If you’re an outdoorsy dog owner, there’s a good chance you’re spending time with your pup on local hiking trails. Who wouldn’t be? We live in the perfect place for it. With so many adventurous dogs and people, there are some proper rules of etiquette and laws U.S. Forest Service officials would like you to know about before hitting the trails.
Choose a dog-friendly trail. Do your research before going on a big adventure day with your pup. Not all trails allow dogs and not all trails are safe for dogs. Good websites to check are www.fs.usda.gov/main/mthood and www.oregonhikers.org. Or you can call the local ranger station. More information is at www.fs.usda.gov/rb.
Obey leash laws. In general, dogs are required to be on leash or under strict voice command. Strict voice command means you do not have to repeat the command for your dog to obey. In developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, trail heads and picnic areas, dogs must be under physical control on leashes no longer than six feet. Check local and state laws if you are unsure.
Pack out the dog poo. Make sure your dog is only leaving their paw prints on the trail by packing out all the pet waste from the day. Try walking around the trail head for a while to see if you can get your dog to go before starting on the hike so you can conveniently dispose of pet waste in the trash cans provided.
Stick to the trail. This applies to humans and dogs alike. Leave plants and wildlife undisturbed to minimize your environmental impact. If your dog likes to venture off-trail, keep them on a leash.
Give way to approaching hikers. While this is a general rule for all hikers, it’s especially important if two dogs are about to pass. Even if your dog is friendly, it’s important to give other dogs space as you are passing and consider putting your dog on leash if they aren’t already. Even the friendliest dog can cause problems off leash if the other dog is reactive or undergoing training.
A few more quick tips:
Avoid using retractable leashes. They are hard for other dogs and people to see and can be difficult to to keep your dog under control when extended.
Let your dog sniff! Sniffing is mentally stimulating and provides your dog with important information about the environment around them.
Keep your dog close on horse trails. Horses weigh over 1,000 pounds and might not have patience for nosy dogs.
Make your hiking experience a positive one for your dog and others on the trail. Keeping a bag of dog treats when you are hiking is always handy and lets you reward your dog for being a great hiking buddy. Now get out there and enjoy happy tails on the hiking trails!