence of the new item, slowly put the empty backpack on your dog’s back.
Feeding some of his food or a favorite treat will help associate more positive things with this process. You don’t have to strap the pack on right away, just letting it sit on your pup’s back for a few moments will be sufficient.
Repeat this step a few times before strapping the backpack on.
Our Dog Buzz Carrying His Empty Dog Backpack
Side note: Introduce the dog backpack when your dog is in a calm, relaxed state of mind, ideally after a long walk or an extended playtime session.
Added Weight Never To Exceed 25% of Dog’s Body Weight
Once your pup has gotten used to his new accessory, slowly add some weight to the side pockets. We like to add filled water bottles (they come in handy on a longer hike!) and some tennis balls.
Remember not to add too much weight ~ a good rule of thumb is to not exceed 25% of your dog’s total body weight in added backpack weight.
We Fill Our Dog Backpacks With Water Bottles & Tennis Balls
It is obviously up to you what you want to fill your dog’s backpack pockets with ~ we also like to add poop bags, some human band aids, as well as a few pet first aid items whenever we go for a walk (e.g. benedryl in case our pups were to get stung by an insect).
Does your pup carry a doggie backpack on walks & hikes? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!