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Dog backpacks for conditioning, weight building, etc

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I'm thinking of getting a backpack for Jude a) for long hikes to carry his own gear and b] for short hikes that I can put weights in. I'm looking for a backpack that would be good for both adding extra weight for the purpose of his conditioning, and one that's versatile to carry his own water bottle, food, leash, extra tags and etc.

 

I'm also looking for advice on where to start. He's in great shape, and I'll be getting some advice from the vet next week if she has any info to share with me. He's already very fit, lean, strong but I think this would help. I'm trying to get myself into shape, and I've been going on hikes, on hour long trails with lots of stairs and hills, and stuff.. but it doesn't do much for him, I'm out of breath and he's like "let's go again" So I'm thinking a weighted backpack might be an added thing for him..

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I'm a particular fan of the Ruff Wear packs. Great harnesses, quality construction and good, tough design. They run more than a bit large.

Avoid anything with exterior mesh pockets (they catch on everything) and get the lowest volume pack you can handle to carry your stuff. Too much volume = shifting and general slopping around.

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I wanted a backpack for Jody too but the prices were more than I wanted to spend because I knew it wouldn't get tons of use. I ended up finding a small saddle bag set in the horse gear section at Tractor Supply. It normally fits on the pommel(? Right word? The place that sticks up on the front of a saddle). Anyway it was only $13. I modified it a little to add some straps to secure it to his harness. It lays right across the top of his harness and his leash clips right through the hole in its center. It holds a bottle of water on

each side plus his fold up water bowl in one side and some snacks on the other.

 

Since I wasn't sure he would want to carry a pack and I knew it wouldn't get much use, this was a low cost option for us to give it a try. Turns out he is really proud of his pack and likes carrying it around. An added benefit is that Bella can smell the biscuits in the pack so she follows Jody whenever he wears it.

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I second the Ruffwear packs - as suggested by Lewis Moon. I have an Approach pack for my 40 lb BC. Fits beautifully. He was fine with it from the first time he wore it (empty). A lot of thought has gone into the positioning of the straps so they do not chafe on long hikes. I would definitely start with an empty pack and then gradually add weight. Ruffwear has a bigger (i.e. more capacious) pack too, but I think you could easily add 10-15 lbs into the Approach pack which is more than enough for an average-sized BC.

 

If you check their website, you can read reviews.

 

I bellieve I purchased mine from backcountry.com for less than they were selling on the Ruffwear site. Do a little web searching to try and find a better price.

 

Jovi

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Avoid anything with exterior mesh pockets (they catch on everything) and get the lowest volume pack you can handle to carry your stuff. Too much volume = shifting and general slopping around.

 

Good point! Knowing my habits I would be more prone to buying bigger, as a just in case I need more room. Thanks I'll certainly avoid that.

 

Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

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My dogs and I are avid hikers. Jester has carried his own water for years, but now that he is a bit older, Kit carries the pack with the water for both dogs.

 

My main advice is choose a pack that you can adjust in several ways. The ones that have a bunch of mesh across the back usually cannot be adjusted across the back, and that limits how well you can make it fit. Less is more - don't be fooled by a bunch of extra features and pockets and stuff.....the dog only cares that it is not uncomfortable. Also, in this climate at least, I like to stay away from unnecessary cloth covering any part of the dog's body.

 

Make sure the pack can be adjusted to fit snugly (but not tightly) against your dog's body. If it shifts around it will rub on your dog and be uncomfortable, and may even rub hair off his or her body. Best if you can try it on before buying but if you buy online be sure you can return it if it doesn't fit right. My experience with dog back packs (and we have been using them for many years) is that the ones shaped kind of like a kidney on each side are far better fitting to the dog's body than the square or rectangular ones. The more it hugs the dog's body the better, and usually the large square ones have extra room you'd never want to fill up anyway.

 

My favorite one so far I just got from a vendor at a street fair and unfortunately he doesn't sell online so I cannot give you his info to buy one. But it has two straps to adjust it across the back, two underneath the dog's body (this is much, much better than one strap), and a chest strap.

 

Just make sure you do not put too much weight into it, especially at first.

Here is a website that compares some brands

My link

 

although I don't like any of them as well as the one I just bought. I wish that guy sold online!

D'Elle

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We have a Granite Gear pack that works incredibly well on even long hikes. Kes' last hike with me was about 9 miles long and he was comfortable with the pack on the entire hike!

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Just make sure you do not put too much weight into it, especially at first.

Here is a website that compares some brands

My link

D'Elle

 

Great website. Thanks for the heads-up.

 

I love it that there are so many options for dogs now. (I confess, I am sort of geeky when it comes to functional gear. If I could, I would have a different piece of gear (i.e. backpack or shoes/boots or hats, or etc.) for each specific occasion. On the other hand, I am too lazy to keep it all organized so I do try to buy 'gear' that can work for most of what I encounter.) Hmmm, I wonder if I should buy my dog a hydration pack. :P:P

 

Jovi

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Just curious as to what size Approach pack you ended up buying. Thanks

 

I second the Ruffwear packs - as suggested by Lewis Moon. I have an Approach pack for my 40 lb BC. Fits beautifully. He was fine with it from the first time he wore it (empty). A lot of thought has gone into the positioning of the straps so they do not chafe on long hikes. I would definitely start with an empty pack and then gradually add weight. Ruffwear has a bigger (i.e. more capacious) pack too, but I think you could easily add 10-15 lbs into the Approach pack which is more than enough for an average-sized BC.

 

If you check their website, you can read reviews.

 

I bellieve I purchased mine from backcountry.com for less than they were selling on the Ruffwear site. Do a little web searching to try and find a better price.

 

Jovi

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Just curious as to what size Approach pack you ended up buying. Thanks

 

I think I purchased the small size. Torque is about 26.5" in girth and according to the Ruffwear website that girth size falls in the middle of the suggested range for the small size.

 

I checked the pack but there is no size tab. :(

 

BTW, thanks for nudging me to check the pack. I found 2 cans of Amy's Organic Tomato Soup (my fave !!) in there from the last time I used it (~2 months ago). I was using the pack for rehabbing/conditioning purposes.

 

Jovi

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