As a dog owner I try to take Loki (meet him here) on all my outdoor activities. Eventually I hope to use him as a bird dog (maybe even this year). However, for now I am just happy to give him as much exposure to as many outdoor activities as possible. Awhile ago I wrote about being unprepared for an injury Loki sustained on his first camping trip (catch up here). Following the idea of preparedness, I began looking at Loki’s kit to see if there were any other areas I could improve on. I discovered I didn’t have anything for Loki to sleep on.

This may not seem like a big deal (depending on where you live), but a foundational portion of our training is the “bed” command. Using this command I can have Loki retreat to a small pad (at home) where he will stay until I release him (unless he sneaks off). This could come in handy while setting up a camp, or gutting an animal. Additionally, when it gets cold at night getting Loki off the tent floor will keep him nice and warm. After looking around I settled on Ruffwear’s Highlands Sleeping Bag.

Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag
Loki taking a break on his “bed”

The Highlands Sleeping Bag is; oval in shape, has a slide zipper to expand the surface area (or seal your dog in), and a sleeve where an additional pad can be inserted. In short, it’s a mini sleeping bag designed for your dog. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first. Would my dog really use a sleeping bag? Turns out the answer is yes. At first I simply placed the zipped up bag on the ground in our camp and gave the “bed” command. Not surprisingly he looked around camp all confused (he was looking for that pad we have at home). I grabbed him by the collar and guided him to the sleeping bag, repeated the command “bed” and placed him on the sleeping bag. Once on the sleeping bag I praised him with good voice tones.

Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag
Here we were working on the familiarization of closing the bag

We repeated this a few times before he understood that this was now his bed. Once this was established I began catching him just laying on it. To take it a step further, I unzipped the bag and once I saw him on the bed I simply flipped the other half over him. Again, to my surprise, he just sat there tail wagging. By no means was it warm enough where I was to warrant actually zipping him in at night, but once I moved his bag into the tent he went right to it and laid down. It was his spot and he knew it.

Highlands Sleeping Bag Specifications (courtesy of ruffwear.com)

KEY FEATURES

  • Compressible, lightweight sleeping bag for dogs
  • Synthetic insulation insulates dog from cold air and hard ground
  • Polyester fabric shell is water-resistant, quick-drying and durable
  • Side zipper opens the bag wide for easy entry, zips closed to retain body heat
  • Stuff sack included for storage and compressibility
  • Four stake-out loops to secure bed to ground or to hang dry
  • Integrated pad sleeve accommodates the Highlands Pad™, creating the ultimate backcountry sleeping system
  • Fits in all sizes of Ruffwear’s Palisades Pack™
  • Machine washable
Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bag in stuffed configuration 12″x 7″ (sack included)

SIZING

  • Flat: 35 in x 26 in; 1 in loft (89 x 66 x 2.5 cm)
  • Stuffed: 12 in x 7 in (30 x 18 cm)
  • Weight: 1 lb 10.8 oz (760 g)

Reenforcing our “bed” command while outside our home was a big deal for us. It gave him some familiarity, and gave me increased control. Of course it didn’t hurt that it makes it far more comfortable for him than laying on the ground. If you are the kind of outdoor enthusiast who travels light, and stays out on overnight excursions I’d take a good look at this product for your dog. So far I am extremely pleased with mine. I will continue to test this product when Loki and I go out into the field. Should any weaknesses present itself I’ll be sure to do a follow-up.

(Featured image courtesy of Ruffwear.com)