BACKPACKING WITH DOGS

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There is no better way for me to enjoy the great outdoors and my animals then to take a hike. I have hiked 100's of miles with dogs in backpacks. I hiked 1/3 across the state of MO with my Labrador Retriever sled dog team in backpacks. Backpacking with dogs is great sled dog and weight pull cross training. Dogs can carry 25% of their healthy weight in a pack on their back. I never asked mine to carry that much. I could carry that amount of weight too, but it would not be fun for me. I would not enjoy the trip as much. Carrying 25% of your body weight will also break down your body over time....so I don't ask my dogs (or goats, or llamas, or horses) to carry that much either.

There are many items a person should carry with them in the woods and sometimes the dogs can carry the weight without the owner carrying a pack at all.

Most dogs (I have only seen one squirrely dog that did not, and it was not mine) take to a backpack easily. Start out with low weights, almost nothing in the pack, and add as the dog gets in shape not only for the weight but also the miles. Keep the packs equal in weight....ie, if you are carrying shoes, put one on each side. Be sure to carry water and a Frisbee for the dog to drink out of. Put the Frisbee in the pack so that the concave side is near the dog and this will protect the dog from other items poking at it as it travels. Be careful NOT be pack sharp items in the dogs pack.

ANY breed of dog can and probably has backpacked. My son had an 18 pound beagle that carried a small backpack I made for her and scaled everything down she needed to carry for her Backpack Title.

This page is written from our own experiences of being out on the trial with backpacks on our back and dogs wearing backpacks right with us. Deron and I have backpacked for many years have been many, many, miles, with all sizes and breeds of dogs, from Saint Bernards to Cocker Spaniels and an 18 pound Beagle. Most of our miles are with GSD, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies and Malamutes. All have been a pleasure to be on the Trail with and especially in Camp with. Yes, all of the photos you see here are of our dogs, and are copyrighted.


ANY BREED CAN AND DO CARRY BACKPACKS

Ttius Standing in Pack 2014-02-10

Many German Shepherd Dogs (GSD or GSDs) are willing, able and do carry Backpacks. But let me stop here and tell you that if you are looking for a dog to carry 25% of their body weight, to carry large loads for many miles, look for another breed. It is not that a GSD could not do this work, it is not that GSDs have not done this work well, it is that the GSD (most that is) is/are not really built for Backpacking large loads many miles. If backpacking many miles carrying a heavy pack is what you are looking for in a dog, look for a dog with a larger, more square body type.

HOWEVER, if you are looking for a good trail companion to carry day packs, or even share part of load on Overnight, Week End, or A Few Week Long Backpacking Trips per year, with the right conditioning and training, a GSD is a GREAT choice.

There are many breeds of dogs that could carry a light backpack, but would not make a great, long trip, heavy load type backpacking dog: Basset Hounds, Grey Hounds, Chihuahuas, Sky Terriers, Afkan Hounds....you get the idea. For week long trips where you would like for your dogs to carry heavier loads, chose a dog with a more square back. One with good bone. And certainly one with a working attitude.

Photos of 6 month old Titus von Kazmaier wearing an empty Backpack for training. He is learning to stand still as the pack is put on his back and taken off, he is learning how it feels and sounds as he moves about.


Training Your Puppy or Dog To Wear A Backpack

Titus & Tekoa Backpack Training 2014-01-28

It is not Rocket Science, training a puppy or a dog to wear a backpack, but it might take a bit of your time. Training time.

I usually start my puppies out very young learning that I can touch them anywhere, I can put anything on their bodies, and they are not to refuse. I do this by handling my puppies and dogs a lot. Call it petting. When I hold my puppies I do so in the cradle position. Why? This is a submissive position for a dog. They need not only to learn that they need to do as you tell them, but to also submit to their owners. Is this mean? Heavens No! This is basic training!

While you hold that puppy in your lap, pet it's ears, the inside and the out. Gently of course. Hold the puppies feet in your hands, if the puppy pulls the foot back, hold that same foot more snuggly until the dog stops struggling and relaxes, release the foot as soon as the dog relaxes. This helps later when it is time to trim their nails. Hold the base of the puppies tail snugly in your hand. Rub the belly lightly. Pet you dog on the top of the head. This puts you, in the dog's mind, above it. All of this will be of value to you later in the puppies life. Your dog needs to be comfortable with you handling it.

