Let’s face it, hiking with dogs is sometimes an uphill battle. While most of us surround ourselves with like minded dog lovers on our hikes, the rest of the hiking world doesn’t always think so much of us and our four legged peak baggers. How can we keep the peace? And more importantly, ensure our pups are allowed to continue to share these trails.
After a busy Black Friday #optoutside day hike at an already busy McAfee Knob off of the Appalachian Trail, I picked up on some not-so-becoming actions of dog hikers that I think can help all of us become just a little more conscious about the way we handle our pups on the trail.
- Over Friendly Dogs: Guys, I know, I know, we all have the CUTEST dogs ever, and we want them to get to say hello to everyone (both humans & other pups!), but PLEASE remember, not everyone wants to be greeted (that goes for humans AND other dogs). When passing people on the trail, make sure you keep your dogs close. I prefer to “pull over” to the side, if on a narrow trail and let people pass by. If they want to say hi to my boys, then they can choose to ask me, otherwise, we’re not bothering anyone. I am one of the biggest dog lovers you’ll ever meet, however, I cannot stand being jumped all over by someone elses dog on a trail, so I can’t imagine how those people that don’t even care for dogs, feel (I do know they must feel pretty cold and empty, haha!)
- Overly Friendly Off Leash Dogs: We’re not going to get into the off leash debate on this post, however, I will say I am very tired of hearing “It’s ok! They just want to say hi! He’s super friendly!” Well, unfortunately, everyone else’s dogs may not be friendly! An over friendly, strange dog running up to a dog aggressive dog on a leash is a recipe for disaster. Although both of my boys are more than tolerant of other dogs, I don’t like random dogs I don’t know running up to them. This also goes for these off leash dogs running up to non-dog people. Again, it’s pretty rude and definitely is not a good way to keep the peace with other hikers.
- Ask before you Act: The whole idea of “it’s better to ask forgiveness than ask permission,” is not a good rule to follow in the hiking/dog world! Whether you’re hiking with dogs or without dogs, it’s always best to ask for permission to pet, give a treat, or let your dog greet another. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen people reach down to pet my dog in passing on a trail (which makes Deuce extremely uncomfortable), or come up to my dogs with their’s without asking if mine are even friendly! We all love our pups, and want what’s best for them, but sometimes when we’re caught up in the excitement and beauty of a hike, we lose our sense!
Many of us, have seen area’s threaten to lose their dog friendly aspect, due to a few “bad apples (owners!)” To ensure our pups continue to get to enjoy our favorite trails, we all need to be a little more conscious about how we handle our pups! So get out on those trails, have fun, be safe, and remember to keep dog hikers reputations a good one!