By Shaina Waterhouse
Hiking is such an excellent activity to do with your dog. It gives them an opportunity to stretch their legs and explore a new setting. We love seeing you out on our trails with your pooch in tow, but we want to encourage all of you to remember some important pet rules.
1. Keep Your Dog on a Leash at All Times
TLC preserves are for everyone and often protect sensitive habitat — so while we are so glad that dogs enjoy our trails, our rules strictly state you must keep your dog leashed at all times while on the trail.
You will often come upon other hikers and bikers while on your walk and it’s at these times it’s vital your dog be leashed. Many children and adults are fearful of dogs, especially big ones, and do not want to see your pet running toward them through the trees. It’s important to respect their wishes not to engage with your pet.
Using a leash also helps protect the sensitive wildlife habitat surrounding the trails. Some flora can be severely damaged by dogs bounding through the brush or digging into the earth. You also don’t want your pup taking off after a squirrel or other animal while on your hike.
2. Pick Up Your Dog’s Poo
TLC does not have any trash services at the trails, so if you plan to bring your dog hiking, you must be responsible for any waste. What this means is you must be prepared to carry your dog’s poop all the way back to your house. TLC has noticed people leaving their plastic doggy poo bags on the sides of the trail. This is not only unsightly for other hikers, but those plastic bags do not break down and instead litter the nature preserves with plastic waste.
You also shouldn’t leave behind your dog’s poop, as it has a negative environmental impact on natural areas. Often, a dog’s waste can lead to an excess amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in the area. Ultimately, this will lead to unstable environmental conditions that can have an impact on native plants.
You may think you’re not causing any problems by letting your dog’s feces biodegrade in the woods, but it’s really not good for our nature preserves. We implore you to keep these natural areas clean and garbage-free by picking up after your pet.
3. Yield the Trail
If hiking with your pup, it’s best to yield the trail to your fellow hikers and cyclists. This way, you can take control of your dog right away and don’t have to worry about your pup trying to chase after a biker. This will also make non-dog lovers more comfortable while walking past you.
4. Always Ask Permission to Pet
This one applies to dog walkers as well as fellow solo hikers. It’s important to remember that not all dogs want to be petted. Never assume you can pet someone’s dog or approach without permission. Some dogs are uncomfortable with strangers, while others are service animals that are actively working and cannot be distracted. It’s best to respect a pet’s distance and keep hiking on your side of the trail.
Please keep these rules in mind when hiking with your pet so that everyone can enjoy their time on the trail. We look forward to seeing you out at the preserves, and please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about our pet rules.