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Do your dogs hike?

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Do your dogs hike?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:29 am

Just about everywhere that dogs are allowed in the wilderness they are required to be on a leash. In California's national parks, they are not allowed on trails at all--in fact, the rule in most national parks is that dogs are allowed only on paved areas--anywhere you can take your car, you can take your dog.

That doesn't include any trails that aren't paved.

But we'd estimate that of the fifty dogs we've seen in the backcountry this year, about three of them have been on leashes. It's the single most frequently broken regulation that we see in the wilderness.

On our last trip to Caribou Wilderness, we ran into quite a few dogs, and only one of them was on a leash. But that dog was within a mile of the trailhead, just starting out, and we wonder how long he stayed on that leash. We don't say that because the owners looked untrustworthy--but the trails the Caribou Wilderness are rife with deadfall trees. We had to climb up and over, or around more than 75 trees on our hike there. And we can't image what you would do with a dog on a leash in that scenario. Our guess is that you would get pretty darn tired of the tangles.

Of course, some dogs we've met are extremely well trained and behaved. But not all are. And we worry not only about dogs interacting with other hikers. More of a concern is how they might interact with the local wildlife--chasing squirrels or deer, or even worse, fighting with something that might fight back.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby schmalz » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:07 pm

From the research I've done, most wilderness areas in the Sierra do not require dogs to be on leash. I believe Desolation is an exception.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC ... 486905.pdf

On Wilderness Trails:
 Dogs must always be under strict leash or voice control.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:38 pm

The problem is, some dogs are never under control, the owner just thinks they are and then when the stranger walks up or the squirrel runs off, there goes the control with the dog. Dogs that are dead dependable in town, at home, aren't so dependable out in the woods. Watched it over, and over, and over, and over again. "He doesn't bite." "He's friendly."

I'm sure he is at home, but you wouldn't know it in the new place with the new people that he's harassing.

I keep my dog on the leash a lot -- it has to be a pretty remote trail to let her off. She has no prey drive and is controllable 95% of the time, unless someone walks up to me and I'm sitting down. All bets are off when she's in guard mode. Saw a little dog behaving exactly the same way last weekend, very barky and charging people who dared approach his person.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby schmalz » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:44 pm

It all depends on the terrain and location. There have been plenty of hikes I've done where I would have been uncomfortable having a dog on leash, such as heading up the boulder field to Finger Lake from Brainerd. There also happens to be noone up there so there is no concern. I usually have a leash on hand and use it around big groups, other dogs, or nervous people.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby seanr » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:01 pm

AlmostThere wrote:The problem is, some dogs are never under control, the owner just thinks they are and then when the stranger walks up or the squirrel runs off, there goes the control with the dog. Dogs that are dead dependable in town, at home, aren't so dependable out in the woods. Watched it over, and over, and over, and over again. "He doesn't bite." "He's friendly."

I'm sure he is at home, but you wouldn't know it in the new place with the new people that he's harassing.

I keep my dog on the leash a lot -- it has to be a pretty remote trail to let her off. She has no prey drive and is controllable 95% of the time, unless someone walks up to me and I'm sitting down. All bets are off when she's in guard mode. Saw a little dog behaving exactly the same way last weekend, very barky and charging people who dared approach his person.

A good summary above by AT. I had two trail dogs for over a decade. I often took them to sparsely traveled areas and would attempt to hide if I saw other dogs approaching. I knew not to assume all would go smoothly and that injuries out there could ruin a day if not worse. I rarely let them roam off leash, even when legal because I did not want to take a chance that any dogs, people, or wildlife could get injured or scared. A wilderness ranger I know was once bitten far in the backcountry (while off duty) by supposedly friendly off leash dogs who ran up behind her while her dog was with her on leash. She was fortunate to survive severe bleeding without quick rescue.


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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby seanr » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:08 pm

schmalz wrote:It all depends on the terrain and location. There have been plenty of hikes I've done where I would have been uncomfortable having a dog on leash, such as heading up the boulder field to Finger Lake from Brainerd. There also happens to be noone up there so there is no concern. I usually have a leash on hand and use it around big groups, other dogs, or nervous people.

I trail ran, bushwhacked, log hopped, and class 2-3 scrambled with a skijoring set. It did not absolutely guarantee safety in exposed terrain and occasionally would need to be untethered or untangled, but generally worked really well. There are probably competitors out there now, but I used this: http://howlingdogalaska.com/index.php?m ... x&cPath=28

For more casual hiking, they sell this alternative to the skijoring belt (for the human):
http://howlingdogalaska.com/index.php?m ... x&cPath=27

Bonus: A fit ninety pound lab can pull you up hills until enough exertion chills him out a bit!

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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby Snowtrout » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:14 pm

To answer the question, yes our dogs hike with us on trails when we are hiking 5 miles and less. We have two dachshunds. One has to be on the leash for most of the trip due to his hyper personality (part poodle). He just wants to check out everything and stick his nose in every hole and once flushed out a pine martin while off the leash, prompting us to put him back on the leash immediately. Can't have that. Our female just putts along between us and does not stray off the trail, so we do not leash her. She usually does not pay attention to other hikers and seems focused on just hiking until she gets tired. Then she stops and we either put her on our shoulders between our packs and neck or she goes into the pack. The issue we run into is, everyone loves a wiener dog and they want to touch the dogs. We usually tell people no. Last thing we want is our dogs felling uncomfortable with strangers.

