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Weighted Dog Vest
Weighted vests have been around for quite a while now, with early inventions dating back to the late 20th century.
Weight vests have become popular recently as a resistance training tool. These vests seem to be everywhere and can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online. Running with a weight vest is used in some forms of armed forces combat training, so it’s sometimes referred to as “military-style” training.
Before weighted dog vests and vests for calming dogs entered the market, there was a demand for more traditional vests. In particular, vests with pockets and compartments that allowed dogs to simply carry items – like a backpack.
There are two main types of canine weighted vests – those used for strength training and those used as a calming mechanism. You’ll need to decide which one your dog needs before considering which one to buy.
Weighted dog vests vary in size and heaviness, there is no “one size fits all.” The weight should be based primarily on how big your dog is, and how broad their chest is. These vests do not usually come with pocket weights, as well. Pocket weights are added or reduced depending on the severity of an issue.
Let us use two dogs as an example. Both dogs are above the normal weight recommended for their breed. The first dog is twice its normal weight, and the other is thrice its recommended weight. Who needs more pocket weights in this situation? Yes, the second dog needs more to lose more!
A weighted vest can help your dog in the following situations:
- Unnecessary or consistent barking for nothing
- Chewing furniture or shoes
- Nervousness during fireworks or thunderstorms
- Anxiousness or unable to sit still during a car trip
BENEFITS OF A WEIGHTED VEST
You must have observed owners walking their dogs with vest-like material fitted around the animals’ torsos. You might consider this just part of the leash. This, however, is a vest made from some kind of heavy materials and maybe weighted with tiny sandbags, plastic pellets, or other material.
Weighted vests are designed to add extra weight to put more force on the body during exercises or walking. Our piece on teaching your pooch to walk on a leash is a must-read for all.
At the first mention of a vest with weights for your dog, your first thought may be how your pet will hold up under the weight. But it would worth the while to go for the benefits that can be derived.
- It calms an overactive dog
Like with some humans, dogs too display excessive energy and become excitable especially when in the company of others of its species. It will not keep still and is constantly agitated when in public. Dogs of this nature are difficult to handle and are not only a danger to themselves but also to others.
Dog owners will understand the pull a dog exerts as it runs before and strains against his leash to get ahead. This way, instead of you taking the dog for a walk, it takes you for a drag. Quoting Dog Whisperer Caesar Milan, dogs always want something to do, and the very moment you put a backpack on it, it starts to consider its function.
- It reduces anxiety
Some dogs cannot bear seeing any of their species and so walking a dog may mean taking a path that is less trod, or lifting your companion past any provocation. The effort takes to do this will make you wonder if it is worth the exercise.
A dog may feel anxious to the point it barks and snarls non-stop. If you do not give it something to release all that pent-up energy, it will definitely find something to do. Such dogs will engage in other unhealthy behaviors including destroying items by chewing, rough play and unruliness, uncooperativeness, and scratching.
Training the dog can be especially difficult to do as it cannot focus on the activity with it being so exciting. Apart from restricting the activities of such energetic displays, the pressure of a weighted vest on your dog can provide a sensory feeling of comfort that calms the senses and reduces aggressive behaviors.
The dog now becomes agreeable, is easier to train, and even in situations where he would normally show anxiety, he will display calm.
- It controls weight
Exercise is equally important to the health of dogs as it is to humans. The veterinarian may suggest that you give your dog 20 – 30 minutes of exercise each day. This may not be enough, however, if your dog is overweight and needs to lose some of those pounds.
Furthermore, you may not have enough time to give for your dog to lose weight in a reasonable time. One of the big advantages of a weighted vest is that it applies pressure on the movement of the dog slowing him, and as he puts greater effort into his activities the muscles burn the excess energy.
Humans are taking advantage of this weighted vest phenomenon, and in a study done in 2006, it was found that weights cause you to burn 7% more calories since it does increase the intensity of the exercise. You will get the same result with the dog as the vest makes the exercise more intense.
In a study of the impact of weighted vests on dogs in 2011, Rohrer, Kinlaw & Kinlaw found that canines lost four times more body weight when they wore a particular weighted vest than those who did not.
- It builds muscles
As the dog sheds the excess fat its muscles become leaner and stronger. As with humans, this will provide greater protection for the dog’s joints and skeletal system.
Older dogs also will benefit even more since improved muscles will help to deal with issues such as arthritis that generally affect them at this stage. The dog can now do more in terms of activities. He is now calmer, focused, and more yielding to training.
- There’s more compliance for competition
Too fat dogs and too lean ones will be judged against their better counterparts that have well-toned muscles, shiny healthy coats, and strength and focus to follow and do the activities they are ordered. Quality foods and supplements may not be enough to set your dog to the competition. A dog vest can do the trick by developing the muscles and changing the dog’s physical appearance.
How Heavy Should It Be?
If you’re just looking to reduce anxiety in your dog, it doesn’t need to be heavy at all. Rather, it should be a tight-fit without making your dog uncomfortable. This is also the same for weighted stuffed animals which generally only seek to provide the owner with a calming effect.
Thankfully, the vests above come in a huge range of different sizes and materials. Letting you choose a vest that’ll fit almost perfectly on your dog. Many also come with a size guide to make sure you pick the right one.
Want a vest to increase and strength and stamina of your dog? That’s when you want to start looking at the heavier vests.
Generally speaking, you’ll always want to start light if your dog has never worn a coat or other heavy vest before. Going too heavy at the beginning causes great pressure on joints and muscles, leading to potential injuries.
Start light, and increase the weight of the vest as your dog becomes stronger and more comfortable with wearing it.
There’s no real limit to how heavy your dog’s vest should be. Just keep increasing the weight until they reach a point where you want them to be.
HOW TO PUT WEIGHT ON A DOG
- Gradually introduce
Of course, your dog may not take kindly to a weighted vest on your first try with him. Give him credit to be wondering why you are saddling him with weight when he would like to run around freely. Pretty soon he will adjust and it will become a part of his workout routine.
So, introduce the vest slowly to your dog. In the first training sessions you may not want to engage him in a lot of exercises, but instead, get him used to the feel by walking him gently. It will not be wise also to start your dog with the full amount of weights. Increase gradually instead.
- Balance the pack
Unbuckle the vest where needed and gently slide it over the dog’s head. Very importantly, ensure that material is centered over the shoulders and there is no imbalance. Remember that the pack is weighted and can be a source of discomfort as your dog goes through its exercises. Additionally, you do not want to cause pain or strain to the animal.
- Add weight slowly
Whatever weighted materials you have to use, add them slowly to the pockets of the vest. Again, the purpose at this stage is to gently get your dog familiarized with something he is not used to. At this stage, you are in an observing position as you identify his response and plan the next move.
Remove weights as needed especially if the dog gets exhausted after just a few minutes. Where there is no problem, increase the weight as you go along.
The purpose of the weighted vest is really to create that resistance that the dog goes against to make him work harder, burn energy, and build muscle. If you were able to read through this guide, you must have seen why you need a weighted dog vest.