• Sylvie Parbus

How to use a Dog Backpack to Keep your Dog Cool

Aren’t dog backpacks for hiking and camping? Yes indeed; however, they are also great for your everyday walks, and can be a huge help with your dog training program.

AND they will help keep your dog cool on these horribly hot days by simply having him carry frozen bottled water or Ziploc bags, or ice packs.

Haven’t been using a backpack for your dog? Here's a few tips to get you started.

Other uses for your dog's dog backpack include:

  • Helps with your dog’s pulling. It can actually slow them down and make it easier for you to work on your dog’s leash manners.

  • Makes most dogs feel like they have a job to do so they start to focus better. Better focus means better listening!

  • More exercise as they burn more energy, and that is always a great thing!

  • Can actually help your shy or nervous dog feel more confident.

  • Your dog can carry their own water, dog training treats, and dog poop bags.

  • Keep you dog cool on hot day with frozen items.

A Few Things to Consider

Be careful with young dogs whose bones are still growing. Just like all exercise, work your way up and adjust as needed. Start with an empty backpack.

At some point, you might need to retire your older dog’s backpack, especially if he has health issues including joint, respiratory, and heart problems.

Select the right backpack for your dog. You might do a smaller one for just walks, and one that carries more items for hiking and camping.

Be careful on hot days. If it’s super hot, do not use the backpack as you risk overheating your dog unless you pick ice packs or other frozen items in.

Make sure you have the right fit for your dog’s size. Local pet stores are happy to help you with proper fits (see below for list).

What to Pack in your Dog Backpack

  • Ziploc bags with rice or beans

  • Your dog’s stuff such as water, dog training treats, and dog poop bags

  • Your water bottle

  • Books if you plan to stop and enjoy a read

  • For long walks on a warm day, freeze the water so it keeps your dog cool and as it unfreezes, you and/or your dog have cool water.

Steps to Help Your Dog Enjoy their New Accessory

Interestingly, I have found that most dogs do great with just putting the backpack on them as if it’s not a big deal. I have found most to take right to it. Back to the feeling of having a job to do. However, if your dog is hesitant, here's what to do:

  1. Let your dog smell this new item.

  2. Put the backpack on their back as you give them treats. Something funky on your back = treats! Yay! Practice for a few minutes several times per day.

  3. As soon as they are relaxed or looking forward to the treats with the backpack on, attach it to your dog. Keep giving treats. Practice for a few minutes several times per day.

  4. As soon as they are relaxed or looking forward to the treats with the backpack attached, walk around the house with it, then the driveway, then finally go for your walk. Give treats as needed and proceed to each step once your dog is obviously comfortable.

  5. Add some weight. Depending on your dog’s age, breed, and health, you can do 10-20% of their weight so 5-10% on each side.

  6. Add additional weight as your dog conditions.

  7. Voila! You are ready for your walks, hikes, and trips.

Where to purchase a good-quality backpack?

Here is a great review on dog backpacks to help you determine the best one for your dog.

Shop local! If you shop local, you are sure to get the right structure, size, and fit for your dog. These wonderful pet stores carry some of the top brands and can also order your backpack if needed.


Dog backpacks are a great addition to your dog’s equipment even for just everyday walks, and on hot days with ice packs.

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Sylvie Parbus

Certified dog trainer and dog behaviorist

Certifiably Dog Crazy Lady


Dog Training for Real Life!


Raleigh, NC, and Surrounding Areas



Looking for dog-friendly places around the Triangle?

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