When our puppies are young I put small sized harnesses on them, just to let them learn what it is and it will not hurt them. I do this often and most times take them for a very short walk in it. I like for them to get the feel of the harness or other equipment as they move, how it feels in motion.

I do the same with small Dog Backpacks. First I put it on them empty. I walk them just about 20' with it, praise the dog, give the dog a small treat, and take the backpack off. Then soon I add with just loosely rolled up newspaper to the inside of the backpack. The newspaper fluffs up the backpack to size but offers no weight. The sound, with the newspaper in the backpack, will be different and good training for the puppies. When you add your backpacks with newspaper on your dogs back, make a fuss over the dog, walk forward about 20' and take the pack off, of course, continue to make a big deal out of the dog.

This photo is of Titus and Tekoa at 6 months old (each) wearing empty Dog Backpacks, Jan. 28, 2014.

Texas Tea with Bandana 2014-01-28

Most dogs, especially large breed dogs, should NOT carry loads in a backpack for at least 18 months and many of the breeds, two years. But there is no reason a large breed dog that is 1 year old can not carry light loads. What is a light load? You might put your socks and gloves and empty poop bags and your harmonica in a young dogs pack. Keep it light and make it a quiet load that does not slop.....slop? Move around in the pannier as the dog walks.

Younger dogs can sure go with you on short Backpack Trips, they can wear a bandana. You never know when you will need another bandana. Younger dogs seeing and hearing the other dogs in pack will also teach the pup about packs, later they should not be afraid of it.

This is our Texas Tea at 5 months old in a Bandana that could become useful on the Trail.

Above all. Like all training make your serious training fun. Praise the dog. You are training your Trail Partner. A dog or dogs in packs can sure help make your trip more pleasant, carrying items you would have left at home, not to mention the company and having a guard with you "out there". A dog or dogs can extend your Backpacking Trip by carrying more items so that you can stay longer without YOU carrying more. Just do not get silly about it and ask a dog to carry too much weight. And do not ask a young dog to go too many miles until it is older.


TYPES OF BACKPACKS

Frankie In His First Backpack

Obviously the more dogs you pack with the more "stuff" you can take with you. The larger the dog you pack with the larger the pack will be too.

There are many types of backpacks for dogs...and many sizes. Make sure that the pack fits the dog correctly. A bad fit can mean pain and injury to your dogs. For small dogs (under 35 pounds) two straps will work well, one at the chest and one just behind the dog's front legs. For larger dogs three straps are a must. One at the chest, one just behind the dog's front legs and on at approx the last rib of the dog. Straps need to be snug but not too tight.

Can you imagine if someone handed you a 35-45 pound backpack and thought you should carry it for 5 miles without training. It is the same for a dog. They need to work up to the higher weights in their packs as well as the longer trips. Have fun on the trail with your dog, don't make a "beast of burden" out of your dog.

Make sure you do NOT buy a backpack that only has a few, some as few as two straps rather than a Yoke. The Yoke is the fabric area that sits on the dog's back that holds the two panniers with all becoming your "Backpack". You want full, and if you can find one, padded, Yoke to set on your dog's back. If the dog's pack only has straps up over the back, the pack will rest, with all of it's weight, on a few vertebrae. This can not only cause pain for the trips, it can do permanent damage. These packs are not good even for a few short light weight hikes. You could however add a fabric yoke to this type of backpack and use it after the work has been done correctly to it.

Start backpacking with our dog in a light weight pack and go a short distance. Check the dog for chaft areas where the straps were. If they are sore, check your dog's backpack in that area, something is wrong. Always make sure your dog's Backpack fits, and fits very well and sits correctly on the dog. As the dog gets used to the hiking and wearing the backpacking, add weight in the packs (evenly) and miles to the distance you travel.

Photo of Frankie, a dog that really does do it all.

Red Dog Backpack Pink Dog Backpack

I am not big on all the Fancy Attractions to Dog Backpacks. Many times the most simple is the best and safest way to go with Animal Equipment. I learned many years ago I used to backpack with a friend that bought, and at that time, late 1980's, they were very expensive, Dog Backpacks that had velcro so that a person could just take the panniers off the dog rather than the whole pack. I backpacked with four dogs (on leash) and she one. I could take off my backpacks almost as quick as she took of the one. I could put my dog's backpacks back on them, with a good fit, the same fit they had when we arrived at the rest area, as it took her to line up that velcro and get the panniers back on the yoke of the backpack correctly. And my dogs were far more comfortable with the straps off than her dog was with the yoke of the backpack still on it as it rested.

