About Karelian Bear Dogs / Dispelling myths / Homeland of the KBD / Defining a KBD breed standard / Our KBD library

Dispelling myths

As we at California Karelians have conversations with folks from all over the country who are curious about the Karelian Bear Dog breed, We continue to be surprised by some of the strange presumptions that exist. It is understandable that not many people have had the opportunity to get to know this breed well. Yet much of what we hear represented as "truths" clearly don't make sense once you understand dog psychology, regardless of the breed being discussed.

Can Karelians be trusted with children and other family pets?

We have never known any of our dogs, at any age, to be other than curious and playful with children. Before we had Karelians, I was breeding Maine Coon cats, and our Karelians are gentle with the smallest of kittens. It appears to me that the Karelians instinctively know that children and family pets are part of the family, not threats against which they need to protect.

Are all Karelians equally suited as companion dogs? Or hunting dogs?

Of course not, just as not all Labrador Retrievers possess the same working aptitude. (Just as not all people are equally inclined for all careers.) Our job as breeders is to gain an understanding of why prospective owners are considering a Karelian. We then select the puppy or adult dog best suited to match their lifestyle and activities.

Are Karelians difficult to train?

Karelians are intelligent and known for their ability to think through a problem. They were meant to be a dog that is faced with regular challenges, so teaching a Karelian basic and intermediate obedience actually provides them with mental challenges and helps keep them safe. If you are a novice handler, you will want regular access to a good dog obedience instructor as a mentor. However, I have never trained a dog before I learned to train a Karelian, but with Bill's more experienced guidance (that's him in the middle, top right), I can now proudly show off my dog handling skills.

We have successfully placed Karelians with many active people who now tell us they can't imagine their lives without their Karelian.

Where can I get more information on training my Karelian?

Beyond the basic information on this website, if you would like to contact us, we will gladly discuss share our knowledge and experiences.

When can (or should) you start training a Karelian?

Just like any other breed of dog, you can start to socialize your dog and begin dog obedience training with puppies as young as eight weeks of age. The earlier you start the better. Below, three-month-old California Karelian's Star attended a beginning group obedience class, which provided the opportunity to practice her basic skills (sit, stay, heal) in the presence of distractions, such as unfamiliar people and other dogs.

Playing "hide and seek" with your puppy in the house is a great way to make early training fun for both you and your Karelian. We don't put our pups on grass until they are ten weeks of age, at which time we gently start training them to walk on a leash.

How about an older puppy or young adult; are they trainable?

As with any breed of dog, older dogs may take longer to master new skills, and they may not be as motivated as a younger dog to learn complex skills. In designing a training program, we recommend you consider sound dog obedience training principles and apply an understanding of dog psychology to avoid training scars. In our opinion, any dog training should carefully consider each individual dog's personality, temperament, and body language in determining the duration and content of each training session. We have personal experience rescuing a Karelian who at two years of age started K9 search and rescue training and loves it!


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San Diego, California