Hiking etiquette with dogs

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

Fine with me. I love dogs!
16
12%
Doesn't matter to me if the dog doesn't bother me or others.
38
29%
Only small dogs that aren't/don't appear threatening.
3
2%
Its OK on low-use trails.
27
21%
Its OK but I will brandish my firearm if I feel threatened.
7
5%
It depends on if the owner picks up the poop or not.
12
9%
Never. There's a law requiring leashes for a reason.
28
21%
 
Total votes: 131

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chumley
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Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by chumley » Mar 24 2009 10:36 am

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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Jeffshadows
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jeffshadows » Mar 24 2009 11:07 am

Please just obey restrictions where they exist. People down here completely ignore the wilderness requirements and are often very unpleasant when challenged about their behavior. ;)
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Jim_H
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jim_H » Mar 24 2009 11:12 am

Dogs should be under full muzzle and choker collar at all times. Its the only way I hike. Obey your MASTER! MASTER!
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big_load
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by big_load » Mar 24 2009 11:20 am

I'm dislike loose dogs. Few of them misbehave, but once in a while I meet a nasty one and have been nipped a few times. My favorite was the guy who told me his dog didn't bite as he was looking at the dog with its teeth sunk into my ankle.

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Jeffshadows
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jeffshadows » Mar 24 2009 11:26 am

jhodlof wrote:Dogs should be under full muzzle and choker collar at all times. Its the only way I hike. Obey your MASTER! MASTER!
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Davis2001r6
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Davis2001r6 » Mar 24 2009 11:31 am

Some of the people I've came across hiking on trails should be on a leash before my dog. I can take a mule down in the Grand Canyon but I can't go for a hike with my Dog?

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Jim_H
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jim_H » Mar 24 2009 11:34 am

Jeff MacE wrote:
jhodlof wrote:Dogs should be under full muzzle and choker collar at all times. Its the only way I hike. Obey your MASTER! MASTER!
Pastor of Muppets :D
and "Dogs" doesn't necessarily mean canines.
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te_wa
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by te_wa » Mar 24 2009 11:44 am

if anything, I should be on a leash :sl:
(chasing wildlife, harrasing other hikers, licking people, pooping on the trail, yep... guilty!)
:D

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writelots
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by writelots » Mar 24 2009 11:48 am

Te-wa - I'd pitty the person at the other end of YOUR leash. Talk about a workout! :sl:

I frequently hike with my dog off leash. Never in areas where dogs are prohibited, mind you, and my dog is very well behaved, too timid to really ever want to get close to other people or dogs, let alone bite them, and she's generally frightened of wildlife as well (you should'a seen her the time she accidentally flushed the flock of wild turkeys! Classic!). Now, I totally think that there are problems out there with other dogs, with people who don't like dogs, and with pets having a negative effect on wildlife, etc. However - there are also conflicts between people on mountain bikes and hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers, humans and wildlife, etc. Being out on the trail means being responsible for yourself and your livestock/pets/equipment. All of these farking rules exist because you can't trust people to be well behaved and to have adequate control over their charges.

BTW - living in Tucson and wanting to go hiking with your dog completely stinks. Saguaro National Park (both east and west districts), the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Tumamoc Hill are all off limits to dogs, period. That means 90% of the trails closest to my house are no goes if I want to bring my very favorite hiking companion along. Especially given that it's generally accepted that the bighorn sheep population on Pusch Ridge is no longer viable (if it exists at all) and the fact that many of the SNP trails are so remote and untraveled, it seems unnecssarily restrictive. I'd even go for hiking with her on a leash if I could take her to some of these wonderful hikes...
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by writelots » Mar 24 2009 11:48 am

Hey - I got promoted to Flutin'! Awsome!
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Jeffshadows
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jeffshadows » Mar 24 2009 11:50 am

I'm glad at least one dog owner down here is aware of the restrictions. One down, sixty thousand to go... :)
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DarthStiller
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by DarthStiller » Mar 24 2009 11:53 am

I like dogs and have never had any issues with a dog getting too aggressive for me. My wife, however, is very uncomfortable around dogs. When we hiked Lost Dog Wash (oddly enough) last month, some people came the other way with an unleashed dog and it ran up to our kids, sniffed, and went on its way. My 4 year old daughter nearly freaked out when the dog got close. Even though the dog was totally friendly, kids aren't always aware and some people do have real semi-phobia issues that owners should be more aware of. This was especially true for a high-use area like that. For wilderness hiking, I don't see what the big deal is. I'm not gonna be taking small kids out that far, and if you have a dog phobia, what are you gonna do if you run into a bear or mountain lion?

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Jim_H
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Jim_H » Mar 24 2009 12:24 pm

Stiller wrote: if you have a dog phobia, what are you gonna do if you run into a bear or mountain lion?
Definitely. Though, you have a very low likelihood of meeting a larger wild animal. Most dogs are use to people and have little fear of them so they will be aggressive to them even when being friendly. I don't mind the happy dog that want to meet me. Actually, when I meet off leash dogs on the trail they tend to be uninterested in me and just pass me by without giving me so much as a sniff. I think they might be "dog tired".

