Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » What to do when encountering dogs on the trail?


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Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 09:23:35 MDT Print View

This weekend I had two dog encounters in one day during a solo weekend trip, and thus I spent a lot of time thinking about what the best way to deal with dogs is.

The question: What do you do when a dog is much closer to you than its owner (off leash), and it is possibly acting aggressively towards you? Assume it's just you, no friends around you.

My situations:
1. Hiking through a willow meadow that is long and narrow at around 9AM, I was minding my own business walking along, trying to apply sunscreen without stopping. I heard a noise behind me, like grass brushing, and I turned around. There was a huge dog 5 feet behind me, with no owners to be found. Seriously, some bears are smaller than this dog. I was startled, and that made the dog bark and growl, and hold it's ground. I pulled out my trekking poles with one hand, put out the "stop" gesture with the other hand, and firmly said "No." Luckily, the owners were camped a little ways away and called their dog off. I am not sure my tactic would have worked.

2. Same day at around 3:30, nearing the trailhead. A family is day hiking up the trail with several dogs. Two of the dogs come running, and don't seem aggressive. One of the two, a black lab, starts growling and barking and doesn't come any closer. The dog's owner calls the dog back, and I proceed to go past the group. While I am going past, the dog once again growls, and gets close enough that I have to put my poles between me and the dog, and push the dog away.

It seems that I should worry more about people's dogs than bears and mountain lions.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Curs on 06/17/2013 09:37:31 MDT Print View

Dogs can be a real problem in the woods.
** Hunting dogs.
** Hiker's dogs.

Hunting dogs in the Southeast mountains are real pests and can glom onto a backpacker and raid his food bags and all the rest. Hunters more or less "abandon" them for the duration and sometimes they stay with me for days.

Hiker's dogs need to be leashed in camp but most are not and generally it's the dogs in camp which are the problem. They consider their camp to be their territory and so it's important they stay leashed by their owners when in camp.

Recently I passed by a person's camp who had two large angry dogs and thankfully the meanest one was leashed but the other had its hackles up and came at me. All you can do is stand still with the hiking pole ready and talk sternly to the thing.

I've only been bit once by a backpacker's dog---on the calf---but I lived.

Edited by TipiWalter on 06/17/2013 09:38:28 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 09:41:17 MDT Print View

Here we go........

I don't suppose I could convince anyone to spare us the nastiness that always comes with dog threads and just re-read the advice (and, unfortunately, the nastiness) that's already been posted...

here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=67193

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 09:50:31 MDT Print View

I was bit in the parking lot at Tilley Jane, very minor though, just a poorly trained dog, didn't seem particularly agressive, just energetic. Then they left a plastic bag of poop on top of their car, drove away, bag fell on ground.

On the Badger Creek Trail a dog came running from someone's camp. Ears down. Very agressive. Wasn't barking. I held up my foot and put in between me and it. Better to bite my foot than some other place. I would have kicked but I hate the thought of hurting animals. Maybe kicking the human would be better. Owner finally came and called it off. They said the dog was just "spooked". Compounding the problem they called me a "spook"? : )

Very rude of people to not control their dog. Then they're in denial that it was their fault and that it never happens.

Trekking pole is good protection. The dog is at considerable disadvantage. I think you could even protect yourself some against bear or cougar.

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Searching on 06/17/2013 09:51:44 MDT Print View

I did try to search! I don't want to start a dead horse topic. Or one that implies dogs are bad, etc.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Searching on 06/17/2013 10:03:30 MDT Print View

No worries Eli, the search on here is a bit lacking. I just happened to remember the thread. It contains about as many different ideas on what to do as you'll likely need.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dog on 06/17/2013 10:04:03 MDT Print View

Doug---No nastiness here, just reality. And don't use my post as an example of a backpacker who is anti-dog---I did over 100 trips with my beloved backpacking dog Shunka. See the pics---

Shunka 1
Shunka atop Haw Mt.

Shunka 2
Shunka on the BMT.

Shunka 3
Shunka on Cheoah Bald on the AT.

Edited by TipiWalter on 06/17/2013 10:05:24 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 10:10:54 MDT Print View

Ha, ha Doug

Now if we re-read the old thread, there will be nastiness

Maybe this new thread will be nastiness free : )

And I don't think it's anti dog nastiness, but anti dog owner that doesn't control their dog nastiness

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Nice dogs on 06/17/2013 10:12:43 MDT Print View

I would love to play with dogs I encounter on the trail, but I think they are quite intimidated by me. I am pretty tall/thin. I'll almost always have either sunglasses or a hat on, too. Along with trekking poles and a backpack, I think I must be pretty intimidating, which is a bad situation for me and the dog.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 10:15:31 MDT Print View

Massive rudeness on the dog owner's part. I hike with my dog a lot, but I don't think it is fair to subject others to him. Some people don't like dogs and others are fearful of them. I've been muddied by loose friendly dogs jumping up which led to some terse words.

It can be the same or worse when walking with your own dog on a lead. I've had my dog subjected to aggressive behavior from loose dogs and had some words with the owner.

