Our parks and trails are community resources. Being able to bring dogs with us is a privilege. We're part of a bigger community: the-people-who-enjoy-exercise-outdoors-with-their-dogs posse (we'll get an acronym for that) and the rules are in place for the most people to get the most benefit. I'm not going to be the jerk whose selfish behavior loses access to these places for myself and other dog people.
Respect for The Space, The Users, The Rules
We have very few off leash hiking areas in our region. Do I wish we had more? YES. But, this is an entirely different topic. Just because one wants this, doesn't mean that we go rogue and disobey rules.
So, here's what's going through my head when I keep the leash on:
1) This is another critter's environment and dogs are predators. The land we're hiking on is managed, not just for me to stomp around, but for many other animals to call home. My dog doesn't have the right to go harassing all the creatures like it's her own backyard.
2) Mixed greetings between dogs don't work (for most). Leashed greetings are difficult enough, but having a bounding, or even calmly approaching, off-leash dog walk up on an on-leash dog? Recipe for disaster. It's rude. It's potentially threatening. It's could ruin a great day.
3) This may come as a shock, but not all humans want to interact with our dogs nor do they find muddy paw prints on their camps adorable. It's each of our responsibility to ensure everyone can peacefully and comfortably access the trail.
4) And, if you don't agree with any of the above....the rules are clearly posted. Dogs must be on leash means dogs must be on leash.
What To Do If You Encounter This Situation
1) Remain Calm - a tightened leash is only going to make things harder for your own dog
2) If the owner is in view, stop and tell them to call their dog and leash it. Firm but calm. Remember Rule #1. Keep your dog near and let the treats flow.
3) If no owner is in sight or dog continues to approach, throw a handful of treats at/over the head of the approaching dog to create distance. Calmly walk the other way.
4) As much as I'm against using force on dogs, I have received a nasty bite from an uncontrolled dog on a trail and I've been harassed/followed by a freaky dude. I carry spray (citronella & defense) and will use it if the situation warrants.
5) Once you return to your car, call the authorities to report situation.
6) Do not let anyone make you think that by keeping your dog on leash or preventing the dogs from greeting that you did something wrong.
Rules are Rules for a Reason
Don't take this the wrong way, because of course your dogs are the s*&$, but in this situation, let's just all agree that my dogs aren't special and neither are yours. Leash rules are not in place for "bad" dogs or those without recall, or only when the trail is busy. The rules apply to all dogs, all the time. Everyone has the right to feel safe on trails and those of us who use leashed hiking trails desperately want to keep these spaces accessible to our dogs. Here's my thing - if dog owners can pull it together and behave properly, we might have a fighting chance to get more access to more places with our pups. At worst, following the rules ensures that we can share these resources and enjoy our time.
Please help spread the word to respect our park and trail leash rules (and ps - shock collars are not leashes).
Local Dog Adventure Blog
Join me and my 3-dog crew as we share our stories of training and adventure. Whether you're a newly leashed dog guardian, veteran handler, weekend warrior, cuddle on the couch sort, got yourself a fancy AF purebred or filthy, little mudblood, all are welcome in the Local Dog Tribe. If you want your pooch to think you're the coolest thing since sliced hot dogs, read on!