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Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

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Thoreau
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Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Thoreau » Dec 19 2009 8:11 pm

I had an 'interesting' experience today while hiking Thompson Peak that I think illustrates at least one reason why leash laws/rules exist.

Let me start out by saying that if something as simple as this got my heart racing the way it did, I can't even imagine what it would be like to be dealing with a human instead of a dog (and Harold Fish had to deal with BOTH)...

Anywho, I was out on the trail to Thompson Peak today. Great hike (holy s&&& it was steep towards the end!) and all went well. Until about a mile or two from the end on my way back out.

I was coming up a hill and looked up to see a pretty good sized dog at the top. I had enough time to notice that it had tags hanging from a collar, so was able to immediately rule out stray and wild animal, which almost set me at ease. Unfortunately, the dog (looked to be a doberman mix of some type) noticed me and began growling/barking. No owner in sight. A few seconds later the dog made some false charges in my direction at which point my hand went to my H&K. JUST as it was about to come out of the holster, the owner appeared at the top of the hill on a mountain bike and managed to get the dog back under voice control and to back off (took 2-3 tries to get the dogs obedience.)

Owner apologized immediately and all was well, but that's probably because he never noticed I was carrying.

In that short time, I was amazed at how something so minor could pump that much adrenaline into the bloodstream. I've never even been charged at by a dog before in my life, but even while armed it was an experience to remember.

Why the hell do some dog owners think it's okay for them to let their dogs off leash in public places? I mean, it's not like every hiking trail, preserve, forest, etc. doesn't have signs up reminding people that dogs must always be on a leash. That's as much for the protection of other people as the dog/owner. That poor dog, through NO fault of its own, was only about 1-2 seconds away from being introduced to a .40 (or 14). All because some owner can't follow simple, basic rules.

For added fun, all that dog's barking got the attention of a nearby pack of coyotes who were then singing away for the remainder of my hike out. As if native wildlife isn't reason enough for a caring dog owner to keep the dog under control at all times...

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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Sun_Ray » Jan 12 2010 4:50 pm

Wendy, sorry to hear about Paula. I've lost 2 over the years and it's not easy.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Hiker Girl » Feb 03 2010 10:32 pm

I know that I am quite late to this thread. However I can't agree more with many of you. Leash laws exist because of the owners.

I can't tell you the number of times that I'm out walking Jackson, or on a trail with him (what have you) and someone exclaims "Oh, he's trained?!" Frankly I'm sick of this. As a responsible dog owner, yes I trained my dog. He has been taught manners, and all voice commands, and even hand signal commands for any situation. I trust him very much. I wish the standard was that people expect you to train your dogs. For me and my husband, a dog isn't a responsibility to be taken likely, and we do consider them family. In fact, they are children to us.

Now, I always leave a leash on Jackson. Do I always hold it? No, I don't. He only walks a couple feet in front of me, and should I see anyone coming or something, I step on the leash to stop him and pick it up. Whenever Jackson sees someone coming on the trail, he will pull off to the side, and sit down so they can pass. But he's a good dog, and I've seen some on the trails that are not. My dog doesn't run to people...my dog doesn't chase birds or squirrels....my dog doesn't just poop in the middle of the trail (and even if he did, I carry poop bags with me)

If I notice anyone that is wary of my dog...I am always quick to pull him out of their way. However...I get frustrated when people freak out because he looks like a big mean dog. And I get this reaction wherever I go. Any time I walk around with Jackson, people pull their children away, pick up their small dogs, or stare from a distance. He's as sweet as can be, but just because he "looks mean" doesn't mean he is mean. He's always got a huge smile on his face.

That's my rant for now...I just get frustrated is all.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 04 2010 5:29 am

Don't you have some people who run up because they see he's friendly and they love dogs and want to pet him? I am kind of like that, I have to admit. I'm a sucker for a big ol' friendly dog. You can usually tell if they are friendly, plus you can ask the owner. I would guess that those people who overreact likely have had a bad experience.

My sister tells me that in Britain, dogs are generally better trained, and they are often seen in restaurants, obediently lying under the tables. She says there are no dog fights within the restaurants, either.

