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I was wondering if anyone here uses a backpack on their dog? Is it actually beneficial to your dog or is it more beneficial to the owner (it would be kind of nice to have someplace to put stuff on walks instead of in my pocket)? I have been toying with the idea of getting a backpack for Cubby to wear while out on walks, but have been wondering if they are worth the money.... If they are worth it, does anyone know of a good brand or site that you would recommend? Thanks!!
 

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We do. It's amazing the change of attitude when we put a pack on. It really gives them something to do. There are a lot of brands on the market but you want one that fits over the dog's shoulders and not in the saddle of his back. That was the mistake we made, so I don't load it up very much at all. We got Outward Hound (I think). They attach to the harness with velcro on so they can be removed without taking the whole thing off. That's another option you may want to consider.

WolfPacks is really good, but expensive.

 

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I was thinking of getting a smaller pack for my cocker spaniel. Just something I could shove a couple of sandwiches and a bottled water into and walk to the park.
 

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Backpacking can be great, and most dogs really seem to focus and think of it as a job.

THAT SAID, you should still do it properly. Start with an empty pack, and build up weight. 20%, give or take, is considered the max body weight. Dogs with joint issues or conformation that lends itself to injury (long back, straight fronts, etc) should carry less.

It's important to fit packs properly. Packs should NOT be too long - I actually thing that B'asia and Jaia's packs are too long and if htey were my guys, they'd be wearing one size down from that. My rule of thumb is that the pack shouldn't cover more than the first 2/3 of the rib cage, and should sit with as much of the weight over the shoulders as possible.

I really don't care for the Outward Hound packs in general. They're cheap and readily available, but they're much longer than they are deep, and the sizing guidelines seem to me to run VERY large. Petco's "****ens Closet" brand has a set of packs that are $20 that are (IMO) much better sized, although they're not as adjustable. They have a mesh back instead of the solid back with a cord for adjustment, and neoprene pockets. That's my prefered 'cheap' pack.

My favorite pack is the Weneha Jogger day pack. It's big enough to carry two water bottles, a bowl, some food, poop bags, and a mat that's folded up very small, mini first aid kit, cell phone, and spare leash. Unfortunately, this one is kind of hard to find, and it also runs pretty large. (This was Wings' every day working pack and she wore an XS. Kaylee fits in a S, though- Wings was narrower and a bit shorter than Kaylee and was at the top of the size range for the XS.) I really like that you can just snap the packs off the harness, whihc none of the other packs I've owned have. (The outward hoounds do, but their other drawbacks don't make up fro this for me.)

We also have a Ruffwear Approach - it looks (basically, ours is a 2007) like this:

I REALLY like the ruffwear packs for heavy-duty or pack trips. They're very roomy but they're wide (which can be mildly annoying if you're hiking in crowded places or narrow trails) but this means that the weight is centered properly forward. The harness is very adjustable and has good thick straps that are padded. This is THE pack if you actually want your dog to really carry stuff or carry his/her own gear on a camping trip. The only other thing (other than the width) I don't like about this pack is that the dog has to step into the harness- it's a little unweildy to put on. With as much capacity as it hsa and as carefully fitted as it is, that makes sense, though, and is a very reasonable trade off.

In other 'light' packs, we also have a Black Dog pack from Black Dog in Australia.
This is a great pack. It's light weight, and it doesn't hold much, but the design is good. This is a great around-town pack. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit any of my guys (or Lindsay's guys) terribly well - the back plate is not adjustable and it's sized for a broader dog than Kaylee. It *does* fit TxCollies' dog ****on, so we handed it down to him. :p It only comes in two sizes, but the smaller one is great for JRTs and that size range. Also comes in cool colors!

Lastly, our main pack is an OllyDog pack. I don't have a photo of the one we have, but it's a 2007 (I think - I got it on clearance at REI), and it's not identical to the one ono their website. It has an adjustable back, quite small panniers, and is University Of Texas Burnt Orange. It fits Kaylee PERFECTLY and is just the right size for a couple poop bags, a very small mat, and my meds and medical information. (I bought this one for a working pack.)

Definitely spend the time trying on a bunch of different packs. Figure out what fits your dog well, and spend the extra money to get a well-fitting pack before you start putting weight in it.
 

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I actually thing that B'asia and Jaia's packs are too long and if htey were my guys, they'd be wearing one size down from that.
Yes, they are too long. I wish I had done more research before I bought them, but we only put VERY light weight in there, and I added velcro inside the pack to keep the weight in the front. It's having the thing on at all for them that seems to make the difference. We don't actually back pack with them, it's just to give them a "job" on walks. :)

Important point about building up the weight.
 

