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Outdoor adventures with Karelian Bear Dogs

NEW! Backcountry health and safety tips, important for you and your dog.

Given the time of year, please make sure to read about rattlesnake vaccinations, information brought to you with permission from K9 Medic. Below is the snake that California Karelians' Star encountered June 2010 (fortunately with no mishap), while on a hike close to home.

See our other backcountry health & safety tips, on topics ranging from health hazards to first aid kit supplies.

On the trail

Haven't found yourself among many bear or mountain lions lately? No problem. Fishing, hiking, and camping are all activities you can share with a California Karelian.

With a good foundation of a few obedience commands, your Karelian is ready to explore the world with you.

For the inside scoop on where to take your dog, you might want to visit The Dog Lovers Companion to California. To travel safely with your Karelian, depending on expected weather and terrain, you may want to plan ahead. You might find our tips for traveling safely with your dog helpful.

Large predator protection

Find yourself in need of some protection from predators in wilderness areas? No problem. Known for their athleticism and incredible courage in dealing with prey animals considerably larger than themselves, Karelian Bear Dogs are being used as protection dogs in bear country, to move bears and other large predators that pose danger to humans back into the forests, away from "human territories." Where the objective is to promote peaceful co-existence, law enforcement, recreationalists and home owners who either enjoy outdoor activities or live in areas that border habitat inhabited by bears or mountain lions (also known as a cougar, panther or puma) are putting Karelian Bear Dogs to work.

Here's a bear print we came across in the summer, in the Southern California (San Bernardino) mountains, which we estimate at 12 inches long.

Don't miss the slideshow of our own bear adventure in Mammoth Lakes, California.


Agility is a sport in which a dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility by overcoming different obstacles. Training for agility, even at just a beginning level, provides opportunities for "play" and "praise" and gives your Karelian an outlet for its energy, a challenge for its mind, and a chance to socialize with other dogs. Below, California Karelians' Dozor at four months old, never before having attended a single class with other dogs as distractions, shows confidence and drive at his first agility class.

Snowy adventures

Since water and high snow do not restrain Karelian Bear Dog from its hunt, we have shown that even Karelians born and raised in sunny Southern California exhibit the drive necessary for adventures in the snow. Below, California Karelians' Grizzly had no difficulty locating the missing Bill, who was hidden in a snow cave.

K9 search and rescue

Although not everyone will commit the time to becoming mission ready for search and rescue (SAR), many of the qualifying skills provide ideas for just having fun with any dog. For example, run away training exercises tailored to your dog's age can be great fun for Karelians and their handlers alike. Below, California Karelian's Star exhibits the motivation needed for a SAR K9. Can you locate the victim hiding in the brush?

For those who might consider pursuing K9 search and rescue, we provide some information and photos to pique your interest.

Karelian rescue

An unfortunate reality is that Karelians have been placed with new owners who found themselves either overwhelmed by their new puppy or otherwise unable to properly care for their Karelian. Fortunately, we have to date been able to re-home the Karelians of which we have become aware. Isis, below, is one of those Karelians. Isis' new family has given her a home that any Karelian would envy. Her new dad, an experienced back country traveler, was kind enough to share pictures of some of Isis' recent adventures with us.

More information about our Karelian rescue is available on our Rescue page.


Above, just some of the activities that our California Karelians are enjoying with their new owners as far north as the Yellowstone-Glacier area in Montana.


Backcountry health & safety tips that we use

Wilderness large predator protection... a natural fit for the Karelian's temperament

Agility... a fun activity for a Karelian

Adventures in the snow... even we were amazed at how determined our California Karelian Grizzly was to uncover his snow-covered dad

Being prepared... tips on equipment, first aid and supplies that we use when on outdoor adventures with our Karelians

More adventures, from friends of California Karelians... Fun pictures from other KBD owners

Our own bear adventure... learning about bear management in Mammoth Lakes

Are your dog handling skills up to par?... training do's and don'ts, from encouraging play drive and beginning puppy training to understanding dog psychology and using more advanced handling skills

Run away training exercises... a fun way to challenge any Karelian

K9 search and rescue training... what it's all about

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San Diego, California