Since Karelians are so intelligent and clearly possess the natural instincts of a keen hunting dog, why is safety such an important consideration? You can unintentionally expose your dog to unnecessary harm if you ignore certain outdoor safety essentials.
The "Wild" in "Wildlife"
For centuries, KBDs and their ancestors sucessfully survived in extremely primitive habitats. Those of us who choose to share our lives with Karelians are generally adventurous folks ourselves, who live or enjoy recreation in areas where snow storms, ice, raging rivers, slippery slopes, or steep cliffs exist and bear, cougar or wolves roam. These habitats are frought with danger, hence the word "wild" in "wildlife." Despite all their natural athleticism and sharp instincts, we ask our Karelians to share our lives, and we owe it to them to keep them safe. We will then be able to rely on them to keep us safe.
Know your dog
If you gradually expose your Karelian to new, challenging situations, your dog will gain the confidence and agility necessary to avoid harm. In an unfamiliar environment, new scents can motivate your Karelian to pursue, and your Karelian can find itself unexpectedly in harm's way. It may appear, based on your dog's intelligence, that it can do anything. As the dog's owner, avoid gaining a false sense of confidence. Your Karelian is still a puppy until it is 18 months old. Just as you wouldn't throw a child who has learned to walk INTO a pool of water and expect him/her to swim, you owe it to your Karelian to expose it to natural wild habitats on leash under your control, first, before you expect your dog to figure life out for itself.
Outdoor temperature extremes
The mainstream news media has focused much attention on stories of pets or children left in vehicles during times of extreme heat or cold. Still, conscientious folks can sometimes be unaware of how quickly the temperature can change inside a closed car.
While it seems that we are all generally aware of precautions during winter travel (perhaps because of the planning we do for special cold weather clothing and supplies), summer travel seems to get less thought.
The importance of recall
A Karelian Bear Dog taught to recall with a single command will astonish you with its drive to overcome obstacles in its path. A puppy just a few months old who temporarily loses its way during run away training exercises (the dog equivalent of hide and seek, during which the dog is promted to find a "victim") will search for its target in an organized route until it succeeds. An adult Karelian Bear Dog can leap onto a thin ledge, five feet off the ground, in one swift, seemingly effortless motion. Exposing your KBD to challenges will be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog so long as safety comes first.
You must be able to recall your dog before letting the dog run off-leash in an uncontrolled environment. You cannot expect yourself, no matter how experienced a handler, to be able to anticipate all dangers. In fact, one of the things you will enjoy most about your well-trained Karelian is their ability to avoid harm when exposed to harsh habitats or when protecting you from wildlife predators.
Above, practice recalling your dog from various distances using various leash lengths under varying conditions of daylight and darkness. Distance is one of the three basic dog obedience challenges. Also practice in the presense of distraction, another of the basic dog obedience challenges, to help teach your dog to focus on you.
practice the come command in a location where other dogs and people are nearby to distract your dog's attention. And, below, don't forget lots of praise for a job well done.
WE URGE YOU not to skip this training step. We are happy to provide you with ideas for improving the recall of your dog. Just contact us.