For a lone dog acting aggressively, I would throw rocks or even pepper spray depending on response, but I've never had a dog stand up to my aggressive behavior in public. It's no different than a wild animal, IMHO. I love dogs, but that behavior is not tolerable, let alone legal. Dogs are livestock-- what would you do if their horse acted that way? If a pack goat butted you?

With a dog acting aggressively near the owner, I would stop and tell the owner to get their dog under control *and* clear the trail, then proceed. Getting aggressive with a dog protecting his owner is a really bad idea.

An extreme story: my father and a friend who was a state patrolman were riding motorcycles when a loose dog attacked them both. The state patrolman shot the dog and then arrested the owner who went berserk on him after.


I keep my dog on a lead and may let him loose on an unpopulated trail and call him back if I see or hear anyone else. On a busy trail he's on a lead all the time. I step aside and let people pass unless they do so first. If people want to greet him, we have a nice exchange. It's usually easy to tell if someone is uncomfortable and I put myself between them and my dog.

I've had the same issues in the city. We frequent a large local dog park at home. Aggressive behavior simply isn't tolerated and the other dog owners there are very vocal about it.

Dogs aren't some uncontrollable beings to be tolerated. We have bred them for centuries to be obedient members of our communities, providing service and companionship. Ownership has its responsibilities and the legal end of that has a long history. Follow the law or pay the consequences!

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 10:18:00 MDT Print View

Doug, I remember that thread. Some pretty extreme reactions among the others.
If I could add my own spin to the question, and perhaps some of you who have owned dogs will have an answer.
I often hike where there are shepherd camps and flocks with dogs that are trained to fight off anything they regard as a threat. Their job is often to chase off packs of wolves, and they are big!
If you avoid passing close to a camp or walking through a flock, they will usually satisfy themselves with barking and growling. But sometimes you can meet them coming down the trail as you head up (for example) and there's nowhere for you to go. So far, we've never come across a situation where the threat of stones hasn't worked, but I have heard of people who have been attacked and maybe it's only a question of time.
Does anyone know what is best to do with a dog that isn't just spooked but is intent on defending its flock? Is it best to play submissive and unthreatening or is it best to try to dominate? I know this might be out of most people's experiences in the States, but there seems to be plenty of dog lovers on this forum who might be well-read in dog psychology.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Dog - Doug on 06/17/2013 10:18:09 MDT Print View

"And don't use my post as an example of a backpacker who is anti-dog"

Hello Walter,

I would have PM'd you but that's not possible. Anyway, I wasn't using your post as an example of anything. We were writing our posts at the same time (when I was writing mine there was no reply to Eli), your's just happened to post before I finished mine - without ever seeing yours.

The nastiness I referred to was in the thread I linked to.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Dog on 06/17/2013 10:22:58 MDT Print View

Dogs see, smell, and hear "fear". That's how they survive and rise to the top.

A confident, loud, deep voiced NO! while facing the dog will usually do the trick.
Repeat as necessary. Hopefully an owner will show up, call the dog off, and then tell you "He's friendly. He's never bit anyone." Ya, right.

If you are still worried use your pack as a shield and keep shouting NO! as you work your way past the dog.

Most dogs are OK, but you really don't know, so learning the dog signals of aggression verus fear versus alarm is very useful. If all of this is new and uncomfortable to you, look for opportunities to practice and learn dog behavior. Your "I'm the Alpha Here!" attitude is your best defense.

For a seemingly friendly dog, don't cower, avoid eye contact (look at the tail, ears, and hackles), do not smile (show teeth), and move assertively as you assess your next move based on behavior and the dog's body language.

Edited by greg23 on 06/17/2013 11:04:16 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 11:07:08 MDT Print View

I've only been bitten twice (not including training) but both times it was without warning. The first time was as a kid where I was chewed up by two Labradors. No barking or growling before they had me on the ground and I became a chew toy.

The second time the dog approached be from behind. No warning of any kind and I drove to the hospital on one cheek.

On another occasion and during a search warrant, the owner's pit bull attacked another dog which was located on the property and ripped it to pieces. Please note that the owner always allowed for the dogs to roam free on his property and our presence changed nothing about their lack of restraint. Again, no warning before it happened.

Apples to oranges but SERE-C has a class about dogs where we all took turns wearing the Michelin Man arm. There were four Belgian Malinois and one German Shepherd. I'm not sure if it part of their training or instinct but none of the dogs barked when they committed to attack us. In the E&E phase we were tracked by bloodhounds. Forget what you saw in Coolhand Luke; the dogs made no noise when they were on our trail. I'm of the opinion with my very limited experience that dogs will stop barking/growling when they have committed to attack. If they are still barking or growling, I feel that they are giving me a courtesy warning.

Some if not most breeds are naturally defensive of their owner. Whenever I see dogs (or a horse) coming down the trail, I give them a wide berth. If I see that the dog has zeroed in on me, my reaction will depend on a number of things including body language, size, breed, proximity to the owner, and the owner's reaction to the dog approaching me. If the dog is coming at me and I don't sense aggression, I'll ask the owner if it's ok to pet the dog and offer my hand for the dog to sniff. If I thought the dog was going to attack, I’d keep my trekking poles or pack between us.

