Dog Backpack Tip – What to put in it

30 May

Back pack/Backpack for DogsA lot of people use back packs to increase the effectiveness of their daily walks.

High-energy dogs, nervous or anxious dogs and other dogs seems to respond to having a “job” (hauling around a backpack with some moderate weight in the packs). Plus, it uses up to three times the energy … a 15-minute walk has the impact of a 45-minuted walk with a backpack weighted appropriately.

But once people get their backpack, they wonder how to weight it appropriately. How much weight is enough? How much is too much? How do you get your dog used to a packpack and how do you gradually increase weight?

Here are some tips from

  • Put the backpack on without anything in the pockets at first. Let your dog get used to it. Go for 2-4 walks with the backpack empty.
  • If your dog is ignoring the backpack after 2-4 walks (many dogs even become eager to put it on once they connect the backpack to a walk), begin adding weight a little at a time. Go by the size of your dog. For our Irish Setter, I started with a 12-ounce bottle of water on each side. For a Cocker Spaniel, I would start with an orange or something of similar weight.
  • Be sure you have even weight on each side of the backpack.
  • Go for 2-4 walks with each weight before adding more. Keep the first walk with the new heavier weight short; don’t try to do a two-mile hike if you’ve just added weight.
  • Do not add more than 10% of your dog’s own weight to the backpacks. For a 25-lb dog, don’t add more than two and a half pounds total (a pound and a quarter on each side).
  • In the summertime, larger dogs can haul chilled bottles of water. This can help cool the dog.
  • Owners of small dogs sometimes use beans to add weight to their dogs’ packs. Beans conform to the dog’s body, making the load comfortable. Plus, you have good control over exactly how much weight you add, and can add more in small increments.

View backpacks here:

– Lisa Woody


Posted by on May 30, 2008 in Miscellany


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35 responses to “Dog Backpack Tip – What to put in it

  1. Madison

    June 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Would you recommend running with dogs with backpacks? Are there any precautions that I should take?


    EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s okay to run with a dog who wears a backpack. Just remember that running is hard on the joints, and a backpack can chafe. Because of a dog’s fur, you may not be able to see the chafing. So put a doggie tank or tee under the backpack to help cushion your dog’s skin, make sure the backpack is snug but not tight to minimize shifting, start with just a little wieght and increase it over time. Watch your dog for signs of discomfort or joint pain, such as repeatedly sitting and standing up, difficulty standing up after rest, biting or scratching areas that the backpack covers and lagging behind during the run. Also, if you’re running with your dog, consider whether you need a weighted backpack.

  2. meg mcneal-7 deadly sins of Pet Industry Marketing, Do you agree that this is the 8th?

    June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for the great information on Backpacks for your dog.
    Great tips you have given. I really like the first one, “Don’t put anything in it at first and let the dog get used to it
    I’m sure your dog likes that idea too.


  3. Hilary

    June 16, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for the great tips! My Cavalier has endless energy and I have been thinking of putting him on backpack duty!

    Giving dogs a job is physically and mentally stimulating…so I am game!

    Off to find the perfect backpack for my oh so stylish Lou-Monster!

  4. Sarah Duncan

    June 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Where could i find one of these dog backpacks i have not had any luck. Please help.

    You can get them at

  5. Linz

    June 30, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I really should try a backpack on my vizsla. It’s great when I can take him skating or biking so he can run, but his usual 45 minute walks don’t do much to tire him out. These guys have so much energy. 😉

  6. small dogs

    July 31, 2008 at 9:29 am

    The dog backpack is a great idea for my small dogs. I will try to find the appropriate size weights for them to use.