This summer we ran into two dogs that stand out. One was at Muir Trail Ranch. A couple was hiking the PCT with their dog who was not on a leash. The dog looked like a lab that seemed pretty mellow and well trained but what bothered me was the guy boldly saying "our dog is the only dog doing the PCT because he is a service animal." Didn't care about the national park rules and believed his "disability" allowed his use of a service dog. My opinion, the service dog excuse was just a way to hike with their dog and thumb their nose at the rules. Again my opinion from how the owner talked.

The second run in was Memorial day weekend on our way to Summit lake out of Balch Park. At the second river crossing, we ran into a couple with some type of herding dog that was not on a leash. As we approached the couple, the dog barked at us, circled me once then came back behind me and bit/nipped me on my calf. If I did not have pants on, the dog would have drawn blood. The couple apologized saying that "he is a herding dog and that's how they act" but I believe they had no idea of the severity of the situation. I am a dog person and hike with my dogs but if you know that your dog does not like strangers, put them on a leash when people approach. They did leash the dog after the fact but the whole situation and how it played out really pissed me off. I have never had a dog nip/bite me like that and it really surprised me that "responsible" owners would put their dog and other people in a risky situation. Situations like that could/can lead to dogs being banned from the trails in wilderness areas or even lawsuits against the owners of the dog who bites someone.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby ndpanda » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:33 pm

balzaccom wrote:Just about everywhere that dogs are allowed in the wilderness they are required to be on a leash


Nope. As noted by Schmalz, this is false. (As far as Desolation Wilderness is concerned, the regulation is the same as everywhere else: on leash or under direct voice control, with the proviso that Eldorado County leash laws may be enforced at rangers' discretion inside its boundaries in cases where dogs create hazards to people or wildlife.)

Inyo National Forest does advise wilderness hikers in bighorn sheep habitat areas that dogs should be "kept close," but does not require leashing.

balzaccom wrote:But we'd estimate that of the fifty dogs we've seen in the backcountry this year, about three of them have been on leashes. It's the single most frequently broken regulation that we see in the wilderness.


I literally laughed out loud at this, and not just because in all likelihood none of those 47 presumed miscreants were actually running afoul of the law. Give me a dollar for every campsite I've seen closer than 100 feet to a water source in the Sierra and I'd be a rich man.

Faulty as its premise may be, the point of the OP seems to be that dogs ought to be on leash in the wilderness. The reality is that we live in a society that tries to serve the needs of many rather than the preferences of a few. I personally don't think that pack trains ought to be allowed on wilderness trails. Resource managers have decided otherwise. My response is to favor east side trailheads without pack stations.

When hikers with dogs complain about being barred from national park wilderness areas, we often are reminded that we are welcome in forest service wilderness areas. Let's not forget that it works both ways. If you object to encountering unleashed dogs in the wilderness, Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon are your obvious destinations of choice. The folks who administer our wilderness areas have given a lot of thought to the dog-related issues raised in this thread, and have reached what seems to me an appropriate compromise. Anyone can make an anecdotal case for further restrictions. Backing it up with the data and science necessary to justify a change in public policy is a tougher row to hoe.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby tarbuckle » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:09 am

Yes, my dogs hike with me when I'm solo. Which is a lot. I bring a leash for the youngster. She gets a little ruckus(chasing squirrels) sometimes and will lose off leash privileges. The older guy stays close, never wanders and is a great trail dog. Most importantly, my wanderings take me to remote, off/un maintained trails where very few if any people are encountered

The youngster

Image

My older guy. Nothing and nobody gets within 50 yards of camp without him alerting me

Image
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:55 am

I don't object to dogs. I hike with one. What I object to are irresponsible jerks who let their dogs run around harassing everyone repeatedly, which happens constantly. Nothing like trying to eat dinner while someone's unruly, a-hole GSD is trying to eat your dog, while she is on leash AT YOUR SIDE and the owners are IGNORING you shouting at them to tie up their D**** DOG.
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby schmalz » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:08 am

AlmostThere wrote:I don't object to dogs. I hike with one. What I object to are irresponsible jerks who let their dogs run around harassing everyone repeatedly, which happens constantly. Nothing like trying to eat dinner while someone's unruly, a-hole GSD is trying to eat your dog, while she is on leash AT YOUR SIDE and the owners are IGNORING you shouting at them to tie up their D**** DOG.


This has never been a problem for me. I guess I choose the right trails?
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Re: Do your dogs hike?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:23 am

schmalz wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:I don't object to dogs. I hike with one. What I object to are irresponsible jerks who let their dogs run around harassing everyone repeatedly, which happens constantly. Nothing like trying to eat dinner while someone's unruly, a-hole GSD is trying to eat your dog, while she is on leash AT YOUR SIDE and the owners are IGNORING you shouting at them to tie up their D**** DOG.


This has never been a problem for me. I guess I choose the right trails?


We hike Kaiser, DInkey, John Muir, Ansel Adams, Jennie Lakes, and Golden Trout - not sure where the right trails are but it happens everywhere we've been.

Including Kings Canyon, and Yosemite, backcountry where the dogs go anyway....
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