When your dog is your best friend, it’s only natural that you’d want to take them with you everywhere. This might be as simple as letting them tag along in the car when you go to the store or as needlessly complicated as buying them a seat on an airplane so they can travel to far-off destinations. This is especially true of outdoor adventures.
Hiking day trips or treks to a camping spot make the perfect activity for your dog companion. In some cases, that may be the explicit reason for getting a dog in the first place — having a creature that requires outdoor exercise which in turn inspires your own outdoor exercise. Dog love hiking because it allows them to explore beyond their normal neighborhood, offering all kinds of exotic smells.
Whether the hike is just a few hours or a peak-bagging marathon, outfitting your dog with its own backpack means your pup can share the load wherever you go. While this sort of activity is generally aimed at younger, stronger dogs, just about any dog can carry their own treats, for example. They could also bear your small tools and utensils, first aid supplies, or even just an energy bar or two. The added burden can make it a more rigorous workout, which you may find useful if you have a dog anything like my just-barely-two-year-old husky mix. No amount of running or walking in a given day is ever enough for him, so strapping a pack on him benefits both of us.
To that end, even if your dog is a bona fide firecracker like mine, you’ll want to start slow. Wearing a dog pack is a lot like wearing an especially annoying harness, so if they haven’t mastered that yet, they aren’t ready for a backpack. Once they’ve got that down, you can move onto short hikes with an empty pack, and slowly increase duration and weight until you hit maximum capacity. Be sure to check in with your vet so they can advise you throughout this process.
Keep in mind that having your dog carry even their own supplies will in turn increase the amount of supplies that need to be carried. As it is, hiking will increase your dog’s fuel requirements above a normal day, but so will bearing a load while they do it. In addition to food and treats, you might also have them carry their own footwear or a safety light. For more ideas and guidelines, check out this post from REI. A good general rule is that your dog can carry up to 1/4 of their body weight. Whether your specific dog can achieve this depends on their overall health and the opinion of your vet.
Once you’ve put in the work to prepare your dog to carry a pack on the trail, you’re ready to choose a pack. As with all things pet-related, this requires a balance of good fit, durability, and your aesthetic tastes. The …read more