How to keep hikes with your dog safe and fun for all

Merced Sun-Star - - Livingston Chronicle - BY SPENCER MC­KEE

It’s hard to beat hav­ing a ca­nine com­pan­ion by your side for your fa­vorite out­door recre­ational ac­tiv­ity. How­ever, if you’re out on trails with the pup, it’s im­por­tant to fol­low a few rules to keep the ex­pe­ri­ence safe and fun.

1. Pick up your dog’s poop

Wild an­i­mals might be leav­ing their poop trail­side, but that doesn’t mean your dog’s fe­ces should meet the same fate. Leav­ing your pet’s poop be­hind for na­ture to take care of can in­tro­duce all sorts of non-na­tive bac­te­ria and other things to the ecosys­tem.

2. Don’t leave your filled poop bags be­hind.

Now that you’ve picked up your dog’s poop, re­mem­ber that you also need to bring the poop bag with you. Many hik­ers seem to for­get this, likely op­er­at­ing un­der the as­sump­tion that they’ll re­mem­ber to snag the bag on their re­turn trip. How­ever, judg­ing by the num­ber of filled poop bags of­ten seen on the trail, many hik­ers are a bit for­get­ful.

3. Fol­low the posted leash laws

Leash laws ex­ist for many rea­sons, and fol­low­ing them could save your dog’s life. If a leash law is re­quired, it might be to pro­tect nest­ing wildlife; it might be due to a haz­ard such as a poi­sonous plant or an un­seen cliff drop; it might be to pro­tect other dogs on a crowded trail.

Re­mem­ber, just be­cause your dog is well-trained and well-be­haved, other dogs they might en­counter may not be. Help pre­vent a nasty sit­u­a­tion by fol­low­ing the rules.

4. Don’t ha­rass the wildlife

Don’t let your dog bark at, chase or threaten wild an­i­mals you might en­counter on the trail. Not only is this il­le­gal, it’s also very bad for the wild an­i­mals. It’s stress­ful and can lead to death in some cases.

5. Keep off the grass and out of the wa­ter, when asked

If there’s a sign posted re­quest­ing that you keep your dog off of a cer­tain ter­rain fea­ture or out of a cer­tain wa­ter source, there’s prob­a­bly a good rea­son. Per­haps a dan­ger­ous pes­ti­cide was re­cently ap­plied or a deadly al­gae is present; a num­ber of con­cerns can prompt these warn­ings. For the safety of your pet, please fol­low the posted rules.

6. Yield the right-of-way

A lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple head to trails for out­door re­cre­ation, in­clud­ing run­ners, bik­ers and hik­ers. If you’re got a dog on a leash, yield the right-ofway to passersby. Make sure your dog and the leash aren’t in the way of some­one else, and when pos­si­ble and re­spon­si­ble, step slightly off the trail to al­low for safe pass­ing.

7. Know your pup

If you pup isn’t good on the trail, it might be best to leave your dog at home. Some dogs have anx­i­ety and ag­gres­sion that might pre­vent them from be­ing safe around other an­i­mals.

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