If you look at these photos, the Pink Dog Backpack is made so that the load rides more up on the dog's withers (shoulders). In theory, I like this. However, I have backpacked with dogs wearing backpacks for many many miles. I am afraid that the load will fall forward in these packs, sliding as the dog walks and pushing the load forward to the point of the straps rubbing the dogs front legs and back belly.

Dog Backpack Compression Straps

What you need for your dog, is a well fitting dog backpack that does not hang down to it's knees when loaded, with a padded yoke. It needs to have three straps for larger dogs and two for smaller dogs. The snaps should be quick or side release snaps for easy removal. If you backpack through creeks or into rivers, or take part of your trip in a canoe, or are so serious of a backpacker you go in the rain, or stay out for several days, then you will want/need a waterproof fabric backpack.

In this photo to the left, you will see compression straps on each of the panniers. When you tighten these down around your load, it does a few things...one, it keeps the load from moving around, two, it takes up the extra fabric making the panniers laying closer to the dog's body, and three, while doing all this, it keeps the load more quiet on the trail.

Remember, the more simple, if built well, the Dog Backpack is, the less on it that might break on the trial, allllllll those miles from home, with all those items inside of it.

Texas Tea with Backpack (empty) 2014-01-30

The color of your backpack, for the most part, will only matter to you. However, if you are going backpacking during Hunting Season, put on ORANGE and buy an ORANGE Dog Backpack for your dog. When Safety matters, all else is off the table. Red is not Orange. If you do not have an ORANGE Backpack and go out during Hunting Season, add a sheet of ORANGE Fabric over the entire size of the Backpack you and your dogs are wearing.

If you are trying to stay unseen, there are Camo Colored Backpacks, and Deron and I just like the color, that will match many of the terrains you will be backpacking in.

This is a photo of our Totally Black GSD, Texas Tea, wearing a smaller Backpacks (Frankie's really) just to get the feel of the pack as she walked. The pack is empty. For puppy training, with an empty backpack, I often use a smaller size so that it fits them well.

If you can see in this photo, I like Dog Backpacks that have "D" Rings up on the top, just to the inside of the top of the panniers. I am able to tie on to this. Even on a short trip there are items I like to carry there, such as a short poly rope tie out.

REMEMBER: JUST BECAUSE A DOG BACKPACK IS LARGE ENOUGH TO CARRY MORE, they make some too big in my opinion, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD OVER PACK YOU DOG. PLEASE ACTUALLY WEIGHT YOUR DOG'S BACKPACK BEFORE SETTING IT ONTO YOUR DOG'S BACK. I have my dogs carry about 10 - 12% of their body weight AFTER they are trained and have worked up to that amount of weight.


The M.O.L.L.E. Dog Backpack Vest

MOLLE Dog Backpack Black Molle Dog Vest

This is a new idea and I love it! The idea is that this vest goes on the dog as a full Dog Backpack will. You add each pouch to the vest in a very secure lock down. You choose your MOLLE attachment bags with the M.O.L.L.E. adaptability in the sizes and types and colors you want to add to this Dog Vest. The pouches and holsters are interchangeable with your own M.O.L.L.E. Vest. If you check around to MOLLE attachment suppliers, you can/will find everything to hook onto this harness vest from water bottle holders, small and larger pouches, first aid kits, to holsters for pistols and magazine pouches. With this Dog Vest you are able to set up your dog's backpack for a Sunday Picnic and then change it up for a Shooting Day on the Range or ready for Bug Out. Just remember, when setting this pack up for your dog not to overload the dog and to keep the backpack balanced...same weight on each side.

M.O.L.L.E. Human Vest with Pouches MOLLE Pouches

M.O.L.L.E. stands for Modular Light Weight Load-Carrying Equipment. (I know kinda weird the way they broke the abbreviation down)....but all the same, Very KOOOOL Gear! and a great idea!

I bought this human vest with the pouches and the additional pouches at a Pawn Store. We got a great deal on the items, far less than you could buy them for On Line, new or used.


WHAT YOU MIGHT CARRY IN THE DOG'S PACK

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The first thing people ask me when out with my dogs in backpacks is "What are they carrying?". When I told them what was in the packs they were not only open to getting their own dogs a backpack, but were glad to see me sharing the trail, cause they might need what I had. Some of the items I have the dogs carry on each of our backpack trips are....

