Dog Backpacks as Training Tools

By Maya Marin

Long walks with your dog are among the best ways to grow a human-canine bond while developing the dog's trust in your leadership. Dogs with seemingly boundless energy can benefit from wearing a canine training backpack with an appropriate amount of weight inside. Such devices help them burn off extra energy within the time frame of your walk.

Selecting a Backpack

Most canine backpacks are composed of two saddlebags connected by a pad resting on the dog's shoulders and upper back. Choose one with an adjustable chest strap that allows you to position the pack so it does not slide down to the dog's lower back, which can cause problems. The pack should be hand- or machine-washable. The best packs for training have straps inside the saddlebags that hold the bag's contents in position.

Introducing the Backpack

Introduce the backpack several days before heading out on a hike, using a treat reward to help your dog acquaint the pack with a pleasant experience. On the first walk, place a small amount of weight in the pack, increasing on subsequent walk. Using half-liter bottles filled with water can provide extra hydration for you and your dog on a long hike, or you can use bags filled with rice or sand that will conform to your dog's body. You'll increase the weight in the saddlebags over time, to a maximum of one-third of your dog's body weight.

By J.T. O'Connell


About the Author
A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.