Fortunately I see dogs on the trail more often than not (including trails where they are prohibited) and have never had an adverse encounter with one.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 11:27:40 MDT Print View

"I'm of the opinion with my very limited experience that dogs will stop barking/growling when they have committed to attack. If they are still barking or growling, I feel that they are giving me a courtesy warning."

That one dog that ran at me was not barking, not tail wagging, ears back,...

I think you're right, that's the worst case, that's when you have to be worried.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 11:44:19 MDT Print View

Of course General Gizmo is an expert in asymmetrical warfare and you'll never see him coming.

.Gizmo

Edited by IDBLOOM on 06/17/2013 11:45:41 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dogs on 06/17/2013 11:46:48 MDT Print View

Yeah, and my dog is Ranger Qualified---

Ranger Tab

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 11:57:20 MDT Print View

Doug:
"Here we go........

I don't suppose I could convince anyone to spare us the nastiness that always comes with dog threads and just re-read the advice (and, unfortunately, the nastiness) that's already been posted...

here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=67193
"

Yup. This one and guns and sexual orientation and religion and climate change and TP and LNT and fires and ....
Another cycle I guess.will take the heat off some other threads perhaps.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dogs on 06/17/2013 12:12:48 MDT Print View

It won't get nasty. Heck dogs are great. The only advice I have is "Keep 'em leashed when in camp." Pretty simple. No torque.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 12:20:05 MDT Print View

Yup, I deal with unleashed dogs coming at me and my leashed dog all the time.

If you watched the Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan show on Nat Geo a few years ago before he got all glam, he had some good advice.

He's a short guy but it's your personality that can make a difference.

I do the same thing as I would when encountering a bear.

Assess if the attacker is a predator or looking for a food hand-out.

set a mental buffer zone that the dog should not cross. length of a pole seems right. maintain that 3 foot radius.

I yell aggressively NO. BACK. SIT. the dog knows these, the bear... well...
if the attacker is a "nice" dog, he might be nosey and pushy but harmless. he just wants your beef jerky, and your B.O. smells like the mailman.

I always put myself in the middle between my medium sized dog and the invader dog. I get my dog to sit, somewhat tough with all the attention, but that's primary. My dog trusts me to protect him, so he stands down. Also when he is sitting the other dog is less encouraged to engage in a dogfight.

Although with my wife, he senses a lack of leadership so he steps up to protect her.

Edited by RogerDodger on 06/17/2013 12:23:40 MDT.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"What to do when encountering dogs on the trail?" on 06/17/2013 12:24:23 MDT Print View

Yep, I recall last year's thread on this and how nasty it got. Suffice it to say, as a dog owner, I keep my dog leashed unless I am absolutely certain I am alone. I often hike in very remote mountain ridgelines where I have miles of view to see people or animals and so can safely turn my dog loose, but if I'm in an area where people are likely to be I keep my dog leashed. And I pick up after my dog and carry it out. It's a pet peeve of mine to see people not deal with their dog's waste, and of course pet owners should keep their dogs under control at all times. Not all people like dogs, and shouldn't have to deal with other people's dogs even when they're friendly, and especially if they aren't.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 12:37:56 MDT Print View

"The question: What do you do when a dog is much closer to you than its owner (off leash), and it is possibly acting aggressively towards you? Assume it's just you, no friends around you."

Well, maybe just skip the philosophy, psychology, morality, etc. and answer the frikken question....
...otherwise ship this thread to chaff.

Edited by greg23 on 06/17/2013 12:40:01 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dogs on 06/17/2013 12:38:11 MDT Print View

Dena---That's funny. I've run up on some massive turds right on the trail and figure it's gotta be a human turd but the giveaway is that there's no paper around; so it's a dang healthy dog.

Edited by TipiWalter on 06/17/2013 12:52:59 MDT.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Dogs on 06/17/2013 12:46:13 MDT Print View

Tipi,

no TP is your clue it's not a human and it's a dog?

How do you know it's not mike mcclelland, hahah. He's a grass, stone, snow and pinecone decorator. hahaha

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 12:50:08 MDT Print View

Greg,

Just so I'm absolutely clear, your offerings of philosophy, psychology, morality, etc are ok but not for anyone else because?

I think the point that a couple of us made is that an aggressive dog may not look all that aggressive.

Have a super duper day sunshine.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Barking.... on 06/17/2013 12:55:33 MDT Print View

From my experience dogs , when away from home, will bark and act intimidating when they sense fear, because our fear makes them feel like there is something to be afraid of.
Just recently, at work, there was a loose pit bull with a servicedog vest ( yeah right...). Owner sleeping on a bench. The dog chased off a student. I walked up to talk to the owner. The dog ran at me barking and jumping. Had it been pretty much another breed I would have yelled at it to get the F@$& away from me, which has always worked wjhen they act aggressively, and not at home. Being that it was a pit bull, I failed to convince it that I was calm and reassured. My insides were shaking and I knew the dog knew and there was this vicious cycle. The owner approached so very slowly, which bothered me but I know that it reassured his dog.
Anyway, long story....all ended well thankfully.
I own a dog and have owned many throughout the years. Have been on both ends of the situation, with a barking Aussie puppy of mine jumping around someone that screamed in fear. I knew that if they only chilled out it would end immediately, but fear is fear and nothing good can come of that.
Some dogs are easier and nicer off leash, but on the trail it can upset people so I don't do that.