  7. Lacey

    August 9, 2008 at 3:50 am

    My 7 year old Miniature Schnauzer has the energy of a puppy since I changed his dog food to REAL holistic food, and it has been causing a few minor problems from pent up energy that get worse over time. I got him a backpack so that our daily 1.4 hour walks would be more effective like they used to be, because they seemed to do nothing since the change. I had been wondering how much weight to put in the pack. He is the largest Mini Schnauz I have ever seen (15.5 inches at the shoulder). I keep him at a lean and healthy 24 pounds. Your site says for a 25 pound dog, don’t put more than 2.5 pounds total. I’ve been putting 4 pounds and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all, and he still is full of energy about an hour after the walk. He’s even eager to carry it, and he trots at the same speed he does without weight. He now focuses on the walk, like he’s in working mode, but it just seems to me like 4 pounds for 1.4 hours isn’t enough for him, though initially I figured it would be. Is it? Should I increase the weight? How much would be safe for him? He’s very fit. I thought adding a little weight would do some good until I read that part about 2.5 pounds on this site. Can I have some advice?

    • Victoria

      October 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      ok lacey if he has as much energy as you say he does than do this try adding a little more weight and see if it effects him at all. If not than add more keep this up until you know there is a change in how his energy level is at the end of each walk. 🙂

  8. Jordan

    October 28, 2008 at 2:39 am

    I am getting a 4 month old Pembroke Welsh Corgi… what size should I get and how much weight should I have him carry? THANKS

    Editor’s Note: Get a size that’s right for your dog as an adult. A typical Welsh Corgi would take a size small. A stouter one might take a medium. You can ask your dog to carry up to 10% of his/her weight (5% on each side). If you’re going for longer walks or hides, reduce the weight in the bags. However, I would caution you not to ask your dog to carry weight while he/she is still growing. Once your dog is 10-12 months old, you can start introducing the backpack with no weight in it. Then start adding a small amount of weight (pickup bags and treats at first). When your dog is 18 months old, then you can put up to 5% of the dog’s weight in each side. – LW

  9. hkcs

    November 27, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I am looking for dog which should be very friendly in nature. can you help me out regarding this.

  10. hkcs

    November 27, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I am looking for dog backpack, which type of material will be the best and how much idle weight it should be and what size it should be for French bulldog. Thanks

    • john

      April 26, 2013 at 3:10 am

      i wasn t able to find such an equipment for my frenchie so i made one up. i used a gym weight belt for legs i wich i put 2 0.8 kg weights in total 1.6 kg. i modified it so it looks just like a dog bag. it wasn t so hard. just strapped some elastics at the end. it really helps me to do the walk. he is so focused o doing the walk

  11. dog back pack

    November 29, 2008 at 1:22 am

    hi, I really got shocked when I heard about the dog back pack. I really never expected about this equipment.
    I was looking for some nice collection , can you please suggest me which one will be good.

  12. Brian

    December 29, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I just bought a Kelty dog pack, for my 70lb 15 month old Boxer. It has done wonders. We go jogging at an easy pace, and the pack really helped him to be calm and run loose-leash beside me. I also use a gentle leader – so that helps as well, but the combo of the pack and the gentle leader has been miraculous in our jogging efforts.

  13. Audie

    January 3, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    My 68lb. Airedale has tons of energy and a backpack really helped drain his energy to a manageable state. Unfortunately an unrelated injury and a recommendation from his veterinarian to stop using the backpack has brought back his excess energy. If anyone has any tips other than (2) 45 minute walks per day and lots of playtime, I welcome them.

  14. Susan

    January 27, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I’m getting my dogs backpacks this year. They will feel important as they carry their own water and treats while hiking.

  15. Kathy

    February 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I purchased a backpack for my 91 lb GSD. I’m not sure how loose the strap should be under his belly. Two fingers? 1 finger? Took him out yesterday with a couple water bottles and kept the strap pretty loose. He was fine with it.
    Thanks for the input!

    • Victoria

      October 29, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      have at least two fingers worth of space this will keep in grip tight but yet moving freely with your dogs movements. 🙂

  16. Puppy

    March 22, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I purchased a backpack for my 91 lb GSD. I’m not sure how loose the strap should be under his belly. Two fingers? 1 finger? Took him out yesterday with a couple water bottles and kept the strap pretty loose. He was fine with it.
    Thanks for the input!

