Backpacking is one of the best ways I have found to make a country walk a more physical and mental workout for your dog without the need for much in the way of equipment or competitive organisation. As is implied, the dog carries a backpack over its shoulders. Dependent on the weight the dog is carrying and the distance walked, this can be a serious physical workout and test of a dog’s endurance and fitness, and as such the AMCA have incorporated titles in this discipline into their working title programme.
If aiming to achieve an AMCA title, the weight being carried by the dogs must be no less than 30% of the dogs bodyweight; the first two UK Malamute’s to achieve an AMCA Working Title did so with their WPD, receiving confirmation in January 2007. Many more have done so since – there are now even some WPDA & WPDX holders too!
For me, I enjoy the flexibility of this discipline and how it can be adapted for each dogs ability and requirements.
For Stan, who has his exercise kept low impact, he carries only water and bowls for when we take a break, but having his pack on seems to give him a sense of purpose beyond that of a normal walk.
In contrast to Stan's more gentle work out, Lucie has been gradually building up weight and distance and having earned her first leg in December 2011 with friends Womble and Porsche around the vast Allerton Estate, went on to close her WPD title during the Spring of 2013 exploring the challenging but beautiful landscape of the Lake District with a group of friends, including an overnight camp out.
In April of 2014, Lucie enjoyed 24 miles of packing, climbing and camping in the Lake District with friends, carrying 30% of her bodyweight to earn a first leg towards her WPDA title, adding another 25 miles towards the title the following year, and closing her WPDA in May 2015 with a 44 mile backpack in the Cairngorms, Scotland, a trip which has also started her on the road to her WPDX title.
Keen to follow in Lucie's footsteps, Harry started wearing his backpack with little to no weight at around 10 months of age, and has gradually been getting used to more weight and longer distances.
In September 2014, he went for a 12 mile backpack around the Lake District with friends carrying 30% of his bodyweight to earn his first WPD Leg.
We headed back out there during Spring 2015 and closed his WPD title in March, ending with an enjoyable overnight camp out.
He then came a long with Lucie and I on a 44 mile backpack in the Cairngorms, Scotland in May 2015, a trip which has has got him started on both his WPDA & WPDX titles.
Although there are no breed club titles for our Greenlands this is still an activity they enjoy, with the Alaskan Malamute Working Association (AMWA) offering titles from their backpacking scheme to all registered sled dog breeds.
Noah & Dylan have both started working towards these titles, enjoying walks both solo and with friends.
But titles or not, any adventure with our dogs is a worthwhile one and we are looking forward to more backpacking excursions in the future.