New Dog (& question on packs)

Posted by: mimstrel

New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/10/15 03:00 AM

Last month I adopted a new dog, named Tussah. She was listed as a "shepherd mix" but I've concluded that this basically means "we think one of her ancestors could have been a herding breed?"


In any case, she loves being outside and I've already had her on a few local trails. This summer we'll be sticking close to home, but I'm hoping we can get some good practice in and next summer maybe do a bigger trip. She's got some work to do on recall and leash manners, but give us a little time.

She's 45 lbs and estimated at 3 years old. She is very tolerant of things on her back (ie, blankets, towels, and sweatshirts) so I'm planning on ordering a pack for her. She can wear it empty on her regular daily walks for a while, then I'll start adding weight depending on how she does with it.
I'm looking at the Ruffwear Approach pack. It seems to get very solid positive reviews.

Does anyone have thoughts on this pack, or a recommendation of a different pack I should consider?
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/10/15 02:35 PM

As with human packs, not all makes of dog pack will fit all dogs. You may have to try several different ones to find one that fits the lovely Tussah. Make sure there's nothing like buckles in sensitive areas that will cause chafing. If the pack doesn't have removable fleece sleeves for the underbelly straps like the one in my avatar, you can make some.

The pack I used on the late Hysson (in my avatar) is the Ruffwear Palisades, quite a bit pricier. I bought it because I wanted a pack with detachable harness. It's far easier to remove the pack at rest stops without having to undo the harness, and you can use the harness separately to assist the dog in tough places, or even as a safety harness in the car.
Excellent article on dog packs. Note that this article is 5 years old, so some of the links and info may be out of date.
Posted by: mimstrel

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/10/15 09:19 PM

Thank you, OregonMouse. That article is very thorough and helpful!

I seriously considered the Palisades, due to the convenience of being able to remove the bags from the harness, but I really can't justify the additional expense at this time.

Honestly, if the first pack I try doesn't work, I'll probably DIY one. But first I want to see how a store-bought one sits, where the weight carries, what can be kept and what should be altered to best work for her.
Posted by: mimstrel

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/17/15 02:40 AM

Tussah's backpack came in Friday!

I think it will work very well. I put it on her and fitted it, and it might need some extra fleece padding just to keep the webbing from rubbing her fur (she lost some fur on her neck to her collar so I'm paranoid about that now. Just got her a rolled leather collar and hopefully that will fix the issue with the fur on her neck) but I think it fits well and she seems comfortable with it.

She wasn't totally sure about putting her head through the neck hole, but beyond that, there was a lot of tail-wagging and excitement. She knew we were going on a walk, and that was way more important than worrying about me putting things on her back.
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/17/15 06:13 AM

She looks like an awesome hiking partner!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/19/15 03:18 PM

The beautiful Tussah looks quite happy! Try snacks when getting her to put her head through the harness. With dogs, bribery works every time! In a couple of days she'll be doing it by herself and looking for the reward!
Posted by: mimstrel

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 05/22/15 01:25 AM

Tussah is an odd duck. She's food motivated... sometimes. Today I had her out for a walk and she was begging for treats. Some days, she will take a treat from my hand and then drop it on the floor or ground and walk away. Some days, she completely ignores food rewards. All the same treats.

I put a little bit of weight in the pack today, and it certainly didn't slow her down at all. I thought she might be getting tired towards the end of the walk, because she was sticking closer to me, but as soon as we got home she spent several minutes sprinting full speed from one end of the house to the other. Usually she wants to play tag with me; this time it was just because she likes running and we haven't had an off-leash day this week.
Posted by: finallyME

Re: New Dog (& question on packs) - 06/01/15 12:27 AM

When I first got my pack for my dog, I just put it on her every time we went on a walk. The pack was always empty. She didn't like the pack, but forgot about it as soon as we went out the door with the leash. Over time she associated the pack with the leash as something that goes on for walks. The walk is the reward. I eventually put weight in it, but she didn't care because she was going for a walk.