For the next week or so I am going to be posting hiking tips for our dog/owner teams. Success on the trail is my goal, for everyone! Please feel free to use and pass along. Also, please leave your comments that will add to the conversation on hiking …
Dog parks have officially been around since 1983 or so. Ohlone Park in Berkeley was the first official park designated for off leash use after a leash ordinance was passed. The concept spread rather quickly with 100′s of parks popping up every year.
Increased socialization and room to run was the original concept, and a good one at that. Who doesn’t want to see their dog meeting up with friends and flying across the park?
Fast forward to 2012, we have now raised twenty nine years worth of people with the dog park concept. Walk to a place, take your dog off leash, and let them run and do as they please. While some dog park users actually interact with their dogs while there, kudos to you by the way, most do not.
This concept has left the boundaries of dog parks and leaked into neighborhoods, all city parks, most open spaces and even our trails.
Trails are not dog parks. Trails whether front or back country are a means to go from one location to another, and usually passing through or around private, forest service, wilderness, or public lands. You and your dog are at best guests on a trail. And as a guest, using the trail politely and responsibly should be the number one goal.
Most trails are what are referred to as multi use, meaning the users on the trail will be varied. In our area we have; horse packers, llama packers, goat packers, mountain bikers, skiers, hikers, fisherman, hunters, joggers, dog/owner teams, etc. Motorized use is limited. With this type of use, all users need to be aware of each other and learn right of ways.
tip #1 – When you step onto the trail with your dog you are in fact taking a predator and opportunistic scavenger for a walk into the wild. If a trail sign says ‘dogs must remain on leash’, that means all dogs, not all dogs except yours.
On trails that do not have a leash designation sign, your dog should be on a leash unless they are with you and under 100% voice control with all trail distractions. Dogs that chase other trail users, chase wildlife, barge into other trail users space, or are too young to know any better, should be on leash until you have put time into these skills. Be a polite guest on a trail when hiking with a dog.
Even if you believe your dog is the reincarnate Mother Theresa, other dogs and trail users may not, your dog should be with you.