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CANINE CONNECTION: Learn to turn your dog into a leader with the pack

It is my personal quest this summer to get as many people as I can to stop looking down at their phones and start looking up at the beauty of nature. When you step away from technology and into nature your mind expands and your soul is revived.
dog

It is my personal quest this summer to get as many people as I can to stop looking down at their phones and start looking up at the beauty of nature.

When you step away from technology and into nature your mind expands and your soul is revived. And with the mountains and trails that grace the North Shore how can you not want to at least try to experience an adventurous outdoor excursion?

If you have a dog, you have the best partner an adventure-seeker needs. You can even enlist Fido to assist you by carrying some of the load in a hiking backpack made for dogs.

Canine hiking packs are kind of like panniers. The pack can be a good fit for medium to large breed dogs that weigh at least 30 pounds.

If you own a dog you can easily carry in one hand, your dog should not be shouldering a pack that’s bigger than a tea bag.

However, there are human backpacks designed to carry small dogs.

Once you have ensured your dog is fit and healthy enough to carry a backpack you want to make sure your dog has the right personality. Dogs that are hyper sensitive to touch, swishing noises or being jostled may suffer unnecessary stress if tasked to carry a pack.

Go to a pet store and see if your dog will at least allow you to place a pack on his back. Like anything new, it may simply be a case of time and patience to get your dog used to wearing a backpack. Short training sessions of putting it on and off with food rewards can quickly turn a timid pack wearing dog into a confident pack leading dog!

There are some really cool looking packs available online but it really is best to go to a store that sells them to ensure a good fit. Packs that are too large and fall below a dog’s rib cage can be constantly rocking back and forth as a dog walks, throwing them off balance. Straps may be too close to the dog’s armpits and chafe the dog after just a short amount of time on the walk, leaving them with sores and abrasions. Packs that do not offer proper support along a dog’s back can place the weight of the contents of the pack squarely on the thoracic and lumbar region causing discomfort and strain. The pack should sit closer to a dogs withers, rather than the middle of their back. If you can’t find what you are looking for through a pet store then at least make sure the company you order from online has a reliable return policy.

Once you have purchased a pack that fits your dog and your dog has accepted wearing it, begin to train him to walk with it. You definitely do not want to go out on a long hike with your dog without getting him accustomed to the pack. Start by filling the packs with lightweight objects like crinkled newspaper that adds more bulk than weight. Once your dog is comfortable carrying a full, rather weightless pack, you can begin to try items with a bit more substance. But be careful to maintain the balance on each side of the panniers and the weight to a ratio of 30 per cent of your dog’s weight. Any more than that can cause injury. Carter is an 80-pound dog so he carries no more than 25 pounds. Raider is 55 pounds so his pack is around 17 pounds. In my dog’s packs, they carry their water, a snack for all of us as well as a first aid kit plus a compass and if available a map of the trails we are hiking on.

Once on the trails, leash your dog. Regardless of how well your dog is off-leash a dog that runs off carrying a pack can get caught in brush and lost. Leash your dog for everyone’s safety.

Now get ready to make some memories and some new friends because people can’t resist saying hello to a pack-carrying dog. You may end up being the star of someone else’s Instagram account instead of yours!

k9kinship@gmail.com.




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