Nevertheless, all this talk just makes me never want to move to another area of the state or to rural San Diego county (as my husband and I have talked about.) Well, actually, hiking in Yuma I almost never see anyone else, mainly because for some reason they forgot to build very many hiking trails there, so the only trail you'll see a lot of people and dogs on is Telegraph Hill! If you hike the canyons, you won't see anyone, usually. Anyway, I rarely see anyone when I go hiking. Usually they do have dogs. I bring a leash for mine and have it handy just in case, but she's getting too old for hiking more than 3 or 4 miles. Poor ol' Molly, has to stay home.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by dysfunction » Feb 04 2010 9:03 am

The brits are a dog loving culture, this is true.. and they would be appalled by the way most dogs in the US run roughshot. Then again, in general they're more polite anyway and I'd be willing to bet it's that cultural expectation that determines the behavior of the dogs.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by writelots » Feb 04 2010 9:14 am

Hiker Girl wrote:However...I get frustrated when people freak out because he looks like a big mean dog.... He's always got a huge smile on his face.
That's my rant for now...I just get frustrated is all.
I feel your frustration. With many people, dogs are assumed guilty until proven innocent, and still others don't believe a dog can ever be "innocent". We've got an interesting view of our companion animals here in the states - they're not exactly as trusted and welcome as dogs in most European countries, but they're not as neglected as in say Latin American countries. I almost want to begin a dog-owners advocacy group... just as a way of promoting the interests of responsible dog owners and their well mannered pets.

Yeah. In all my spare time. That'll happen.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by cordell_rogers » Feb 04 2010 9:32 am

I ride my horse on the trail about 1/2 the time I go out. 'Trained' dogs frequently charge me or get aggressive & bark because they are not used to horses. One time, I was off my horse adjusting the saddle when an unleashed dog came around the corner and charged me. I faced him & backed up until he was close enough to bite, then I defended myself with my foot. My foot hurt pretty good from the impact, and while the dog's owner was trying to get off his mountain bike & restrain the dog, he gave me an earful. My foot hurt for about a week, but it still bugs me that instead of apologizing that his dog attacked me (it was scary), he yelled at me.

While I rode my horse last week, I saw a teenager laying on top of his dog, wrestling to hold him down. I asked him if he was OK or if he needed a leash to help control his dog (I had extra rope in my saddle bag). The boy told me that he doesn't need a leash because his dog is trained to stay by his side, he's just not used to horses & he was trying to go after my horse. I am glad that the lawmakers didn't say that you need a leash unless you're dog is trained, well-behaved, small, friendly, part of the family, etc.

Always use a leash!

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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by dysfunction » Feb 04 2010 9:34 am

if they're charging you, they're not trained. Period.

Then again, that guy sounds like a pumpkin. Period.

I was similarly yelled at for 'scaring' a little JRT that charged at me a few weeks back. Bad owners, where's my newspaper.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Hiker Girl » Feb 04 2010 5:19 pm

if they're charging you, they're not trained. Period.
exactly, a dog that is properly trained is taught to pay attention and mind your directions regardless of distractions.

When I was hiking on Hieroglyphics Trail on Sunday, a lady froze up several meters ahead of us on the trail. At this time I was holding Jackson's leash and was standing off on the side waiting for her to pass. But she didn't...she just stopped there and yelled that she had been "jumped" by a dog in the past. So I pulled off even further into the desert surroundings. I comply with what people ask because I know not everyone is as loving of dogs as I am. However, to categorize all dogs as bad because of ones you have met prior is a horrible stereotype.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Jeffshadows » Feb 04 2010 9:31 pm

Hiker Girl wrote: However, to categorize all dogs as bad because of ones you have met prior is a horrible stereotype.
FWIW, I wish I could agree. I won't argue that you have an invalid point of view, but mine is quite the opposite. It's about being practical. I would rather wrongfully act and injure a dog than risk it injuring me or one of my companions; or worse - my child. People with dogs should be mindful that I am out there among you, as are others like me that have been attacked in the past. The simple truth is that, to me, an unrestrained dog is a potential threat just as a wolf or coyote I would encounter could be. Like I've said, keep him or her in line and we can all be friends out there...

