Hiking etiquette with dogs

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What's your opinion of off-leash dogs while hiking?

Fine with me. I love dogs!
Doesn't matter to me if the dog doesn't bother me or others.
Only small dogs that aren't/don't appear threatening.
Its OK on low-use trails.
Its OK but I will brandish my firearm if I feel threatened.
It depends on if the owner picks up the poop or not.
Never. There's a law requiring leashes for a reason.
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Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by chumley »

There was a recent thread about rabid foxes and the threat to unleashed pets which got me to thinking about hiking with my dog. I have a yellow lab, who is by nature, a people-loving dog. His greatest threat to anybody is the ability to possibly lick you to the point of illness due to his bad breath. He's getting old and has always been a little bit lazy, so chasing rabbits, squirrels, skunks, and porcupines only lasts for a few yards before he comes back to me. He is always fascinated (but scared) of larger animals such as elk or cattle.

As a result, I frequently hike with him off-leash. This allows him to stop and sniff things while I continue my pace uninterrupted. I am cognizant of other people however and realize that not everybody loves dogs. If I encounter others, I always try to either put him on his leash or at least give him a "sit" command while people pass. I will always restrain him when we encounter other dogs (especially off-leash) until I've had a chance to talk to the owner and determine the demeanor of the dog.

I love to go somewhere that there's nobody else around for miles and miles ... but its nice to share that solitude with my dog. Often it is impractical to have him restrained, especially on trails that involve climbing or scrambling over obstacles.

So, what do you all think of dogs on the trail? I think part of my responsibility as a dog-owner is to try to understand the feelings of others, and while I have some ideas, it can't hurt to get more input.
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by xthine »

Very old thread but for the past few months I've been hiking with our new pup so i've been interested in hiking etiquette when it comes to dogs.

Around here there are leash laws but I see quite a number of off leash dogs on the trail.
My pup is leashed on the trails but there are times I put the leash down when i take pictures of her and when we do obedience training (usually on a mesa where I could watch out for other people or dogs coming). Obedience training would be duration down stay, I figure it's good for her be trained in this in case a scenario calls for her to remain in place for a certain amount of time.

I must admit I get nervous when I see off leash dogs that come charging towards us (i've been training my pup to be neutral to dogs). Thankful for dogs that have great recall and owners that leash up their dogs when they see us coming.

We continue to work on our hiking etiquette. She tends to poop shortly after hitting the trails so I bag it up and set it aside, on the way back i give her the command to look for her poop bag so helps me find it so it goes in the trash bin. I have her on a sit whenever bikers pass, I step off the trail and have her sit when we see an oncoming dog, i let her walk in front of me when we hike but recall her to my side whenever there are other hikers coming so she is out of their way. When people ask to take pictures of her I oblige. She has a harness that says DO NOT PET because we've had hikers just pet her on the head without asking. Now that she's grown we don't get those anymore. :)
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