Hiking With Dog

#TrailTip Tuesday: Training


Your dog understanding the basic commands such as Sit, Stay, Wait, Come, Leave It and following through are essential on the trails for their safety and yours. In addition to the basic commands, we naturally picked up some commands on the trails that became part of our daily life. For example, when Xena hears Look, she looks toward where I point most of the time 🙂 and she anticipates an action when I ask Ready? and resumes hiking/walking from a break.


What command(s) do you find most useful when you are hiking with your dog?


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Happy Hiking!

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13 comments on “#TrailTip Tuesday: Training”

  1. My pups know “find the trail” which is very useful. They find intersections and wait there for me to indicate which way we’re going to go, and if in a large open area like a field they will find the trail entrance leading back into the forest.

      1. Your reaction is making me chuckle. “Find it” targeting is such a pervasive part of my life with dogs I forget it is not so usual for others. Life with vision impairment makes training location targets very useful. “Find the: trash can, mailbox, chair, inside, outside (door), curb, the thing I just dropped, etc” when I think back to find the trail cue, it was a combo of their history with location target training, backchaining, and consistent reinforcement. So to start, at every start or intersection of the trail, stop and ask the dog to sit or wait, praise and give a treat. Then release from the wait to go the way you’d like. Pretty soon at intersections you’ll notice your dog anticipating you’ll ask them to stop and wait, at that point you praise and give a treat or a bit of fun play for their good efforts at initiating the behavior. And you start to then label it. As you approach the intersection or trail head cue “find the trail”, at the intersection dog stops in anticipation of your praise and treat, and you build from there. If the dog stops short of the trail, encourage them to keep looking, until they get to the actual trail. Pretty soon dog hears “find the trail” and begins to actively seek out the trail and intersections as going to those when you ask leads to praise, fun and chance of a treat. My guys also help me get back on marked trails when we end up having to bushwhack for some reason like downed trees or flooding, again I use “find the trail”and they’ve been able to generalize when I ask for the trail its a way that is different from the general woods, and they get so pleased when they find it. Lol. Hope you have fun training this!

      2. This is SUPER cool and sounds fun!! Can’t wait to try this on our next hike! So funny.. when someone like you explains how, it totally makes sense but I would’ve never come up with this training by myself. Thanks for sharing! I will keep you posted. 🙂

    1. I just saw this and it reminded me of a backpacking trip I did with my blk lab Kolby about 10 yrs ago. We were climbing up north of Grand Marais along the Superior Hiking Trail and we’d been hiking for a couple of hours and were beat. It was early spring and not much vegetation had come up yet Suddenly I realized we were off trail -not really lost because we could see Lake Superior below… but we needed to get back on trail.

      I looked at Kolby and said, Where the hell did the trail go? Now I’m sure he didn’t understand my question, but he could tell we had been wondering and there was no clear trail. He turned around and basically led me back to where we had left the trail. I’m sure he just smelled his way back the way we’d come to our current location, and then I recognized the trail, but it was pretty cool.

      Kolby was a rescue dog, a continual runaway, and we’d only been together about 4-6 weeks. He’d already run away a couple of times and this was the first time I took him out on an extended hike… I had the feeling he was not a smart dog! 😉 Well, after this demonstration, I realized he was indeed a smart dog… I was the dumb one! ha!

      1. Hahaha! What a great story, Mike! Kolby probably thought, “I was just letting think that you were leading me and see where we go.” What a smart adventurous pup!

  2. Roxy always walks on a leash, so she also knows ‘andere kant’ = ‘other side’. If she takes the wrong side of a tree (or anything else), she knows she has to come back and take the other side ^.^

    1. That’s a super useful cue! I’ve also found “over” and “under” helpful with things like fences and downed trees over the trail.

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