Wht about off leash bears??? Maybe we should sue the state ....
;) (really)

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
OP on 06/17/2013 12:58:18 MDT Print View

Oh, to answer OP..
If they act nice/ ignore you, do the same.
If they come at you barking and jumping a bit , I would act the way they tell you to do with a mountain lion. Plus yell at them to get the F away, as calmly as you can.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
re: OP on 06/17/2013 13:06:27 MDT Print View

I'll probably have to practice yelling calmly, Kat. I'm not quite sure how one does that, or what it would sound like. Is it like loudly whispering until your throat hurts?

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 13:09:10 MDT Print View

I carry Spray Shield (citronella spray) when I have a dog with me, which is almost always. Haven't used it yet but a dog trainer recommended it to me. Almost used it last week walking near my house when a new dog that is on an invisible fence bolted right through it after stopping at it the previous times we saw him. But he stopped short when I yelled at him and ended up following us at a distance for a quarter mile or so until he gave up.

I don't carry it if I don't have a dog along. I'm more worried about my dogs getting attacked than I am about myself. I went on two trips last year without a dog and both times had a dog charge me. Each time I instinctively crossed my trekking poles so they were facing the dog like the dog's neck would hit the x if it kept coming. Both times the dogs stopped immediately. Not sure if that was just lucky or what.

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: re: OP on 06/17/2013 13:22:48 MDT Print View

"I'll probably have to practice yelling calmly, Kat. I'm not quite sure how one does that, or what it would sound like. Is it like loudly whispering until your throat hurts?"

Really? You just speak loudly and assertively. Some people would consider this yelling.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: re: OP on 06/17/2013 13:36:54 MDT Print View

"Really? You just speak loudly and assertively. Some people would consider this yelling."

Eli, I suspect you've never been married.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
re: OP on 06/17/2013 13:37:02 MDT Print View

Hmmm...speaking loudly and assertively, or yelling? That doesn't quite fit my idea of "calm." But I get it, Eli, I really do.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 13:52:13 MDT Print View

I prefer immediately mounting the offending dog to show alpha dominance.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 13:58:21 MDT Print View

"I prefer immediately mounting the offending dog to show alpha dominance."

How does one go about mounting a Min Pin? :)

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Ok fine "yelling" on 06/17/2013 14:03:13 MDT Print View

Yeah fine, not my first language...
Speak out loudly and calmly.

Now tell me what you call it if you say fairly loudly and assertively to get the F@&$ away from you!!,
I would feel yelled at, but I am sensitive, so..

Edited by Kat_P on 06/17/2013 14:05:44 MDT.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 14:19:42 MDT Print View

tell me what you call it if you say fairly loudly and assertively to get the F@&$ away from you!!,

I hate blind dates.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 14:26:22 MDT Print View

"I prefer immediately mounting the offending dog to show alpha dominance."

Nostril launched coffee and keyboards don't mix.

Edward Zwibel
(YetiEddie) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
@nick on 06/17/2013 14:36:17 MDT Print View

Reference the min pin....just don't lead em as much.

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 20:29:42 MDT Print View

"I'm of the opinion with my very limited experience that dogs will stop barking/growling when they have committed to attack. If they are still barking or growling, I feel that they are giving me a courtesy warning. "

Absolutely. From a trainer's blog

"All of that lunging and barking is their way of saying, “Stay away from me! Don’t make me come over there!” In truth, they don’t want to come over there. What they want is for the scary thing to vanish into oblivion, preferably yesterday. But think about this: if a dog really meant to attack, he would. The lunging, barking dog is spending precious energy on a display that, if heeded, will actually avoid conflict. But if a dog is very still, staring, body fairly humming with tension, he’s conserving his energy. That is a dog who should cause the hairs on your own neck to stand up, because he might very well attack."

more here:
https://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/the-threat-of-stillness/

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 20:37:35 MDT Print View

"I prefer immediately mounting the offending dog to show alpha dominance."

We will NEVER hike toge...... oh, dog. Ummmmmm, never mind, we're good.....

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 21:04:37 MDT Print View

I frequently have CharlieDog off leash...and I started doing this for both our safety. I found that while he was on the lead, he would lunge at every single hiker we passed. I worked with trainers, two behaviorists...all with the same result. Off leash, on the other hand, he's a totally different dog. He hikes on the trail only (kinda cool, actually), and almost always second in line. He's got a spot on recall, leave it, etc.

HOWEVER...

There are times he sees hikers up ahead...and he runs to greet them. Guess what happens? "Aw, what a great dog you have! What's in his pack?" Pet pet pet, scratch, scratch, scratch, pet some more...

Chuck runs out of line and is rewarded for his bad behavior EVERY SINGLE TIME.



As for the OP question: I agree that if the dog is barking and growling, be assertive, say NO strongly and firmly...and recognize that the dog is a) startled b) sensing your being startled and/or c) protecting turf/owner. I like the idea of crossing your poles in front of you ...

