When hitting the trail with man’s best friend, it’s beneficial for your dog’s health, as well as their instinctual desire to work and please their owner, to have him/her carry their own weight, literally. This means having the dog carry their own portable water dish, poop bags, or toys. To do this, you’ll need a dog backpack. However, before you head out to the woods, you’ll need to make sure to fit your dog for the pack, in order to ensure that the pack is comfortable for them, but also fits securely. A pack that’s too loose or too tight can lead to a lot of discomfort for your dog, so keep reading to learn how to fit their pack the right way.

Before even heading to the store to look at dog backpacks, it’s important to measure the circumference of your dog’s chest. Most packs will have a specific chest size on the label, in order to provide a general fit for different sizes.

Once you find a pack for your dog, it’s time to get it fitted. To do this, place the middle of the backpack on your dog’s back and fast the straps around the dog’s waist and chest. Next, you’ll need to fasten the plastic clamp in the middle of the dog’s chest, making sure not to catch any fur in it in the process. Then, adjust the clamp’s strap to tighten the backpack by pulling the strap until you can snugly fit your pinkie in between it and your dog’s chest. This will allow enough room for the dog to move and breathe comfortable, but will still keep the pack from slipping off. Repeat these steps with the pack’s bottom strap.

Once you’ve tightened and secured the dog’s backpack, it’s time to add the objects you want your dog to carry. When doing this, make sure the pack is not too heavy by only including light objects, unless your dog is considerably large. Also, I’d make sure to not put food in the pack because this will drive them nuts the entire walk.

The bottom line is this: dogs like to work and make their owners happy, so outfitting them with a backpack of their own when hitting the trail is a great way to accomplish this. Not only will this keep your dog focused and engaged in the activity, but the extra weight will wear them out and compel them to rest up later on in the day.