Taking your dog backpacking is a great way to spend quality time with your pet and can make for a great training experience.
No matter the size or breed of your dog it can participate in your hike. Here are a few tips to help make your outing as enjoyable as possible for you and your four-legged friend.
Choosing a Backpack for Your Dog
Most dogs can carry one-fourth of their body weights. However, some packing breeds such as Huskies or malamutes can carry up to 30 percent of their weight. With some short training hikes, you can get a better idea of your dogs’ abilities.
Backpacks are based on the weight of the dog and should be bought accordingly. When buying a pack you want to look for one that is non-restrictive, waterproof, and has the bags placed over the dogs’ shoulders. You want to make sure the bags are carried over the shoulders and not across the back. A dog pulls from its shoulders so they are built to carry weight. The spine of the dog is not, so make sure your pack does not extend to far down the back. This could injure the dog and make backpacking an unmemorable experience for your dog. If the trail you are planning to hike is anything other than a flat trail you will want some padding for underneath the dogs pack. These paddings are usually fleece or fake wool. Long-haired dogs may not need as much padding.
The color and design is up to you and your needs. It is, however, a good idea to get a brightly colored pack versus a darker one. The reason for this is so that the dog is more visible to you and others around.
What to Look For in a Dog Backpack
A good way to start looking for a backpack is to decide on what types of trips you will be taking. If you’re heading out for some weekend long hiking there are a few things you want to look for to make the hike easier on you and the dog. One really nice feature to have is a pack with a separate harness and pack system.
This means you can take the pack off while the harness is still attached. So when you have to cross water or go through a tight spot you can undo the pack without having to let the dog run free. You will also want to make sure you get a pack with reflective tape on it and a bright color. This way the dog can’t be mistaken for game by a hunter.
What Size Pack You Should Choose
When fitting your dog for a backpack you will want all the straps tight enough so that you can fit only two fingers through it. If your pack is too tight or too loose it could start to irritate or even injure the dog.
Other Canine Hiking Essentials
6-8ft leash, collar, quality dog pack , water for your dog, water and food dish, dog sweater or emergency blanket, proof of vaccinations (some places require proof of vaccinations in order to receive a permit), Tie out chains, New flea collar, Bags to clean up after your dog (read more about accessories for dogs)
How to Pack the Dogpack
When packing the dogs gear you will want to evenly distribute the weight on both sides of the dogs. It is uncomfortable for the dog to have a lopsided pack and can cause unwanted stress on the dog. Pack softer items on the side of the pack to act as extra padding. You will want the heavier items toward the dogs shoulder and lighter items in the back.