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Dogs and Leave no trace?
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Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/12/2008 14:50:26 MST Print View

I’m interested in how people deal/follow with “leave no trace” principles and hiking with a dog. Here are some issues that came up during a discussion the other night between some friends. I know this might offend some of you dog “owners” (I’m glad I’m not owned), but it is not meant to. It was just a discussion that came up and I thought it would be a good topic for this forum. Please take it for what its worth. (the cost to read it)

Leave No Trace Principles

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
• Even on a leash, dogs tend to wonder on and off the trail. Most of the time while hiking it was observed that dogs were not on a leash and even though staying within site distance of there “owner” (interesting term), they still are all over the place. The well mannered dogs still move around. This can be elaborated on (as all the rest of the topics but to save time and effort I think all of you can add to this in greater breath and detail

Dispose of Waste Properly
• How do you deal with the doo? The group agreed that none of us had ever seen anyone with a dog “deal with the doo”. We have had some very interesting posts about TP and do you wipe or not (that is how the dog discussion first got started), and yes dogs don’t wipe, but what about the doo? One friend said “if they pack it out from the park why not pack it out from the backcountry “parks”. My response was that I don’t back mine out so I wouldn’t expect to pack out a dogs. This can be elaborated on (as all the rest of the topics but to save time and effort I think all of you can add to this in greater breath and detail

Respect Wildlife
• I had no credible response for this one. Dogs aren’t wildlife but they love to chase things that are (some dogs might be classified as wildlife). How do you stop a dog from lifting its leg on a bush (especially when it is not on a leash)? We assumed that dog urine would probably have the same effect as a humans, we are asked to go on rocks and other less fragile things. This can be elaborated on (as all the rest of the topics but to save time and effort I think all of you can add to this in greater breath and detail

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
• In the groups opinion this was the one principle least observed.
• It was noted that most dog owners think that everyone likes dogs. So everyone enjoys them around. Not so…One example is they think everyone doesn’t mind a wet, slobbery, snotty nose wiped on there leg, leaving a huge “slug” trail. One in the group said that this was a common occurrence on the trail and most “owners” (again, odd term) would just shrug when it happened. They said “never has an ‘owner’ offered to clean up their pants” when it happened and it happens regularly. The owners would just give a trite apology and again shrug. They went on “how disgusted would a dog ‘owner’ be if they had a human wiped their snotty nose on their leg and then just shrug?” A few “fist-a-cuffs” would probably break out.
• Barking is something that all had an issue with.
• The above can be elaborated on (as all the rest of the topics but to save time and effort I think all of you can add to this in greater breath and detail

This topic might not be worth discussing but it sure captivated the conversation the other night.

BTW, one conclusion that came out of the discussion was-
There are some dog “owners” who will say “my dog doesn’t act like those described above”. Everyone in the group agreed, YES THEY DO, EVEN YOUR DOG!

Edited by bestbuilder on 12/12/2008 15:01:08 MST.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Dogs... on 12/12/2008 15:25:51 MST Print View

My dog is better behaved and has less impact on the wilderness then some hikers I come in contact with.

My dog stays close, obeys commands and loves the time spent outdoors. She does not cut switch backs, cause trail damage or build fire rings. On most trails one would be hard pressed to even find her paw prints.

I make sure any dog waste is removed from the trail and or designated camp areas (which is more then I can say for most horse users). My dog is an advanced hiker and has for sometime been going TP free.

My dog will warn me of wildlife if close but will not chase or hunt. If encountering other users my dog goes on lesh and we move off the trail until the other party is well passed and out of sight.

It is my responsability to maintain respect for other hikers by maintaining control of my dog or by camping in an isolated area where others are not effected, which we both prefer anyway. My lesh is always within reach if required.

Have I ever encountered hiker with a bad dog, yes. Have I ever encountered a bad hiker without a dog, yes.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Dogs... on 12/12/2008 16:01:12 MST Print View

"...which is more then I can say for most horse users..."

Thank you for mentioning this Thom!!
Not to steer us off topic here, but horses drive me nuts!!! The entire JMT as well as many of my local canyons are long stretches of fresh, old, solid, and powdered horse crap. Drives me crazy!!!
And yet dogs are prohibited in many of these areas!!!!????

Brian Turner
(Phreak) - F
My $0.02 worth... on 12/12/2008 16:42:17 MST Print View

A properly trained dog will impact the trail a lot less than people.

My dogs don't leave my side or hike directly behind me when needed.

They've been trained to NOT chase any wildlife. This was a demanding task with my beagle/ridgeback mix, but it was well worth the effort.

