Put Your Dog to Work

by DFS-Pet-Blog on November 19, 2009

**Guest post from Tina C.**

Karma is a 3 year-old black lab/springer spaniel mix with a lot of energy – sometimes too much energy.   We’ve been working diligently with her “wait” command and we’ve progressed to a point where she doesn’t jump up on everyone who tries to walk through the door, but she is usually still the first one at the door the minute there is a knock. Even though she goes for a walk every day with various family members, she still has plenty of energy to expend.

KarmaIt was pretty obvious that we needed to find more ways to wear her out and keep her from getting bored. With winter fast approaching, I knew that our walks would end up getting shorter, not longer.  I decided to try weighing Karma down with a dog backpack while walking.

Karma was used to a harness, so putting the backpack on was a breeze. We rewarded her with her favorite treat for being so calm. Into the backpack went a water bottle, some treats, baggies, and some spare change.

Suddenly, there was a different dog at the end of the leash. Instead of straining to get going, she was posing with her chest out, strutting around to show off her new duds. The walk was more fun for me too as all I had to hold on to was her leash. Everything else, she was carrying for us. It definitely seemed to be a better experience for both of us giving Karma a “job to do.”

Karma enjoys the backpack so much, I started looking around for other ways to put my dog to work. She has built up quite a list of items she can tote around.

Uses For a Dog Backpack:

  • Easily attach plastic bags to the backpack and let the dog help bring in groceries. Not the eggs though, that was a bad choice. I’ll carry those myself from now on. Canned goods are the best.
  • As the kids are raking leaves, hitch the dog up to a couple bags and let her drag them to the street. Ok, so maybe two bags broke, the other six made it there just fine.
  • Inside the house, it is much more fun for the toddler to load toys into the backpack, call Karma over to the bin, and unload them when cleaning up.
  • When my daughter wanted a calculator, Karma was able to take it into the next room.

Karma is probably the hardest worker of the entire family now. I guess that makes up for the cats who only get up to move to a sunnier place to lie down.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen B. November 20, 2009 at 9:12 am

Great ideas, Tina! I like to give my dog small jobs around the house to make him feel useful. I’m thinking about giving the backpack a try. My daughter used to attach notes to the dog’s collar and send him to me with a request. With the backpack, I could put the requested item in the backpack and send him back. This could be fun 🙂

Gwen November 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Good ideas, never thought I’d could get my labs to help out round the house and even in the yard using a backpack. 🙂

Warren Cohen November 26, 2009 at 9:07 am

A dog needs a job, our two yellow Labrador Retrievers; Bear 4 ½ years and Kate 2 ½ years both work for a living. Bear is a registered Service Dog who has made it possible for me to get out of wheelchair and walk, for great distances, and with a cane. And, Kate is learning to be a Service Dog to help my wife who has severe arthritis.

We have trained both dogs, but it was obvious from the first time Bear helped me, he know what he was meant to do. At 18 months you could see the change come over him when he knows it was time work. He is constantly at my side, providing the support and forward motion I need when trying to walk with degenerative spinal disks. Kate is working with my wife to helping her walk.

However, don’t think working is all they do, we’re fortunate enough to live in a warm climate, work from home and have a swimming pool in the back yard, so most of the year we’re all in the pool for at least an hour, generally two enjoying the warm central Texas sun and ourselves.

Heartgard December 14, 2009 at 12:09 am

Wow, that’s a super wonderful idea! I had been saying to my wife that someone should make a little doggie backpack.. this is the first time I looked into it though. How cute!

Justin A-J March 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Reagan (4 yr old Eskie) has been using a backpack now on walks for a few years and it has been great. That little extra weight of 4 small water bottles has not only assisted in tiring him out after the walk, but also causing him to walk better, well-behaved. I now have a problem that I’d like to increase the weight, but don’t really know what to use. Any suggestions? I’ve thought about getting ‘human’ ankle weights to put in it, but thought there might be a better option. #CELEBRATE

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