How to Use a Dog Backpack

January 05, 2021

How to Use a Dog Backpack

Camping always involves a lot of packing - for you and your dog. With dog backpacks, your furry friend can carry their own stuff on your hikes and will love their new job! 


Why Use a Dog Backpack? 

While it might just seem more convenient for you, giving your dog a backpack has many physical and mental benefits for your pup. 

  • It keeps them in shape and builds muscle.
  • It helps your dog feel a sense of purpose on a hike.
    • Many dogs want to feel like they have a job when you're hiking with them. Knowing that they are helping will make them feel happier.
  • It helps them focus
    • Making your dog feel like they are working will reduce the chances of them chasing anything while hiking.
  • Your dog will sleep well!

    Here are some tips to help you train your dog to use a backpack. 

    Pick the Right Pack

    Make sure you’re picking a backpack that fits your needs - whether you’re going on long hikes or just using it to build muscle on your dog, do some research before you make a purchase. Check the sizing and straps to see how well they’ll fit your dog and how easily you can adjust them. Our sister brand, Alpha Pak, offers a wide selection of dog backpacks that will fit your needs! 

    Familiarize Your Dog With Their New Backpack

    Creating a positive association between your dog and their backpack is crucial because you want them to love wearing it. Every dog is different, so some of them will need extra time and attention to become comfortable with it. 

    First, let your dog smell the backpack, then place it on their back like a blanket, without attaching it. Keep taking it on and off, giving them treats to ensure a positive association, until it doesn’t bother your dog. Once your dog is comfortable with the backpack being laid on their back, clasp the straps and adjust them accordingly. Make sure to keep rewarding your dog for doing a good job! 

    Help Your Dog Adjust to a New Sense of Balance

    Your dog will probably bump into things the first time they wear their new backpack. Keep giving them rewards as they adjust to balancing with it. As they get used to the new gear, add a little weight, making sure to start slow and give your dog time to adjust to getting around and over things with more weight on their back.


    Increase Weight 

    Just like you wouldn’t wake up one day and run a marathon with a weighted backpack, you need to train your dog by increasing how much it carries. Conditioning your dog is crucial before taking them on a long hike carrying lots of weight. Start small, with two to three percent of their body weight, moving up to carry as much as 20 percent of their body weight. Be sure to talk with your vet about their max weight recommendation for your dog based on their age and health. 

    Photo from @aspenandpiper on Instagram.

    Hit the Trails

    Once you’ve taken the time to get your dog used to their new backpack, you’re ready to go! Keep an eye out for any rubbing or chafing, which would be signs that you need to adjust the straps. Alpha Pak’s dog backpacks allow for quick and easy adjustments with locking buckles so everything stays in place. Also, your dog could get fatigued from any extra weight, so be ready to carry their weight if they get tired. 


    Does your dog carry a backpack? Tell us about it in the comments below, and follow @campingwithdogs and @myalphapak on Instagram to stay updated on other safety tips for you and your dog!

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