As a dog own­er, you’ve noticed your beloved bud­dy is inter­est­ed in oth­er crea­tures. Main­ly squir­rels, birds, and bun­nies. Depend­ing on their breed and gen­er­al dis­po­si­tion, they may be only mod­er­ate­ly inter­est­ed or over­whelm­ing­ly con­sumed. There’s no way to avoid oth­er ani­mals in nature, so it’s extreme­ly impor­tant to train your dog how to con­trol their prey dri­ve. It’s for their safe­ty and so you don’t get into trou­ble. Here’s how to pre­pare for your time with dogs in the backcountry.

dogs in the backcountry

Don’t Antag­o­nize or Encour­age Their Drive
Some­times, you’ll see an own­er who thinks their dog’s nat­ur­al instinct to chase wild crea­tures is fun­ny. Agreed, it’s pret­ty fas­ci­nat­ing and cer­tain­ly enter­tain­ing. How­ev­er, when an own­er encour­ages this behav­ior by encour­ag­ing the ani­mal to chase, bark, or whine, it can become prob­lem­at­ic. Remem­ber, you are your animal’s leader and as such, she or he will always look to you for cues.

That being said, if your dog sees, say, a rab­bit while walk­ing around the neigh­bor­hood and shows inter­est, don’t encour­age the inter­est by stop­ping, talk­ing to your dog in a way that gets him/her excit­ed, or allow your dog to pull. Mere­ly walk past the rab­bit calm­ly, keep­ing your dog at your heel. If your dog pulls or lunges, cor­rect them firm­ly by telling them “no” and mak­ing them sit calm­ing while the rab­bit hops away.

The only time it is appro­pri­ate for a per­son to encour­age their dog’s prey instinct is if that per­son intends to hunt using their ani­mal. Dogs are used to hunt wild boar, birds, rab­bits, and a vari­ety of oth­er game ani­mals. Because many were bred for just this pur­pose, it is an excel­lent way to allow your dog to use their instincts in a pro­duc­tive man­ner. Just make sure you train them rig­or­ous­ly beforehand.

Use Walks and the Dog Park as Train­ing Tools
Even liv­ing in the city, you are sure to come across all sorts of wild crit­ters. Each time you do, use it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to train. Car­ry treats with you and, when your dog is calm and doesn’t lunge after the ani­mal, give them as a reward.

Dis­trac­tion is an Excel­lent Tactic
If you have a dog who nat­u­ral­ly loves to retrieve, a ball can be an excel­lent dis­trac­tion in the backcountry.

Fol­low the rules if you’re in an area where off-leash dogs are pro­hib­it­ed! There are, most like­ly, very good rea­sons for these laws. Maybe you’re in bear coun­try and they want you to stay safe. Or cer­tain areas where you’re hik­ing might be very frag­ile, such as high-alpine tun­dra, and allow­ing your dog(s) to traipse all over it might dam­age the ecosys­tem irreparably.

Fur­ther­more, if you don’t fol­low these laws, you can be fined. For exam­ple, in many areas, it is ille­gal for dogs to chase wildlife. You’ll pay a hefty fine if a ranger sees your dog off-leash, chas­ing a deer.

Just Leash Your Animal
If you trained and still find that your dog can­not con­trol their prey-dri­ve, leash them. Of course, you love to see your ani­mal run­ning free, but it’s not worth a hefty tick­et or them get­ting bit­ten (or even killed) by a wild ani­mal sim­ply because they weren’t leashed.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkmaxwell/

