There are a lot of unwritten rules when it comes to hitting the trail with your pup. Check out these two truths and a lie about trail etiquette and see which ones you knew!
1. The proper way to pass other hikers with dogs is to keep dogs on the outside. TRUTH.
Keeping a short leash and having your dog on the outside of the trail helps keep stress levels low for both the dogs and the people in a pass by situation. It is much less likely for the dogs to want to greet each other if they are physically further apart with humans in the middle. It will also reduce any stress either dog may be feeling at seeing another dog coming straight at them down the trail. Keep moving and avoid tensing up on the leash. Your dog can feel the tension and could interpret it as a sign that he should be worried.
2. Those traveling uphill on the trail have the right of way. TRUTH.
I wish more people understood this unwritten rule of trail etiquette. You’re on a steep part of the trail, slogging step by step in an established rhythm as you pant for breath and focus on reaching that next level part further up. Then a couple and their dog come frolicking down the hill towards you, oblivious to your cardiovascular endeavors. To avoid getting creamed, you step to the side of the trail to let them pass. Then, you’ve got to get your rhythm back and try to recreate the momentum you’d established earlier. Annoying! And difficult!
PLEASE yield the trail to those going uphill, especially in steep sections or for those bearing gear. Going downhill, you can see the trail a lot clearer than those with their head down trying to get one foot in front of the other. Step to the side and let them pass. Keep your dog in close so as not to distract their dog. It’s also safer this way and reduces the risk of slipping or falling on a steep trail.
3. If both dogs are off leash when meeting on the trail, it’s OK to let them say hello. LIE.
You should leash up your dog if you see other hikers up ahead, even if they also have dogs off leash. Having control of your dog as you encounter others on the trail is not only courteous, it is safer for all parties involved. You never know how dogs will react to other dogs or other people. If that’s not enough to convince you to leash up, think about how much faster you’ll be able to pass the other hikers and continue on your way. If the encounter is friendly, prying your dog away from other dogs or keeping them from jumping up in excitement onto the other hikers can be a challenge.
All of these tips should provide much less stressful interactions when meeting others on the trail. Do you have any others? Pet peeves? We can all help each other to have an enjoyable, safe expedition on our next hiking adventure!
Adventure On! Woof!