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The Trailhead - General Backpacking Discussion The Trailhead General Discussion forum is for backpackers to discuss non-gear related wilderness backpacking issues (e.g. technique, LNT, hiking partner wanted, trip planning...) that are not covered in other PB forums.

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Old 09-06-2016, 10:28 AM
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Balzaccom Balzaccom is offline
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Do your dogs hike?

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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Old 09-17-2016, 07:30 AM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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I don't have any dogs, but I've been on hikes with people who have dogs. Those hikes have generally been in wilderness areas or other hikeable public lands, but not national parks. It at least used to be that dogs were permitted on trail in the Desolation Wilderness area, but only on leashes.

I don't really remember seeing dogs on leashes in wilderness settings either. The only dogs I remember clearly at the moment are a really good black lab owned by a guy I met in a hiking club, and 3 aggressive dogs off leash in the Twin Lakes area of Desolation that were defending their camp (which was set up only feet from the main trail) against all comers, which was literally everyone including me. I had some Halt with me at the time, and nearly had to use it on them. The spray button fell off the Halt, and landed in front of one of the dogs' noses. The only thing that saved me from trouble was the owners showing up and calling the dogs off. I had strong feelings about the owners of the dogs and their backcountry ethics. Setting up camp right on a trail with agressive guard dogs just isn't cool.

The black lab was owned by a guy who did backcountry SAR work. The dog was off-leash, but well trained and fun to hike with. It did like repeatedly running behind you and jumping on the tails of your snowshoes, throwing you face first into the snow. It saw it as a big game, and - since it was snow and didn't hurt to fall - I remember laughing a lot. I liked the dog. But it was off-leash too. I think this is one of those things that's pretty unenforceable, and pretty widely ignored. And probably for good reason, since, like you say, leashes can be pretty cumbersome in some places.

As to fighting with things that fight back, I read somewhere (Hererro, maybe) that it's common for dogs to run up to bears, bark till the bear gets mad, and then run tail-between-the-legs back to Mom or Dad - with the mad bear in hot pursuit! Instant bear encounter! I usually think it's a treat to see bears, but that would be an exception.
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