It’s a strug­gle for work­ing men and women these days; many of us are putting in 60 hour work weeks. With all that time spent out­side the house you might be wor­ried you’re neglect­ing your pet. But just because you work a lot doesn’t mean there isn’t a dog breed for you. Here are a few that are actu­al­ly per­fect for peo­ple who spend long hours away.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkmaxwell/Grey­hound
It’s no secret that Grey­hounds love to run, which makes them great for folks who love the out­doors, but what’s not as well-known is that at home they’re reg­u­lar couch pota­toes. They’re often rec­om­mend­ed for apart­ment dwellers due to the fact that they’re sur­pris­ing­ly docile for such large dogs. As long as you get him out in the morn­ing and evening for a good jog your pup will be per­fect­ly con­tent at home while you’re out bring­ing in the bacon.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabian-horst/Whip­pet
If you’re deal­ing with pesky weight restric­tions but desire some­thing sim­i­lar to a Grey­hound, con­sid­er a Whip­pet instead. These slight­ly small­er cousins are just as avid run­ners but don’t take up quite as much room. They’re sprint­ers rather than endurance run­ners, so they’re great for short jaunts around a track or peo­ple who love obsta­cles or park­our. With prop­er dai­ly exer­cise, they’re fine spend­ing the day indoors wait­ing for you to get home.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gowster/Bull Ter­ri­er
These squat fel­las might not have the longest legs in the bunch, but they sure do like hav­ing a good time. Bull Ter­ri­ers are known as clowns in a dog suit due to their propen­si­ty to act like goof­balls to enter­tain their friends. They’re inde­pen­dent, so don’t mind being left alone, but are also ready to go on an adven­ture at a moment’s notice. Train­ing can be a chal­lenge, but once you get it down you’ll find these pups are a joy to own.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/133374862@N02/Chow Chow
The infa­mous Chow Chow might not be the most socia­ble breed of dog, but what these guys lack in approach­a­bil­i­ty they make up for in their abil­i­ty to take care of them­selves. Wide­ly regard­ed as more cat­like in behav­ior than a dog, you’ll have no prob­lem leav­ing a Chow to do his thing at home with­out hav­ing to wor­ry about com­ing back to destruc­tion. His ener­gy lev­el isn’t exact­ly high, but you’ll still find him will­ing and able to accom­pa­ny you on long hikes as long as you pro­vide plen­ty of water and keep him cool.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/atomicf4i/Shi­ba Inu
The Shi­ba Inu is one of the most beau­ti­ful dogs out there, some­what resem­bling a fox, but with the inde­pen­dent nature of a cat. These guys are often dif­fi­cult to train due to their intel­li­gence and high ener­gy. They require a good jog in the morn­ing to keep them wound down until the evening, oth­er­wise, they’ll wreak hav­oc on your liv­ing room couch. It sounds bad, but for high ener­gy own­ers it actu­al­ly works out great because you have a run­ning bud­dy who is hap­py to get up ear­ly to run and doesn’t mind being left alone as long as he’s had his exercise.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pato_garza/Dober­man Pinscher
The Dobie isn’t always the eas­i­est dog to train thanks to his high intel­li­gence, but he’s a lover of the great out­doors and total­ly cool with being left on his own. You can take one of these guys with you on camp­ing or hik­ing trips for days at a time or head off to work for eight hours and feel secure know­ing he won’t tear into your shoes as long as his exer­cise needs are being met. A good sol­id walk in the morn­ing, or maybe a jog, will keep him calm until you come home in the evening for round num­ber two.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/28940296@N05/Labradoo­dle
The Labradoo­dle is a design­er breed that checks off all the box­es for peo­ple who work full-time but want a friend to take along on long escapades every week­end. They’re high ener­gy and easy to train, but inde­pen­dent enough that they won’t have a pan­ic attack when left alone. They love to play more than any­thing, so make sure you leave time each morn­ing for a run around the block or to play ball in the backyard.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonmelsa/Nor­we­gian Buhund
The Nor­we­gian Buhund is a bit of an enig­ma; they’re con­sid­ered one of the most active and tire­less breeds but are also great at being left at home alone, as long as they have some­thing to keep them focused. They love to explore the out­doors and crave direc­tion and a job to do, but they’re quite easy to train and con­tent to stay home alone dur­ing the day too. Once you’re back, though, be pre­pared to be smoth­ered with affec­tion and dragged right back out the door for a run.

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As you can see, The Clym­b’s active dogs enjoy the great out­doors just as much as — if not more than — we do. This Fri­day, we’re cel­e­brat­ing pups at play by fea­tur­ing Olly­dog packs, car­ri­ers, leash­es, toys, and more. Today, we want you to cel­e­brate your faith­ful adven­ture com­pan­ions by show­ing them at their best.

Sub­mit a pho­to of your pup at play for a chance to win $25 in Clymb cred­it. Send your pho­to to nina(at)theclymb(dot)com. Tell us your dog’s name, his breed, and where the pho­to was tak­en. We’ll fea­ture all the entries in our Pups at Play pho­to album on Face­book. You have until Thurs­day 5pm EST to get your pho­tos in. There’s 25 bones on the line.