I wonder what would happen if you just gave the pup some of your jerky?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 21:15:26 MDT Print View

I make nice with the dog. Has worked so far. Really surprised a woman with her protector a few weeks back. Buds in seconds. Dogs know too if you are a dog person or not. Firm, assertive non threatening works for me with the ones that seem a little aggravated. They're missing the sofa and are cranky. Cut them some slack. The dogs, not the owners.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/17/2013 22:01:06 MDT Print View

Most dogs are all bark and no bite.

I was nearly trampled by a pack of pitbulls running through our camp at 6 a.m. at Terrace Creek in Big Sur. Please control your dogs and don't let them harass or annoy others. Or better yet take them on remote trails or off trail so you don't have to worry about it.

Robert Meurant
(rmeurant) - MLife
Yield right-of-way to anything larger or meaner... on 06/17/2013 22:57:25 MDT Print View

Not to mention what to do when encountering wild yaks on the trail?

(Zanskari experience, just below a pass on a narrow track. Though to be sure, it seemed gentle enough).

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: What to do when encountering dogs on the trail? on 06/18/2013 00:07:33 MDT Print View

Sorry, I probably should keep my mouth shut. And its been hashed over on previous threads. But I here it is: I don't like dog's on the trail.

Especially in designated wilderness areas. Emotionally, I like pets. Always had a combination of four or more growing up (dogs, cats, turtles, fish, hamsters, rabbits, hermit crabs, etc.). Emotionally, they can be great. I find it emotionally comforting to have a dog around. But rationally and environmentally, I know that most pets are sort of a disaster. The stats make this clear. I can live with the tradeoff because they bring a lot of happiness to many people. But I am not OK with the tradeoff in wilderness. I just don't like seeing a dog run wild out on the trail in a place we are only supposed to be a visitor and minimize our impact. On the trail, I try to tread lightly and minimize disturbance to the natural systems and to other hikers. Dogs seem to be unavoidably counter to that objective.

I sort of feel the same way about horses in wilderness, mainly for one reason. How many trails have we all seen destroyed by horse pack trains. Just one train of horses on a muddy trail can destroy years of train maintenance.

OK, now argue or attack if you must. I just felt like a counterpoint here was missing.

This feeling has only intensified as I have started backpacking with my young daughters. I have already had multiple encounters where large dogs off leach come running up (or from behind) with ambiguous intentions and scaring the crap out of my girls. It is one think for this to happen to a full grown adult. But another when you weigh 50 or 60 pounds. There have been a couple of occasions where it took real self control for me to still be polite to these "dog owners." I want my girls to fall in love with the backcountry like I did. I never remember seeing dogs out on the trail when I was young (except hunting dogs in particular contexts). This seems to be more common that it was 20 or 30 or so years ago.

Edited by mwgillenwater on 06/18/2013 00:09:26 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dogs on 06/18/2013 05:54:19 MDT Print View

Justin Baker's comment about pitbulls reminded me of a trip I did recently in March.

Shih Tzu
I took my little Shih Tzu out on a 16 day wilderness trip and he starts out great.

Afterwards
Here he is after the trip. Ha ha ha.

JUST KIDDING

Now, to respond to Michael's No Dogs in the Wilderness post. First off, the hunting lobby from Virginia down thru North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia would never agree to not use their dogs for hunting which for the most part roam freely thruout wilderness areas and are unsupervised. In my mind, as a backpacker, these dogs are abandoned and if a pet owner did the same he'd be cited. Ya just can't dump your dog off in the woods and drive away. Hunters do it all the time.

But Michael's comment "I just don't like seeing a dog run wild out on the trail in a place we are only supposed to be a visitor and minimize our impact." Both humans and dogs are supposed to be temporary visitors to wilderness areas---both the humans and the dogs will leave soon enough. So there's no problem in my mind. While I do see coyotes living out and while I wish the red wolf would repopulate my mountains, I do not see domesticated dogs living in permanent packs---they are just visitors, like us. No problem.

What irks me in the Southeast wilderness areas I visit are the near constant overhead jet traffic noise, the Army flying nap-of-the-earth helicopter training missions (yes, right over the wilderness), the screaming and roaring motorcycles on "scenic motor loop" roads 10 miles from our camps, and the TN valley air pollution making the GSMNP the most polluted in the country. The weathermen actually tell people to stay indoors. Compared to this crap, dogs have no impact whatsoever.

But I agree that horses destroy a place and if you want proof just look at what they do in the Mt Rogers backcountry in Virginia.

Edited by TipiWalter on 06/18/2013 06:00:10 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Horses on 06/18/2013 07:42:50 MDT Print View

"I sort of feel the same way about horses in wilderness, mainly for one reason. How many trails have we all seen destroyed by horse pack trains. Just one train of horses on a muddy trail can destroy years of train maintenance."

Just keep in mind that many of the hiking trails that we love to hike were built and are maintained by horses and horse people. Agree completely that irresponsible horse people (and hikers) in the early season can reek havoc on a trail. Now back to dogs......

