Tips for Hiking in Harmony with Dogs
Whether you have a dog or not, some advice to ensure harmony on trail.
Chances are if you hike in Washington, either you’re bringing a dog along or you’ve encountered one on trail. In the last year we’ve received a lot of questions about hiking with a furry companion, so here are a few tips for both hiking with, and coming across, dogs on your next hike.
For hikers with dogs
- It’s always best to keep dogs on leash during your hike, even if they’re well-trained. While you might have your own dog under control, other dogs may not be, and having your dog leashed will limit potential issues. It keeps your pup safe and gives others peace of mind. Keeping your dog on a leash also avoids any potential conflicts with the native fauna, including birds and other critters.
- Another good reason to have your dog leashed is that it makes it easier to yield to other hikers. On narrow trails where passing opportunities are limited, it’s dogs best practice to yield to faster hikers and equestrians. If your dog is leashed, it makes it easier to guide them where they need to be.
- Be prepared to pack out your dog’s waste; always carry bags. And take the bag with you. Don’t leave it next to the trail, you might forget the bag later. And leaving bags next to the trail encourages others to do the same. (Not to mention, poop bags aren’t a pleasant sight for other hikers.)
For hikers encountering dogs
- If you’d like to pet or interact with a hiker’s dog, it’s best to ask first. A simple “Can I say hi?” is good manners on and off the trail.
- If a person with a dog has pulled off the trail and is trying to keep the dog’s attention, they are probably working on training the dog to have better manners. Keep moving past at a normal speed, and don’t pay the dog-in-training extra attention.
- See an off-leash dog coming from far away? Call out and politely ask the owner if they wouldn’t mind putting their dog on leash as they pass you. Yeah, it’s kind of uncomfortable, but most hikers won’t mind.