Consider This Before Hiking With Your Dog Off-Leash

Like many of us pet owners in San Diego, I enjoy spending time outdoor with my dog and especially hiking with him. He is well trained, loves to run and is friendly to people and animals. So I must confess I sometimes (if it’s not too crowded) let him off his leash on hiking trails. It is so much more fun for both of us. There’s something so freeing and happy about watching a dog run free on a trail.

However, I learned something about why this may be a mistake.

I spent some time visiting my sister in law and she is a proud dog parent of two small dachshund mixes. Like me and my gregarious yellow lab, she takes her dogs hiking quite often. However, she never lets them off the leash. I thought maybe she was just a tried and true rule follower, but the fact is her dogs are not friendly to other people or dogs.

Well, this is like I always hoped and thought; those of you with unfriendly dogs leave them on the leash and let the friendly ones (who respond to voice command) roam free. Well I learned something about why it’s important for even friendly dogs to be on a leash in areas like hiking trails.

While hiking with my sister in law and her two dogs, we all stopped at a creek and waterfall area and began relaxing and playing in the water. Her dogs were still on leash and cooling off in the shade. Then suddenly, two large dogs went racing down the path eager to get in on the shade and water as well. I saw a moment of panic flash over my sister in law’s face as she yelled quite sternly to the owners, “Please put your dogs on a leash! Mine are not friendly and may bite.”

That’s all she could do – is say up front her dogs are not friendly. And she had them on a leash. Yet, she risked a dog fight. The owners replied by laughing and saying their dogs are friendly and not to worry.

The problem is, however, her dogs are not friendly and may cause a fight; which two small dachshunds would most definitely lose to two off leash large breed dogs. All of this awkward exchange could have been prevented if the larger dogs were on a leash like the trail requires. The dogs raced by and thankfully nothing of any consequence occurred.

However, I learned something from this experience. Even if my dog is friendly, he may come across other animals that aren’t. And it is my responsibility to have him under control and on his leash so I am courteous to fellow hiking dog owners who’s pets may not have the same temperament as mine.

Do you ever hike with your dog off leash? What is your opinion? Please comment here or on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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