Monday, March 7, 2011

Our Favorite Things: Backpack Training

 Much like Oprah, this week we are going to post about some of Miss M and Mr. B's "favorite things"  to lead into an update and announcement on Friday. One of our favorite things, and something we get the most questions about, is Mr. B's backpack.When we go on family walks, Mr. B sports the Ruffwear Approach Pack to bring home dog groceries, baked goods, and farmer's market finds. And this is helpful.
 Originally we had gotten the backpack for a different reason: to serve as a training tool. See, Mr. B came from Kalamazoo, Michigan where he was never taken on walks but he actually spent his days walking himself through a much different area. When he came to live with us in the city, he was overstimulated by all the sights, sounds, and scents, and he couldn't understand this thing called 'a leash'. Walking him was painful, and he really was "Bulldozer Mr. B".
 To help him focus, we decided to give him a job. And that job was wearing his backpack. See, the moment we put the backpack on, the pooches realize they are on a mission and begin acting serious and focused. So when other dogs would pop out from behind the gates or lunge at him during walks, he wasn't fazed because he knew his job was more important. Even Miss M understands the implications of wearing the backpack.
 The other benefit is that walking with a backpack is a better workout and it tires the pooches out more easily. We used to put things in the backpack just to create weight, so Mr. B would work harder on the walk. This meant even if we walked shorter distances, he would still get a good workout and keep him a happy and calm dog at home.
Plus, if walking two big pitties doesn't attract enough attention, imagine the attention and people we meet when one of those pitties is wearing his own backpack.
We actually also own the bigger, and more expensive Ruffwear Palisades Pack that has integrated water bladders and we rarely use it. We do break it out on special occasion, though it seems too big and bulky for daily use:
 We have seen some of our other dog friends use backpacks. We're curious how you use your pack, or even if you don't have a pack, how you would like to use a dog backpack.

28 comments:

Muchadoaboutnothing said...

I think Petey would take to wearing a backpack - he is very amenable to whatever we want to do with him so long as he gets petted. Roxy, on the other hand, would refuse and probably fight to get it off. She is not a backpacking kind of girl!

Faye said...

A friend routed me to your blog a few week's ago and I'm loving your tales of living with two pitties in the city. I live with b/w senior citizen pittie mix Willie. He's quite mellow now, but was a handful as a pup. One way I trained him was to take him on long, focused walks where he had to stay right by my side, no pulling, bobbing and weaving. Now we mostly walk in parks because of his age and use a 15 ft. training lead. He still keeps right with me. No backpacks but I have heard of using them so that the dog has a mission.

Two Crazy Coaches said...

Mr B is so serious with his back pack! I can't imagine trying to use one with our dogs, though I'm sure it'd help our walks. Ollie would be scared of it and Flash would get used to it after awhile. Might be worth trying sometime!

Ettel, Charlie Poodle, and Emma Pitty said...

Hahaa! We have both bags too! We go hiking every weekend and the pups carry all the supplies. There's only one of me, so I can't take them shopping and whatnot with me, but I love that idea. Our Palisades pack is new and this past weekend it gave Emma serious burns on her underarms =-/. I hope I can move it around so that it doesn't hurt her anymore. I just love Ruffwear. We have SO much stuff from them, definitely one of the sturdiest, more durable and practical brands I've ever worked with. And awesome customer service!

jen said...

I still need to get a back pack for the boys, I have one but it is too small and just have not gotten around to ordering a new one, I would use it as an exercise tool, to help them get the most out of their walks.

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

I get questions about my hiking backpack all the time like people have never seen a dog with a backpack before. All I carry is my collapsible water bowl and poop bags that I never use because I only poop in my own yard, never on hikes. But it evens out the weight. And I carry out litter that we find. Mom keeps my backpack light because I am 10 years old now and even though I still do fine hiking 10+ miles, mom does not want to wear me out any sooner than necessary at this point. The other reason for my backpack is it is orange - even though we try to avoid hunting zones, we have run into hunters in no hunting zones so we take no chances. And mom says it makes me show up better in my blog pictures, otherwise I would blend in with the brown leaves.

Jessica M said...

We have the blue backpack for Bruno to get him to focus on walks too (he is so scared of strangers, he barks at them on walks), but so far I think it is just weighing him down, I don't think he realizes he has a job to do yet- how did you get your pooches to realize they were being helpful? :)

Heather Cherry said...

I have used mine as a training give-them-a-job tool, too. It makes a huge difference. And you're right... people come out of the woodwork to ask me about the packs and they are less intimidated to see two big pit bulls walking down the street. I keep poo bags in the pockets, too, along with my cell, keys, and some extra weight in the form of unrolled ankle weights.

brooke said...

We're still tempted to use a backpack with Darwin. It'd be nice to go on hikes and have her carry her own water!
Does Miss M ever carry the backpack? Or is it just for Mr B?

loveandaleash said...

we use ours when we go backpacking. mr. chick carries his own food, water, bowls, treats, poop bags, and poop (when necessary) in his pouches, and we roll up a fleece bed and strap it on top using the bungees. if he's gonna come backpacking with us, he's gotta carry his own weight-- literally!

lindsay said...

