I've been doing a lot outdoors while the weather is nice, but I thought I'd update the blog with more pictures and talk about the Kishu as hiking and camping dogs.
One thing you see a lot of in my pictures is either the absence of a leash entirely or the presence of a long line. I think my frequent pictures of dogs hiking off leash leads to the misconception that they are "good" off-leash dogs. I want to banish that. These dogs are not "good" off leash if you are looking for a dog that is going to stay at your side and be ultra-responsive. They CAN make good off-leash hiking dogs if you understand that and work hard to reinforce recall and other obedience commands. They CAN make great camping dogs if you let them... but even I'll tether my dogs to camp so they can't wander off after every little thing they think they want to hunt.
Off-leash, they tend to set up a "perimeter" around me and are constantly circling me - but at a much greater distance than many people are comfortable with. They don't run off, but they have their own adventures around me, and I think that's okay. I do put them on leashes or long lines when I know I am in a people or dog-heavy area that demands higher control, however, just to mitigate any possibility for trouble - and while they certainly tire themselves out more when they are off-leash, they enjoy their time on leash and out in the wilderness with me, all the same.