Saddle Up! Carry a Dog in a Backpack

Saddle Up! Carry a Dog in a Backpack

Key Points

  • There are many benefits to carrying a dog in a backpack carrier.

  • It is safe to carry a dog in a backpack carrier.

  • The best backpack carrier for a large dog is the K9 Sport Sack.

Carry a dog in a backpack so you don’t have to backtrack when an anxiety attack throws your dog out of whack. Learn some hacks to put them back on track and relax. Then, you have the knack that you lacked; in fact, you’re the leader of their pack. 

Your best friend wants to go everywhere with you. You want to take them, but sometimes it’s inconvenient. Do you know that you can carry a dog in a backpack? It’s a safe way to keep them with you as you take them on adventures like bike rides, trail rides, or hikes.

Benefits of a Dog Carrier Backpack

You may have never thought of using a backpack to carry your dog, but there are several positive aspects of having one. If you go on frequent outdoor trips and you don’t want to leave your dog behind, backpacks are very useful. You don’t have to go to the great outdoors to use one, though. Take your dog on walks around your neighborhood and to the park as well. Wherever you go with your dog in a backpack, there are benefits for both you and your dog.

Convenience and Comfort

If you’re going hiking or biking and want to take Rover along, it’s hard to do if you’re carrying other things or traversing terrain that is difficult for a dog to navigate. With your dog in a backpack, your hands are free and your dog goes wherever you go. 

Dog being carried in backpack

You have hiking shoes or boots when you’re trekking across rocks. Your dog doesn’t have that advantage, so riding along in a backpack saves their paws from getting roughed up. By the end of the journey, they’re thanking you.


When you go hiking or camping in the woods, there is no limit to the number of new sights and smells that your dog is exposed to. They may easily take off spontaneously after a squirrel if you’re not tightly holding their leash the entire time. Carrying a dog in a backpack eliminates that possibility.

You don’t want to worry about your dog possibly getting lost in a vast, unknown area. If they’re in a backpack, they’re secured safely at all times and you don’t have to worry about holding onto them. When you stop for a potty break, attach the leash to their collar before taking them out of the pack. You don’t want them running off as soon as they’re free.

Better for Anxious Dogs

If your dog suffers from anxiety, a backpack makes them feel safer in an unfamiliar place. They are secured inside and more protected. They are also snug against your body, and this feels better for a dog with separation anxiety in particular. This is similar to a Thundershirt which relieves anxiety during thunderstorms or fireworks shows.

Would My Dog Rather Stay Home?

You may wonder if your dog has separation anxiety. Are they anxious when separated from you or just trying to get attention? There are some common signs to look for when assessing whether your dog has separation anxiety.

Your dog paces, whines, barks, or tries to stop you from leaving; they destroy furniture and objects while you’re gone; they go potty in inappropriate places after they’ve successfully been potty-trained; or they overeat or refuse to eat while you’re gone. 

Dog with ripped up chair

These are all common signs associated with separation anxiety. Your dog has formed a strong attachment to you and they are telling you by their actions that they don’t want to be separated from you. A dog like this would rather be with you in an unfamiliar place than be left at home by themselves.

If you carry a dog in a backpack, they are next to your body, and you don’t get closer than that! They hear your breathing and heartbeat which are soothing sounds. Depending on the type of backpack, some are similar to a calming wrap holding them snuggly and securely. All of these things work together to calm a dog with anxiety.

Are Dog Carrier Backpacks Safe?

Veterinarians recommend carrying your dog in a backpack to create a bond between you and your dog. They are safer in some situations because they are more secure and do not allow the dog to run off when distracted in a new place. You still need to check with your vet to see if your dog has any health issues that may be impacted by the use of particular styles of backpack carriers.

Retrievist of the American Kennel Club says dog backpacks are safe “when used properly based on your dog's needs. Some dogs will prefer their legs out in the carrier, while other pups prefer an enclosed case. Either way, a backpack is perfectly safe as long as it is properly ventilated, the dog isn’t too heavy, and they're placed in the correct position.”

The experts trust dog backpacks and you should too. The only caveat is that you pick the type of carrier that fits the needs of you and your dog and follow the instructions for securing your dog properly. That's the next step!

What’s the Best Dog Carrier Backpack?

There are all kinds of backpacks available from bubble-type to mesh, ones you carry in front of you, and ones on your back. The carrier you choose depends on the temperament of your dog as well as your needs. The specific products you see here are the most popular in their categories, but there are other styles for different needs as well.

