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Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:59 pm
by oldranger
I've always been of the opinion that dogs in the wilderness are ok. Certainly meeting Callie on the trail was a pleasant experience. On our recent trip to the Sawtooths Markskor and I encountered more dogs in the wilderness than I had in the previous 10 seasons.

First night at Edna lake there were 3 dogs. One rummaging thru our camp while its owners were in the process of setting up camp within 20 feet of the lake before Markskor scared the two ladies off. The next dog came in after we had our camp set up and the owners set up about 100 yards away, right next to the trail and proceeded to bark at everyone who walked past on the trail. The third dog was across the lake and made no noticeable impact. A few days later we were at our 3rd campsite of the trip. There was a group of 10 with a dog. The dog did not disturb us at all. When the group moved on I examined the camp because it was in a really prime location, except for the smell emanating from a couple of piles of dog poop, one not more than a couple feet from the lake. A few days later at our 4th campsite we saw no dogs but when fishing a nearby lake I saw another well mannered dog. The following day as Markskor and I walked the shoreline of another lake we were aggressive approached by a growling, snarling, barking dog that I flicked my trekking pole at to maintain distance as the owner assured us that the pooch would not harm us. Returning later in the day I encountered another fresh dog turd near the lake.

I guess I am having second thoughts about dogs in the wilderness.


Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:25 pm
To me dogs in the wilderness is no different than any other discussion about best practices. The dog is an extension of the hiker. You have people who conduct themselves the right way, and then you have those who either don't get it or just don't care.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:29 pm
by rlown
could almost say the same thing about mules in the wilderness. Not seeing why you're picking on dogs.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:03 pm
by schmalz
I think Eric hit the nail on the head but some of your complaints are totally valid and not uncommon. It's a complicated subject because dogs are outlawed from so many places that I think it's important they have some places to be able to connect with nature.

Getting Callie to be as well behaved as she is has been a lot of work, and she could still use a lot of improvement. She tends to be great on the trail, but once we are at camp and the sun is going down she can get wary of strangers. We have to leash her up if there are people nearby camp. I'm sure I've missed a poop or two out there as well. Unless you have your eyes on your dog at every moment, it'll eventually happen.

I still like to believe that Callie's presence has an overall positive impact on most people's experience, and I appreciate your comment backing that up.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:45 pm
by MountainMinstrel
I took my dog out for her first overnight this year. I just wish she was as well behaved at home as she was on the trail. Yes she does on occasion tend to go visiting other hikers without permission, and no I do not keep her leashed. I put her on lead if I see another dog on the trail (she just has to go visit them and approaches at a high rate of speed). I also don't also pretty sure that I missed a poop along the way, but then every other animal out there poops out there and that doesn't seem to offend anyone. There were three poops that I did see and buried.

I think that the issue is not with the dogs as much as it is with their owners. I love taking my dog out on hikes, but I'm also glad that the parks don't allow dogs because the larger numbers of people, many of whom are clueless on back country etiquette. Add dogs to that and it would be really bad. I think that dogs should be like off road vehicles and such. There needs to be a place for them, but they shouldn't be in every place.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:49 pm
by dave54
rlown wrote:could almost say the same thing about mules in the wilderness. Not seeing why you're picking on dogs.
Or the same thing about some people.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:38 am
by AlmostThere
I tend to keep my dog close, on a leash if necessary, because of rude people and their equally rude dogs. She's a medium sized dog with no aggression - until she was jumped on, attacked, etc by other people's hostile "pets." Now she growls at other dogs and acts like she wants to bite them. It's not my doing, and it's not hers -- you can land the blame on idiots who let their pits and rotties and shepherd mixes do whatever they please, everywhere they go. I have to carry a trekking pole around our city parks to smack away aggressive dogs.

Rude people are also rarely LNT, or compliant with fire bans. I started taking pictures of them to give to rangers. Since I am generally a benign, keep-to-myself kind of backpacker, you can tell how much you piss me off if I am aiming a camera your way!

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:26 am
by markskor
I'll preface this by first saying I like dogs, always have.
That being said, I personally dislike dogs in the backcountry, especially those running wild, usually travelling ahead of the hiker/owner. Too many times, being met by a growling presence, the animal protecting their master coming up behind a few hundred yards, but momentarily unseen. They always say as they come closer, "Don't worry, Ol' Spot doesn't bite." - maybe so but that's not the impression felt 30 seconds before when it was just me and the dog protecting you and its trail. All it takes is being "attacked"/ nipped once by your dog doing its job - Now, I too use hiking poles as a defense mechanism until the owner comes into view and allays the dog's territorial response.

Additionally, your dog may be a great fishing companion for you, herding/ splashing/ excited to see what the fish looks like...but when you are a few hundred yards down and your dog decides to visit my fishing zone and acts similar with me...this scares me as well as scaring off the fish.

Dog crap in the wilderness doesn't bother me - should be picked up/ disposed of, but...when left wet in my camp as a calling card, to reek, step on, and attract flies - then, not so much.

Bottom line, when you are with/ in close contact with your "friend", things can be much different than when it's just me and your dog.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:31 am
by maverick
Agree with those who have said, it is the owner, and not the dogs fault. The owner has all the resposiblility of controlling his/her dog, period, if they cannot do that back in civilization, they have no business bringing it into the backcountry.
I observe owners breaking the leash laws daily, and many refuse to pick up their dogs poop, even though bag waste kiosks are provided, so this is a people issue and not a dog issue. Train, fine, and enforce the laws, and then this should be less of an issue, but don't hold you breathe, this ain't happening anytime soon, like many other laws on the books, their is not even remotely enough law enforcement officers to enforce current laws.

Re: Dogs in Wilderness

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:23 am
by Wandering Daisy
We purposely camp in places away from other people and fish with the dog far away from anyone else. On the other hand, if we are already camped, and someone else sets up right next to us, then they may have to put up with our dog. She is well behaved but does bark when someone comes walking by our tent after we are inside. When we meet people on the trail, she is off-leash, but we move her off the trail and she "lies down". As Schmalz said, to get to this point it took a ton of training. And I agree, a majority of dog owners do not really train their dogs.

I do think they should require a dog to also get a permit. Not sure I think one person should have two dogs- hard enough to keep an eye on one. And maybe a dog should only be allowed if it has some proof of obedience training, similar to a dog being certified as a companion dog.

I actually prefer to go without the dog, because honestly it is a lot of work and limits my routes. But a family outing always includes the dog and we choose a route and camping based on the dog.

The more areas that do not allow dogs, the more dogs there will be in those areas that still allow dogs. I am not sure concentrating dog use so much will solve any problems. Most dogs that I encounter actually are with day-hikers. I really do not see many dogs once you get several days from the trailhead.