By Danielle Drewrey, Trainer Wildrose Oxford
Adventures await at The Wildrose Adventure Dog Rendezvous. April 2019 found participants exploring the Wildrose Oxford facilities and the surrounding areas. This custom workshop is designed to challenge dog and handler teams to step outside their comfort zone and take their pups through a handful of various Adventure Dog skills.
The weekend began at Wildrose Oxford with fishing, kayaking, biking, hiking, riding ATVs and horses. At other locations we biked with dogs on the University Mountain Bike Trail, hiked at John Kyle State Park at Sardis Lake, hiked and kayaked at Puskus Lake and flew in an aircraft over the city of Oxford. Out of the 17 participants, 9 achieved the Trail Rated title (5 merits), 3 achieved the Adventure Dog Certified title (9 merits) and 3 achieved the Master Trekker title (12-14 merits).
Participants were asked about their experience:
“I learned from the experience that I CAN do things with Cedar on my own. Before, I tended to have my husband Paul handle her when we are all together, now I feel I can handle her on my own and we can do things together.
On the bike trail ride I was so nervous that I would get pulled off the bike but Cedar trotted right next to me. She kept looking up at me with a smile and looked so happy. I think that was my turning point with her.”
-Suya and Cedar, ADC from FL
“There is a process of training which not only builds confidence for the dog but also for the handler. When Chief flipped me off the kayak the first day I had to keep patient and remember that he didn’t do it on purpose (or so I think), he just didn’t know any better. He had never been on a kayak. By day three and several more kayak interactions Chief and I both developed a sense of trust in each other. We were able to complete the kayak badge and kayaked all around a lake for a couple hours. Getting to meet and interact with the other pack members was so much fun. The camaraderie that comes with trading training philosophies and telling stories about your experiences with your dogs really brings everyone together for a common purpose.”
Bryan & Chief, TR from CA
“The most memorable moment was the plane ride. The experience was more stressful for me than Wildrose Irie. She was actually my “therapy dog”…chilled, cool, and confident.
The Adventure Dog Rendezvous develops confidence and a special bond between canine and human. It also helps with teamwork which is essential to achieving the different skill sets. I’m so proud of Wildrose Irie! Two years of diligence, building trust, and teamwork, along with awesome adventures, led to her receiving the coveted Master Trekker Award.”
-Bess and Irie, MT from TX
“I would have never dreamed that one day I would take a flight and have my dog sitting next to me. It is amazing to see what our dogs will do once you have built that level of trust with them. My main take away was that obedience and basic heel work are the foundation for everything you aspire for your dog to achieve. I have worked on a lot of heel work with Tessa which I believe helped her to quickly adapt to the different scenarios whether I was on a bike, ATV, horse or in a kayak.”
-Butch and Tessa, MT from AL
“I learned so much from the Wildrose trainers, the event was a fun learning experience. During the weekend it was enforced that obedience is the most important part of all activities. Rusty did great, I was so proud of him! The bike riding at Wildrose was a great learning experience for me. It had been years since I rode a bike and never have I with the pups walking along side. Rusty learned quick that I have two gears…on or off. He had to run not walk beside me.”
-Crystal & Rusty, ADC from MS
Every Adventure Dog is equipped with a set of skills that gives them the ability to take on many situations. A few of the learned skills to complete Adventure Dog Rendezvous-Oxford included:
Stay– Commanding your dog to stay means you want them to remain in a certain spot for a prolonged period of time and when you are ready for them to move you will come back to them for the release. During the watercraft portion of the event, dogs were instructed to stay on the kayak while handler left them on shore and then returned after a period of time. In this situation the dog is not to move until the handler returns. It is crucial for the handler to trust that their dog will stay until instructed otherwise. In some situations, it could become a safety hazard if your dog does not remain at stay. To teach this skill you want to start at close distances while your dog is loaded onto some sort of “place.” This will make it very clear for the dog where they are to be. You will start to see your dog understanding and this is when you can extend the time the dog is at stay. If your dogs begin to break stay, take them back to the spot they are supposed to be and with a stern voice tell them “no” and “stay.” You must remain consistent with the corrections and NEVER call your dog off of a stay/place, always go to pup for the release.
Load– The load command is giving your dog the direction to get up onto something. During the workshop the dogs needed to be instructed to load into the kayak, the plane, the AVT and many other specific situations. Teaching “load” can begin at a young age getting onto the kuranda bed in the home. As the dogs mature and reach the appropriate age you can begin teaching them to “load” up on things like benches, water stands, field stands etc.
Heel– Heel work was critical in many situations during the weekend. When riding a bike or riding a horse you want your dog to be next to you but at a safe distance. To teach this skill your dog first must understand heel on a walk. After you have moved to off lead heel, you can begin to walk with your bike and the dog next to you. Progress slowly until you are riding your bike with your dog trotting comfortably alongside you. Introducing a horse into the equation is a bit more of a risk but still the same concept. You first want to make certain your dog understands heel at a walk with you on the ground next to the horse. After your dog is comfortable you can mount the horse and have a helper on the ground guiding the dog to stay at a safe distance. Before you know, your dog will be off lead heeling while you are riding.
We hope you’ll join the adventures at the next Wildrose Adventure Dog Rendezvous, check them out on uklabs.com.