Monday, July 13, 2020

What are your thoughts about dogs on the trails?

Dogs: Do they need to be hiking or should they stay home? To leash or not to leash? Those are the questions facing pet parents who want to include their furry four-legged companions on excursions.

Read up on hiking do’s and don’ts in this article that’s part of the July/August edition of Adirondack Explorer:

And weigh in here with your thoughts and experiences.

Photo: Kim Douglas and her dog Stitch hike Haystack Mountain, a trail in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, where leashes are required. By Nancie Battaglia

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

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26 Responses

  1. Balian the Cat says:

    I confess to being completely torn on this one. I love dogs, I like seeing people who have strong bonds with their dogs. I like seeing dogs enjoy themselves and stay fit. Conversely, I hate seeing dogs who are exhausted, thirsty, beat up from an environment they weren’t breed for. I don’t like people who say “oh, she’s friendly…” while their dog jumps all over me. I worry about native species and stress to them and unwanted confrontations. There’s certainly enough non-native waste on the trail as is. On balance, I guess I wish folks would leave their dogs at home when they go hiking or backpacking – but I love dogs, and around I go.

    • Suzanne says:

      I love dogs, too, always had Collies, but am now more of a cat person because I live part time in NYC and while I love big dogs they need more space and exercise than just a walk twice a day. (I’ve actually hiked with my cat in the ADKs, at their insistance, but only on our own property and I keep a strong eye on them.) Personally, I feel that it’s a better idea to leave your dog home instead of hiking with him or her, and take them out later. It can’t be a lot of fun for either dog or human to keep the dog on a leash. There have been several instances of big dogs requiring assistance from heat exhaustion and in one case the poor dog dying on the trail. I had a small encounter when one of my friends brought her Irish Wolfhound along for a walk up Johns Brook. He could hardly make it and needed a rest, so dragging a big dog like that wasn’t a good idea. One of my friends is scared of dogs and doesn’t feel comfortable when a dog lunges toward her. “Oh, he’s friendly,” doesn’t make her happy. That said, as a kid hiking with Jimmy Goodwin, the Goodwin family dog “Chrissie” accompanied us on many hikes. She was always well behaved, never barked or bothered wildlife, and never was on a leash. She just tramped along behind him, like the good girl she was.

      • AG says:

        irish wolfhounds were bred to chase wolves… so stamina shouldn’t be an issue… was the dog old? or do they never exercise the dog and then expect it to hike?

        • suzanne says:

          He was five years old, and his owner took him out for walks regularly. He was a city dog, however, and unaccustomed to the terrain. Her other dog, a fifteen year old shiba inu, bounced along happily and thorougly enjoyed the walk.

  2. JohnL says:

    Agree with Balian, except I’m not conflicted. Dogs don’t belong on High Peak hiking trails. Not even on a leash. Too much opportunity for all the bad things to happen, i.e. bite, jump, chase, crap, etc.

    • Boreas says:

      I agree. And otherwise leashed and cleaned up after on any public trail.

    • ROBERT DIMARCO says:

      There is already a leash law fornthe high peaks, any other areas i would rather see dogs enjoying themsleves than more humans

  3. Chris says:

    As animal trainers say, “There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.”

  4. James Bullard says:

    I have no problem with well behaved dogs but dog owners should take the dog’s ability into account before taking them on a hike and if the dog is becoming over fatigued they should turn back just like you would for the weakest hiker in a group. The hike should be enjoyable for everyone including the dog. Like some others have observed I would except the High Peaks area. If you are going to hike there, leave your dog at home.

    • AG says:

      if someone wants to hike with a dog they should make sure they get a breed that will get tired well after their human owner would. people get wrong breeds for their lifestyle like owning a husky in florida or arizona

  5. Robert White says:

    Should be leashed, should be people friendly, should be capable of climbing the High Peaks, should be obedient, owner should bag and pack out the dogs deposits.

  6. Dan Remington says:

    Dogs should come hiking with the owners. My last two dogs were great hiking dogs. They didn’t bark or were aggressive towards other dogs and always stayed at my side. I leashed them when ever I saw anyone coming since that is the rule. Well actually the rule is to always keep them leashed. They were great companions in the back country and very good at long distance. I believe all dogs should be leashed when on popular hiking trails and a aggressive dog does not belong on a popular hiking trail.

  7. Dog Wary says:

    I’ve experienced too many scary encounters with unleashed dogs and with dog owners who don’t take appropriate precautions to control their unleashed dogs from unwanted advances and aggressions. Unleased dogs like to wander, often at distances that it makes it difficult for dog owners to maintain control of them. Dogs should be leashes on trails or nor allowed on them.