I've also trained them to 'go potty' off the trail - typically 30-50' off into the brush.

My one dog (shepherd/lab mix) never makes a sound on the trail, while the beagle/ridgeback mix will alert me when someone or something is approaching. She's been trained to do so.

I train dogs professionally, and have logged hundreds of hours of training with both of my dogs on the trail. If they don't behave appropriately, then they would not be permitted to hike with me. It's a privilege they have earned.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: My $0.02 worth... on 12/12/2008 17:30:30 MST Print View

Would that every hiker with a dog was a dog trainer like you. Alas....

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/12/2008 20:19:53 MST Print View

Staying on the trail: I wish someone would tell me how an 80-lb. dog with four soft padded feet and well-trimmed claws is going to leave any impact on the soil or plant life, compared to a 170-lb. hiker with two feet in lug-sole shoes or a 1200-lb. horse with four iron-shod feet.

Waste: I beg to differ on horse p**p--it's strictly ground up grass and within a few hours has dried up and crumbles. Dog p**p, on the other hand, sticks to shoe soles like glue and stinks like human waste. Every dog owner has the responsibility of dealing with his/her dog's p**p. Per wilderness regulations it should be treated just like human waste, buried in a cat hole. I do this for my dog. In return, he carries in his pack the thick tent stake I use as a trowel. On dayhikes on popular trails (Columbia River Gorge, for instance), I bag my dog's waste and pack it out. The worst type of waste found in the backcountry, though, is that of the cow. I can't figure out why, with the same diet as horses, sheep, deer and elk, cows have to put out almost liquid extra-stinky s**t that stays liquid (under a thin dry outer crust) for many weeks. Unfortunately, there are still far too many areas where cattle are permitted to graze on national forest land.

Meeting people: If my dog is off-leash, I put him on leash when we meet people, or at least call him to heel and grab his collar. After almost 6 years of hiking with him, I can tell from observing the body language of passing hikers whether or not they like dogs, and handle the dog accordingly. If they look nervous, I put my dog on leash and get both of us off the trail. If that's not possible, I get over to the left side of the trail so the dog is between me and the edge of the trail and those I meet will have me between them and the dog. Even if other hikes want to pet my dog, I make sure he's fully under my control and does not indulge in the dreaded crotch sniff.

Wildlife: My dog has been pretty well trained not to chase wildlife. He does alert me when they're around, so I actually see more wildlife when he's with me.

Barking: He doesn't bark much, and he stays quiet on command. The one time he did bark quite a bit--definitely in a protective mode--was about 11 pm when some idiots shined their flashlights on my tent. I know the dog suspected something not quite right about them--he normally loves everyone--and when they kept on shining their lights on my tent after I hollered at them, I suspected the same! I was very glad for a vocal dog at that point!

Camping: I try as much as possible to camp well away from the usual locations, because I prefer to be alone. If I do camp near someone else, my dog is tied up so he won't go bother other campers or, worse yet, "go" on a place that might be someone's future campsite.

I'm sorry if you don't like dogs. But if a dog is misbehaving in the wilderness, it's the owner's fault, not the dog's! I hate irresponsible dog owners myself! If they are allowed to run rampant and succeed in having dogs banned, I'll have to stop hiking, because I won't go anywhere without my dog!

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/12/2008 20:40:53 MST Print View

-Dispose of Waste Properly
Man and dog are part of nature and always pooed there. As long as the owners have the common decency to make sure its not "on" the trail and water sources -whats the foul?

-Respect Wildlife
Dogs and noisy trekking poles are going to cause you to see a lot less wildlife. Thats something a hiker has to decide for themselves. I know to leave real early so Im on the trail first. Obviously if the dogs off leash it will harass and not just spook wildlife.

-Be Considerate of Other Visitors
This is MY BIGGEST pet peeve of all.
There is only 1 problem I CONSTANTLY (like most every weekend) encounter
_ being harassed by an unleashed dog usually with it owner no where in sight. And by harassed I mean growled, barked and snapped at to prevent me from entering "its' territory and continue on my way.
5-10min. later the owner comes around the bend- the dog seeing its owner relaxes, starts wagging its tail, turns to join its master -who seeing their 'friendly" dog in a playful state assumes I must have enjoyed meeting their fluffy friend. When its apparent Im not in a good mood -and Im NOT, they usually add insult to injury and make some smart comment about me not 'liking' dogs and being some kind of kill joy not worth their respect. This of coarse makes me go from annoyed to out right angry!
Half the time I try to ignore them both and walk on. But not all dog owners will let it go with that and like I said feel the need to make an insulting comment. The other half of the time I will let them know that its not ok to have a dog unleashed in public and they are endangering the children most of all.
No one in my neighborhood would just let their dog loose. Its unthinkable. So why is it suddenly ok on the trail? My guess is that the law seems distant when in the trees.
Oh ya, I had a dog, and no I didnt take him hiking. Besides hiking is my thing not his.
And just a tip -if you have to ask if someone minds your dog, then you know they do, and it doent make it ok because you asked. Common courtesy people!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/12/2008 22:33:32 MST Print View

