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Good Canine Trail Etiquette
Adapted from "Best Hikes with Dogs in Western Washington" by Dan A. Nelson, published by The Mountaineers Books


As a hiker, you are responsible for your own actions. As a dog owner, you have an added responsibility: your dog's actions.

  • Hikers should keep dogs on a leash-or under very strict voice command-at all times. Strict voice command means the dog immediately heels when told, stays at heel, and refrains from barking.

  • When dog owners meet any other trail users, dog and owner must yield the right-of-way, stepping well clear of the trail to allow other users to pass without worrying about "getting sniffed."

  • When dog meets horse, the dog owner must first yield the trail but also make sure the dog stays calm, does not bark, and makes no move towards the horse. Move well off the trail (downhill from the trail when possible) and stay off the trail, with your dog held close to your side, until the horse passes well beyond you.

  • Stay on trails and practice minimum impact. Don't cut switchbacks, take shortcuts, or make new trails. If your destination is off-trail, leave the trail in as direct a manner as possible.

  • Obey the rules specific to the trail you are visiting. Many trails are closed to certain types of use, including hiking with dogs or riding horses.

  • Avoid disturbing wildlife, especially in the winter and in calving or nesting areas. Observe from a distance-even if you cannot get the picture you want from a distance, resist the urge to move close. This not only keeps you safer but also prevents the animal from having to exert itself unnecessarily by fleeing from you.

  • Leave all natural creatures, objects, and features as you found them for others to enjoy.

  • Never roll rocks off trails or cliffs-you never know who or what is below you.


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8/02