If you saw my last post, you can tell I love to hike, and so does Xander! It’s kinda hard to tell by looking at him, but he is half Great Pyrenees. He loves to go on long hikes, and here in the Pacific Northwest we have lots of trails to explore. Getting out into the mountains is one of our favorite activities.
We have not, however, been very good about prepping for our hikes. We usually carry far less water than we should. I can’t carry a backpack due to a shoulder injury, and my waist pack only carries a couple small bottles.
Xander to the rescue! He is a strong, healthy 2 year old boy, and he weighs about 100 pounds. He could easily carry our supplies. So I purchased a backpack for him, and it just arrived. Naturally we had to try it out right away.
Finding dog backpacks is easy. Large online retailers like Amazon have many to choose from – it’s choosing just one that’s hard! Color, style, size, you can pretty much get anything you want.
I got a nylon, saddlebag-style by Legendog. At $18.99 it makes a nice starter pack. I don’t want to invest $50 or more until I have Xander totally comfortable with packing.
This is a nice pack. Good sized main bags on each side with multiple smaller pockets. It even comes with a folded up travel bowl in it’s own pocket. It’s lightweight nylon, but I am wondering about it’s overall durability at the seams. That’s something only time and use will tell though. I like the bright color – it makes Xander a whole lot more visible, and less likely to be mistaken for some wild animal when we’re out on the trail.
Xander is very used to me draping things on him, so he didn’t flinch when I slipped the pack over his head and draped on on his back. But not every dog will react as calmly. If you want to teach your dog to wear a pack, introduce it to him slowly. Move in stages.
- Let your dog sniff and investigate the new pack before you attempt to put it on.
- Gently touch the pack to your dog’s back, shoulder’s and chest. Build to light, brushing strokes with the pack.
- Drape the pack on your dog’s back.
- Fasten the straps and adjust.
At each stage, observe your dog closely. Praise your dog! If she stays calm, encourage her with phrases like “Good dog!” and use treats to really reinforce that wearing the pack is a good, positive event.
Look for signs of stress or discomfort, like yawning, avoiding eye contact, or laying ears flat. If you see these, stop, and back up to the last stage your dog was comfortable at.
Lastly, add weight gradually! And be sure to keep it balanced. Today, Xander is carrying my phone in a wallet-type case on one side, and a change purse with a couple dollars in it on the other. Slowly increasing weight gives your dog time to adjust to the feel and motion of the pack on her body, and build strength.
The most important step – have fun! Be sure you and your dog are relaxed and happy, or teaching her to wear a backpack will never succeed. Go as slow as you need to. Just because Xander here picked it up quickly doesn’t mean every dog will. Go at YOUR dog’s pace! Observe her responses to the pack, to the weight.
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