WATER for both people and dogs
FRISBIES for the dogs to drink out of if they did not drink from the sprout top
TREAT for both people and dogs
A HAT for me
EXTRA GLOVES for me
MATCHES
A LIGHTER
A BANDANNA can be used as a head covering, a sling, something to wash with, something to cover a wound with, keep dust out of your face and the list goes on
A SMALL FIRST AID KIT making sure it has Triple antibiotic ointment
EXTRA SOCKS in case mine got wet or I blistered
ID for both the dogs and or I (just in case)
DOGS SHOT RECORDS
A SMALL BIBLE
A LITTLE MONEY
AN EXTRA LEASH

Marna with Traveler  2014-03-06

BUG SPRAY I use Skin So Soft by Avon (no, I do not work for them) in a small spray bottle from the travel item isle in a discount store
A SMALL NOTEBOOK AND A INK PEN THAT CLICKS SHUT tuck the pen into something and make sure it is away from the dogs body
DOG BOOTIES in case of injury (you can not carry the dog, it's pack and your pack out of the woods....)
POOP BAGS more then you think you will need
A SMALL AND WELL PADDED AND PACKED SEWING KIT I did have a pack rip on a stick once, 5 miles out, luckily, I had a sewing kit to repair it right away


Titus & Tekoa Backpack Training 2014-01-28

You need to make sure that soft items are next to the dogs body and the packs weigh the same so that they balance. If you go out for a meal, be sure to rebalanced your load after you have repacked the dogs bags. Be sure all cooking utensils are cooled and you may want to wrap them in a towel or napkins to keep the "black" off your other items and to keep your pack clean inside.

Sterno Cookers are wonderful for backpack cook outs. Small lightweight skillets can not only be cooked in, but also become your plate. Camping plastics (tableware) are light weight and high tensile, they are also don't melt when you use them to cook with. The jar you carried your milk in for scrambled eggs can become your drinking cup.

If you have a map of the area carry it in your own pocket or pack. You sure do not want to take a chance on loosing it.


The Bandanna

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The Bandanna; what an important piece of hiking, camping, jogging, horse back riding, sports, everyday, equipment it is. It can be used for so many things and it might even become your life line.

I always carry a few. I put at least a couple into the backpacks/panniers as well as put bright colored ones around my animals necks for visibility. Many times I wear one myself, either around my neck or around my head to keep my ears warm and the wind out of them.

Bandannas can simply be used to wipe the sweat off your face or dampened to get the dust off your clothing. Use it for a knee cushion while praying or working around the camp.

It can also be used as a wash cloth, dry it out and put it around your neck to keep you warm, or wet to keep you cool. It can become a sling for a hurt arm, a band aid, a leg wrap for animals or it can be used to hold splints to a broken leg.

It can become an extra collar for your animal or even repair some holes in packs (double or triple the bandanna over and set it into the place where the hole is in the pack).

Titus Sitting in the Pack 2014-02-10

You can put a bandanna on your face, stage coach robber style, in a wind storm or snow storm. It will keep the dust and or snow out of your face. Use it as a neckerchief to keep you warm or to keep the hot sun from burning you.

Your bandanna when rolled or scrunched up, can become a pot holder or a cushion for a bucket handle that the plastic broke off of. You can use it for a napkin at dinner or to blow you nose in or cough into.....don't use it for your nose then the same one as a napkin....see why I take more then one?

Use bandannas when packing between pots and pans to keep down the rattling. And for washing those dishes in camp.

Something else that is really fun is to teach your goat to bring you the bandanna (as a trick, see the trick page here at this site). You can dazzle your friends with the trained goat....have the goat bring it too you off the ground, out of someone's back pocket, from a distance....

You can also make your own bandannas with fun and even dog prints. When looking at fabric in the fabric store double up a corner (triangle shaped) of the cotton (or cotton blend) print you like and that is how much fabric you need. That doubled piece of fabric in your hand will make two (four if you cut out the triangle) bandannas.

I did set up a page called 101 Uses For A Bandana on our www.faroutliving.com website. This might give you ideas on how to use a Bandana around home and in camp.


What to carry in the First Aid Kit

Deron Venus Packing Away 2014-03-06

You should carry First Aid items in your First Aid Kit with both people and animal items included. Your animals depend on you and you might be all they have to help them if injured while on a packing trip. Don't let them, yourself or another human down by saving weight in your packs and not being prepared at least for elementary first aid. Some of the items can of course be used for both animals and people.