What I won't apologize for, however, is irrational fear. I think Fish may have acted irrationally, for example, but I can't be certain - I was not there. I know of at least one military police working dog that was killed in the past for no reason whatsoever. That act was committed by an irrational idiot, as well. Being cautious around any animal is wise, being scared and prone to over-reaction is the very definition of cowardliness.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Hiker Girl » Feb 04 2010 9:52 pm

I agree that people have the right to be fearful or wary from experience if there is a dog off leash and whatnot. But it's the irrational reactions that get to me the most. I have been on trail with off leashed dogs that were well behaved...didn't bother me. But regardless of how well I know my dog is trained, I still keep a leash on him so I can step on it and grab it if ever a situation needs it. I will always step on or hold his leash as we let people pass.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have been bit square in the face by a dog on a leash. As a dog groomer I get bit every single day from everything from Dachshunds to Mastiffs. An owner knowing what they can handle is also a big deal. I am so peeved when I see a child holding the leash of a german shepherd or other such dog. Or an elderly lady with a great dane. You simply can't be deluded enough to take a dog in public that you can not "man-handle" or control. Jackson is 65 lbs and I can pick him up like he is nothing, and I've done it on a couple of occasions when we have been in the midst of unleashed dogs that have come at us in a less than nice manner (though not necessarily a charge to maul)

There are so many factors that contribute to these leash laws...and for the most part I agree. I can trust myself, and my dog...but I sure as hell don't trust every Sally Stranger and her dog. It's those people that give dogs on the trail a bad name, and the reason so many are closed off to them.

I for one am sad...I got into hiking solely as a way to spend quality time with my pooch. I do enjoy it...but I do it mostly for him.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 05 2010 6:33 am

I have enjoyed hiking with my dogs in the past, before they were old. But my husband kept saying we saw more wildlife without the dogs with us. He is right. They scare the elk, deer, antelope, bears, bobcats, foxes, rabbits, rock squirrels, ground squirrels and other animals, all of which are very commonly seen in our area. And it is a well-known fact that it is not a good idea to bring a dog, leashed or otherwise, into our Mexican wolf areas, which now actually include pretty much ALL of the Apache-Sitgraves NF, the White Mtn. Apache nation, the San Carlos Apache nation and the Gila NF. Thousands and thousands of square miles...

When my dog passes away (she's 11) I am not getting another one.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Ckzona » Feb 14 2010 7:12 pm

I just noticed this thread and wanted to throw my .02 cents in. If your in a park or trail that requires a leash put the dog on the leash. Period. If your not in a restricted area and you have trained your dog many times and you know the dog will always respond to your commands you can try it. My main problem when walking my 2 dogs in these areas are other dogs. Usually once or so a year some non responsible dog owner lets their german shepherd, rottweiler, labrador, hound dog, any kind of dog loose when they can not control it. I honestly let my dogs off the leash in these areas because my dogs are trained well and i trust them. But anyway back in June i believe i was out on some Mogollan Rim trail or near Flagstaff when a hiker with headphones was letting his bulldog run loose of a leash. This guy wasn't even paying attention and when his dog saw my 2 dogs ( black and tan coonhound, and labrador) the thing came running over and started to try and scuffle with my dogs. I got control of mine while this other dog started to bite. I kicked it right in the gut( didn't want to) and had my foot up until its owner came running up "Dont kick my dog". I immediately continued my hike not to start a problem with a guy with a gun on his side. Problems like this make me thing that some dogs really do need leashes.

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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 14 2010 8:10 pm

Of all the unmitigated gall..."Don't kick my dog..." What a jerk. What a total flippin' jerk. And I don't blame you for walking off to diffuse the situation, if the guy was armed, etc. You did the right thing.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by joebartels » Feb 14 2010 8:30 pm

On the Perl Charles trail yesterday I passed 12 dogs. Only 1 was leashed. No trouble with the other eleven. Two of the owners went off trail and had their dogs go to the other side. Also passed four horses, a group of three and a single.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by BobP » Feb 14 2010 8:35 pm

Today...on reach 11....dog unleased followed by the owners on horseback....and bringing up the rear was a goat. They were all very friendly. :)
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by JimmyLyding » Feb 14 2010 9:30 pm

The Phoenix Mountain Preserve is Ground Zero for unleashed canines. I don't know how many unleashed dogs I've had to kick away from the dogs I was handling.
The most recent incident was on the Mercury Mine Loop just south of its spur trail (CMC #100) into Dreamy Draw Park. I had 2 Labrador retrievers, and one was my mom's very-new rescue so I didn't know how he would react...but he was on a leash and firmly in my control despite being quite large. We rounded a corner, and I saw a younger gentleman with an unleashed older lab. His dog started coming up towards us with his ears, tail, and hackles up when he asked "are your dogs friendly?" WTF? His dog got about 3 feet away before it got a tough kick under its jaws, and then backed away. The guy didn't say anything other than "sorry" which was a good thing considering he looked to weigh about a buck-nothing. I hate to punish a dog for its owner's transgressions, but I am not going to let my dogs get bit or harassed by a dog owned by some pumpkinhead who obviously walked right past a huge sign that read "Dogs Must Be On Leash..." That dog was far more aggressive than most, and it was a good thing for him that I had been having a good day up until that point and not wearing my boots.

