We Love Dogs

little boy feeding a dog a treat from his hand

Week 5

We love dogs. They are loyal, they are our best pals, they have great instincts, and they are always up for an adventure. We love hiking with them, swimming with them, playing with them, lounging with them…even a car trip is more fun with a dog in the backseat. We are better with them in our lives. So, of course, we have to spend a week celebrating them.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a dog at home! We have some great activities for you to do this week and lots to learn about a dog’s senses, characteristics, and training. We are excited for you to learn more about why dogs are so incredible and awesome, so you will love them as much as we do.

Please share your adventures by emailing photos and reflections to summercamp@orvis.com. And follow us on social media to stay updated on special Facebook Live events for campers and more!


dog in a wheat field

Explore Your Senses

Little(r)-Kid Approved!

Dogs have the same five senses as humans, but some are much more powerful. A dog’s sense of taste is much less discriminating than that of humans (we have around 9,000 taste buds, dogs have only around 1,700), yet they have a wider field of vision than we do. And, as you may guess, when it comes to hearing and smelling, our dog’s senses are much more advanced than ours.

A dog’s ears are able to register sounds of 35,000 vibrations per second (compared with 20,000 per second in humans), and they also can shut off their inner ear in order to filter out distracting sounds. This means dogs can hear sounds that are not loud enough for our ears; and, thanks to their rodent-hunting heritage, they can hear high-pitched sounds incredibly well.

A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000-100,000 times more acute than ours. This incredible sense of smell makes them great at tracking other animals, humans, plants, and some working dogs are even used for tracing toxic substances, such as gases that are undetectable by humans. Not all canine noses are the same and some breeds, such as the German shepherd and the bloodhound, have much more keenly developed olfactory senses (sense of smell) than others.

This week, let’s get to know our own sense of smell and hearing to better understand how dogs rely on these senses. Using the nature journal created in week one, spend five to ten minutes each day observing one sense at a time. Capture the soundscape of your yard or a nearby natural area. Take field notes with as much detail as possible. Next, play around with your sense of smell. How far away can you smell something? Pick something around the house that has a strong smell (coffee beans, a candle, an onion) and measure how far away you can smell the odor. Conduct a blind smell test (you may need a parent or sibling to help with this) by setting up a variety of food items, blindfolding yourself, and guessing what each item is based purely on smell.

dogs running ahead of its family in a field

Illustrate Your Super Dog

Indoor (or Outdoor) Creative Activity | Little(r)-Kid Approved!

Some dogs make exceptional runners, while others are determined diggers. Some require lots of exercise and mental stimulation, while others are happy lounging at home all day. We love all dogs—working dogs, mutts, puppies, and senior dogs. And we love learning about the different characteristics that come together to make up each dog’s personality. The American Kennel Club defines seven different types of dog groups:

Sporting Group: Bred to assist hunters in catching and retrieving, sporting dogs have water-repellant coats that are great for swimming.

Hounds: Bred to pursue warm-blooded game, hounds are long-legged and very fast.

Working Group: These dogs have been around for a long time and are bred to help humans do things like pull sleds, guard livestock, and protect humans. They are strong and incredibly smart.

Terriers: Originally bred to hunt underground rodents, these dogs are feisty, short, and excellent diggers.

Toy Group: These affectionate dogs make wonderful companions. They are small enough to fit in your lap, making them ideal for apartment living.

Herding Group: Herding dogs were developed to move livestock. They are high energy, and they love to have a job to do. They are very smart and work closely with their humans.

Non-Sporting Group: This is the catch-all group of dogs and includes any dog whose “job” doesn’t make them an obvious fit in the other six groups. They are great companions as they were all developed to interact with humans in some way.

Within each group, there are lots of dog breeds, each with unique characteristics and qualities. Our friends at Petfinder have a great online resource. Take a minute to learn about the different types of breeds and think about what type of dog might make a great match for you and your favorite activities. We have also created an awesome dog breed selector that you should try:

Dog Breed Selector

Now that you know a lot about the different groups of dogs, different dog breeds, and what makes them unique, think about what characteristics and personality traits in a dog you love the most. If you could make the perfect mix, what would it be? Would it have the swimming-ready coat of a retriever combined with the speedy running legs of a greyhound and the nose of a bloodhound? Or would you prefer a snuggly lap dog with the strength and energy of a working dog? Get creative and draw a picture of your special dog. Give it a new dog breed name and write out the special characteristics and qualities.

man praising his dog

Train Your Dog to Shake!

This basic training outline works for almost anything:

  1. Get your dog to do the desired behavior
  2. Reward the behavior
  3. Label the behavior
  4. Reinforce the behavior

Let’s use this training outline to teach a dog how to shake. If you don’t have a dog at home, you may have to rely on a friend or family with a friendly dog you can train.

  1. Get your dog to lift its paw by tickling its foot (get your dog to do the desired behavior).
  2. Hold a treat in your hand close to the dog’s paw. When the dog puts their paw on your hand, open your hand and give your dog a treat (reward the behavior).
  3. Once your dog knows to raise his paw to get a reward, label it with a command. Repeat “shake” as the simple command (label the behavior).
  4. Reward your dog as your dog makes progress. Once your dog knows to raise his paw to get a reward, label it with a command (reinforce the behavior). Have fun!
woman petting her dog while it drinks water from a bowl in a truck bed

More Resources

multiple canoes in a lake

Connect with Other Campers!

Please share your camp adventures on social media using #orvissummercamp

Send in photos of your maps and photos or reflections of your adventures to summercamp@orvis.com. If you email us by the end of the day on Thursday, we will share some on our blog on Friday!