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All you need to know about backpack for dogs

All you need to know about backpack for dogs

By Seleverkstedets founder, Jan Reinertsen: a backpack dog was earlier reserved for larger dogs. But there is no reason not to use backpacks on small dogs. It is also a very important form of exercise to strengthen the dog's front part, i.e. muscles in the dogs back and front legs.

What is a dog backpack?

A dog backpack is a carrier bag for dogs that lies across the dog's shoulders/back. It should be placed forward towards the neck so that the weight is over the front legs. This backpack has two equal sized bags - one on each side for balance when packed correctly. The dog should not carry heavy weight, more about that below, but to balance it we have a rule to remember: The heaviest thing furthest down, forwards and in towards the dog's body.


Which dogs can carry a backpack?

Actually everyone. Originally, all dog breeds have a past as "working animals" that have fulfilled a function for a group of people. They are thus strong and durable enough to both pull and carry sets in proportion to their size. It is our duty to maintain their physiological capacity by giving them meaningful tasks. And one of the tasks may be to let them carry.


How old must the dog be when we start backpack training?

We can divide this question into 2 parts:
One is mental, that the dog must get used to having something on its back over a given period of time. Anyone who works with the puppy and young dog from the start and acquaints them with collars, harnesses, rain cover, blankets and the like, will have no problem putting a backpack on the dog's back when it is old enough for the physical challenge of carrying weight in it. An empty backpack is nothing but a dog coat that for a medium-big-sized dog weighs just over 1 kg.
The second part is the physical part, carrying a cleaver on your back over a certain time and distance – it requires a physical capacity that must be trained up over time in small steps.

A dog is not ready to carry a heavy backpack just because it has reached a certain age. The dog's activity right from the time it is a puppy is a good preparation for what the dog will be trained for when it has become mature for it. When I got my first dog in 1975, a Greenlander, I was repeatedly told that I did not have to burden it either with a collar or a harness until it was 2 years old. What I was going to do with the dog before that time was out of the question. Today we know better. The preparation to get a good working dog already begins in the puppy stage with versatile activity. The activity must be in relation to the dog's physical development. Cleavage training should be positive and take place in short intervals with low progression. Always use a leash on the dog during training.


How big a backpack should the dog have?

As a general rule, we can say that the backpack should reach down to the dog's elbows (the uppermost visible joint on the dog's front leg). This is particularly important for short dogs, so that the backpack does not strike too much into stumps, stones, bushes and undergrowth. If the dog's measurements are between 2 sizes, the dog owner must think about whether he needs the largest possible package volume. If not, it turns out that most people are most happy with choosing the smallest size. To choose a size, you need the measurement from the tip of the dog's elbow, over the back and down to the tip of the elbow on the other side.


Strengthens the dog's back and front muscles

Firstly, a strong back. And since the backpack will mostly strain the dog's front part, it is the muscles around the shoulder, upper arm, elbow and wrist that are stressed. It is these muscles that are particularly important in all the dog's gaits. To strengthen these, it is important to walk with moderate weight in rough terrain. It particularly improves the supporting muscles.


Good summer activity for dogs

Backpack training and backpack walks are a welcome activity in the leash era. This is a low to medium intensity activity with an emphasis on strength training that both old and young dogs benefit from. The intensity is increased by walking in hilly and rugged terrain.


How to pack a dog backpack

We always pack the equipment in waterproof packing bags of varying sizes. The dog likes to wade in water and likes to lie down to cool off. The heaviest thing should be packed as far down as possible and as far forward as possible and as far as possible in towards the dog. This is so that the backpack will lie stably on the dog. Only a correct packing of the backpack can create stability. Avoid sharp edges towards the dog. When you have finished packing the backpack, you let the dog move a little and see if the backpack is straight. If it is not in balance, you can put a small stone at the end to create equilibrium. If there is a kilo in the left and a kilo in the right bag, it is not certain that the cleaver is in balance (power x arm)


What do you typically pack in a dog backpack?

  • Paw socks (for use or protection if paw is injured)
  • First aid – elastic bandage
  • Dog cover/Rain cover
  • Dog food


How much can a dog carry?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this specifically because it has so many elements in it. How you work with your dog from an early age is up to you as a dog owner. Is the dog used to walks and is a healthy and strong dog? Have you been good at developing your dog with walks in varied terrain? Large dogs develop more slowly than small dogs. Remember to always start carefully with weight when you start splitting. Look at how the dog walks, if you see that it is heavy, it is too much weight. If the dog trips easily, you can add more. As mentioned in the section above, your dog must be fully grown before you can load it with a certain weight. Start with empty backpack, then 10% of body weight before moving on. A rule of thumb is that a very well-trained dog can carry up to 25% of its own body weight if the terrain is easy and the trip is not too long. There is a big difference between walking on flat terrain and if you walk on rough terrain and with inclines. Use common sense and remember that you know your dog best, so pay close attention and read the signals your dog gives.

We recommend letting the dog carry a cleaver, but on the condition that the dog is mentally and physically trained to carry that weight.


When planning a trip, we have to think about the following:

How far shall we go? (distance, speed, stages)
Breaks? (watering, snacking)
How is the terrain? (lots of ups and downs)
What is the surface like (rocky, flat)
Temperature (heat, cold)
Learn to read your dog's movements
See how it moves in the terrain.
On long and demanding walks, keep track of your dog's pulse


What parts does a backpack consist of?

backpack with side bags
Chest strap
Chest strap
Belly strap
Sliding end fo connecting leash
Lifting and lowering strap

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