I first got my dog a backpack when his psychologist recommended that I use it to wear out my dog while walking. She reccommended a water bottle on each side for some added umpf to our daily excursions. I was, of course, skeptical. Dog backpacks aren't pennies, and I have two dogs. I ended up just buying one to placate her.
Usually when you try to put a backpack on your dog for the first time, they struggle. It's odd for them to see you coming at them with a big rustling bag you intend to put on their back where they can't even keep an eye on it to see if it has good intentions.
I was lucky. I have used my dogs as test subjects for tons of knitting patters. So they know that when I want to get something on them, it's getting on them. They are used to wearing heavy sweaters and other clothing unsuitable for dogs. And once I got it on them, I've never taken it off.
1.) Slow dog your high energy dog - If you have a dog who doesn't seem to ever stop, you probably have a hard time taking him for walks.
It is generally conceded that a healthy dog can carry 1/3 of his weight no problem. I like to keep it around 20%, but if you have a go-getter don't be afraid of pushing 30%. Your dog will definitely slow down. Just make sure that you don't overdo it, and you don't do this with a puppy. Puppies are still growing, and that kind of weight can disrupt his growth.
2.) No more man purse, no more carrying poop - Don't worry about carrying anything, or forgetting something at home. He's got it covered.
If you can take your dog for a walk without risk of serious injury, then you probably walk him often. If you walk him often, you know what it feels like to forget the poop bags at home and watch your dog take a steamy poo right on the lawn of your neighbor one block down. You stand there suspiciously praying to the gods that you don't get caught pooping and dashing.
Now you can leave the poop bags in the pack. You can also put the poop back into the pack so you don't have to carry it yourself. Afterall, it's not YOUR poop.
3.) Pump it - If you need to exercise your dog, but you don't have a lot of time, putting some weight on him can get him in shape in 1/2 the time.
Sometimes you just don't have 4 hours to throw a ball. Sometimes you barely have 10 minutes to relax. When this is the case, and you still need to exercise your dog, you can maximize your walk by adding weight to the pack. He will tire out faster and you can get home more quickly. Plus you'll have a calmer dog on your hands.
4.) He feels useful - If you've ever seen a dog with a pack on (you have because I have a picture of my dogs at the top of the page), then you know that they look ready for a mission.
They feel useful carrying your stuff around. Especially when you have to stop them to get something. They know that they are helping, and dogs like to help. They like to have a purpose, and having a purpose keeps them focused on their walk.
5.) It's just real darn cute - If you've ever seen a dog with a pack on (do I have to repeat myself?) then you also know how darn cute it is. It's adorable to see them strutting their stuff down the block. They are the talk of the town and the envy of all other dogs in the neighborhood. As if you dog wasn't already adorable to begin with, now he's a Purina puppy.
What Kind of Pack Should I Get?
If you're strolling around the block, I would recommend the packs that I use. They are inexpensive and they do the job well.
If you're going to take your dog on a mountain wilderness excursion, you probably want to buy one of the more sturdy packs found here.
Have fun on your new adventure!