The Ruffwear Palisades – what an interesting item for your dog – a doggy backpack!
So, being the trainer I am, I’m always looking for new tools, new things, and new ways to train and get the most out of your dog.
And, there was a rumour on the wind that backpack training could be incredibly beneficial for reactive dogs – based on the principle that it brought their focus back to themselves and off of a potential trigger (aka, the thing your dog would react to).
This is one of the harnesses that Indie and I use pretty regularly actually, it’s a long body harness, with a tummy strap – and I’ll get into that in a bit! That is built to have a detachable set of ‘palisades’ – like saddlebags! It’s a really interesting piece of kit and something I was really keen to test out.
We actually ended up using it for the plane ride from the UK to the US.
Backpack work takes training! It’s not something you can just leap into. I’ll cover this in another post though. It’s not written yet, but as soon as it is, I’ll share it!
Please note this is NOT A SPONSORED POST. I paid for this harness myself!
Introducing The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack!
✅ Escape proof*
✅ Flexible design
✅ Harness & backpack
✅ Pack cinches down flush
✅ Sturdy design
✅ Basics of a MOLLE system
✅ Safe travelling
❌ No front point
❌ Can chafe
❌ Long body
❌ Might not work for bull breeds
❌ Overhead only
*At least I’ve never once heard of it! Honestly, I’d trust even the wiliest of dogs in this harness!
How It Works.
Because of the construct of this harness – it’s a little more difficult to get into, it has two clips, meaning the harness goes over the head, you slip one paw in through the gap between the girth and the chest strap, then secure on the dogs left, and the tummy strap just passes straight under and tucks in behind their ribs, again securing with a plastic clip on the left.
The harness is actually based on the Ruffwear Webmaster – a harness I really quite like, it’s just been modified to include a backpack!
There’s 4 metal toggles on the top which are the initial attachment, then there is a small securing strap that attaches around the tummy strap to ensure the palisades don’t bounce.
Then within the pack, there are 4 pockets on each side, most of these are for ‘stuff’ but the important one is at the front – this one is a small pocket with a series of straps and an elastic cord in it – this is how you cinch the pack tighter – this means your dog will carry the weight they’re carrying closer to their body, not only making it easier to carry and less awkward – but safer for their bones and movement too.
Whilst the reflectors are few, they are present! Both on the harness and the pack, so your pup is covered no matter what way you’re using it. The reflective strips are also really good so you don’t have to worry about finding your pup after dark!
Unlike a lot of harnesses that go down to the tummy, it’s great to know that this is one of the most flexible harnesses that I’ve found. Despite it’s length it does’t really restrict turning circles and such! Which is great, despite a harness being a ‘containment’ method – it’s good that the harness can move freely with your dog – or as much as possible at least. This way they are minimally invasive for your woof.
Even though the inside lining (which isn’t the same as the nylon on the top if you’re interested!) does collect Indie’s shedding, I will freely say that it washes up really well. Even though there’s more fabric involved, it washes nice, dries quick, and doesn’t get too grubby which I was really pleased about given that my boy does love a bit of muck!
I love the fact that the backpack and the harness come apart – it makes for safe travel, it makes for options, and it makes for a lot of flexibility whilst you’re out, travelling, or even if you’re just going for a walk. It’s a real all in one sort of deal, which I like. If I’m making this level of investment, I want to be able to get as much use out of it as possible. And Ruffwear have truly managed that.
Welfare in mind
The way these packs cinch in? Is just wonderful, they’ve literally built the whole pack to fit in this functionality, there are crossed nylon straps and a super simple system for cinching it down and loosening it up – which just shows that they truly get what a pack like this is to be used for – being opened up regularly, but is totally safe and sound for your pets, ensuring that the weight distribution is as tight to your dogs body as physically possible. This in itself, makes the ruffwear palisades a fantastically considered piece of equipment
Who Needs This?
Please do note that this is NOT an advisable piece of kit for puppies! Adding on weight to growing or old bones is not an advisable thing to do – also puppies already learning so much that adding in this? May just distract them from the important stuff!
The Fit & Healthy
This is only for dogs in the peak of their health, they are young, strong, fit and healthy. This is aimed at being that little bit extra not necessarily a daily occurrence but maybe a weekly challenge would work well!
Hikers & Campers
If you often take your dog out for adventures? This could be incredibly good for you! You have such flexibility with this pack, that if you want them to carry their own load? They absolutely can. Then to make it easier when you need to? You can detach the load without unpacking everything too.