Small dog in backpack

In February of 2023, Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack is listed as number one in the category of Dog Carrier Backpacks on Amazon. Three of its sides are made of PVC mesh screen, so it is well-ventilated, and your dog easily sees what’s going on around them. It is listed for dogs up to 15 pounds and comes in a variety of colors.

There is also an upgraded version that includes curtains to keep the sun off of your dog or if they have some anxiety and need more of a den-like atmosphere to make them feel safe. You have the option to zip up the curtains or open them to reveal the mesh and airflow.

The carrier listed as number two on Amazon is the Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack which can be worn on the front or the back with the dog facing outward. There are openings for all four legs to stick out if your dog feels more comfortable that way.

The advantage to this one is that, when wearing it in front, you look down and check on your dog to see if they’re okay. When worn in the back, it’s a little more difficult to know what’s going on. You are also able to carry a separate pack with your equipment on your back.

If you have a larger dog, the K9 Sport Sack Kolossus size XX-Large is listed for dogs weighing from 20 to 80 pounds measuring from 26-29 inches from the collar to the base of their tail. It is a front-facing pack and allows your dog to stick their front legs out over your shoulders.

The website also has YouTube videos that describe their products as well as videos showing owners how to properly fit their dog into the backpack. K9 Sport is picked by Outdoor Dog World as runner-up in their list of best dog carrier backpacks and the top pick from as the best backpack for biking for heavy dogs.

Poodle in dog backpack

Before buying online, measure your dog first. Take their weight, but also measure around their chest. The shape of some dogs is unique, so consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart to find the best fit. They should be snug but not overly constricting.

How To Get Your Dog Used to the Backpack

Whenever you’re introducing a new item to your dog whether it’s a collar, harness, bed, calming wrap, or backpack carrier, it is important to let them become acquainted with it gradually. Going too fast may cause anxiety and make it much more difficult when you want them to wear it for an outing.

Diane Wuthrich is the head writer and researcher for Backpacks Global. She gives a list of five tips to get your dog used to a backpack. First, lay the backpack open on the floor. Allow your dog to examine it on their own. If they show any interest –- sniffing it, walking on it, lying down, etc -– give them a treat to give the backpack a positive association.

Dog being fed treat

Second, come up with a command to associate with the time that they should get into the pack. It should be something that doesn’t sound similar to other commands they already know so they don’t get confused. Give them a treat when they go to the pack after hearing the command. Repeat the process until you get their whole body into the backpack.

Third, zip up or secure the backpack, pick it up, and walk around the house for a few minutes. Take note of how your dog is responding and don’t leave them in there if they start squirming or showing signs of anxiety. It is important to practice these steps inside the house where your dog feels comfortable.

Fourth, make adjustments based on your dog’s reaction. If they don’t seem comfortable, take some more practice runs. You don’t want to cause them to have a bad reaction to the backpack before you even make it out of the house.

Once your dog gets comfortable being secured in the backpack, gradually increase the time they are in there. Wuthrich says, “For dogs that have become acclimatized to being in a backpack, get them used to staying in it for longer periods of time but gradually. If you intend to go hiking with them for 3-4 hours at a time, let them out to go potty after an hour, which is also a great opportunity for them to stretch their legs.”


If you’re planning on a camping trip where you stay the night, it is a good idea to take shorter trips leading up to it. You don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere with a dog that is overwrought with anxiety.

Take them on walks around the neighborhood and places that are familiar to them. Instead of the leash, carry your dog in the backpack. They are more comfortable being in familiar surroundings as they get used to the feeling of being carried on your back.

Dog being carried inside backpack

If you’re staying in a tent, you want a place for your dog as well. The Calming Carrier Plus is a great option. It is a carrier, but also expands to give your dog a little more room to move. It is also TSA airline-approved in case you’re taking a flight to your destination.

If you’re afraid your dog might have anxiety in an unfamiliar place, take along the Calming Inserts too. There is a pocket on the carrier made especially for the inserts. They include a special formula that is valerian oil-based and includes essential oils such as vetiver (a calming aromatic grass oil), sweet basil oil, and clary sage oil. These scents work together to soothe your dog.

Packing It Up

Perhaps your dog has separation anxiety but that doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things that you love. Carry your dog in a backpack and you don’t have to leave them behind. Go on all kinds of adventures together. Biking with your beagle? Beautiful. Camping with your canine? Cool. Hiking with your hound? Happy and healthy.

You’ve discovered the benefits, you’ve seen the products, and learned how to use them. Leave plenty of time to get the right product for your dog as well as time for them to get used to it before trekking out. Once you and your dog are ready, pack up and head out!

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