Marna with Traveler Backpacking  2014-03-06

Vet Wrap
Band Aids in several sizes
First Aid Cream
Tweezers
First Aid Tape
Hoof Trimmers
at least one Kotex (woman) can be used for so many uses
Aspirin
Small Bright Flashlight
Gause
Mole Skin (found usually in the shoe department, wonderful stuff!)
Antibacterial Hand Cleaner
A few Q-Tips in a zip lock or small container of the same
Break and Shake type Ice Packs
Clean Bandanna in a zip lock to keep it clean for first aid use only
4 or more latex gloves, also carried in a zip lock to keep clean
Small Safety Scissors
Needle Nose Pliers (porcupine quills)

add items to tailor the area you live in or medical needs you, your family members and or animals might have.



What is in that Sewing Kit?

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Your sewing kit should be small and safe. It should be kept in a small and well closing think plastic container. If you have the flip top type, put at least one rubber band around the case. To pack your needles, first thread them. One with light thread another with black or dark thread. Get an index card, doubled over, or some sort of backing/packaging cardboard and stick the needles through it. You might even wrap this in a small piece of fabric or place a small piece of webbing on either side of your needle holder. Place your needles in the Sewing Kit toward the middle of the kit so that if your container should break or crack the needles are safe and not against your animal.

At lease two needles in different sizes
Dark Thread
Light Thread
Thimble
at lease one 4" piece of webbing that has been burned on each end
Safety Pins in several sizes, including a couple diaper pins
Buttons, at least three and in different sizes
Needle Threader
A patch, maybe a 5" square of denim or the like

Think about what you might be sewing while out on the trail or in camp with your dogs, friends and family members. Add the items you will need to have with your to sew the items for yourself or others with you.



Items We Tie Onto Our Packs

Frankie's New Backpack

Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, small tents, camp chairs and the like can be tied up on top of many types of dog packs. Other items such as Frankie has on in the photo here, Survival Bracelets,giving you extra cord if needed (see our 101 Uses For A Survival Bracelet on our www.faroutliving.com site. Frankie also has a little Glock Pistol (keychain) that could be used for many different applications. It is heavy weight and metal. On each of my Labrador Retriever Backpacks as well as our sleddogs when they backpacked, we snapped on a tie out line (20ish inches of rope with a snap), a pinned on compass, and a keychain flashlight.


Ideas To Use/Pack Less

Marna and Frankie in Backpacks 3

It is always a great idea to carry lighter weight items and smaller items when you go packing. Many times a smaller items, such as a flashlight, can work just as well as a larger on and weigh less and take up less room. There are many items like this in camping equipment stores and catalogs. They are not just cute, they are very useful. Look around for items such as these in all kinds of places, including garage sales and dollar stores. It does not have to cost you a fortune to go packing with the correct equipment.

We bought these wonderful little light weight skillets for $1 each at a store called The Dollar Store. We cook in them and eat right out of them, using the handle to hold it with when no table is available.

Many times you can prepare your food enough before leaving home so that you will not need to carry spices with you. Add your spices at home to the foods before you pack them. If you are going out just for a brunch hike, put your eggs (out of the shell), butter a splash of milk, salt and pepper into a clean plastic jar and put the top on tight. Give the jar a shake before packing and as you/the animals walk your scrambled eggs are being prepared, just cook when the fire is ready.

Two even four Sterno or Sterno type stoves will take up less room then a camp stove and fuel.

Carry a pillow case and stuff clothes into it rather then taking a pillow with you on the trip.


Additional Items You Might Need

Deron with Venus & Traveler  2014-03-06

There are some camping items you might get to camp and need, but did not want to, or have room for, to carry in your packs.....here is a great excuse to buy and train another dog. Backpacking with dogs can be so much fun. But if you get to camp and do not have an item you need, especially if a person or animal gets hurt, it can also be a disaster. Always be prepared for the weather to change, even if they did not predict it on the weather channel. An extra jacket and heavy socks could ward off hypothermia.

Of course you can not take everything when you go packing. It is not like car packing where you just fill the vehicle and pull up to the spot and set up your tent. It is certainly not like the big old "campers" that are really houses on wheels, I have never called that camping myself, but I guess many people do.

You want to stay light weight when packing, but there are some items you will might wish you would have thought of and brought with you. Items such as extra charcoal for those campsites that do not allow campfires, but you can have a grill. Charcoal Starter. It may not be a campfire, but it can be nice ambiance.

