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Being a responsible dog owner and backpacker - Dog training books/sites and advice.
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William Trimble
(wmjt22) - F
Being a responsible dog owner and backpacker - Dog training books/sites and advice. on 09/05/2011 22:01:12 MDT Print View

Greetings fellow backpackers with canine companions,

In two weeks I am adopting a 4-5 yr old border collie. She has lived mostly outdoors on a farm recently and has very little in the way of obedience training. I'm really excited to make her my new backpacking and hiking partner but I wish to be a responsible and respectful hiker as well and promote a good experience for the two of us as well as anyone we come across.

I've read most of the threads on the forum about dogs. I have the general ideas down - Keep on lead, LNT, etc. What I really could use is some advice on dog training. Any books, websites, or techniques that fellow backpackers have found to help train a good backpacking partner would be a huge help. There are so many books to choose from it is hard to decide without recommendations. What has worked for you?

Thanks for the help,

My new partner, Lucy:Lucy

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 09/05/2011 22:27:14 MDT Print View

Congrats on the new dog. All my dog's have been raised from the pup up so my experience is a little different. I learned a bunch by watching dog training video's on youtube.

I really liked Zak George's videos
here's one on teaching the stay command

Also spend the money and get some classes. it is worth it.

My dog is the best trail companion ever. He helps me find water, huckleberries, carries sticks to build fires, and just makes hiking more fun.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Being a responsible dog owner and backpacker - Dog training books/sites and advice. on 09/05/2011 22:51:14 MDT Print View

" . . . but I wish to be a responsible and respectful hiker as well and promote a good experience for the two of us as well as anyone we come across."

Sorry I don't have any advice or recommendations, but the above quote shows you're already ahead of a lot of people who hike with their dogs. Sounds like Lucy will be lucky to have you.

Best of luck!

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
dogs on 09/05/2011 23:28:38 MDT Print View


i got a pup 2 years ago, best decision ever she goes everywhere with me.

i tried all the "classes" puppy classes, obedience 1-2-3 and some other stuff, nothing stuck and they were pretty boring. i could care less if my dog can roll over. and trying to get her to come for treats was hilarious, what a waste of time.

i tried reading a lot of books and doing multiple different types of things over the first year and a half.

nothing really worked.

I started watching ceaser millan, read his book , started following how he works with dogs, im still not 100% there yet but man its fun to go for a walk off leash and have perfect control, i had my dog heel unleashed and wait while an aggressive dog pulled his owner by us a couple days ago.

i would watch the dvds before you bring your dog home, knowing how to introduce him to your house and how to set boundaries right off the bat will save a lot of trouble down the road and help him with other things like walks/ behavior . i believe he has an online series now, on new dogs and such.

Ceaser has quite a few episodes on crate training, highly suggest it if hes gonna be in a tent don't want him scratching to get out.

Another suggestion is a electric remote collar and proper training in its use the website has an awesome video on remote collars and there use, as well as good training videos i own a few of them if you don't like ceaser this is the old school way to train dogs.

having perfect recall (with the use of the E collar) when another dog, animal or person is around is very useful. ( or in my hounds case when she catches a rabbits scent ) also if you think the "shock" is cruel try it on your self first it does not hurt just makes your skin jump its like electro therapy and is much better then a yank on a collar/choke chain.

Hopefully that helps some, if you have questions or what not feel free to pm me,

Make sure he gets lots of exercise everyday and you'll have a happy dog:P

Picture of her a few days ago while i was trying to photograph a sunset:P

From September 4, 2011

Edited by LevonJensen on 09/05/2011 23:31:10 MDT.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Dog Whisperer on 09/05/2011 23:33:42 MDT Print View

Did you ever see the Dog Whisperer TV show with Cesar Milan? His stuff works. I was finally able to control our two dogs while taking them on a walk around the block using his techniques.

Antti Peltola
(anttipeltola) - F
Re: Being a responsible dog owner and backpacker - Dog training books/sites and advice. on 09/06/2011 00:29:51 MDT Print View

Cesar Milan is a great trainer - his things work but they require very accurate eye on choosing what he does. It's not like he always acts the same with all the dogs.

"tried all the "classes" puppy classes, obedience 1-2-3 and some other stuff, nothing stuck and they were pretty boring. i could care less if my dog can roll over. and trying to get her to come for treats was hilarious, what a waste of time."

