Dog BackpackingWhen 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, be sure to fit your dog for the pack so that it is comfortable and secure. A pack that is improperly fitted can create significant discomfort for your dog: Too tight, and the pack may begin to chafe painfully as your dog moves about on the trail. Too loose, and objects inside the pack may shift, throwing the pack off center and your dog off balance.  Keep reading to learn how to fit their pack the right way to ensure optimal canine enjoyment on your next hike.

Before 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 dogs of different breeds and sizes.

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

Once you’ve tightened and secured your dog’s backpack, it’s time to add the objects you want them to carry. Unless your dog is considerably large, be sure the pack is not too heavy by only including light objects that won’t strain them or create the potential for injury. Also, avoid putting food in the pack or this will drive them nuts throughout the entire walk!

The bottom line is this: dogs like to work and make their owners happy. Outfitting your dog with a backpack of their when hitting the trail is a great way for them to feel helpful and a part of your team. Not only will a dog backpack keep your dog focused and engaged in the hiking activity, but the extra weight will hopefully wear them out so they’ll be at least half as tired as you’ll be by the end of the day! 

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