By Juliana Weiss-Roessler
The walk is the foundation of a good relationship with your dog, so when humans struggle with it, those problems aren’t just confined to time on the leash, but also carry over into all aspect of their dog’s behavior.
So what’s a dog lover to do? For many, the solution is a backpack. It’s one of the simplest and most powerful tools that an owner can put into practice. Here are a few of the benefits of adding it to your dog’s walk.
It gives your dog a job
Your dog wants to contribute to the pack, but most companion dogs don’t have a way to do so. Instead, they often direct that energy into problem behaviors, like barking, hyperactivity, and anxiety.
So let your dog feel useful. Allow him to carry a bottle of water, a ball, or even the spare poop bags on his back. It’s a task that he has to focus on as he walks alongside you. If your dog isn’t big enough for that, don’t worry. Even an empty backpack can give him or her a sense of purpose.
It presents a greater physical challenge in less time
Most dog owners have busy lives balancing the demands of their work and home life. Even if you’re committed to providing a long, regular walk, sometimes life just gets in the way, and you may have less time to dedicate to it than you intended.
The backpack can help maximize the time you do have with your dog. In most cases, a 15-minute walk using a weighted backpack provides the same physical challenge as a 30-minute walk without one.
It re-focuses your dog’s attention
Is your dog ready to chase after every squirrel or bicyclist that crosses your path? A backpack can help redirect that focus. After all, they’ve got a job to do. They don’t have time to bother with those pesky passersby. They have to get this backpack where it needs to go, even if that’s back to the house.
Learning to rollerblade or bicycle with your dog alongside you are both great ways to increase the exercise they receive, but those activities typically involve a learning curve for both of you. But the backpack is simple. Once you’ve learned how to strap it on, you’re halfway there. The only question you have from there is how much weight to include.
For most dogs, a good rule of thumb is 10 to 12% of their body weight, but you need to take into account your particular pup’s health and energy level. If your dog suffers from any health issue, or you’re uncertain about their ability to carry the weight for any reason, contact your veterinarian for guidance. Many owners also find it beneficial to start out small and increase the challenge as your dog gets more fit.
What has been your experience using the dog backpack? Tell us in the comments.