Bad choise of class and you blame everyone of them? The idea in there is to teach you to teach your dog, not the exact things themselves. You did not get your dog to learn --> bad trainer/class.
If you get the dog to learn, it's usually good for the pack dynamics and can be more tiring to a dog than a days walk. I personally reward my dogs often, but almost never with a treat. It's a matter of finding the thing your dog likes the best. Besides, even C. Milan rewards the dogs sometimes too (but only on some occasions).

There is the difference between a trick and obedience.
Trick = dog does something what you want. Command "come here" - the dog comes to you.
Obedience = dog keeps working until you free him/her. Command "come here" - the dog comes in front of you and stays at the same, very close distance to you even if you are moving until you put him on a leash or let him go, or give another command.

Only those classes that teach obedience, not tricks, are worth going to, IMO. And I still think learning from somebody more experienced is faster and easier than watching videos or reading books/web pages.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Dog training on 09/06/2011 08:37:52 MDT Print View

I have two border collies (still) and just put down my old guy (15 yrs) 4 months ago. They can be great but and they can be very qwirky. I have been training BC's in obedience and had two of my dogs regestered theripy dogs. My favorite thing though was agility which I competed in for about 10 years. I believe in positive training methods and getting the dog to want to do what you want it to do because of a great reward system. I have NEVER used an E-collar and hope that I never will. I have been to alot of seminars and have trained with a lot of people and I know quite a lot of border collies. I dont want to start a war but I dont really like Ceasor, not that his methods dont work, but I like a dog that is still a dog and has a bit of spirit left in it. Starting with a 4-5 yr old farm dog may be a little work Its hard to tell how much socialization the dog has had and how ingrained bad habits have set in. I hope you have a lot of patience and love and TIME. Please PM me I would really like to talk to you and I know quite a few trainers and Im sure I could steer you to a good trainer in your area. P.S. I see you dont have your PM set up If you would my E-Mail is

Edited by mtmnmark on 09/06/2011 08:42:32 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Two good dog training books on 09/06/2011 09:03:48 MDT Print View

I adopted an Australian Cattle Dog about a year ago. He was sort of a madman when I got him and there has been a lot of training work in the past year. It's always an ongoing process with an adopted dog that has been treated poorly or never received proper training as a puppy, but, with the right tools and information progress can be made quickly.

There are a ton of mediocre books on dog training. I went through many of them last year and found two that are just great:

The Power of Positive Dog Training - Pat Miller

Train Your Dog Like A Pro - Jean Donaldson

The first book is as much for you as your dog. Contains some concrete training instruction, but also a lot of info on the theory that underlies how you train a dog and why it works. This is helpful in guiding the way that you should interact with a dog if you want good results.

The second book is very concrete. Super useful if you're busy and just want a well written book to provide you with structure and step by step instructions for each behavior you want to teach your dog. Want to teach sit? Do a, b, and c this many times this week then do x, y, and z next week. Also instructs how handle instances when the dog fails to learn something.

I recommend both very highly.

Lastly, here's my advice: be absolutely and totally consistent with your dog. It's never okay to, say, let the dog sleep on the bed despite the fact that you're working on crate training just because you think the dog looks sad that it's not on the bed with you. Don't ever treat it like a person. Such a mistake that... Dogs are only capable of regarding people as other dogs and pack members, so it's up to you to understand dog behavior and treat the dog like a dog. Which is to say, treat it like a companion and be respectful and compassionate, but only in ways that can make sense to the dog and that encourage the behaviors that the dog needs to live successfully with people.

Good luck and have fun. Hiking with a dog is a joy.

Edited by Ramapo on 09/06/2011 09:07:30 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Training books on 09/06/2011 09:52:38 MDT Print View

I would second the book by Jean Donaldson I have not read it but The Culture Clash by Jean is very good. The lady understands dogs minds. I would agree with all else said by Ramapo also. An Aussie is almost as good as a Border Collie :^) But they can be almost as bad also :^( Other good authors Pat Hastings, Tamer Gellar, Susan Clothier

Edited by mtmnmark on 09/06/2011 10:00:06 MDT.

Eli .
(Feileung) - F
+1 on 09/06/2011 09:52:48 MDT Print View

+1 for Ceser Millan.

My cousin's training techniques are strongly influenced by his books. He has two Stafordshire Terriers that are the best behaved dogs I've ever met.

Out for a walk and a squirrel runs by? Only their eyes track it; their heads barely even flinch toward it.

