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Jenny and Charlie

BCs and trail walking?

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Charlie was a rescue puppy, so we're not entirely sure he's a BC, but the older he gets the more certain we are that he's at least part BC.

 

I've started taking him on trail walks, and when I know there's no one else on the trail, I let him off leash.

 

What surprises me is that he just knows how to follow a trail, even when it's covered in fall leaves. He walks a few feet ahead of me (and stops to wait if I fall behind), and he always follows the trail to a T. I love that he always makes sure I stay close, too.

 

 

My question is: do you think this is a BC trait, or are most dogs adept at following a trail? Charlie's my first dog, and I'm just constantly amazed by his intelligence, which I like to attribute to his BC-ness. But maybe this is just a dog thing?

 

Photos from our most recent walk:

 

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I do trail hiking with my BC, a chi mix, a GSD mix, a rat terrier, and a deaf Boston Terrier. All are willing to go off trail to explore, but every last one of them is able to find and stay on the trail (even, yeah, obscured) and will do so, minus some brief excursions to sniff.

 

And the RT is dumb as a post by most commonly accepted measures of intelligence.


What DOES impress me is that at a fork in the trail I can wave in the direction I'll be going (I'm always behind the dog) and say 'we're going that way' and have the BC take it.

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I suspect that the trail is heavily scented by all the previous passersby, so if the dog understands that we're out here hiking a trail, following it is easy peasy. I am entertained by my Daisy's enjoyment of trails. When we're walking a familiar area, she likes to lead the way and pick the branch to take. But if I say, "Oh no, Daisy, this way," and wave my arm, she'll head off down the trail branch I want to take.

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Gibbs has his nose to the ground almost every place we go. The exceptions are the walking paths that we take regularly, (boring) and the dog parks. The dog parks are all about the ball, of course.

 

I spent the weekend with friends about 2-3 hours away. They have a big lot, they let the leaves self mulch into the soil, and they live in a sort of country dissolving into suburban area. A couple coyotes, some raccoons and possums, etc are around.

 

When he wasn't pounding madly after a ball, Gibbs was sniffing. And scenting. Had the time of his life.

 

And he takes directional cues like a champ on any walk.

 

Congrats on your new boy - he's pretty cute. Depending on how long you've had him, you may want to 'proof' his sticking close to you. He might still be in a sort of honeymoon period, and when he realizes he's home for good, some of his manners might need some bolstering. Have a grand time!

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Guest Jule

I enjoy the dog sport of "Tracking" and while some breeds and/or particular dogs are more into it than others, they are all designed to track. Human scent receptors are measured in only thousands whereas canines can have in excess of 20 million. I believe flat faced dogs have less receptors than the rest and of course big noses like blood hounds have the most. I have seen a little Papilion reach "Champion" title in tracking.

While different breeds may have different specialties they are first and foremost all canines and all share certain basic skills. Unless you have trained them to follow a specific scent on direction they will pick up on the freshest scent or the cumulative scent of all that travelled the trail. I have in the past only tracked with a GSD but next season will be starting my BC who is now only 4 1/2 months.

Sounds like your new boy has landed in a wonderful new home, hope you have many, many wonderful experiences together. Tracking games are wonderful for dogs and it offers great mental stimulation, particularly for intelligent breeds like BC's. Mentally stimulating activities are so good for working breeds and it will tire them out much quicker than physical exercise alone.

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Put me in the dogs-know-the-trail-by-scent camp.

 

I could take my first border collie anywhere to anyone's house where he'd never been before and he always knew the boundaries of the yard. It had to have been that that's where the residents' scents stopped because there often were no other obvious (to the humans) physical demarcations.

 

We'd gotten an Invisible Fence for our other dog right at the time we brought Mirk home as a puppy. He followed his big brother around when he walked the perimeter and we never had to teach him his boundaries. He apparently learned the concept of a yard with borders at the same time and understood it everywhere he ever went afterwards and wouldn't cross the line without permission.

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Juno, my wife and I walk the local trail every morning. Like the others have said she (Juno, not the wife) will take directions very well and will stick to the path ahead of us. When we go on new paths she also instinctively takes the right way.

 

I think that is good advice given re the 'honeymoon period'. As Juno got more used to her freedom off leash on the trails she became more free willed. I didn't notice the changes as they were gradual but eventually I had to go back to putting her on a long line for trail walking. It seemed that she would dash off after a squirrel or something more often and her recall became very iffy! I never worried about her returning as she always came back but, being overly friendly, she would jump on people, if I didn't have her on leash. This worried me the most especially with old people and children.

 

I am always amazed when I hear of dogs knowing their boundaries instinctively (Gentle Lake's first border collie). It doesn't appear that this is that common but there have certainly been enough reports, even on this forum alone, to be sure there are quite a few dogs who have this almost inate ability.

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I think that following a trail is an instinctual thing for many animals.

 

I don't let my dog off the leash on trails because he currently going through a "I come when I want to come" phase. Not a fan. I am envious of those who have dogs that know their boundries and don't leap over them. My hope is to show mine the way.

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Tess also knows that a trail, any trail, is where she's suposed to walk. There's this place we sometimes walk that has agricultural fiels next to the trail. The rare ocasion she wanders a bit off the trail and into the cabbages, I just say her name and she imediatly jumps back into the trail. The other day we walked there with a friend and her husky, and this dog was running all over the cabbages and couldn't care less her owner was calling her to the trail. It actually surprised me, as I don't remember teaching the trail thing to Tess, she always thought it was the logical thing to do. As did all the dogs I had before her.

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Mine know the edges of the path too, sidewalk or trail, and not just BCs either.

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All sorts of dogs can and do follow trails. At least when they want to.

 

When I was active in Search and Rescue, we used to have to be sure that new dogs did NOT follow trails. Apparently it is quite common. We wanted to teach them to follow an actual track (if it was a tracking dog), or to do a scent pattern. But apparently many dogs will just go off down a trail, if it is available. So we had to make sure to teach them not to do that. This was true for all the breeds we had.

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Today, I saw 3 strays running down a sidewalk. They waited until they got to where a sidewalk crossed over to the road before they went out into the road. Unfortunately, that was right in front of me.

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Today, I saw 3 strays running down a sidewalk. They waited until they got to where a sidewalk crossed over to the road before they went out into the road. Unfortunately, that was right in front of me.

 

Oh dear. Was everything alright?

 

Aed is the same way. He will only go on the road to cross it, and he will only cross it if he has a specific and compelling reason to get to the other side, or if he's with us. Not that I've found any of this out through good events, but it's nice to know at least.

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