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Dogs on trail on 06/18/2013 07:49:24 MDT Print View

I wonder if a person who is scared of dogs(and maybe for good reason) sees having a large scary dog coming towards them with owner a ways back like having some mean looking guy come down the trail pointing a gun at them appearing to have the intention of pulling the trigger and then some one a ways back yells "its OK he won't shoot you its not even loaded ... its not is it Roger?" I'm asking a question not making a statement so please keep that in mind. Is that a good analogy? I am better at reading dogs than I am at people. I don't trust people till they prove they can be trusted and the same with dogs, actually I usually trust dogs much quicker they are far more honest. I'm not scared of to many people I meet on the trail or dogs but I have been. I think this is a great topic as every time I go out on the trail I meet clueless or worse yet pet owners that just don't care about the feelings or rights of others I've made a lot of mistakes on the trail with my dogs it is my responsibility as dog owner to look after my dogs and follow the rules the op shouldn't have to be posting this question he really should not be disrespected in any way. If you really know dogs the answers range from ignoring it to try to kill it, the dog that is.

Edited by mtmnmark on 06/18/2013 12:06:29 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dog Laughs on 06/18/2013 08:12:50 MDT Print View

Gotta have some levity---

Campmor
Not all dogs are bad in the wilderness. This one enjoys reading thru a Campmor catalog. (Cherry Log Gap, Citico wilderness TN).

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: "What to do when encountering dogs on the trail?" on 06/18/2013 08:45:03 MDT Print View

"I frequently have CharlieDog off leash...and I started doing this for both our safety. I found that while he was on the lead, he would lunge at every single hiker we passed."

Jen, have you tried a Gentle Leader AKA Halti? The dog in my avatar has a very soft trachea, for lack of a better description, and any pressure on his throat at all causes him to cough badly. The first day of obedience class the trainer came over before the class started and asked if he had kennel cough. Training was/is very easy with him except he wants to visit with every dog he sees and will pull to do so. It's tough to correct because of his trachea. So I got a Gentle Leader and problem solved. He will not even try to pull with it on. But I don't use it on the trail as I use trekking poles and don't want him right beside me. I use a flexi lead attached to my waist belt and his pack and have him lead or follow. Probably the main reason he doesn't lunge on the trail is because we don't pass people directly on the trail. When we encounter other hikers, we get off the trail and he's put in a sit/stay until they pass. Just like we do for encountering horses. It helps put people at ease and if they ask to visit with him, he's released. I don't see anyone else do this but it's worked well for us. Sure it slows you down a little on a busy trail but we try to avoid those for the most part anyway. When we're passing others in the same direction, I shorten the lead and move briskly past.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Horses on 06/18/2013 10:57:10 MDT Print View

My wife and I once almost got trampled by horses running free on a trail.

The owners let them loose near the end of their trip to run down to a corral or something. We were heading up and barely heard them coming around a bend in the trail. We just barely jumped off the trail in time. I shudder to think of what would have happened if they ran over us.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Horse Curs on 06/18/2013 11:19:18 MDT Print View

I could write a long screed about horses on foot trails---not about horses but about the humans who ride them. But that would hijack this thread. For some reason riderless wild ponies are a whole different subject---and are trail benign---

Hippie Horse
Freakish pony in the Mt Rogers backcountry.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Halti collars on 06/18/2013 12:01:40 MDT Print View

I've used Halti collars on two dogs with instant results. I find them to be much more humane and gentle than any kind of pinch or choke collars. Some dogs will paw at them at first, but a little treat and learning that the Halti=a walk usually takes care of that issue. You get to go for a walk with a slack lead and even a small person can control a large dog with one. You are using the simple principle of leading the dog by their head and can direct them away from issues. My theory is that they use an instinctual trigger as a mother dog will correct her pup by mouthing their muzzle, which the Halti does when you take up the slack. IMHO, they are the best way to go.

I've seen a lot of people with the Gentle Lead collars which are similar. I tried one once and found it harder to put on the dog and adjust. They are very light and simple.

The only issue is that some people think they are a muzzle and get freaked out. Rare, but it has happened to me.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 19:41:37 MDT Print View

Ok. This is an online post. You cannot hear my tone, but please imagine that I am saying this nicely and with absolutely NO malice in my voice. I am not writing this in anger, or frustration, or anything similar. I am simply going to make a point.

I very much enjoy hiking with my dog, who is a very, very good trail dog. He is very well behaved, rarely ventures from his number 2 spot on the trail, and after a great deal of effort, work, and a lot of mistakes on my part, he's turned into a dog most people enjoy meeting on the trail.

Seeing him get to run around free (usually he's stuck in a condo and only gets to go on sidewalk walks in the city), the goofiest grin on his face, he's an image of pure joy and it makes MY hiking experience just amazing.

Ok, maybe you don't like dogs. Why do I have to give up MY hiking experience to save you the 90 seconds out of your whole hike you see my pup because you don't like dogs in the wilderness?

Yes, I agree that I have a big responsibility and it's one I take very seriously. Am I perfect? Of course not. But I just can't get over the nastiness some people have over dogs on the trail.

It's an animal. Like a coyote, or a deer, or a mosquito, or snakes, or ticks, black flies...how is an unpleasant experience with a dog any different from that? Because I brought him there?

I don't like mountain bikes, but hey, on trails where they are allowed? oh well. Horses? Same thing. How about large groups? Or as Tipi said, the sound of helicopters, or nearby roads, or motor boats, or planes..........I guess I don't understand how the purity of YOUR wilderness experience trumps mine.....