I've known the older one since she was a puppy but I only see her every few months. I can tell her to stay, walk out of site for a bit and come back. She'll still be where I left her (although with an eager/alert expression).

Anyway, I just wanted to back the others up. This appears to be a great method.


Not responding in a defensive way here but, re:

"I like a dog that is still a dog and has a bit of spirit left in it."

These dogs are content, happy and fully of verve and personality. What they aren't is unpredictable (which may be a touch less important for a Border Collie than a Pit Bull).

Edited by Feileung on 09/06/2011 09:57:34 MDT.

William Trimble
(wmjt22) - F
Great advice on 09/06/2011 11:45:43 MDT Print View

Thank you everyone for the great advice! Your tips and suggestions have been exactly the type of information I was searching for.

Some more background on Lucy. I had a visit with her this past weekend to see if we looked like a good fit for each other. She lives outside with 4 other working dogs and partially indoors with 3 other dogs. There are also 2-3 cats that were around us. She seems totally fine with both cats and dogs, on the disinterested side of the ones she knew anyway. She also seems on the calm side of border collies but it is still pretty hot down here in TN. She warmed up to me and my wife without any hesitation as well.

My biggest concerns are establishing house training (owner said she may be), sit, stay, and come/recall. I'd also like to teach her to play frisbee and to sleep in a tent. Of course there are other things I'd like to teach her but if I can get those main ones I can live with any other results.

I've already watched some of the suggested videos and read the websites and I'll look into some of the suggested books this evening. Thanks again to everyone for your help!

P.S. I fixed my PM. I've been a long time lurker and just recently registered to post. Thanks for the heads up on missing that.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
take your time was the best advice on 09/06/2011 14:44:06 MDT Print View

I have had dogs in my family my whole life, everyone of them has been different. Most of them have been adopted or rescued at different ages. My current pup is almost 3 and the best behaved of all of them. He is great off a leash, excelent on hikes, and is getting better at backpacking (the sleeping outside part). I have never taken a dog to a class, I don't have anything against them I just haven't needed too. If I one day, come across a dog that is too stuburn for me to figure out, then I would go to a class. I would recommend starting off very slow, imagin changing your entire life and then also having someone telling you to change every way you behave all at the same time. Then try and figure out how you would do it with the mind of a 2 year old. Start out training with just you and your wife, if something doesn't work try another way to teach the same skill. My dog doesn't know "stay" to save his life but one day I said wait the right way, with the right tone during a walk and "wait" clicked in his head and he knows it well... and so on. Every dog is different, you are being stacked against a farm dog that is well into stuborn adult years. It is entirely possible that you will never be able to walk in urban or suburban areas with the dog, or take the dog on a off leash hike becuase it goes up and back the trail by hundreds of yards with no reguard for your commands becuase that is what it has done its whole life. OR it is entirely possible that you will have little issue accomplishing any skill you want. Take your time and learn with the dog, just the three of you, go for a class if you aren't getting anywhere in say 4-6 months.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Cesar on 09/07/2011 11:06:46 MDT Print View

My border collie/pit mix was a hiking machine. He could hike more miles than me and loved wearing a pack. He actually would take on a proud posture when you strapped the pack on him.

I also am a proponet of the Cesar milan method. It worked for my dogs. The main thing with workin breeds is to walk them every day and keep them In check on the walks. Mine liked walking with the pack in the neighborhood.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Being a responsible dog owner and backpacker - Dog training on 09/07/2011 11:54:31 MDT Print View

I strongly recommend obedience classes, but get recommendations first--maybe start with your veterinarian. Avoid pet stores which are liable to hire any warm body to run their classes. There are several reasons for the classes:

It is far easier to train a dog correctly the first time than to correct training errors. With a class, the instructor can see what you're doing wrong (often it's just body language) and correct you. You won't see those errors on your own for months, and when you do it may be too late! In other words, you need to be trained to train your dog!

Being in a class also teaches your dog to obey with distractions around. A class with 7 or 8 other dogs around is almost the ultimate distraction. Of course the class is usually once weekly, so you need to practice daily at home.

After basic obedience, I also recommend a class in beginning agility. It's fun for both you and your dog! Going over and under obstacles and across a teeter-totter will give your dog confidence in hiking situations such as crossing streams on logs, going over/under deadfall and other tricky situations. This might even start a new hobby for you and your dog. Border collies are often excellent at agility and it's a good outlet for such a high-energy dog.

