To unleash the dogs or not? Thoughts on hiking.

Off leash dogs are a constant point of discussion and debate on every hiking group I have ever joined. There are folks who believe every dog needs to be leashed at all times, no matter what or where. There are others who unabashedly flaunt all “Dogs must be leashed” signs wherever they go, because their dogs are somehow special and no one should ever complain.

I am, as in many things, soundly in the middle.

My dogs, Steve especially, love to hike off leash, and I love to be able to give them the freedom.

There are rules, though.

Recalls are a must.

We only off-leash where we are unlikely to meet people, and I recall and leash dogs whenever we see someone. Steve’s not likely to run up to a stranger, but that stranger doesn’t know that. Just because I trust my dog doesn’t give me any reason to trust anybody else’s dogs.

I don’t want to negatively affect anyone else’s experience, so I leash. Easy.

I just find it respectful. Unfortunately there are too many people out there who are unable to recall their dogs who are just thoughtless and rude.

I like my dogs. That doesn’t mean I like all dogs. That especially doesn’t mean I want your wet muddy Golden jumping all over me. I don’t care how friendly he is.

And if I ask you to call your dog, I don’t want to hear that it’s ok, he’s friendly.

Call your dog.

And if your dog doesn’t have a reliable recall?

Keep them on a leash. It’s not that hard.