Friday, July 27, 2012

Ensure family dog knows trail etiquette

For most of us with dogs, Rover and Queenie are family members. So why leave them behind on a day hike with kids? They appreciate and enjoy the run in the wilds just as much as you and your children.

Still, dogs – like children – can misbehave. Just as we should teach our kids to act properly on the trail and model that behavior, so we should teach our dog as well.

Some basic trail etiquette rules for dog include:
g Trained dogs only, please – Your dog should know how to sit, stay and heel. This will ensure it behaves safely when crossing roads or coming upon other people.
g Don’t allow wildlife chasing – Domestic dogs are an unnatural introduction into a wild animal’s habitat; chasing will cause great stress to the wild animal and potentially injury to your pet. You’re fighting instinct, but your dog should come back within two commands if called.
g Familiarize your dog with other dogs – Dogs meeting on a trail sometimes will fight, which can lead to injury. Be friendly to other hikers with dogs to let you pet know that there’s no threat.
g Keep on leash if all else fails – This is especially necessary if your dog has a habit of jumping on others, which can be a frightening experience for children unfamiliar with dogs, if it continually chases wildlife, or if it regularly wanders off.
g Pick up your dog’s waste on trail – Sure, it’s natural, but it’s also smelly and offensive. Kids (and even adults) easily can step in it, making it a health hazard.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.