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Yes, they are too long. I wish I had done more research before I bought them, but we only put VERY light weight in there, and I added velcro inside the pack to keep the weight in the front. It's having the thing on at all for them that seems to make the difference. We don't actually back pack with them, it's just to give them a "job" on walks. :)

Important point about building up the weight.
We ran into someone in Petsmart a few weeks ago who figured that whatever the pack would hold was an okay weight for her dog. She had the OH size Large pack on her tall, lanky lab - and both sides were STUFFED with bottles of water. Ouch!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies and the tips!!! I would definitely start empty, then build up. But honestly it would probably never hold much more than maybe a couple of water bottles (not everyday), some plastic bags, my cell phone, car and house keys. I was thinking more about the mental stimulation of him even carrying one.

FourIsCompany, what size are your packs? I was looking into the Outward Hound packs before, mainly because I want to see if Cubby will even tolerate it and to see how well it works for us. Thanks for the pic that you posted, it is really helpful and your dogs are gorgeous!! I don't see many long haired GSDs.
Dogstar I really appreciate the pics and thoughts/recommendations that you posted!! I'll definitely look into your suggestions as well. Thank you!!

You both have been extremely helpful!!
 

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FourIsCompany, what size are your packs?
I don't recommend Outward Hound for the reasons mentioned. :) I don't know how long they'd stand up to real backpacking. I much prefer DogStar's recommendations, and if we had a Petco or similar store, I'd go shopping there for a cheap one. (We are 3 hours from the nearest big city, so most of my shopping is done via Internet. Sight unseen...)

But our backpacks are size "large". I think that size is for 50-85 lbs. B'asia is 65 lbs and Jaia is 80-85.
 

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I have a doggy backpack for my mutt, too. It's Granite Gear brand. It ended up being a bit too big for him, but it still works(my fault for messing up the sizing and not measuring him, lol). He loves wearing it and running/walking in it. It wears him out much faster than walking/running without it, so I love it too, haha. Whenever we get back from our walks when he's wearing it, he just flops right over and gives me this huge grin like "that was soooo fun, mom!".

I definitely don't recommend the Outward Hound brand, either; at least the model that Petsmart sells. I went through 3 of them(returning/exchanging each). They just don't hold up to wear and tear(i.e. dog running with slightly heavy objects in the pack). Hope this helps.
 

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I would put an empty pack on a 10 month old dog, but I wouldn't put anything in it until maybe 15-18 months.
 

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Thanks. My pup is almost 9 mo. old now. This will give her a little time to get used to a pack before adding weight. My pup has never-ending energy. I am not able to make a dent in her energy level with just walks. I currently bring her to a dog park several days a week to tire her. I'm hoping to add the back pack to up the exercise she gets from walking. Maybe she'll even feel that she has a job. One can only hope!
 

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I was letting Wings carry the harness with nothing attached to her weneha jogger pack from about 5 months, and then the empty pack (stuffed with paper or inflated plastic bags - I wanted her to start learning NOT to bump into stuff) starting around 10 months. For a breed that's more prone to orthopedic problems (HD is exceedingly rare in collies), I would wait a little longer.
 

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For a breed that's more prone to orthopedic problems (HD is exceedingly rare in collies), I would wait a little longer.
That's true. I'm "spooky" about our GSDs carrying anything or working on pavement or jumping too much, even though they both have great hips. I probably go overboard. :eek: But Cara does have hip dysplasia and I'm just overly protective about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again everyone for all the great information. Y'all have been extremely helpful!!!

So I had another question come to mind today after reading your post Dogstar. If I end up deciding on a pack that does not separate from the harness, should I encourage my Lab to get used to the pack all at one time, or should I invest in a regular harness first to get him used to having something around him like that? I've never even put Cubby in a harness, as I have never had a need for one. Maybe I am just overthinking this whole thing, but I really want him to enjoy using a pack and want to set him up for success from the beginning.
 

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Most dogs really don't need to get used to having something flat on their body - where it starts getting difficult is when you need them to NOT bash you in the leg with the side of the pack or catch it on things (for a pet, this would be things like bushes on a trail or a signpost on the corner when you're out for a walk - for a SD, obviously, it's a little bit more critical.). I wouldn't bother getting a harness first - the only reason I did that with Wings was so that she could learn that harness/pack on = no petting from strangers; pack off = okay to greet people.

So no, I wouldn't bother with the intermediate step UNLESS you had a really timid dog.
 

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....i've been thinking about putting a pack on Maybe.....tho i was considering the possability of sewing my own. cuz i don't need nothing fancy....
 

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My experience is that even if you buy cheap cotton broadcloth at $1/yard, by the time you spend ANY money on buckles or webbing, you're up at the $20 mark - to say nothing of your time. Get the ****ens Closet one. :p
 
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