Friday, January 22, 2010

Should hikers allow their dogs off-leash?

Should hikers allow their dogs off-leash?

That's the question being asked over at the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine website. Since dogs are prohibited from most trails in national parks, the question actually pertains to trails in national forest areas.

Right now, by a 6 point margin, voters in this poll are indicating that they think dogs should be allowed to run off-leash while hiking.

One of the commentators on this poll did a great job of summing up the prevailing thoughts on this issue:

I guess it all depends on the dog. If he follows commands well and is not aggressive to other dogs / hikers, sure take him off the leash. However, there is always the person that thinks their dog is special, and should be able to do as they please. These are the ones that always cause trouble for the others. Just remember, not everyone in the woods loves “Fido” the way you do. Be respectful.

However, another person left this comment:

Many of you think that dogs are fine to be let off a leash if they are well behaved. The problem is that everyone thinks their dog is well behaved when in many cases they are not. So if the rule is your dog can be off a leash if it is well behaved then how is it enforced? Who decides if your dog is well behaved?

So what do you think? If you would like to vote and leave a comment, please click here.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.


Anonymous said...

It's bad enough we have to worry about bears, now dogs? I love dogs, but once off leash and away from owners, dogs are completely unpredictible, especially if they surprise a hiker. Someone might even hurt a dog with bear spray. Dogs are like kids, they have to be controlled or they will misbehave!

Anonymous said...

Well,this was an uneducated comment for sure.So all dogs or kids won't behave and are unpredictible when not controlled (by leash)? Oh dear,this would be a sad day if that would be true. Realy,it's all in the training/education (kids).Dogs as kids will learn when taught,please acknowledge that fact.My previous,late dogs hiked off leash with me after years of training (and so did the kids,my,my..),no problem. The new,next generation,dogs that is, is still on leash but now with occasional off time.We are getting there,slowly but surely.In hope for everybody to get along,live and let live,to use your common sense and good judgement.That sorta' thing. Xandi

Anonymous said...

Good Grief...both of you guys are wrong...the Constitution applies to Human Beings, not dogs! I don't like dogs, don't want them sniffing at my crotch, licking my fingers, jumping on me, etc. If the regulations allow you to take your dog hiking, fine, but keep it on a short leash - and clean up your dog poop please.

Danny Bernstein said...

A dog belongs on a leash and under the control of its master. Too many times, I've been confronted by a dog ahead of its owner, jumping on me and the owner yelling "he's friendly".
A strange dog jumping on me is not friendly.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion you can never blame an animal for an attack, the dog owner is always the one to blame. With that being said you should always have your dog on a leash or a belly wrap while hiking. Even if you know your dog is great and never have problems, they are still animals and can get away from your grasp just like children. I like to keep a belly wrap on my Retriever. You have more control and you don't get pulled around alot. Just make sure you bring some leg Gaiters because the chances of you getting dirty while hiking with your dog, are extremely high.

matt said...

Dogs on leash please. Sure your dog is well trained, lovable and wouldn't hurt a fly, your dog is a canine gentleman. But can your dog pick up its own crap. I didn't think so. Will you always be able to see your dog crapping when it is off of a leash, again the answer is no. Can every owner be trusted to judge if their dog is a 'well-behaved' dog, most assuredly no. Can every hiker be trusted to not freak out at the sight of an unleasehed dog, again no. So for the safety of dogs and hikers please leash. Off leash time is what the dog park is for.