It’s Tuesdays Training Tips time again from Walk Your Dog Austin. Here at Dog School clients often hear us talking about the importance of structured exercise and all the benefits it provides. They then tell us about their very busy schedules that make the hours of exercise tough to fit in. So we wanted to share some tips on having your dog work harder for shorter periods of time.
Introduce your dog to carrying a backpack. Dogs love having jobs, and if they’re focused on walking and carrying, they are much less likely to chase squirrels or bicyclists. There’s nothing more therapeutic for a dog than having a job to do, and carrying a backpack can be that job. High-energy dogs, nervous or anxious dogs respond very well to the use of a backpack (hauling around a backpack with some moderate weight in the packs). Plus, it uses up to three times the energy … a 15-minute walk can have the impact of a walk 3 times as long with an appropriately weighted backpack. Here are some tips to get started:
- -Put the backpack on without anything in the pockets at first. Let your dog get used to it. Go for at least 2 walks with the backpack empty.
- -If your dog is ignoring the backpack after these walks begin adding weight a little at a time. Go by the size of your dog. For a Lab, start with a 12-ounce bottle of water on each side. For a Cocker Spaniel, start with something smaller like an apple 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. Dog need to build up their stamina just like we would.
- -Dog can ultimately carry 10-20% of your dog’s own weight in the backpacks.
- -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.
Please call Walk Your Dog Austin if you have questions about getting your dog comfortable wearing the backpack or more tips on structured exercise. Check back next week for more tips from the trainer.