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What is the age to start using a pack? We hike (1-2 hours) a few times a week but now that it's getting warmer he's getting hotter and thirstier, so I wanted to start investing in one so we can carry our water and stuff. What brand of packs do you guys use? He is 9 months old, is it okay to have him start wearing a pack with say....just water in it???

Also, we have gradually worked up to the distance we run, but how much running is TOO much for a dog his age? He enjoys it, and we never run on concrete/cement, just grass or the gravel trails. I stop so he can get a break and he's usually ready to go again before me. We are currently jogging about 2-3 miles.
 

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There are quite a few threads about backpacks (in the Equipment forum probably), but I use Ruffwear packs, and I didn't start putting anything in Halo's until she was a year and a half. I got the pack a month or two before that, and she wore it empty to get used to it. Keefer was already an adult by the time I got a pack for him.

A good quality pack is not cheap, and one advantage to waiting a little while to get one is that he's not going to outgrow it. If you buy one now, it may not fit once he's matured and filled out.
 

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Makes sense. I will wait then, you think by a year and a half he will be pretty much done growing? A year?

I guess i'm stuck carrying our water and food for now :rolleyes:
 

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Halo did the majority of her growing by a year old, she only put on a few pounds between then and 18 months. But when I bought the pack I think she was around 15 months old, and she was still a couple of inches under the maximum girth measurement for the pack I bought her so I felt pretty confident that even if she grew a bit more it would still fit her. If she were close to the next size up I'd have either waited a bit longer to buy it, or just gone ahead and gotten the larger size. I prefer the smallest size that will fit so there's not a lot of extra strap to deal with, and I don't need huge bags since we're doing day hikes, not multi-day backpacking trips.

I have a fanny pack from Mountainsmith that holds two water bottles, that's what I use it on shorter hikes or when it's too hot to put the pack on. Maybe something like that would work for you in the meantime. :)
 

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A dog can healthily carry up to 25% of it's own body weight, but you'd have to gradually build up to this over time. I used to weigh my 60lb Sibe down with 12 lbs of bagged beans or rice for hikes, walks and runs, just to help slow him down, wear him down, and build muscle. I would put 6 lbs on each side to keep him balanced. Here's my handsome model:



I also highly recommend the Ruffwear packs. Our Paw Paw has one (pictured above), and I want to get one for Nara and Paw Paw soon. Also, research every nook and cranny of Ruffwear's website and blog, as they have tons of great charts and info and details on dogs wearing packs, how to properly fit them and find the right size, and how much a dog can carry in weight.

As for running, yeah, wait until they're at least 1 year old. Then start slowly and build them up. Never force them to keep going, because if they stop running, it's a sign that you're possibly overdoing it. They will push themselves out of loyalty, so if they stop, they're probably pretty serious. I know our sled dog group won't run the dogs (sledding, bikejoring, running on foot, etc.) if it's over 50 degrees, because the dogs could overheat.

Hope that helps.
 

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How much water do you carry? If it is more than a half gal or so, and there are water sources (creeks, etc) along the route, pick up a hand filter (around $80 for a good one) at any sporting goods place. I use one for my own drinking water when I'm backpacking. After you get the dog used to carrying a pack, have him carry the filter. :)
 

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I use refillable Platypus bottles, usually a 1 liter bottle in each side - one for me, one for the dog.
 
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