But what about the real wild animals? No leash will stop them. Shouldn't people learn to be more dominant towards unruly dogs to keep them at bay so they might be better prepared if they ever meet a bear or a lion? Body language goes a long way with our "lower" cousins. The same goes for the Crips.
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by PaleoRob » Mar 24 2009 1:55 pm

While hiking Calf Creek Falls last week, where dogs are only allowed to be on leash. Buster was on a leash. Out of the approximately one dozen dogs, only one other was on a leash. It is things like blatant disregard for the rules that get dogs banished from trails all together. Every single unleashed dog, without exception, came running up to Buster, despite the owners trying to order it around. They didn't know if Buster was friendly or not. He is. But what if he hadn't been?
There was the case of the fellow who got shot outside of Flagstaff a couple years back. Why? His dogs were off leash, didn't apparently respond to him, and the other guy felt very threatened (I don't want to reopen that whole thread). The only way you can be sure that your dog is doing what they are allowed to be doing (yes, rules apply to dogs to) is if they are on a leash. Period.
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Moodrets
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by Moodrets » Mar 24 2009 4:32 pm

I hike with my dog very often, and while she is the model of civility when no other unfamiliar canines are near, she grows rather threatened and defensive once particularly gregarious specimens run up to her, and has been known to lash out if they're too disrespectful of her personal space. She's probably the best candidate for leashlessness, as very rarely does she willingly leave my side, and she's ever the epitome of obedience, but nevertheless I keep her leashed out of respect for those with whom I share the trail (if there are any to share the trail with, of course. If I'm certain there's nobody else there, I let her walk unbounded).

That being said, I voted "It's OK on low-use trails." I really would prefer if people better controlled their dogs (with leashes) on trails where the presence of other hikers is obvious, though.

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nonot
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by nonot » Mar 24 2009 6:33 pm

jhodlof wrote:Dogs should be under full muzzle and choker collar at all times.
So should some people I've run into on the trail. :sl:
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 24 2009 7:42 pm

I hike with my dog all the time on low use/no use trails/off trail. I carry the leash and put it on her as soon as I see anyone, although she has no interest in anyone else. I do it so they will not feel threatened. Most of the time up here they have dogs, too. If their dog tries to sniff mine she growls at it. I always hope they will leash-up when they see I'm doing the same, but they don't always do so.

I used to have a biter, a Blue Heeler. He didn't much like strangers, and he just hated strange dogs. He would always come when called, though. I did take a chance sometimes letting him off-leash when there seemed to be no one around. In those rare occasions when other hikers appeared, he did come running when I called. I miss him, but I'm glad that headache is in the past. I finally had to put him down last summer.

Everyone's comments very good, well thought-out. Thanks.
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Mar 24 2009 8:24 pm

The last time I did Fatman's Loop (it's a high use trail BTW), there was a girl trailrunning with three unleashed dogs. One stopped to sniff a flower, but she didn't right away because she was too busy running. So it was just me approaching a strange (fortunately friendly) dog. It paid me no attention as I passed, and a minute later the girl came running back with the other two canines. Though no confrontation happened, I was very irritated. This girl was trailrunning and obviously was in no position to control, or even keep track of her animals. One of those dogs could easily wander off and get left behind because their so-called "owner" is an idiot. Even if the dogs are friendly to humans, what if they encounter somebody walking their dog leashed, and the dogs start fighting? That girl is probably 100 yards away and oblivious. People don't think about the possible situations that could arise, and it's just plain stupid.
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dysfunction
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by dysfunction » Mar 24 2009 8:37 pm

I agree, bad dog owners is one of the reasons I don't often bring my dog anymore. Wow, that's actually a pretty sad statement.
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midnightwaps
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Re: Hiking etiquette with dogs

Post by midnightwaps » Mar 24 2009 9:02 pm

There is rarely a hike that I do that I don't take my hike along. In fact, the main reason I haven't done any hikes around Tuscon is because of the many restrictions prohibiting dogs on trails. I very very rarely allow my dog off leash while hiking. One reason is because this is my first dog. Before I had a dog I did not like dogs. I would not have appreciated a dog running up to me uncontrolled and I try to respect that for other people as well. The times my dog is off leash are generally for safety scrambling up some rocks or across water. I certainly don't want the leash to be the result of an injury in those cases. That said, those are locations where no one is around in the first place. Like I said, I used to be very non-dog and so I understand people not wanting to be bothered by them.

On another dog note, I also try to be very aware of when my dog is leaving a "trace" and to clean up after him. Often this requires me packing around a bag of poop in my backpack. The only time I have not cleaned up was when he left a mess in a thorny plant and I cut my hand and the bag trying to pick it up. Other than that, if he pooped and I knew about it, I picked it up. I don't know whether people don't notice, don't come prepared, or don't care, but I have not found it to be the case that people always clean up after their dogs. This is not soley a hiking concern, but even occurs around my neighborhood or at the dog park where they provide bags for you to clean up. It seems to me as a general lack of respect for other people and property. I think this is the main point of the topic. We should be respectful of other people and the land around, whether hiking with a dog or not. If respecting others means your dog is on a leash, then hike with your dog on a leash.

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