A dog backpack can be a great way to enhance your dog's regular fitness program, giving his normal walking routine a little variety and helping to develop his muscles at the same time. To this end, several manufacturers now offer backpacks designed specifically for dogs, with adjustable harnesses, expandable pockets and bright colors for safety purposes.
Using a backpack for dogs may be especially tempting in the cold weather months, when taking long walks is not possible. By adding weight for your dog to carry, he can still get the same benefit out of his workout without having to walk as long. This can be beneficial to both him and you, as neither of you will have to be exposed to the elements for a long period of time.
Of course, you don't want to start using a heavy dog backpack without taking some precautions. Not every dog will take to the packs the same way, so you should always consult with your vet first, especially if you have an older dog or a dog with physical problems. But even for young, athletic breeds like the Australian Shepherd, you need to be careful so that you aren't unintentionally injuring your dog.
Remember to choose a backpack for dogs specifically as opposed to just using any kind of pack and be sure it is designed to withstand the elements, is large enough to carry whatever you need and will be comfortable and safe for your dog to wear. To determine the right size, measure your dog around the widest part of his chest, to ensure that the straps of your pack will fit comfortably no matter how heavy the pack gets.
You can find the Outward Hound DayPak Dog Backpack (shown above) here or compare several backpacks for dogs on Amazon here.
Comsun Collapsible Dog Bowl, Food Grade Silicone, BPA Free, FDA Approved, Foldable Expandable Cup. Includes Free Carabiner.
AmazonBasics Dog Waste Bags with Dispenser and Leash Clip
When it comes to adding that weight, there is no reason why a dog backpack should just be an exercise device. You can get the exercise you want for your dog while still being practical by having your dog carry water bottles and collapsible dog bowls, toys, poop bags and other items you might want with you on your walk. You can even include your phone or keys in the pack, as long as you make sure that the dog is not being poked by any sharp corners.
Whatever you put in a backpack for dogs, always make sure that you carefully weigh it before putting it on your dog so that you are not exceeding the recommended weight limit. To figure out what is the proper weight for your dog you should consult with your vet. Appropriate weights can vary depending on breed and physical condition.
If your dog is reluctant to carry a pack at first don't force the issue. Start by putting the empty dog backpack on for short amounts of time, then gradually increase the weight in the pack until the dog gets used to it. And be sure to offer encouragement so that the dog begins to see the pack as a positive. Also, remember that your dog won't be able to walk as far with the extra weight, so you may have to shorten the length of your walks.
Wearing a backpack can be a fun experience for you and your dog provided you go about it the right way, select the right pack and make sure that your dog is comfortable at all times. Once he gets used to the pack your dog may even be eager to provide an extra service for you by carrying your walking supplies. Just be creative and cautious and you can both enjoy the benefits of backpacking!