Many of us consider our dogs to be our best friends and we treat our pets like members of the family. So, it makes sense that we want our dogs with us while we are on traveling and on vacation. Let’s face it, it can be more expensive to leave them behind. Plus, we want to create new memories with our dogs and show them parts of the world they’ve never seen.
Have you ever seen a dog get excited at new smells from the woods? It’s a new experience for everyone. However, you can’t treat your dog the same that you would at home. You will be in new environments and there are steps you need to take to keep your dog safe.
Hiking is a great activity for both man and canine, but there’s a significant amount of people who don’t practice proper trail etiquette. Your dog might be well behaved in your backyard, but the freedom of an open terrain is dangerous. You wouldn’t go out into the wilderness and let your children run free, so why would you let your dog?
Considering that dogs have the maturity of a two year old child, it’s your responsibility to protect them while you explore the wilderness. Leashes were invented to protect you and your dog in a variety of situations. Today, we’ll discuss the ten main reasons you should keep your dog on a leash while out on a hike.
1. Keep Your Dog on a Leash to Avoid Conflicts With Other Dogs
Imagine that you are walking down the trail and an aggressive dog appears out of nowhere. You don’t see the owner anywhere, and you don’t know if they are going to hurt you or your dog. What would you do? Many hikers find themselves in this situation and complain that their dogs were attacked by off leash dogs.
Everyone should feel confident that they’re going to be safe on the trail, without having to worry about avoiding dogs. Remember, you’re sharing space with people even if you don’t see them. Be part of the solution by leashing your dog. If everyone practiced this it would reduce the risk that a human or dog is hurt by an off leash canine wandering the trail.
2. Protection From Predators
A domesticated dog by themselves can easily get turned into prey. For example, if you’re hiking in terrain frequented by bears, your dog can easily be killed by bears.
I can’t imagine what I would do if a bear was chewing on my dog, but it would be my instinct to try to separate them through any means necessary. Knowing how powerful a bear is, there isn’t an easy way out of the situation.
Thankfully, keeping your dog restrained reduces the risk of these situations happening. You are responsible for your safety as well as the safety of your pet at all times, whether at home or out on the trail.
3. Keep Your Dog from Entering Dangerous Areas
It’s beautiful to hike through the wilderness, especially when you see flowing rivers and streams. It’s common to stop by these rivers to rest, get water, or take pictures. We all love candid shots. However, most canines don’t have experience near fast moving water, and they can easily get caught up in the current and carried away.
If your dog is off their leash, they can get in the river on their own. You could be completely out of view while your dog is struggling to get out of the water and is being carried farther away. Even worse, you could try to save your dog and potentially end up drowning in the current because you can’t get out.
4. Keep Your Dog on a Leash Because It’s the Law
Before you go on your trip, make sure you know the leash law for the area you’re traveling. It’s also important to make sure dogs are allowed to accompany you. One of the worst experiences I’ve had is traveling to a beach that wasn’t dog friendly. For a week I had to find other activities to do with my pooch. It was poor planning on my part, but you can avoid my mistakes through a simple internet search.
You can look up Leash Laws by State to make sure you’re not breaking the law. Some states like Arkansas have no statewide leash law, but in most states, you need to keep your dog confined. Tethering a dog keeps them safe and under your control. Even if the state you’re traveling to doesn’t have a leash law, you’ll still be liable for any damage that your dog causes. Your dog is always your responsibility.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Lawsuits
If you allow your dog to run around without a leash, then you’ll have to pay the consequences. A dog that causes bodily harm or other damages can also be put down depending on the situation. Why risk your bank account and the life of your dog? Even if you think that your dog is well-behaved, it’s not worth the risk. Your dog is worth more than the issues that can arise from off-leash problems.
6. Your Canine is Accounted for on a Leash
There are dogs that enjoy running away, and a leash will keep your dog next to you. Some hikers have complained about hitting the trails and immediately losing their dog. Now, a fun trip has turned into a search and rescue mission. Some of these missions aren’t successful, and now your dog is lost in the wilderness with a low chance of survival. It’s amazing that so many problems can be avoided if you choose to restrain your dog.
7. Control Your Dog Better With a Harness
Many old-school pet owners took a while to adjust to harnesses, but now most dog owners welcome them. Long-gone are the days of your dog choking themselves on their collar. We know that using the proper harness, your puller can become a tame pup. Also, a harness will give you better control of your dog while you are on the trails. Since no pull harnesses fit around your canine’s body it’s harder for them to slip out. The key is for it to fit properly. If you’re unsure about your dog’s measurements, take them to your local pet store to try one on.
8. Keep Your Dog Healthy
Vet bills can get expensive, especially when your canine is sick or injured. If you are approached by a unrestrained canine, you have no idea if this is a healthy animal. You also have to worry about wild animals, which are known to carry rabies among other diseases. You and your animal can just as easily become infected.
When owners tether their dogs they reduce the chance of coming in contact with a rabid or diseased animal. Also, remember to have your pet up to date on all shots before traveling. When I take my dog on a long trip, I’ll do a wellness checkup before I even leave town, just to make sure that everything is fine. You want to come back home just as healthy as when you left.
9. Protect Yourself with Mace
Unleashed dogs have become a serious problem, and mace has become the solution. If you’re hiking, and you see an unleashed dog, you can mace this dog if it comes too close. Jumping in between animals is a bad idea, and mace provides a better solution. Your dog can suffer from symptoms for 45 minutes if sprayed. Some dogs are affected worse than others, and if your pet has a bad reaction you might have to take them to the vet.
10. Gives You a Peace of Mind
This is probably one of the most important reasons to leash your dog. There are so many things to worry about when you are hiking, and your furry friend shouldn’t be one of them. You won’t remember the fun parts of the hike if you’re constantly saving your pooch from trouble and mischief. It can be tempting to let them roam around in open spaces but on the hiking trail is not the right place
From Jordan at Natural Dog Owner, I hope that these tips encourage you to practice responsible dog ownership and keep everyone safe on the hike.