  17. Rescued Pet Stories

    April 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    This works wonders i bought a couple packs for my dogs after seeing this on the dog whisper. Not only did it help them get more exercise from shorter walks it also stopped my one dog from trying to pee every 20 feet. I highly recommend this to anyone that walks their dog regularly. The only set back is everyone in the neighborhood wants to stop us during out walks to ask if my dogs are training for something lol.

  18. Brittany

    April 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you so much for the information on this website! I just bought my golden retriever a backpack for the backpacking trip I am planning in a few months. I wasn’t sure how much weight I should put into it, and he has been practicing getting used to it empty. The 10% rule is very helpful and answered my question. Thank you!

  19. Bobby U.

    May 8, 2009 at 11:05 am

    I am definately going to get one of these backpacks. I have a very large lab that would love the excercise. I wish the company I work for carried them. What a cool idea!

  20. German Rottweiler breeders

    August 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    very innovative. Sounds very useful for carrying all your dog essentials as you travel, and gets the dog exercising. Two in one! 🙂

    Vom Bullenfeld German Rottweilers

  21. Jodie

    January 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I got a backpack 6 months ago for my 3 year old lab (65 lbs). I put a water bottle on each side, poopie bags, cel phone, & keys. I put the backpack fully loaded on her and took her to the vet. They weighed her with and without the backpack for me so that I knew how much weight she was carrying. I had my vet check her out with her backpack on to make sure she thought it fit well. It turns out that she is carrying only 3.5 extra lbs. We run together 4-5 days a week, 5 miles each time. She loves the backpack and it keeps my hands free for the leash.

  22. Shannon

    March 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I have a 1 year old rottie mix, he only weighs 30 pounds but pulls worse than my husky. Can’t wait to try him with a backpack. I love walking them but when you have a willful dog, it takes some of the joy out of it.

  23. KozyDogs

    September 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I walk my dog a lot so this is a great idea using a backpack I am going to try it! Thanks

  24. Victoria

    October 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    okay, well this has nothing to do with the backpack but is a major thing. I just got another puppy (2 months old) and already have two other ,dogs so i know have three big dogs. Well my new puppy is CRAZY about food and won’t stop eating that its scary. So i feed him 3 times a day like regular and he eats like crazy like he hasn’t eaten in a long time he would just swallow with no chewing. Later he is still crazy hungrey and runs to my basement and ate all my cats food! Know hes over weight i believe so at least. He is walking funny and his stomach is bulgged out. what should i do?

  25. backpacks

    November 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for the great information on Backpacks for your dog.
    Great tips you have given. They will feel important as they carry their own water and treats while hiking.

  26. Heather Essman

    January 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Beautiful site Im in love. always recommendSuggest to all my friends and they love it to. Lengthy Theme i love it. Always speak highly of to all my co workers and they love it to.

  27. Ria

    May 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Dogs in backpacks are so cute, their like nursery kids starting off to school, haha! i love this post! 🙂

  28. live video stream

    May 19, 2011 at 6:23 am

    This backpack is nice. But my DOG wont allow to keep this on it’s back 😛

  29. Livi2505

    July 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    What size backpack would you have for a 5kg Jack Russell Terrier x Yorkshire Terrier?

    Also, what weight would you put in the backpack?

  30. chiko

    September 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Hello I just bought a Siberian Husky a 4 month old and has
    so much energy Im not sure i can keep up with him. I already
    walk 1hr aday is he to young for a back pac since he’s not a
    fully developed dog?

  31. dogs

    May 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

  32. marley

    May 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    i just got a excursion backpack for my 7mos old puppy she labrador and newfoundland cross and 89lbs,she so strong and sometimes she fulled me especially if she saw a dog and then a decided to got her a backpack,at first i put it on her inside the house after10mins i put some weight and go outside i cant believe for the first time i feel like i dont have a dog beside me she so behave and if she saw a dog she just ignore them,its a big different having a backpack on her back,she not jumping anymore and not excited that much,now we both enjoying our daily walk


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