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CANINE CONNECTION: Gee! Haw! Whoa! Adventuring with Rex

Hiking season is upon us and if you are a dog owner there is a good chance your four-legged companion would make an excellent adventure dog.

Hiking season is upon us and if you are a dog owner there is a good chance your four-legged companion would make an excellent adventure dog.

What is an adventure dog, you ask? An adventure dog is more than a dog that goes for a walk or a romp at the dog park. An adventure dog is a well trained, well socialized, calm yet active outdoor companion.

An adventure dog is a dog that actively participates in their person’s outdoor pursuits and activities. These activities could be a day hike through local trails, camping in the backcountry, backpacking through our beautiful parks, trekking a mountainside for that once in a lifetime view and more. An adventure dog has the ability to expand your social network, your mind and possibly your world.

There are no special breeds or mix of breeds that make an adventure dog. All it requires is an owner with a sense of adventure and a dog that is physically up for the challenge.

Good adventure dogs are not born, they are created. They are dogs that are very obedient and reliable both on and off leash. So brushing up on your obedience is a must because these dogs have their eyes on their owner’s every move, just waiting for the next adventure to begin.

Having a dog that is reliable and obedient is incredibly important if you want an adventure dog. Dogs that are unable to respond to their owner’s verbal commands can be a nuisance or even become dangerous on hikes.

Chasing wildlife is an offense and the owner may be subject to a $1,000 fine and up to six months of imprisonment.

Dogs may be a victim of a worse fate. B.C.’s Wildlife Act allows an officer to kill a dog if that dog is at large in a wildlife management area and/or harassing wildlife.

Good adventure dogs have good owners who are stewards of our forests and respectful of the wildlife when they are out with their dogs.

There are basic hiking commands you can teach your dog to keep you and your dog connected and safe while on a hike. These commands also ensure careful, mindful hiking. 

The internet has no shortage of online videos showing how to teach your dog the commands of Gee (turn right) Haw (turn left) and Whoa (stop). Choose a training style that works for you and start training your dog now. These commands will help with both off and on leash hiking while improving your leadership and control of your dog.

Most hiking dogs tend to walk ahead of their owners while on leash and those commands give the dog cues as to when you are changing direction. Once they are reliable on-leash they can be used off leash. But please respect leash laws and the leave no trace rule. This means not only packing out your garbage but staying on designated trails and preventing your dog from running though sensitive animal habitat. If you choose to participate in winter activities with your dog like ski or sled joring, those commands will be especially handy.

Leashes and harnesses tend to be the rule, rather than the exception with an adventure dog as most avid dog hikers keep their dogs tethered to them allowing them to keep their hands free and their dogs safe.

I recently invested in a hiking belt system, called a dog joring belt for my dogs and I. And when I say investment, it is! It is a wonderfully designed hip belt for humans and a tow-line with harness for dogs that allows an owner to hike, walk, or run hands-free with their dogs. Ruff-wear has a dog hiking belt called the Omni-jore joring system and Hurtta has the Hip Hiker belt joring system and a Canadian company called CanaDog has a hands-free walking belt. All are excellent quality. You can view the Ruff-wear set up on YouTube here. You can find the Hurtta video here.

I’m not one to plug any particular brand of dog equipment but these setups are sweet and if you want to hike with your dogs, this is the setup you need.

If you are not ready to drop the coin needed for one of these dog-joring systems then invest in a well fitting harness and/or backpack for your dog and a six-to-eight foot leash.

Then get ready to check out some beautiful views with your adventure dog leading the way.

Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 20 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her at