Clarisse and I, like the outdoors, so fishing and hiking is a norm in this household and one of the many things I do with Kairoe when it comes to bonding. His mom has him for the show ring and when Kairoe and I are together, I get to show him what it's like to be a loose dog in the wild.:p In fact, it was at Shaun's age was when we began recall training with our B - which we've concluded as an everyday adventure. We haven't gone camping yet, but came back from the cottage over the weekend; a first for all of us. Our big worry was the fire pit, ticks and insect bites, but he did quite well and enjoyed the warmth in a pit he dug by the fire. We also kept Benedryl close by just in case he got bit.
We only have off-leash advice to offer, as most of Kairoe's training sessions happened during our hikes or on fishing excursions. It's great that you have this opportunity with Shaun, as camping = hiking = a more relaxing way to figure out the trust issues you'll have with your B and a wonderful way to help you understand his quirks. Shaun being 6 months old, will not have his legs or the confidence when it comes to his full out running potential. So, testing him off leash in an unknown environment is a lot simpler because your dog will look to you more for guidance. If you think your B is fast now, wait til' he hits 12 months…then you'll be more paranoid as to how fast he can bolt out of your sight. I used to be able to out run Kairoe, but now, he's almost twice as fast as I am and he's just 19 months old. I consider myself physically fit and was a former track athlete.
Some advice would be to definitely know your trails, just in case he does wander off. Always...always keep your B's leash tethered to him, this will give you that extra 6.5' to grab onto for the "just in case" times - like squirrels, rabbits and other dogs. I believe some people on the forum have 12' & 40' training leads when out and about; we're also considering adding more length to his hiking lead because as you know, there's nothing more beautiful than watching your dog enjoying itself off leash and running in the wild. Always...always, look ahead of you for said critters until his recall is good enough to keep him from bolting. Many people would disagree to keep the dogs leash tethered to him while roaming freely but I think it's more logical to have some sort of tether on him. I figure that IF he does bolt, the leash will eventually get caught in some brush and he'll call out for assistance and will give you that extra time to catch up to him. I would never use a chain leash and opt for his climbing rope leash just in case the little guy needed to chew his way out of a predicament. I also attach a carabiner to the free end of the leash which makes for easier tie downs and serves as a noise maker when I do let him investigate into the bush. A bell on Shaun's collar is another option, while a whistle on hand is a great way to get his attention. And, even a walking stick comes in handy from time to time.
All this may seem easy, but like anything with a B, it took time. We were a bit nervous at first, but knowing the lay of land and having no roads nearby, helped sooth our thoughts. At first, we started off by holding onto the leash to make sure that he was calm. Then we began dropping the leash unsuspectingly to see how he'd react. One key training method that helped keep Kairoe at bay was to make it a habit to randomly step on Kairoe's leash just to remind him that he's not the Alpha and that he had gone too far ahead. We do this with Kairoe and it works like a charm. It keeps him close to our side and makes him more attentive when he's off leash.
Hopefully, you'll get over any your fears, because having our free roaming time made playing games like "catch up' - keeping him in the middle of the path while one of us walked ahead and called for him, was fun. I like taking photographs during our walks, so having your B come back and stare at you like he's saying "c'mon, catch up" is a beautiful thing. Sooner or later the games would have us running away in the opposite directions and have the dog catch you. lol - reverse psychology for B's.
One of the best advices we got was from a Weimaraner owner who was out in the bush when his dog decided to chase after a bear. He was so peeved at his dog's recall that he decided to play hide and seek with his dog. He'd wait til his dog wasn't paying attention to him and then hide behind a tree and watched how his dog would react. We learned so much just by playing this simple game.
Recall training was some of the best times we had with our B. We hope that your hikes will be as pleasurable and hopefully you'll figure out that some of the paranoid stigma that's attached to this breed doesn't necessarily pertain to your own dog.
Enjoy your trips together and stay safe!
BTW - we have a 12' wire tether wrapped in a plastic outer for the cottage or camp site and works perfect - even moreso when your dog understands the 'leave it' command. It's light and fits perfectly in any camera bag / back pack and gives the pup a little more freedom to roam with the added bonus that he cannot chew through it. We rarely use the corkscrew tie down that comes with the package and prefer to latch the tether onto a tree, picnic table or even a back pack.
Emmanuel + Clarisse + Kairoe
Posted are a few pics from some of our hikes.
Kairoe @ 6 Months - "C'mon, catch up!"
Kairoe @ 9 months - THE one time I knew I should've brought my own camera!
Kairoe @ 11 months - My Fishing buddy!