Ok. I'm done.

Let the flaming begin :)

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 19:46:14 MDT Print View

Nice point.
Thank you.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 19:46:18 MDT Print View

You left out my favorite group. Rotten children.

I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 20:54:01 MDT Print View

Dogs fear my encounter on the trail.



Dogs fear me.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 20:59:38 MDT Print View

Chuck n i

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Ah...the dog thread on 06/18/2013 21:03:12 MDT Print View

021

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Ah...the dog thread on 06/19/2013 09:07:09 MDT Print View

I see no reason for the flaming to begin :) we are just discussing the OP's scenario. And I really have not seen any nastiness here yet just opinions that we are all entitled to. Only a couple of posts have said they don't like dogs in the wilderness and I think it was done in a respectful way and I can see their point. I feel bad that they feel that way. I think Dale Randy Dena and others all threw out helpful suggestions. I don't think the OP's question can be answered with an easy one size fits all answer and that 99%+ of the time there is nothing to worry about, but a dog can be as big of a whack job as their owner and the dog attack statistics are real over 800,000 bites a year in the usa. So I see any thread that helps the dog owner see others point of view as helpful to everyone. So we can all have our wilderness experience.

Edited by mtmnmark on 06/19/2013 10:54:47 MDT.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Ah...the dog thread on 06/19/2013 10:23:38 MDT Print View

Without any intention of being defensive, note that I did not call for dogs to be banned from anything. If we want to talk banning, then it should be to ban public lands ranching on designated wilderness, which the cattle lobby got into the the original wilderness bill. But that is another topic.

I simply said I don't like dogs in designated wilderness and would prefer not to experience them there. I also don't like horses or dirt bikes, air planes flying overhead, or trash at campsites, etc. Did I call for new legislative bans. No. I'm realistic (I lived in DC for almost 20 years and work in public policy). But, do I want my wilderness experience to be as pristine as practical. Yes. I would hope most here would too. There is a real debate to have about what we mean by wilderness (there is extensive literature on this topic already).

I would say that there are a lot of people on the trail that probably do not appreciate dogs there. I explicitly said I do like dogs (sadly, our family's just passed away 2 weeks ago). Just not in wilderness. And, it would be great if more people would think twice about bringing their dog or how they handle their dog when in wilderness the same way that we expect smokers be respectful of others by not smoking around them.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Ah, the Dog Thread" on 06/19/2013 11:42:00 MDT Print View

"""And, it would be great if more people would think twice about bringing their dog or how they handle their dog when in wilderness the same way that we expect smokers be respectful of others by not smoking around them."""
.
.
I think you have every right to expect people to properly control their dog (regardless of where they are, city, wilderness, whatever) and I understand you're not calling for a ban but I also think your wish for people to not even bring a dog is unreasonable. For many of us, our dogs are our hiking buddies. I hike alone with my dog probably 90% of the time. I am getting ready to start doing overnighters with just my dog because I'm tired of having to work around other people's schedules. My dog is better company than 99% of people. I have to agree with Jennifer on this one- the 90 seconds you might have your wilderness experience spoiled by having to see my dog does not trump my right to have my dog's company and have my own wilderness experience enhanced by it. To be clear, my dog is leashed anywhere there are other people and anywhere it's required whether there are people or not, and I pick up after her and pack out her waste. We step off the trail when people are coming towards us, and I always place myself bodily between my dog and any people. So I think as it goes, I'm pretty respectful of other people on the trail.

Not trying to start an argument, just felt like chiming in on that topic.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
Re: "Ah, the Dog Thread" on 06/19/2013 13:36:54 MDT Print View

I generally prefer encountering dogs on the trail to encountering humans. Dogs are by and large much quieter and leave behind way less trash.

David Adair
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Spotdog 425 e- collar on 06/19/2013 14:41:41 MDT Print View

Recently I wound up with a young blue heeler pup living at my house. Smart dog and very nice but an unruly little monster. Anyway, I picked up a shock collar hoping to expedite the training of the little hard head. Having never used one before, I was impressed at how effective the e-collar works for training. It is actually much, much less stressful for both the dog and myself. In about two weeks he obeys commands consistently and I rarely need to even use the collar. He is a happy dog and we get along great.

You can set the stimulus level from the transmitter and, at least for this dog, it only had to be set high enough to get his attention. It also distances the trainer from the punishment phase. He tends to see the adverse reinforcement as being the result of his own bad decisions. I get to be the good guy with treats.

Anyway, I now think that the e-collar is the way to go and well worth the money. You can find the Sportdog 425 collar for about $150 new or cheaper on ebay. If you buy used figure you may have to replace the batteries at $20 per. Other brands or models may work as well but I have no experience with them.

I return you now to the regularly scheduled rant.

oh, here's Kep the Corgi my number one hiking partner:
Kep and Dave Upper Basin Lake

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Spotdog 425 e- collar on 06/19/2013 15:05:35 MDT Print View

Do you put the collar on the dog or the owner.