My brother has 2 dogs. The "Hate Crew." http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=114656 Despite their moniker they are extremely well-behaved and even better-trained. However, this has come at the cost of untold hours of training. These pooches don't care about horses, other people, and most importantly other dogs due to their training. They enthusiastically respond to voice commands, and I've never seen them raise their hackles at anything.

A dog being friendly around other dogs and people when in a comfortable situation (i.e. its home) does not indicate that its ready to go off-leash on a hike. Being able to go responsibly off-leash can only be achieved through hours upon hours of training no matter what its owner thinks.

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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 15 2010 5:01 am

I disagree somewhat. You are speaking only from the standpoint of a city person doing urban-interface hikes. My dog is not all that well-trained, but will always come immediately when I call her. She is old and doesn't stray far from me, but even when she was young she would always come running. I usually hike where I don't expect to see any other people whatsoever, but very occasionally I do see someone. Their dogs are never leashed and they are usually on horseback, so they can't leash them. I call my dog, and I put her on a leash. This happens maybe twice a year, and in summer I usually hike every day. Say what you will about my remote little nowheresville town with no mall. I don't have to contend with these issues, and these issues DO NOT APPLY EQUALLY EVERYWHERE IN THE STATE. And last time I looked this site was called hikearizona not hikephoenix. I have to say if I lived in the city I would probably go to the gym instead. I hate hearing these descriptions of busy, crowded trails. You guys make it sound so awful. Aren't there any places left around the Valley for hiking that aren't crowded? Why do they allow dogs at all on these busy trails? Why do you not complain to the park managers or whoever is in charge of these areas about the unleashed dogs? In Tucson, from what I hear, there are almost no trails remaining that do allow dogs.

The park managers should give an ultimatum, that if they continue to receive reports of unleashed dogs, then no dogs at all will be allowed. I would be on the phone every week to these managers, and getting myself a guest op-ed column in the newspaper, and talking to the TV people, etc., to get the word out.
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by fricknaley » Feb 15 2010 5:05 am

azbackpackr wrote:In Tucson, from what I hear, there are almost no trails remaining that do allow dogs.
true but those signs and rules are ignored on a constant basis
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by Jeffshadows » Feb 15 2010 8:31 am

nickfraley wrote:
azbackpackr wrote:In Tucson, from what I hear, there are almost no trails remaining that do allow dogs.
true but those signs and rules are ignored on a constant basis
What's more, the only group that will respond to enforce a complaint is the law enforcement rangers at Saguaro.

Where I live in the city I have between three and five dogs (Depending on the semester) that bark CONSTANTLY. One finally gets tired and goes to sleep and another carries on or starts up. I'm absolutely sick of it. I've called PC animal control on the one after it barked without pause through the night for two weeks straight last year. For the record, I beat the hell out of that guy's screen door numerous times and he refused to face me and left him two letters, one warning that the next step was the authorities. I should have saved my breath - they did *absolutely* nothing about it and the dog still barks CONSTANTLY. This leaves me primed to be less and less tolerant of rotten dog action when I'm out doing the things I love...

The college kids all seem to think that they must have a dog with them at all times, it seems. They take poor care of the animal and leave it outside in the 108F weather with it barking and whining all day long. Then they bring it unleashed onto the trail where it runs off ahead of them because they are too busy on their phone or adjusting their knee-high UGG boots and I have to corral it, brave the cloud of perfume or cologne they took a shower in to scold them about having a dog off-leash in a public area or on a dog-free trail at all, and go on my way knowing that they are thinking: "Yea, F- him!" and ignored every word I wasted.

This is the same as people who have to shout out on the trail, play music at the trailhead, litter, run in nothing but a speedo up Finger Rock, or do anything else that is voyeuristic in nature and generally presents a nuisance to everyone else out on the trail. I go out there to get away from inconsiderate jerk-offs, not to have an encounter group session with the city's worst!! Keep your dog and other annoyances to yourself and all will be well. :wrt:
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Re: Dogs on the trail... sans leash...

Post by dysfunction » Feb 15 2010 8:39 am

Ya know, having read all of this...


Let the dog on the trail, the owner should stay home :sl:




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