Man and dogs, one of the oldest most NATURAL relationships. Here in California there are no dogs allowed off paved surfaces in many state parks. I walk my dogs in a healthy redwood grove daily and have yet to come across their duties the next day as the banana slugs have taken care of it. The horse manure stays for weeks unless it rains. There should be a happy medium here somewhere. I would love to hike with them on some of our local almost always empty trails with them but fear the fines(at times). Some people don't like dogs just as some people don't like horses,birds,snakes,spiders... I have found that those who don't like dogs, I don't care for myself, usually. FYI dogs and humans are the only species that will kill one of their own to protect the other. No kids for me, I'll sick with dogs. The college fund money can go towards new gear!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/12/2008 23:34:30 MST Print View

Unfortunately, a dog in strange surroundings often becomes fearful and over-protective. I've seen it time and again and try to explain it to the few I meet who say "He's such a sweet dog and wouldn't bite anyone." Well, that may be true at home but not in a strange place. Bryan, if you'd approach the situation from this point of view, I think most dog owners would understand. Most dogs have to be on leash or kept at heel if off-leash. Mine is trained to follow, but I won't let him go ahead of me off-leash. What's scary is when my dog and I meet one of these fearful dogs that has been allowed to run ahead!

As I mentioned (did you read it?) I see significantly _more_ wildlife with my dog along than before I had him because he alerts me to its presence. I definitely take issue with your statement. And my dog is not allowed to chase wildlife!

As far as waste goes, Bryan, it may be "natural," but I just hope that the p**p I stepped in today was somebody's dog's and not yours! It's almost impossible to tell the difference. Both need to be buried or packed out.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/13/2008 04:13:03 MST Print View

Mary Wrote ... "Waste: I beg to differ on horse p**p--it's strictly ground up grass and within a few hours has dried up and crumbles"

That's the same argument that people use when they throw their cigarette butts on the ground. I see thousands of those, and I see lots of horse poo on trails. I grew up on a farm and stepped in more poo that most people here, but don't need to do it when hiking. The few times my dog didn't go off trail in the weeds, I moved it. When on more civilized trails in city parks, the poo gets packed out.

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Dogs & LNT on 12/13/2008 05:33:16 MST Print View

The ending of your post reminded me of a few quotes.

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."
"If your dog doesn't like someone, you probably shouldn't either."

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Dogs and Leave no trace? on 12/13/2008 18:18:30 MST Print View

Mary Wrote ... "Waste: I beg to differ on horse p**p--it's strictly ground up grass and within a few hours has dried up and crumbles"
Just not so, I'm afraid. I have spent hours down through the year busting up completely dessicated "road apples" in high alpine meadows in the Sierra, the result of thoughtless
horse packers leaving their horses loose to graze. This happens far too often, usually near a stream or lake. But even worse than the manure is the damage caused to these fragile areas by the horses' hooves. I've seen some places of eye watering beauty desecrated this way, and it makes my blood boil. Dogs are a minor nuisance by comparison, IME, because I hike mostly in remote areas of Kings Canyon/Sequoia NP's where dogs are not allowed. The horse problems occur a bit closer to TH but still spoil things for me en route and for others whose journey ends where the trail peters out.

Matthew Robinson
(mcjhrobinson) - F

Locale: Waaay West
dogs and lnt on 12/14/2008 00:59:35 MST Print View

dogs should be allowed on trails, bad owners shouldnt be.

i also say if you encounter someones dog doing something you know is wrong and you dont do or say anything then youre adding to the problem. every situation is different.