Crate training is extremely useful, not only for housebreaking (and protecting your house if you have to leave the dog alone), but in training your dog to be comfortable in your shelter. Go slowly (no long confinement) and use lots of treats when getting the dog accustomed to the crate. You want the dog to see the crate as a place of security, not a jail cell. You'll find lots of info on the internet on crate training.

Lucy looks really sweet! I wish you many happy hiking years!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/07/2011 15:41:06 MDT.

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
not specific to backpacking, on 09/07/2011 20:15:42 MDT Print View

but for general dog knowledge, I really like Patricia McConnell's books - start with "The Other End of the Leash". She has a blog of the same name:

Another blog I like is "Behind the Behavior". The American Border Collie Association has an active forum that's a great resource, and depending on where you live may be able to recommend a trainer.

Good luck with your new friend!

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
-1 cesar on 09/08/2011 10:53:00 MDT Print View

guy is an animal abuser with ABSOLUTELY NO TRAINING OR SCHOOLING. follow him if you want to unnecessarily hurt your dog. there is no need to be abusive like he is...

do yourself a favor and get some books by some people who have actual training and science.

recommend you get vaccines, including leptospirosis, and treat your dog's water just like you treat yours.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
Re: -1 cesar on 09/08/2011 11:21:35 MDT Print View

REALLY^^^ That is a lot of flame for no stated reason. I have to admit I don't know much about Cesar, so would you mind explaining why you feel so strongly about one extremely successful dog trainer?

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
? on 09/08/2011 11:24:39 MDT Print View

He's an animal abuser because he uses a choke collar? That's the only thing I can think of that you are talkin about.

As far as treating a dogs water, seriously? Dogs eat their own poo and out of garbage cans if that doesn't make them sick I doubt they are going to get sick from some stream water. I'm not sure how you stop a thirsty dog from drinking out of puddles and streams anyway.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
k on 09/08/2011 12:04:08 MDT Print View

The executive board of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior is deeply troubled to learn that Merial, a leader in the veterinary healthcare industry, is using Cesar Millan in a promotional campaign for Heartgard and Frontline. We are even more disturbed to find that Merial is cross-promoting Mr. Millan's behavior video as part of this campaign. Merial's executives may not be aware of the fact that the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (SVBT) have uniformly spoken out against the punishment-based techniques employed by Mr. Millan on his television show "The Dog Whisperer."

At best, the show is entertaining but misleading to pet owners. At worst, Mr. Millan's techniques and misinformation have contributed to increased aggression and anxiety or resulted in physical injury to the pet and/or pet owner. As practicing veterinarians, we all unfortunately have seen many cases of the latter. Merial claims to "enhance the health, well-being, and performance of animals.” The use of Mr. Millan as part of an advertising campaign speaks otherwise.

In these difficult economic times, it may be understandable that Merial would want to use a "celebrity" to advertise its products in a direct-to-consumer fashion. However, had Merial taken the time to investigate, it would have found that Mr. Millan's philosophy runs counter to the standard-of-care promoted by veterinary behaviorists and taught at veterinary schools.

We are deeply saddened that Merial's executives are not more supportive of the veterinary behavior community and its efforts to promote knowledgeable, scientifically-based, humane training methods. We remain concerned that your company's support of Mr. Millan’s controversial training methods through the distribution of his video and financial support of his show will contribute to the number of difficult dogs and injured owners that we have to eventually console, counsel, and reeducate. Perhaps Merial would like to support our efforts to counteract the negative impact of this unfortunate marketing choice that may ultimately serve to alienate educated veterinarians, dog trainers, and owners alike.


E. Kathryn Meyer, VMD (President)
John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB (Immediate Past President)
Karen Sueda, DVM, DACVB (President Elect)
Kari Krause, DVM
Kelly Morgan, DVM
Valli Parthasarathy, PhD, DVM
Sophia Yin, PhD, DVM
Laurie Bergman, VMD, DACVB

There you go. And yes, your dog can get sick just as people do from drinking contaminated water. Lepto is fatal. Worth getting the shot. Of course, it's your pet so you can do what you want to...

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
that about sums it up for me then. on 09/08/2011 14:06:24 MDT Print View

My girlfriend is in Vet School right now, and is always fired up when we see people on the trail letting their dogs drink from water that we would treat before drinking. If you treat it for you, always treat it for your pet as well.