Turquoise (in front) and Texas Tea Backpacking with empty packs and bandanas

You, your dogs and your equipment can run into skunks. If you carry a small can of tomato paste, a can opener, peroxide, and a bit of backing soda, you can at least take care of some of the smell, if not all of it.

Let's face it, if your animals run into a porcupine you will need a small set of needle nose pliers.

Spring and Fall can turn deadly in some parts of the world. A coat, hat, extra gloves, an extra pair of heavy socks, a dog coat for your animals, these items might just save your life it the weather turns bad and you are stuck in camp longer then you had planned.

If you will be gone for the week end or for a week, it is a good idea to take a little extra food and extra drink mix just in case you do get stuck there or if you are a bit hungrier then expected. The idea of taking dogs is so that you can enjoy yourself in camp and on the trail, carry a little extra.

Take Tang Drink Mix. It, as compared to other mixes, is pretty good for you. Mushers (sled dog racers) drink it hot, and it is good hot! You can give it to children for a hot drink too and it does not have caffeine in it. Hot Tang is especially good at breakfast or before bed.

If you have an extra dog you can also carry more First Aid and other items for emergencies with you too. If you are hiking way out and staying there for a few days, the more you have with you for emergencies, the better. Of course we all hope that First Aid items remain right in the packs and are never used.

If you are packing with children, they bore easily. You can carry a few crayons, a notebook for them to sketch and write about their trip in, and a coloring book. You might bring a doll and or some small cars and or trucks. Kids love those break and use tube lights and jewelry too, those might even help a child feel safer in camp and sleep better.

Deron Backpacking with Venus 2014-03-06

Cameras. Everyone has a favorite. But they all need to be taken care of. Packing your camera correctly can mean having good or any photos when you get home, as well as having the same camera for other events. If it is a small camera and has a case, you still might want to have it wrapped up and cushioned. Many people take a couple of cameras with them. Cushion each one and be sure to put it up safely at night...away from where dogs, especially pups, could find it and use it for a toy.

If you are camping for the week end or for a week you might want to take your favorite novel and or your journal and a pen with you. I love sitting around in camp talking and laughing and joking with friends, but I also love those quiet times when I sit over by/near my animals and read as the animals sink down next to me as I rub their ear or their neck.


Packing Out

Welcome Venus!

"Packing out" is what is known as things you carry home with you. Along with all of your belongings including all of your trash and dirty clothes, you might find a rock or two you would like to own/you would like to take home.

If you are on public property you probably can not take it with you. No rocks, no fossils, no flowers, no seeds, nothing that others might enjoy on their next trip. Those items are to be left behind by law.

However, if you are on private property or your own property or even some, very few, but some public properties, you might be able to carry off rocks, fossils, arrrowheads, and other interesting items.

You may find it is in the rules or laws of the area you are hiking to pack out your own poop (no, not kidding) and leave every rock and seed behind....as well as to stay RIGHT on the trail.

But either way, keep your eyes open and have a look around. There are some amazing things out there. Be sure to get photos of them.


TYPES OF BACKPACKS

Frankie In His First Backpack
Obviously the more dogs you pack with the more you can take with you. The larger the dog you pack with the larger the pack will be too.

There are many types of backpacks for dogs...and many sizes. Make sure that the pack fits the dog correctly. A bad fit can mean pain and injury to your dogs. For small dogs (under 35 pounds) two straps will work well, one at the chest and one just behind the dog's front legs. For larger dogs three straps are a must. One at the chest, one just behind the dog's front legs and on at approx the last rib of the dog. Straps need to be snug but not too tight.

Can you imagine if someone handed you a 35-45 pound backpack and thought you should carry it for 5 miles without training. It is the same for a dog. They need to work up to the higher weights in their packs as well as the longer trips. Have fun on the trail with your dog, don't make a "beast of burden" out of your dog.

Make sure you do not buy a backpack that only has a few, some as few as two straps over the back of it. You want a full yoke. If the dog's pack only has straps up over the back, the pack will rest, with all of it's weight, on a few vertebrae. This can not only cause pain for the trips, it can do permanent damage. These packs are not good even for a few short light weight hikes. You could however add a fabric yoke to this type of backpack and use it after the work has been done.

