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Champ, a Karelian Bear Dog


Champ is a Karelian Bear Dog, a breed that hunts large game, such as bears, moose and wild boar in Finland. They are also used in Alaska to keep bears safe and away from the company of humans. The breed is independent, fearless, and loyal. They need lots of exercise, and need to focus on having a job to do. KBDs often know what they want, and can be demanding. That’s why positive training at a young age is so important.


Champ’s human Michelle introduced him to me for training when he was very young. He decided that the training games we play were right up his alley, and learned quickly to walk politely on a leash, sit and stay, hand targeting, wait at the door, “drop it,”and “leave it.” The exercises that I gave Sam and Michelle to do with Champ were like little games, that Champ had a chance to win every single time, making training fun for both dog and humans! It’s funny – he has so much energy, but sometimes will just drop to the ground as if to say, “I’m done.” Then we give him a sniff break to help him reset and want to get back to work.


His friend, Mister Man (the cat), will often drop by the sessions and watch him work with the training exercises. He observes for a bit, shakes head, and walks away, mumbling “Dogs….”


Champ loves the treats we use, especially pork chops. In this photo, we see Champ and Mister Man supervising and critiquing Michelle, as she cooks and cuts up the pork chop treats. Mister Man whispers to Champ that the treats should be cut bigger, but Michelle stands her ground and keeps the treats small and tasty, so they don’t fill up, and so they’ll want to work for more. In a way, Champ and Mister Man remind me of Calvin and Hobbs…


Michelle & Sam and Champ make a great team, and Champ is going to grow up to be a strong, mature companion and guardian. Right now, though, he’s so much fun to watch as a puppy!!!

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