  8. Kathy says:

    A friend of mine was bitten on a popular mountain trail by a leashed dog…..owner and dog vanished and my friend had to go to the emergency room for treatment. Anything can happen.

  9. Brian Joseph says:

    More dogs, less people.

  10. Katie says:

    Please leash your dogs!! As a single hiking female, I bring my dog with me for companionship and protection. I know my dog’s physical limits and don’t push her and I know her social limits – she is not friendly to strangers or other dogs. I take my responsibility as a dog owner seriously, keep my dog leashes on a choke collar and veer off the trail to let others pass and prevent interaction. My actions only go so far though when other dog owners do not keep their canines leashed. Three times yesterday, unleashed dogs came bounding down the trail and ran right up to my dog’s face, even though we had stepped off the trail. People – your dog may be friendly, but not all dogs are and your lack of leashing puts others at risk. Unfriendly dogs aren’t bad dogs; it simply means their owners have to handle them properly, which I am. But that only goes so far if not everyone obeys the law and keeps their dogs on a leash!

    • ROBERT DIMARCO says:

      Wish it were that simple but most of the trails around lake placid , dogs run free. As i mentioned the high peaks has an existing leash law. So know where youmare hiking, if the area is usually dogs off leash dont go there

  11. Al West says:

    I am a true dog lover. I spend considerable time in the Adirondack out of doors. Nothing is more annoying than to encounter a large dog ending up with his paws on my shoulders and his owners yelling ” He doesn’t bite”..
    I believe that dogs are prohibited from running loose in the forest preserve. I have no problem with a hiker accompanied by a dog on a lease. A loose dog is NOT under control and is open to get into all sorts of mischief. Have some respect for other people.

  12. Suzanne J Appleyard says:

    Very good, well balanced article. I am not a hiker, and while I do love dogs, I don’t always look forward to dogs being everywhere I go (I am NOT a fan of dog friendly restaurants!). I have always been a proponent of leashing your dog at all times for the dogs safety. Not long ago, I was at the Northway Emergency Animal Clinic in Gansevoort and was delayed because of an emergency – a black lab had been bitten by a rattle snake while off leash with her family on Tongue Mountain. I don’t know if the dog survived or not. Needless to say, the owner was beside himself. And several years ago there were dogs who wandered in to legally set traps and were severly injured. I know these incidents were flukes, but I want my friends who enjoy hiking with their pals to remember these accidents so they can continue to enjoy their company, on and off the trail, for a long time.

  13. Elaine T says:

    Hello, don’t all of you realize that the state of NY has a leash law? Your opinions on leashes don’t matter, your dog needs to be leashed.

    I love dogs, but they don’t belong on hikes. They can be bitten by many things (bears, snakes, etc), end up dehydrated, or hurt a limb. On top of that, everyone thinks they have a great dog, but the truth is that you never know how your dog will react with another dog or a stranger. Avoid the liability of an issue with your dog and another person, and leave them home.

  14. Rc says:

    On popular trails, especially on weekends, dogs should be leashed or left home. Period.

    Otherwise I usually find dogs are better behaved than people.

    Just don’t let them poop on/near trail!!!

  15. AG says:

    It is healthier for dogs if they can hike… We have ruined most breeds of dogs and removed them from their canine gene pool – hence you hear of dogs nowadays with mental health issues on top of the physical ones from improper breeding. Dogs need stimulation and exercise. Hiking is one of the best ways.

  16. Alex says:

    I for one as a dog owner do my research before bringing our dog with us for hikes. I make sure the trail isn’t too steep, or have a lot of slides or rock scrambles. I have brought my dog with us to hike up Porter mountain, but left him home when we hiked Giant mountain and rocky peak ridge. When we do hike with our dog we find it that he is better off leash then on for safety reasons. If i were to hold him and slip that can cause a dangerous situation for both of us involved. Granted our dog is a well trained yellow lab that will only go about 2 feet in front of us without wandering off. I say if the trail you are hiking is a reasonable trail and you know there will be no issues with your dog, or your handling of the dog then bring him. However! if you have the slightest doubt that your dog can make this hike, leave them home. Better to be safe then sorry.

  17. G. Byrne says:

    Dogs are absolutely and totally wonderful!! But please leash your pooch, for the safety of other hikers and other beautiful pooches. Also, PLEASE pick up your pooch’s poop and carry back to a refuse container – let’s keep our perfect wilderness experience PERFECT, both for ourselves as well as for all our neighbors.

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