Raising An Adventure Dog Series–Post 1
Obedience training is a must for every dog, but especially for a future adventure dog. If you want a well-rounded dog that you can take anywhere, you must invest the time into properly training and socializing them. It’s much easier to mold a puppy into the dog you want rather than to try and train out unwanted behaviors as adults.
Training your dog to camp with you takes some preparation. We don’t want to be out in the wilderness somewhere with our dog chasing bears, chasing other dogs, refusing to go anywhere near the tent. or just generally making a nuisance of him or herself and making us look like a shitty dog parent in the process.
Freya practicing Down and Sit
A common mistake made by some puppy owners is thinking that socializing their pups with other people and dogs will somehow make them less protective of you. This could not be further from the truth. A dog that is well socialized and is given the opportunity to meet friendly people at a formative age will know when a situation is potentially threatening vs a dog that is wary of everything and everyone because it’s all strange and new and potentially a threat.
Enjoying a cool drink at a local cafe
It is imperative that you take your puppy out and about as soon as your vet says it is safe to do so. One of my favorite ways to socialize a puppy is to sit at a local dog-friendly cafe. Not only must the pup learn to behave in a setting where there are people dining, but where there is a lot of opportunity for positive interaction from passers by. I always encourage people to pet and handle my puppy. Other pet-friendly places that are good for this type of positive interaction are some of the large home improvement chains and of course pet stores.
Getting Familiar With Gear
Whether you want to camp, hike, kayak or climb mountains with your dog, you need to familiarize them with the types of outdoor equipment you will be using. For me, the most important piece of equipment I need to familiarize her with (next to a lead, of course) is the tent. I’m a former hammock camper and haven’t settled on a tent as of yet, so for the sake of training we are using a standard 4-person camping tent that we use for weekend campouts. It is not a backpacking tent, but it will work for training.
What is that thing?
To my knowledge, Freya had never seen a tent before. I certainly didn’t want the first time to be on an actual trip. I set the tent up in the back yard and as I did, I had the tripod set up and was filming for our youtube channel. Freya was not only unsure about the tent, but the tripod as well. I had some treats on me, and as she took a step toward either the tripod or the tent, I verbally praised her and gave her a treat. I wanted the association to be positive.
The first day she showed reluctance to move near the tent. As it moved in the breeze and made rustling sounds she would move away from it. But around the second day she showed less anxiousness. She had to go out into the back yard in order to go potty, and all the other dogs were showing no interest. Slowly she began to exhibit more curiosity. She would approach it cautiously and give it a sniff, to which I immediately responded with “Good girl!” and/or a treat.
On day 2 I unzipped the tent door while holding to Freya on lead. I expected she may freak out as she’d so far exhibited a good deal of skittishness with regard to new sounds and sudden movements. Her previous home had unknowingly made this worse by petting, cooing and giving her lots of cuddles when she showed any sign of fear. Unfortunately this can solidify these undesirable behaviors by communicating to the dog that there is cause for concern, and instead of what we think of as consoling the dog with “It’s ok,” gets translated as “It’s ok to act afraid.” Our body posture and often crouching or protective stance in these situations can unknowingly create lifelong issues.
As I unzipped the tent door she did attempt to move away, but once I took some treats out of the treat pouch, her uncertainty over the door was slowly replaced by interest in the yummy-smelling goodies I had in my hand. When she ventured forward for the treat, she was right up to the tent door and could see inside. I placed a treat just inside the tent threshold, but she was not convinced it was a safe place just yet, so that treat remained there. For day 2, this was still great progress. We ended our lesson there and went to play some fetch. It’s important to end any training on a positive note. Even if the training session didn’t go as you’d hoped, even if you are frustrated, be very mindful of how you end that training session. Plaster a smile on your face and end on a high note.
The next day we picked up where we left off, except this time I got into the tent and sat with my legs just outside. I made sure Freya knew I had treats, and praised her when she approached the tent door. She got one treat at the door and if she stretched her neck inside to get another she was praised even more. Do you think she stepped inside? Check out the video below to see how far she actually went!
If you’ve trained your pup to go camping with you, what method did you use? Let me know if you find this post helpful in training your own future adventure pup! Don’t forget to give the video a thumbs up if you liked it and subscribe for more of our series Raising An Adventure Dog.