Dogs at the Cottage

It’s the ultimate summer dream: swimming, hiking, and hanging out by the fire, all with your BFF – the dog. More frequently though, we hear stories about chasing after the dog that went bounding after a squirrel, or realizing your dog barks at people coming over to swap campfire stories, or the dog that jumps in to “save” the happy swimmers… Not exactly what you were expecting when you envisioned your dog at the cottage.

Set Up for Success

A sure fire way to ruin your summer holiday is to expect that your dog will be totally fine with no preparation whatsoever for this environmental change. Set them (and yourself!) up for success with a few simple things:

  1. Get those basics practiced and ready to be tested! Recall is the #1 thing that will keep your dog safe.
  2. Purchase a long line to keep your dog attached to you, but still allow them some freedom to explore this fun new space.
  3. Remember that your dog is used to a particular schedule at home. Changes to that schedule can throw our dogs off, and make them more sensitive to their normal triggers.
  4. Consider purchasing a GPS tracker for your dog so in the event that they get free and chase that ever so tempting wildlife, you can find them.

Top 3 Skills for Dogs at the Cottage


Being able to call your dog away from a tempting and/or dangerous situation is a literal lifesaver. Before you go to the cottage, practice your dog’s recall in less distracting environments, a short distance away from them, and with super high value rewards for returning.

Pro-tip: Say your recall cue, then feed your dog. Pairing the word and food like this creates a very strong association prior to you actually trying to recall them away from something enticing.


It’s likely your dog will find some very interesting things out there in cottage country, and the best way to investigate these new things? Taste. Yummy. Try practicing drop at home with novel items that your dog has never interacted with before!

Pro-tip: Always trade up! Give your dog something that is more valuable that what they have in their mouth. That might mean higher value treats, or higher quantity of treats.


Being able to keep your dog in one place while you flip the canoe over, or get the fire going, or bring the floaties out of the shed will be so much less frustrating if your dog isn’t getting underfoot and tripping you up! Practice stay before your trip with lots of new activities. Stay while you dance; Stay while you pack a bag; Stay while you pick up an object and move it.

Pro-tip: If your dog gets up before they are released, just reset and try again, making it easier the next time around. Reduce the duration, the intensity of the distraction, or the distance you move away.

Need help getting these skills down? Check out our foundation skills program.

Generous Camp Host

Don’t forget to reinforce your dog for making the choices you want from them while you’re at the cottage. A little piece of sausage from the BBQ for sitting patiently, a thrown toy into the lake for recalling away from the chipmunk, and lots of love for sharing the ultimate cottage dream with you.

See you at the lake!

When Hounds Fly Staff at their annual cottage trip with their dogs

Our cottage essentials:

  1. A long line will help keep your dog on your property, and prevent them from chasing the local critters, while still allowing them freedom to roam and explore.
  2. If you have a wanderer, getting a GPS tracker can give you some peace of mind.
  3. Puzzle toys will give your dog something to cool off with and relax with around the fire with you.
  4. Keep the bugs off you and your dog with Dog Safe Insect Repellent.

What are your cottage and camping essentials?

Need some help while you’re up at the cottage? While our trainers might not be able to join you in-person, we are happy to listen and provide guidance over the phone.

Need 1-on-1 help with a specific issue?

We are here to support you.

Schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with one of our positive trainers.