* Prices may differ from that shown
~~*~~*~~ Outward Hound Quick Release Backpack ~~*~~*~~
For those of you who watch a lot of Sky One and blantantly have nothing better to do with your lives, you may have observed the infamous Cesar Milan extolling the virtues of a doggy backpack. Indeed, many professionals within the canine fraternity will concur that, used correctly, the aforementioned device can be a wonderful training aid. Doughnut (choc lab) likes hers cos it's blue.
Let me set the scene.
If you're unfamiliar with chocolate Labradors and their characteristics then check out my reviews on the breed, their toys and food (all I do is review the dog's possessions, probably because I have none of my own). It's fair to say that when Doughnut reached 6 months, she turned into Devil Dog. "She's just going through adolescence". My arse. She had far too much energy and was quite obviously possessed by Cerberus. Even after a 2 hour walk she'd want to play whilst I was knackered. I'd solved the problem of her pulling - a halti is a great invention, but she wasn't using much energy due to her walking calmly. Thus the tinternet was searched.
I knew I wanted a backpack as it's supposed to give a dog a sense of purpose (I know she's a dog, but many breeds have 'roles' intertwined in their genes - some herd, some guard, some retrieve, some pull...) but since retrieval training would require me to make some effort I went for the more obvious and simplistic tuition due to the lazy characteristics intertwined in my genes. Outward Hound make many different products, one of them being the cunningly titled "Quick Release Backpack". Yep, it does exactly what it says on the tin/website.
Due to the fact that little pig was growing at a rate of knots when I ordered it I went for the large - dog weight: 50 - 70lbs, girth 30 - 40 inches, and the length of the backpack is 13 inches - it seems to fit her pretty well at the moment although she's still got another 6 months of growing to go. The clever part about the backpack is that it's basically in two parts. The adjustable harness fits snugly on your dog's back with 3 straps - one goes around the chest, one around the belly and one around the front of the pig/dog. The backpack part is then attached via very strong Velcro on the sides and top of the harness (there's also a clip that attaches it properly to the harness but I always have this fear that Doughnut will jump in the canal and sink with the Tesco shopping whereas I can always just rip it off her back should she leap with my lunch).
The straps are easy to adjust and there's plenty of length left in them so it would fit much larger dogs. The harness has comfort pads where the straps clip together to ensure that piggy's fur isn't rubbed in these places. The straps are black nylon whereas the harness itself is an attractive royal blue 600 denier extra-strong nylon. The backpack section is royal blue also with go-faster reflective strips on both side pockets and it is also the extra-strong nylon which is a good job - when D is wearing her backpack she tends to forget her width has increased and thus tries to get through gaps not designed for her lard-ass - there's been no tears or rips incurred as yet. On top of the backpack there is an elastic strap criss-crossed across designed for sleeping bag/other stuff that we never use! The 'quick-release' term refers to the fact that should other dogs/people/sheep appear out of nowhere, the lead (attached to D's collar) is quickly released - the lead should be put through the backpack's handle which is held together with Velcro thus meaning D can trot along with her lead attached to her but without dragging in the mud. I've not actually tried this as I just let D wander happily as she's very well behaved and recalls fairly immediately but should I want to I may use it!
The side pockets strength the whole length of the backpack and are deep enough to put a two pint milk carton. At this stage I should point out that when filling the pockets try and balance the load or the dog will tip over. Because Doughnut is still a baby and has delicate growing bones (anyone who's ever been unfortunate enough to experience a Labrador will know full well there's nothing delicate about them, however...) I tend not to put anything in the pockets except poo bags and her halti - just wearing the pack is sufficient enough in tiring her out.
Doughnut really enjoys wearing her pack - when she sees it, she stands still and calmly lets me strap her in which is simple with just 3 clips and she's done. It seems to make her feel proud as her tail sticks up and she struts along, she's also calmer and better behaved with other dogs and people - she's definitely the queen of the canal. It encourages random conversations with people which at the same time means she is socialised more and although I was self-conscious in the beginning, D's pride has rubbed off!
Small - weight: up to 18lbs, girth: up to 25 inches, length: 9.5 inches
Medium - 18-50lbs, 26-32 inches, 13 inches
X-Large - over 80lbs, 36-48 inches, 15 inches.
The prices range from £25 for small to £40 extra large and come in four different colours - blue, red, green and black.
The official website for this and other Outward Hound exciting products that make your dog look a twit is www.kyjen.com but you can find them on www.canineconcepts.co.uk and www.petplanet.co.uk (that's where I got D's from).
Thanks for reading.
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Convenient and comfortable backpack for dogs