Hiking with our dogs is a great way to get exercise as well as stimulate your dog’s mind by giving him new environments to explore.
However, as dog owners we have a responsibility to others who use the trail – remember not everyone is a dog lover! It is our job to ensure our canine friends continue to be welcomed on trials by being good stewards. Elyse Horvath, owner of Natural Paws, an all-natural dog spa product company, is an active hiker with her dogs. She provided the following trail etiquette tips that all dog owners should follow. Would you add anything? Tell us in the commnets!
#1 – Leash Your dog
Most states have leash laws, so it’s best to keep your dog on leash, even if you have good control over your dog. You never know if he will be enticed with a new creature, another dog, or a person.
Why is this a problem for a friendly dog who loves everyone? A creature can be venemous or poisonous. Another dog, leashed or not, might not be as friendly as yours, and if there’s an attack either way, the off-leash dog was already violating the law.
Lastly, not all people are as excited to meet your dog as you’d think. Some people are fearful of even the friendliest dogs!
#2 – Only Go Where You’re Welcome
Make sure you’re going to a pet-friendly hiking trail – it’s a real bummer to arrive at the trail head only to see a “no dogs” posting. It’s heartbreaking to have to leave once you’ve arrived with your dog, and it’s not worth a ticket to violate the posting.
#3 – Yield Right of Way
Generally, the unspoken rules are to yield right-of-way to:
- The larger animal (an equine, for example)
- Someone going more quickly than you
- Anyone who is in the midst of an uphill or downhill that’s tough to stop or re-start
#4 – Pick up After Your Dogs
You may feel that this seems silly, especially if you are hiking in the woods, but other hikers, bikers, etc., do not want to pass through your dog’s droppings. Imagine if no dog owner picked up their dog’s poop – the trail would quickly become a quagmire of feces, yuck.
#5 – Be Friendly
It helps foster good relations with non-dog people and it’s the nice thing to do! Say “hi” to those on the trail – it can’t hurt!
#6 – Keep Control of Your Dog
Don’t let your dog run up to every person on the trail! If you have a friendly dog, teach him restraint so he only greets when he has permission. As mentioned earlier, some people are afraid of dogs. Even if they aren’t, most people don’t want a dirty, strange dog jumping on them. Same goes for greeting other dogs.