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Are you planning to hike with your pet? Check out these simple tips for helping you and your pet enjoy your hike without being a nuisance or danger to those around you.
Pet Hiking Etiquette Tip #1: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
This saying is an oldie, but goodie! Many trails that you will hike with your pet cut through natural areas, state parks, nature preserves, and more. It’s important not to disturb what little sanctuary these plants and animals have left in the world! This means not letting your pet capture any small animal or carry out any sticks, etc.
It also means not leaving your pet’s poo behind! While it may seem silly since poo is biodegradable, unbeknownst to us our pets may be carrying diseases that will be left behind in the soil or water table disrupting the ecosystem. Additionally, the hikers behind you will appreciate not running the risk of accidentally stepping poop! Hiking boot treads are deep and cleaning poo out of them is no joke! Carrying poop bags and a container for used bags is the simplest way to pack out poo.
Pay special attention to signs that ask you not to disturb the areas off trail! The areas near the trail may be nesting grounds for an endangered species, may be the study area for scientific research, or may even just be trying to regrow native fauna. In these areas, make sure to keep your pets directly on the trail with you to protect those areas.
Pet Hiking Etiquette Tip #2: Stand off to the side to let others pass.
If at all possible, stand off to the side when hikers approach from the other direction. Leash your pet or place them in their pack, and direct them to lay down calmly until the hikers pass. Even if leashes aren’t required on the trail, it’s safest to leash up around other hikers. Which leads us to our third point...
Pet Hiking Etiquette Tip #3: Leash your pet when it’s required (and even sometimes when it isn’t!)
If leashes are required, your pet should always be leashed. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Yes, even if your pet has impeccable recall.
Yes, even if your pet loves everyone.
Yes, even if you want your pet to be able to explore and enjoy themselves Even if your pet can be off leash, it does not necessarily mean that your pet should be off leash. Make sure to keep a leash with you at all times, even on off leash trails.
The safest thing you can do when passing other people and/or animals on a hike is to keep your pet on a short leash directly at your side and not allow them to approach others. It’s also courteous to other hikers that may be nervous around dogs. If you’re at a trail on a particularly busy day, it may just be safest to keep your pet leashed (or in their pack) the entire time to avoid your pet accidentally running into other hikers or pets when you weren’t paying close enough attention.
If you and your pet really enjoy off leash hiking, check out SniffSpot or get in contact with a friend with acreage so you can safely let your pet hike off leash without worrying about running into others!
Following these simple trail etiquette tips for pets will help you and your pet safely enjoy your hikes, while keeping those around you safe and comfortable as well! I'll see you on the trail! Love, purrs, and wiggle butts,