Start backpacking with our dog in a light weight pack and go a short distance. Check the dog for chaft areas where the straps were. If they are sore, check and make sure your pack fits. As the dog gets used to the hiking and wearing the backpacking, add weight in the packs (evenly) and miles to the distance you travel.


THERE IS/ARE NO "IN THE WOODS"

Please above all know that there are no "in the woods". Another words, someone owns all the land and you can not just go out hiking anywhere you please and think you are "in the woods". Land does not have to be fenced and posted for you to not be welcomed. Imagine how you would feel if people showed up on your property with their animals....or came and sat down in your living room to watch your TV. PLEASE STAY OFF PRIVATE PROPERTY.

State Parks and some larger local parks are glad to see you come and hike and use the land....pick up after your dog so that you continue to be welcomed.

If you will be grilling with fire or camping you need special permits and will have to pay a fee. Usually it does not cost too much and is worth it for the enjoyment you will get from spending the time out with your dogs.


NOW THE HUMAN ATTIRE

Now, about your shoes. Buy proper fitting hiking boots. Pay the price in cash, or pay the price in hurting feet, back and legs. Hiking Boots are a better choice then Tennis type shoes. Hiking Boots offer ankle support and some will protect your feet from cactus, stickers, snakes, and the like. They also offer a lot of support for many many miles. Now if you are camping....pack in some camp shoes too. Really, it is worth it.

Of course you have heard it for years....dress in layers. I can not tell you how very important this is for backpacking. There will be times you will need to either take some items off or put them on, or both in the same day. Also, in the fall, Spring and Winter, carry an extra light weight jacket. There are many times you might need it. If nothing else it can become a pillow or a seat out on the trail.

If you are going out into the woods for the day, or 10 or more, be sure to take any type of clothing you might need...in the Spring and Fall it might be cool when you leave, but hot by 1 pm. You may want to carry a pack of your own and carry some long pants. Remember the TV show Gilligan's Island? They too thought it was "a three hour tour", look how long they were "out there".


DAY TRIPS AND OTHER OUTINGS

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Of course maybe you are not interested in going on an overnight backpack trip. Maybe you want your dog to carry a few items while out walking or when you take it to parades and festivals. Great idea, I have yet to hear of a dog pack being stolen...purses? Yeah, they disappear.

This is a photo of Mr. Bo Jangles getting ready to head out for the St. Patric's Day parade in Pickarle, WI. Honestly, he made more friends (the guy behind him shared his hamburger with him, and folks IN the parade were pointing him out to others in their groups. We had great fun and he carried all the things we wanted to take and did not want to carry.

I made Mr. Bo Jangle's pack and hat to match. The Ty Bear is sewn unto the backpack and was holding "reins" that looped through Bo Jangle's collar to look as if it were riding him.

Backpacks can be fun and functional. If you would like to decorate a backpack for a Christmas Parade just be sure not to sew glass ornaments or bells unto it. They will break off I DON'T CARE WHAT KIND OF THREAD YOU USE!! Tie bells unto the top D Rings that are there to tie items to, with cord. Don't use glass anything, the dogs can get their feet cut on them if they come off and break.


THE MORE THE MERRIER (and the more "stuff" you can take with you)

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You may want to own more then one backpack for each of your dogs. I have owned several types of dog backpacks and made all but one myself. The one you use on the trail may not be the one you would use for a Parade or to give a talk to a school, church or other organization.

This is my son Jesse when he was really young and me when I was really thin. <grin> You can see that any size dog can backpack. These two pack are made of deerskin and were only used for demos. We were at the Wolf Sanctuary in St. Louis, MO demoing not only back packing but also sledding and other dog sports the day this was taken.


FOSSILS IN OUR DOG PACKS

Baculite in Chambers Deron says "baculite egments"

One of the fun things we do here in NW SD is to Hunt Fossils. We find fossils right on our own property and on the dirt road on the way back to our place. Many of our fossils are found while horseback riding and brought home in our saddle bags, or out with our Dogs Backpacking and then brought home in the Dog Packs. The soil here is what they call Gumbo Soil (I call it dinosaur poop). It is the same stuff they make clumpy kitty litter with. But anyway it is weird stuff, where you will see no rocks at all for awhile will suddenly "spit out a pile" after a hard rain, and they will be very clean (all things considered, very clean!). Now and again we do dig if there is a interesting pile that looks like it might have more interesting pieces under it, but not too often.

I normally send out a small fossil we found out here on the prairie with orders for our animal items sold in our On Line Store.


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