It’s true that I prefer to hike in areas where there are not too many people and where I can let my dogs off their leashes, but sometimes it is difficult to avoid these things. When there are people around, I have found some techniques to help keep everyone happy; you, your dogs and the people around you. Below are some tips to better hiking with dogs.
Check the trail guides for dog regulations.
You can easily find the dog regulations on trail apps, like All Trails to determine what the rules are for any trail. Look for the tags, “Dog-Friendly” or “Dogs on Leash.” Also, note that you should never let your dog harass the wildlife. I do have a dog who likes to search and chase squirrels, rabbits and lizards, but if she gets too close or chases them, I call her back. See below for techniques on teaching them to come back when called. You will need to have them trained in case of dangerous situations, such as another aggressive dog or encountering a bear and her cubs (yes, this has happened to us!)
Don’t leash them up when others approach.
Even if the approaching people have dogs themselves, it’s best not to leash your dogs as this can make them more agitated and protective. You may actually create trouble by leashing them.
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience, see my full disclosure for more info.
Teach your dog to NEVER approach a dog on a leash.
Most often we encounter dogs on leashes because many people who hike in the sierras are from California where the dog leash rules are very strict. However, it may be because the dog is unfriendly, hurt or sick. Whatever the reason, your unleashed dog could unintentionally provoke a fight with a leashed dog, just by approaching. If a dog is sick, your dog could become exposed, so it is important to teach your dog never to approach a leashed dog.
Train your dog to come back immediately when called.
We have found the best way to do this is to call them back. When your dog comes back, praise her. If she doesn’t come back and you must call her more than one or two times, put her on the leash for five minutes. This is especially effective if you have multiple dogs because the leashed dog will become embarrassed to be on the leash. Be sure to praise your dog for coming back, even if it took calling her 5 or 6 times. Eventually she will put it together that when she doesn’t come back right away, she gets leashed. For my dogs, it took once and an occasional reminder.
Tell people about your dog as they approach.
If your dog is friendly, make sure people approaching know it. My dogs will approach people, but won’t let anyone touch them. This can make people nervous so I just let them know that they are not mean but they don’t like to be petted because they get nervous. It’s best when people just ignore my dogs and I tell them so.
Watch for wagging tails.
If your dogs’ tails are not wagging as they approach people or other dogs, you may have a problem. If your dogs are approaching another dog whose tail is not wagging, call your dog back immediately.
Be considerate of your dog’s needs.
Bring plenty of food and water or hike in an area where there is a lot of runoff from the snow. This year has been fantastic in the Sierras. There is water and snow, if you go high enough, just be careful of the ground getting too hot. Staying in the trees instead of running a ridge can help.
One of the best parts of hiking with dogs is seeing them enjoy the hike. It is so rewarding to watch them take in the incredible views from the top of a lava flow formation or braving the creek as we cross it, or cooling off on a patch of snow as they slide down because of the grade. Just take the time and effort to train them to be off the leash when allowable and you will have a great time.
Let us know your favorite hacks for hiking with dogs in the comments below!
About the author, Cheryl Texeira:
Cheryl is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and works as an IT manager for a state government agency. She is also a blogger at https://CherylTexeira.com/ where she helps small business owners build their website, blog and social media plans to increase sales in their businesses.
Cheryl and her husband have a blended family of four daughters, two sons and two grandchildren. She lives in Northern Nevada with her husband, 2 dogs and cat and spends her free time hiking, camping and cross-country skiing in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains.
For more hiking tips, check out:
- How to stay motivated while hiking
- Hiking essentials for beginners
- How to make more time for hiking
- 6 things to remember when hiking alone