In today’s episode, we are going to talk about heading outdoors with dogs. Our guest, Pine Irwin of Irwin Dog Training, specializes in outdoor adventures. She teaches private lessons and leads a group that is all focused on helping dogs excel in the outdoors, from backpacking to shorter hikes.
We talk all about safety and benefits of off-leash (and on-leash) hiking with our dogs.
What Are the Benefits of Heading Outdoors With Dogs?
- Sniffs and Smells are good for the brain
- Body conditioning: using the outdoors to keep a dog and human fit
- Dirt under your feet is better than pavement, especially for joints
- Relaxing for the dog (and you)
What Are Some Options for People Who Don’t Live Near Excellent Trail Systems?
- Urban city parks are still great
- Gravel or dirt roads – your dog doesn’t know he’s missing an amazing vista
- Make friends to carpool and split gas costs
On-Leash Versus Off-Leash Hiking
- Long lines are an excellent compromise for dogs who aren’t trustworthy off leash
- Off-leash and moving is generally better for keeping dogs friendly if dogs aren’t socially savvy. Just keep moving!
- If you’re going off-leash, you’ve got to:
- Know your area.
- Know the laws.
- Know the predators, their behavior, and the risks around them.
- Know the other trail users
- Know your dog – what sort of situations will challenge him, and when should you clip the leash on?
- Ideally, your dog should have a few different cues for recall or stopping. For example, between Kayla and Pine, they both use:
- Hand targets
- Emergency down
- Fly-bys (running past)
- Off road (hopping off the trail to let others pass)
Why Is Hiking So Good For Dogs?
- Dogs don’t get to “just be dogs” nearly enough.
- If your dog burns off his adrenaline on the trail, he’s got less anxiety for later on.
- You and your dog build relationships, skills, and trust without the pressure of a cityscape
For Further Reading:
- Pine’s Facebook Page
- Boundary Training
- Off-leash obedience in tough situations
- The “Can You Listen When” Game
- Hand Targets
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but lives in Missoula Montana. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, as a private dog trainer, and with working detection K9s. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her border collie Barley.