Those Wanting A New Challenge
If your dog is one of those (like mine!) who loves to learn and enjoys being challenged? Then this might be your new adventure! It can really assist in keeping your pup’s centre of balance in the right place and such! And remember, learning is always a good thing.
The Escape Artist!
Are you the parent of that dog who keeps slipping collars and wiggling out of harnesses? Well, where this harness goes a long way down the body? It means that your pup pretty much cannot escape!
Reactive dogs (?)
Now, whilst this isn’t proven, and whilst it totally depends on your dog, some reactive dogs (particularly those who you’ve begun working with) can see a benefit in getting them to focus on themselves and less on the dogs around them. I seen this happen with Indie when we were training, his “bubble” definitely got smaller.
A bubble is how I describe a reactive dog’s threshold, or personal space.
This is said with a little trepidation because I don’t think you should be overloading bones that are already overloaded, but, it is an option. If they can add in a little? It might help you eek off the pounds from your pupper!
Those who need a more challenging walk
If you have an active dog, and some days, you just don’t have the time to put into a walk? This is a great option. It’s something that you can pop on, and all of a sudden a thirty minute walk becomes more like an hours walk for the level of the focus your dog has to apply. It’s a great way to get that extra inch out of your dogs activities.
(Please do not get me wrong, I’m a massive advocate of days off from walking!)
Who It’s Not For.
The Old, The Young, The Infirm
Essentially, if your dog is not fit or healthy? This is not an option. If you’re looking for new challenges, try something else. This is not for you!! Even if you know that hip dysplasia is a risk, or you think they have heart issues, all of these things are big ol’ red flags that mean this is almost certainly NOT FOR YOUR DOG. I’m sorry, but it’s going to add extra strain and even a cautious application and training regime would (to me) be too much of a risk!
Other options would be hydrotherapy – swimming adds in resistance that can help strengthen without adding pressure on joints.
N.B! WATCH YOUR DOG!
Observation is key with everything with your dog, whether thats toilet training, or their health. It’s immensely important that you ensure that your dog stays in the peak of health, and know and understand their normal. Every dog is different, so knowing that (for example) Indie will almost always pee with his left back leg down, and that he curls clockwise to sleep, is something that I just know – but I do know that if they change? If these normal things change then I know there’s something wrong.
Room For Improvement
What’s My Favourite Features Of The Ruffwear Palisades?
Is that they are removable!!
I’ve looked at a number of doggy backpacks in the past, and so many of them are basically permanent fixtures on the harness – which means that the adjustment is going to be bigger, faster, and it means that transporting your dog means you have to remove the harness entirely – so if you have to drive to wherever you’re going hiking? You then have to either ride them in a different harness, or remove it entirely for a crate to create safe travel
Is There Room For Improvement With The Ruffwear Front Range.
The toggles? Whilst fabulous, are also a funny dimension? Which can get caught in crate slats so in transport? They can catch and get stuck. This is a bit of a pain and can result in a damaged harness which I wasn’t that pleased with.
The Pack Is Hard To Put On When Full
Trivial statement, but when the detachable pack gets detached – when full – it is just a bit of a faff to put it all back together. I kind of expected it to be clunky, but gosh it took me a solid 5-10 mins to get it all in place, safe and secure after the security checks at the airport.
Do I Recommend It?
Yes!! I really do like it. It’s a really good option for those learning, and for those who need a new challenge. It’s not a necessity! But it is definitely a great option to explore. We don’t use it often, but for the airport trip, it was incredibly useful, and for the reactivity? It helped in training too. And for the odd day where I had time constraints? This helped me to take the edge off of his energy too.
Backpacks aren’t for every puppy. So just make sure you’ve got the right tool for the job, okay? And that your dog is healthy, happy and always make sure that they want to do this sort of work!
Where Can You Get One?
You can grab one on Amazon or on the ruffwear website! They’re pricey, but they’re the most diverse piece of kit you’ll find! Or, if you like the sound of the harness, but don’t think it needs the backpack addition? Why not grab a ruffwear Webmaster instead? More affordable, but super secure!
If you want to investigate other options for harnesses? Why not check out Dog Products Reviewed by Rebarkable -Recommending Only The Very Best! to find the best product for your dog.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Please note this is NOT A SPONSORED POST. I paid for this harness myself!