How to Train an Adventure Dog

The trade was simple – we’d get a dog car, and then we’d get a dog. Because a dog wasn’t going to be roaming around our 2011 FJ Cruiser. So last March, after looking at various Land Cruiser models for over a year, we finally found our match. (A ’73 FJ 40.) And, of course, I started looking at pups online that same day.

Within a month, we had found a fluffy black-and-white blue heeler-border collie mix from a local puppy rescue. It was truly love at first sight and a day later Rana — Spanish for “little frog,” as she was quite the jumper — was part of the pack and in the back of the Land Cruiser on the way to her new home. A feisty, spirited little one, she was soon renamed Reina — Spanish for “queen” — and was reigning over the house.


So, now what? Sure, Adrian and I had family dogs growing up, but never our own and never together. We’re constantly outside and traveling, so how were we going to fit a dog into our active lives? We quickly realized that we’d just have to raise her to take part in our adventures, and so we jumped right into it. One year later, here is our firsthand guide for training your own adventure dog.


Number One: Be thoughtful about the breed you pick.

Every pup is adorable. Am I right? So when we started looking at dogs, I pretty much wanted the first one I could get my hands on. But Adrian was a bit more level-headed than I and knew he wanted a cattle dog, likely a red heeler.

I couldn’t be more grateful for his more poised decision, as now I couldn’t imagine having any other breed. (Though compromise is key, as we did end up with a blue heeler/collie mix.)

Think about size, activities, and your daily routine when picking out an adventurous breed to join the family. I love Reina’s easy-to-pick-up 38-pound weight, the amount of room she takes up in the car when it’s loaded up with a bunch of gear, and her enthusiasm for trailing our mountain biking 12-plus miles.

Make sure the breed you ultimately choose meets your lifestyle. If you’re always at the beach or on the river, a water-loving retriever may be a good fit. If you’re an avid trail runner, consider an agile vizsla or Weimaraner. And if you’re a passionate hiker, maybe a Bernese mountain dog or husky. Of course, I’m a big fan of active-breed mixes.


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