Imagine your furry friend being home alone all day while you are at work. You come back from work only to feed your dog and walk him so he can do his needs.
After grabbing some dinner yourself, you leave your pal at home so you can go out with friends or visit relatives. You might feel terrible for leaving your dog home alone all day. Since you always have to take public transport, it is difficult to take him with you.
You can’t always take your dog with you, because they are not allowed to walk everywhere like you. Even leash walking your dog in a store might not be something the store owner wants. But you want to spend more time with your dog and not always leave him at home.
Why is Carrying a Dog in a Backpack a Solution?
The solution for this could be a dog carrying bag. These are backpacks that allow you to carry your dog. Small dogs, of course. Large dogs could be a little uncomfortable for both you and the dog.
It will be easier for you to bring your pal along when you go shopping or visit and, he gets to spend more time with you.
Not all dogs are comfortable with sitting in a backpack, though. It might require some training to teach your dog to sit still in the bag and be comfortable. Some socialization training is needed because you can’t have your dog jump out of the bag every time he sees another dog. He might need to learn to get in and out of the bag and be comfortable with lifting it and carrying him around in the bag.
You can read about dog backpack carriers safety in the post are dog backpack carriers safe?
What Kind of Bag do I Need to Carry My Dog?
You should not get any backpack to get your dog in de backpack and travel him everywhere. Most bags are not meant to carry a dog.
You can buy a good dog carrying bag from a pet store. Usually, these bags have some extra padding and venting holes so your dog can sit comfortably. Look for the correct size to fit your dog and the weight the bag can carry.
How to Get Your Dog in a Backpack?
At first, he needs to get comfortable with closed environments. If you not already have done so, you can start with crate training.
Have plenty of treats around to reward him when he is doing a good job. I have taught my dog everything through clicker training. I find this the best option for positive reinforcement. With clicker training, you can let your pal know when he shows good behavior at the moment he does it through a single click.
Clicker training is a waiting game.
You wait for your dog to make a move, and when it is the right one, you click. Right after the click, you reward him.
So how can we lure our dog into a carrier bag?
- Step 1: Put the open bag on the floor. If your dog is already accustomed to clicker training, he might already be alert.
If he already shows interest in the bag or starts sniffing it, then click and reward him.
If he doesn’t show any interest yet, you can put a treat for him in the bag. Click and reward him as soon as he takes the treat from the bag.
Repeat step 1 a couple of times, so he learns he gets rewarded when he shows interest in the bag. If he sets one of his legs in the bag GREAT, click and treat! You are already at step 2.
- Step 2: Now stop putting a reward in the bag and stop rewarding when he sniffs.
You will see that he starts to think about why he doesn’t receive a reward. This is great. His creativity is at work. Before you know it, he will do all kinds of things around the bag to test when he gets a treat. Don’t do anything until he steps with one leg in the bag. Click and reward.
Repeat this step a couple of times.
- Step 3: Now stop rewarding him when he steps with one leg into the bag.
We now want him to step with more legs into the bag, or eventually, we want him to sit, so if you can already get him to do that great.
If not, let’s wait and see what he will do. If he stands with multiple legs in the bag, click and reward him.
Repeat these steps a couple of times.
- Step 4: Now stop rewarding him for standing in the bag with multiple legs.
Does your dog know the command sit? You can use this to get him to sit in the bag if he does not do this by himself. If he sits, you click and reward him. Repeat this a couple of times.
You are now ready to connect a command like “in the bag” to the behavior. Do this by giving him the command as soon as he sits in the bag. Click and reward immediately.
You can repeat this about ten times. After that, you can try and see if your dog responds to the command.
As soon as he sits in the bag, you click and reward him.
Again repeat this a couple of times.
- Step 5: Now, we want him to sit longer in the bag before we reward him.
You can do this by giving him the command to sit in the bag. When he sits, you wait about 3 to 5 seconds before you click. Then reward him.
Slowly add more seconds before the click. Build it up from 5 to 10 seconds to 15 seconds and so on.
After a while, he will stay in the bag.
- Step 6: Now that we have him comfortable sitting in the bag, it is time to close it.
Slowly close the bag with your dogs head out. Reward multiple times while doing so. Have him sit like this for a little while. And then reward him with small pauses between to get him comfortable being locked in the bag.
- Step 7: It is time to lift the backpack.
Get your dog into the bag again and reward him while you close it. Slowly lift the bag and keep rewarding your dog. Walk around the house while you reward your dog with small pauses in between.
- Step 8: Extend the periods you walk around the house with your dog in the bag. While you are extending the time, also try to extend the pauses between rewarding.
Gradually extend the time and go outside so he will also get accustomed to being zipped in the bag in different environments.
- Step 9: If your dog feels comfortable being carried around in a bag, it is time to stop the rewarding slowly.
Gradually extend the periods between the rewards until they are almost entirely unnecessary.
You now completed the training. Do reward your dog every once in a while, while he is in the bag.
Training your dog to get him in carrying back and be comfortable can take a little bit of time and practice, but eventually can be of great benefit to you both.
Just follow the steps outlined above, keep calm, and give your dog the time he needs to learn. You will get there as long as you stay at it.
Try to keep the training session to a max of 10 minutes and finish positive. For instance, if he puts his front legs in the back for the first time, you complete the training session with a couple of treats. This helps to keep your dog motivated and make it a positive experience for your dog.
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