David Adair
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Re: Spotdog 425 e- collar on 06/19/2013 15:17:11 MDT Print View

My dog Kep is a nice guy and much more sociable than I am. So you may have a point.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
"Ah, the Dog Thread" on 06/19/2013 18:47:26 MDT Print View

Dena, I've been dogless about 10 years now. :( Due to my work situation, I cannot get a dog. I mostly go bping solo, so I do miss a dogs quiet companionship. My late Pooch alerted me once to a bears presence, surprisingly by growling, him being a Yellow Lab X and a very quiet dog, no aggression, lots of tail wagging around people. I do see the next doggie I get, that I need to be a little more pc when in areas where others frequent or in wilderness that has lots of critters. In the past I had no issues, just one comment about a dog in the wilderness to which I had no reply. I bp mostly in the Sierra Nevada where there are few people. My vacation trips tend to be in more popular areas, so I carry a leash there, especially in Desolation by Lake Tahoe. When I retire, I'll more than likely get another lab or good companion dog.
Duane

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Beloved Departed on 06/19/2013 19:39:51 MDT Print View

My Mighty Dog left this world for the spirit trail after 15 years of backpacking---the holy Thor of dogs. He routinely carried 17 days worth of dog food in his blue dog pack and loved nothing more than a blizzard. People tell me I need to re-outfit with a new model but it's just not going to happen . . . .

Lineup
He had a strange ability to line up properly for a group photo.

Snow Dog
He often broke trail in the worst conditions.

Looking In
And he always made sure the tent was squared away.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
electric collars on 06/19/2013 19:42:00 MDT Print View

Electric shock training collars are only as good as the critter with the button in its hand. Your timing has to be consistent and immediate. Most people have NO business employing such training collars, because they themselves do NOT have the training to use them properly. The negative consequences increases with the electronic shock, both in terms of physical problems and the dog's complete lack of understanding exactly what they are being punished for. I have treated dogs with burns on their necks because the idiot with the button in his hand had kept yelling at the dog and pushing the button when the dog had NO clue what was expected.

Most training can be accomplished properly without such "aids". I'm not in the touchy-feely camp of dog training that never uses negative reinforcement, because I do think there are times that the dog needs to learn that NO means NO, and not just "when I feel like it". I do think that the average dog owner needs training on how to train the dog--they have no clue now to deal with an animal that doesn't communicate through speech. Most people employ shock collars because they are lazy and don't want to put in the time to train properly.

There are the occasional knot-head dogs that know what is being asked, and choose not to comply--they have no motivation to perform the command. Those are the dogs that electronic collars can be useful for, especially in the matter of the recall command. But they can also learn to associate the weight of the electronic collar with whether or not they need to comply, and ignore the command when the collar is not there. So reinforcement often is necessary. Those are few and far between.

Chris Arnold
(ChristopherActual) - F

Locale: Oregon, USA
Dogs on their leash please. on 07/09/2013 15:45:44 MDT Print View

I love dogs and have no problems with seeing them on the trail. As long as they're on their leash. If a dog is off their leash that forces me to interact with the dog because the dog runs right up to me to say hi. You love your dog dearly, I do not and I don't want to be forced into that interaction. I find that to be very rude and selfish to be honest. You're basically saying that you don't care about other peoples experience on their hikes just so your buddy can run around. There's also the fact that most dogs will stick their nose right on you and will more than likely put their paw on you if they're excited. So now my hike has to be hiked with dog snot and mud on my clothes. Have fun with your dog but DO be respectful of others.

What others have said about displaying self confidence is right on. My neighbor had a pitbul that liked to jump the fence. So every now and again I'd go into the backyard and there'd be a growling 100 pound dog there. I would stand straight and calmly walk away ignoring the dog and it's barking. It sorta puts you square in the alpha position because the dog sees that you don't even see them as enough of a threat to even look at them. The only time we had a problem with that dog was when my bud's girlfriend freaked out and ran into the house. The dog followed right after her. Don't run. You'll only get bit tired. ;)

Edited by ChristopherActual on 07/09/2013 15:50:20 MDT.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: electric collars on 07/09/2013 16:08:08 MDT Print View

"I have treated dogs with burns on their necks because the idiot with the button in his hand had kept yelling at the dog and pushing the button when the dog had NO clue what was expected. "

Sounds like baloney to me. Show me some evidence that training collars cause burns. The ones I have seen have as much effect as biting on tin foil with a filling.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Friends and their dog on 07/10/2013 08:59:48 MDT Print View

Unfortunately this last weekend, a couple guys I bp with a few times a year if that much, had their leaderless dogs running here and there, barking at the next camp or hikers coming by. They did apologize for their dogs behavior to folks and went on leaving their dogs off leash. Sorry.
Duane

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Re: Beloved Departed on 07/10/2013 11:27:22 MDT Print View

TipiWalter,
I am so sorry to hear you lost your hiking partner. My own is now almost 13 years old and is slowing wayyyyyyy down. Even when at camp, he spends most of his time sleeping these days. He still gets out with me on shorter hikes, but it's only a matter of time now. Again, Bennie and I are so sorry to hear of your loss.

Matt and Bennie

bennie

bennie

bennie

Edited by bigfoot2 on 07/10/2013 11:30:38 MDT.