Roman Ryder
(RomanLA) - F

Locale: Southwest Louisiana
Cats Rule, Dogs Drool on 12/15/2008 01:34:50 MST Print View

I'd prefer to take my cat backpacking, but I doubt he would be interested in sitting on my pack all day. :)

p.s. The horse riders in my nearest national forest trash the trails. They ride too soon after rain and destroy the trail and throw beer cans everywhere. Plus, as previously mentioned, you have to watch every step to dodge the piles.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Horse damage. on 12/15/2008 10:42:10 MST Print View

IMHO in wilderness areas, horses, and commercial pack trains, cause more damage than all other impacts combined. I believe they should keep all horses out of wilderness areas. The Emigrant Wilderness is a prime example. I'm familiar with trails from Crabtree, Kennedy Meadows and Leavitt Meadows, where the trails are torn up beyond belief. And, on top of that, last summer I saw a Honda generator peeking out from under a pack cover on a mule out of Kennedy Meadows. I reported it to the ranger office.

It would be interesting to see the results of a shoeless horses only trail damage study.

P.S. At Louse Canyon, where horse packers had been camping, there was so much broken glass I had to move down stream to find a place to camp.

Edited by redleader on 12/15/2008 10:44:10 MST.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
dogs and leave no trace on 12/15/2008 16:18:53 MST Print View

Personally, as long as their dogs don't growl at me, bite me or pee on my stuff, I'm not going to pick a fight with a dog's owner (not to imply that I pick fights with random careless dog owners, but I'll usually have a few words with them if I feel like their dog is out of control). As has been mentioned, we all put up with a lot worse in terms of trail and campsite damage from horses. I'd like to say "I do not like unleashed dogs in the backcountry," but I've seen some really well behaved dogs before, so it really depends on the dog and the owner. I know how to handle myself around dogs, though, and have turned away many a growling dog before with simple verbal commands and body language. Some people are scared to death when a dog growls at them, though, so it's not OK for a dog owner to allow this behavior to happen.

"Waste: I beg to differ on horse p**p--it's strictly ground up grass and within a few hours has dried up and crumbles."

I wholeheartedly disagree about horse droppings. I could go on and on for paragraphs, but won't. I've just got to say that I don't think horse droppings dry up in hours, not even in a few days, and they smell awful no matter what.

If one were to compare horse waste to dog waste, I think it's worth considering sheer volume as well as location. Horses just crap more than dogs, and they usually go right on the trail. Also, horse riders almost never move the droppings after the fact (if they did, trust me, I wouldn't have so many problems with them). A dog must stop walking to crap, so even if they go right on the trail, the dog owner will be aware of what's happening and able to move it off the trail.

Edited by artsandt on 12/15/2008 16:27:18 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Horse damage. on 12/15/2008 16:38:22 MST Print View

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.
Horses drive me nuts!

I cannot comprehend why you're considered a lowlife for not picking up a cigar-sized dog turd, yet 10 pound piles of steaming horse crap spread every 20 yards, smack in the middle of a trail, are just fine?!?!

I know that locally this is very much due to the fact that the equestrian community has $$$. Picking up all that crap would really ruin the pretty day, wouldn't it?

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Horse damage. on 12/15/2008 16:45:14 MST Print View


"Picking up all that crap would really ruin the pretty day, wouldn't it?"

Sounds like a plan.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Now that we've switched to horses as topic on 12/15/2008 17:31:10 MST Print View

Probably one of the reasons I'm not so bothered by horse turds is that I grew up with horses and don't find the smell offensive. I grew up with dogs, too, but I do find dog turds offensive. Beauty is in the nose of the beholder (the besmeller?), I guess.

I grew up horsepacking in the Rockies. Back in those days it was unusual to meet anyone except the occasional sheepherder. Nowadays, I would never take horses out on the trail simply because with the amount of traffic on trails, horses do way too much damage. Metal shoes on four hooves, with 1200 pounds of horse and another 200 lbs. of people and/or gear on top, do a horrendous amount of damage. Shoeless is not an option (unless you believe in cruelty to animals--a working horse's hooves become sore very quickly without shoes), but I wonder if anyone has tried to develop something of rubber or plastic?

There is another side to the horse controversy, at least in the Pacific Northwest. Up here the Backcountry Horsemen do plenty of volunteer trail maintenance. With their pack animals, they can transport the needed heavy equipment to places beyond the reach of maintenance parties on foot. With USFS budgets being cut beyond bare bones, most trail maintenance these days is volunteer. The Backcountry Horsemen do a significant amount of this volunteer work, and we hikers should be grateful to them. In addition, there are groups who take physically and mentally handicapped people out into the wilderness with horses, a laudable endeavor.

There is, though, such a thing as too many horses, and it sounds as though you've long since passed that point in the Sierra!

A note for the puritans among us--why is "turd" ok but "p**p" considered profanity?

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/15/2008 17:39:24 MST.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 12/15/2008 17:39:16 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/12/2015 15:45:42 MDT.