This is the final post in this series. Happy and safe hiking!
tip #6 –
- Right of Ways – when you are out hiking with your dog always pull off the trail (as far as you need) to anything, bigger, faster, or louder. If in doubt, pull off the trail with your dog anyway, be the polite trail user. If anything on the trail is above your dogs skill level, please clip their leash/long line on, and step off. Enjoy the back country, but always be safe and avoid conflict.
- Predator Country – If you live in an area with predators (bear, mountain lion, wolf, coyote, etc) please carry a can of bear and/or pepper spray, hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s relatively cheap insurance. If you are on a trail and see fresh bear scat or mountain lion tracks, please turn around and consider that all the information you need to end your hike with your dog for that day. Be aware of who you are sharing the trail with, and be respectful and responsible. Predators in the wild will not greet your dog with long lost affection, your dog is nothing more than competition and can antagonize an otherwise neutral moment . I don’t suggest hiking with your dog in known denning areas, especially in the spring or fall.
- Trapping areas – If you live in an area where trapping is prevalent, you have some tough choices to make. It is a true danger to your dog unless they are on a leash next to your side. Traps are generally baited with stink bait, which is irresistible to dogs, especially those that are used to running off trail and having distance from their handler. Montana for example is open for trapping on public and private land 365 days a year. While there are quotas on fur bearing animals for pelt sales, there are no specific seasons. To learn more about trapping and the hazards to non-targeted or incidental animals please visit FootLooseMontana. Releasing a dog from a trap isn’t simple, especially with a thrashing distressed dog. Leg hold is considered a non lethal trap, while the conibear and neck snare are lethal. I would recommend first and foremost learning about your area and if trapping is prevalent, watch as many VIDEOS on how to release, or attend free demonstrations. Carrying wire cutters is not a bad idea if you are hiking in a known trapping area. Bottom line, keep your dog with you!
- Prey – dogs chasing prey as part of their hiking experience is not recommended, and in most areas illegal. If your dog has practiced and rehearsed chasing prey, its time to step out of the back country and revisit your training plan. This is a handler and management issue that needs change.
- Signs – always stop at the trail head and read the postings and/or signs. While some offer little to no information, many will have current postings for seasonal considerations, sections of the trail that are closed or dangerous, or corridors closed to off leash dogs or packing animals because of migratory animals in the area. Be informed.
- Photos – carry a camera! There will be moments or experiences in the back country with your dog that you may never see again!
When out and about with your dog, please care enough to do the right thing! Everyone, including your dog, will be grateful!