Weight training works for dogs the same as it does for people. It builds lean muscle, increases strength and helps shed fat. But weighted vests for dogs also offer other positive side effects, not the least of which is helping to keep your dog calmer and more manageable. Weight vests come in various sizes to fit most dogs.
Types of Weighted Vests
Most weighted vests fall into one of two main types: vests with zippered pockets or pouches and backpacks. Pocketed weight vests typically have several pockets of various sizes that allow you to add or subtract as much weight as you like. Some people, however, criticize the fact that pocketed vests often put the weight lower on the dog's back. Weighted backpacks place the weight closer to the dog's shoulders and can also be adjusted by adding or removing weights.
Strength Training and Exercise
Obesity is not just a problem for people in the United States, it's also a problem for their dogs. Dogs that don't get enough exercise can develop the same weight problems as people -- joint pains, diabetes and liver trouble. Increasing physical activity through regular exercise helps your dog burn more calories, increase metabolism and build lean muscle. A weighted vest can help get your dog to a healthy weight and to stay there.
If you've ever tried to take your dog for a walk and he ends up taking you for a drag, a weighted vest could help calm him down. Weighted vests make dogs work harder and can, consequently, tire them out. This makes dogs less hyper and generally easier to train. Weighted vests can also calm overly anxious dogs and curb aggression in high-strung dogs. Dogs see the extra weight they carry as a job, and dogs like to work.
To Build or to Buy
You can buy a weighted dog vest at pet stores or through online retailers. Prices often run from $60 to more than $100. In light of the cost, some people choose to build their own weight vests out of lightweight, comfortable fabrics that can hold weight. Generally, you want to add between 10 and 20 percent of your dog's weight to the vest. Any more weight could be harmful.