We use a backpack with our pit bull, Colt. He has laser like concentration when he wears it, even though he's only carrying soup cans. Dogs aren't allowed at our neighborhood farmers market so we haven't been able to put it to practical use yet but it's a great idea!

Kari in WeHo said...

you just had to bate us with an impending "announcement"!

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

Olivia said...

I'm glad you posted about these. I've been thinking of getting one for my bloodhound to give her some sense of purpose on our walks. I can just tell her mind is racing and she tenses at any noise or person she sees. I'd let her carry my water. :o) How does she know she has a job though? Is it just something she'll sense?

Bobby said...

We have never used back packs but it looks a great idea.
They both seem very happy to wear them. I do not see Bobby letting me put one on him.
Mr B trying to carry his bone out on a walk is exactly like Pip only its little toys and they get left on the field.

In Black and White said...

Bilbo's backpack is currently broken (because we have a cheapo Outward Hound pack - looking forward to upgrading...) but we use it for the same reasons - tire him out and keep him focused. Once the weather gets warmer I put a water bottle in each side. He tires out more quickly in the heat and also gets very thirsty. This keeps him hydrated and means that as he gets worn out, the backpack gets lighter!

Benny and Lily said...

Mr B you look so handsome with your backpack. Lily has a backpack cause she has lots more energy than me. All you need is a cool hiking hat.
Benny & Lily

Maggie said...

Emmett used to have one, and he definitely felt a sense of purpose when he wore it. When Lucas joined our family, he (accidentally, I'm sure) chewed up Emmett's bag one day. However, I just ordered a new pack that's adjustable, so they'll be able to take turns with it! Hopefully it improves our group walks!

Jessi said...

I would LOVE to get Charlie a backpack but the ones I can find are so expensive... I will probably buy one eventually though.

I think this would be awesome for longer walks because I get tired of carrying the water bottle sometimes.


www.walkalongpaws.blogspot.com

Brenda said...

It's been many years since I've used a backpack. Used to have Jessie carry one during backpack trips, so she could carry her own food. I wonder if wearing a backpack would have any effect on Lady (behavior-wise). I've never tried it but maybe I should.. I'm sure Jessies is still around here somewhere!

Nubbin' Tails said...

Mom and Dad keep "threatening" to get a pack for cuz'in Ruger. He's not a good walker either.

Wags!

Mr. Nubbin'

houndstooth said...

One of our reasons for our backpacks was the same as yours. We needed to wear Morgan out! She carries water bottles on our hikes to help weight her down. We also found that it makes her more approachable and less scary when people see her out on our hikes. Suddenly she's just a dog wearing a cute backpack. Bunny doesn't like to be left out, so she has one of her own. We keep fliers for our adoption group in her back and both of them carry dog first aid kits in their packs. They both carry collapsible water bowls and bandannas (to help cool them off if we'd need to). There is also ID in both their packs with contact info for several of our family members and our vet's contact information on it, because chances are that if they were found on a trail somewhere alone, something bad has happened. I want to be sure that they'd be taken care of if we weren't able to do it. Having the dogs carry the packs makes it a lot easier on us, too, since there's less that we have to carry!

Kitty+Coco said...

We go to a farmer's market and it would be so handy for the girls to carry their own supplies so we can focus on the produce and baked goods. Too bad I have small princess pups :)

Kitty and Coco's Mom

Two Pitties in the City said...

Olivia--Mr. B is just so easy to please, I think he just sensed he had something to do. I think also the idea of having extra weight on their backs tells them this is a "job". I'm guessing if the pooches don't understand right away, it might be a good idea to condition them that the backpack=good things. So everytime the backpack is out they get lots of treats, petting, and positive conditioning.

Mr. B usually wears the backpack instead of Miss M because he treats each walk like a race and he needs to learn to slow down. Miss M will sometimes wear the backpack, but she enjoys being petted more than helping out.

Mary said...

Mr. B sure looks pooped in that picture of him laying on the ground!

Jason was looking at a backpack at the pet store the other day, but I don't see either one of our dogs wearing it. Sure, we have dreams of walking them to the farmer's market in the summer and having them carry back the bounty. But then we remember that Levi is a total slug in the summer and making him carry additional weight might be the end of him! And Neptune walks slower than Levi in the winter, so I can only imagine how the summer is going to be with him!

American Canyon ATA said...

I would love a backpack for Lucky, my almost 2 year old pittie. His energy is incredible and he loves having a "job".

susan said...

Sorry for the late reply, just catching up here. We don't have a backpack but after trying a few times to walk Stella with some friends, I'm tempted to get one. She gets pretty serious when outfitted in her life jacket so maybe adding a little extra weight would temper her sense of urgency when others are around.

Silka said...

Arabella has been wearing her backpack this winter to stay in shape and get ready for hiking this summer. She's definitely more focused when she's on the leash but when I let her off she doesn't let it slow her down at all!

A Photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/silkaphyllis/5443238955/in/photostream/

Susan Campisi said...

I used a backpack with Tommy the first year, mostly to tire him out. I haven't used it in a while but Miss M and Mr B are inspiring me to break it out again. Tommy's full name, Tommy Lee Jones, is stitched onto the top so it's a bonus conversation piece.

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