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Trail Etiquette When Hiking with Dogs

Summer is here and it’s a great time to get outdoors with your pup! Hiking is a popular pastime for you and your dog to enjoy. It’s also a great way to break up your pup’s routine, help stimulate their senses, and of course, spend some time building the bond between you and your best friend. So get on out there and enjoy the beauty of the natural landscape! As you do, here are a few things to remember when hiking with dogs.

Trail etiquette when hiking with dogs

Choose a dog-friendly trail

There are many trails that you and your dog can enjoy. Research the best options for you and your pup’s skill level. Make sure the trail is dog-friendly and is open. AllTrails is a great resource for finding dog-friendly hiking trails.

Follow leash laws

Before hiking, know the leash law for your trail and follow it. Some trails require non-retractable leashes that are less than 6 feet in length. Keeping your dog leashed is always the preferred option for safety and the comfort of other hikers and dogs.

Only allow your pup off leash if your dog has undergone this kind of training and is experienced. New surroundings may make it harder for your pup to respond to a command if they are not well-practiced. If you meet another off-leash pup, keeping your dog on a leash will always allow you more control over any potentially uncomfortable situations.

Be aware of your surroundings

While hiking, pay attention to your surroundings and assess any risks. As you enjoy the great outdoors, always be prepared for any potential danger including wildlife. Avoid spending time on your phone, whether it be texting or posting on social media, as this can be distracting.

Yield right-of-way

When approaching other hikers, joggers, or cyclists, make sure you leave enough distance for others to pass easily. This generally means keeping your pup out of the “sniffing range” of passersby.

Stick to the trail

Follow trail markers and maps. Stick to the hiking trail. Not only is this important for safety, but it can decrease the environmental impact of traffic through protected areas. Leave plants and wildlife untouched.

Ask permission before approaching another dog

Be sure to get other dog owners’ permission before allowing your pup to interact with other hikers and dogs. Your dog should be well-socialized for meet-and-greets. It is always appreciated by others to keep your dog leashed during these interactions

Leave no trace

Leave the trail exactly as you found it. To minimize the potential for leaving behind waste bags – or having to carry them around with you the remainder of the hike – spend some time at the trailhead to allow your pup time to do their business. Place waste in specified receptacles. Remember to collect your belongings and any trash.

With this knowledge, get out there and enjoy the great outdoors! Now that you know all about trail etiquette when hiking with dogs, you can also brush up on your dog park manners!


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