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Hiking Trail Etiquette with Dogs: Enjoying Nature Responsibly
Provided by Jessica Turquette, owner of Moab BARKery

Hiking with your four-legged friend can be an incredibly rewarding experience in the beautiful southwest desert. It offers both you and your dog the chance to explore the great outdoors, bond, and get some exercise. However, as with any activity, it's essential to be mindful of others and respectful of the environment. Hiking trail etiquette with dogs is crucial to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment. In this guide, we'll delve into some essential tips for hiking with your dog responsibly.

Know the Rules - Before hitting the trails, familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding dogs in the area you plan to hike. Some trails may have specific rules about dogs, such as leash requirements, designated dog-friendly areas, or restrictions during certain seasons. Researching these rules beforehand will help you avoid any surprises and ensure you're following the guidelines set by the trail management. Often we hear of visitors that have no clue dogs are not allowed on the delicate arch trail, but they are allowed in the campground.

Keep Your Dog on Leash -
One of the most crucial aspects of hiking trail etiquette with dogs is keeping them on a leash whenever you encounter other hikers and wildlife. Even if your dog is well-behaved and responds to voice commands, it's essential to respect other hikers, wildlife, and the environment by keeping them under control. Leashes help prevent your dog from wandering off-trail, disturbing wildlife, or approaching other hikers or their pets without invitation. Many dogs can follow off leash commands when there are no temptations but become hard of hearing when a deer or dog can be seen in the distance.

Practice Leave No Trace - The principles of Leave No Trace apply not only to hikers but also to those hiking with dogs. Always pack out your dog's waste by carrying poop bags and disposing of them properly in designated trash receptacles. Leaving dog waste on the trail can contaminate water sources, spread disease, and disrupt the natural ecosystem. Be sure to bury any waste in areas where burying is appropriate and follow any specific guidelines provided by the trail management.

Yield to Others - When encountering other hikers, mountain bikers, or equestrians on the trail, practice courtesy and yield the right of way. Step aside with your dog on a short leash to allow others to pass safely. If you come across a narrow section of the trail or encounter a group of hikers, consider stepping off the trail to let them pass. Keeping your dog calm and under control during these encounters is essential to prevent any accidents or conflicts.

Respect Wildlife -
While hiking with your dog, be mindful of the wildlife you may encounter along the trail. Keep your dog on a leash to prevent them from chasing or disturbing wildlife, nesting birds, or other animals. Avoid allowing your dog to bark excessively, as this can disrupt the natural environment and scare off wildlife. If you come across wildlife, such as deer or small mammals, maintain a safe distance and avoid approaching them to prevent stress or aggression. Deer are tempting to chase but can put your dog in real danger, and they will defend themselves with sharp hooves.

Be Prepared - Before heading out on a hike with your dog, ensure you're adequately prepared for the journey ahead. Bring plenty of water for both you and your dog, as well as snacks or treats to keep your pup fueled and motivated. Consider packing a first aid kit for emergencies, including items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers for removing ticks or splinters. Additionally, check the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the conditions, including your dog's gear if necessary.

Mind Trail Etiquette - Follow general trail etiquette guidelines to minimize your impact on the environment and other trail users. Stay on designated trails to avoid trampling vegetation or in our area cryptobiotic soil that takes years to recover from being trampled. Avoid cutting switchbacks or creating new trails, as this can lead to erosion and damage to the landscape. Keep noise levels to a minimum to preserve the tranquility of the natural surroundings and respect the peaceful experience of other hikers.

Be Considerate in Campgrounds - If your hike includes camping overnight, be considerate of other campers and follow campground rules regarding dogs. Keep your dog on a leash or within a designated area, and be mindful of noise levels, especially during quiet hours. Clean up after your dog promptly, and dispose of waste in designated receptacles. Respect any restrictions on dogs in certain areas of the campground, such as near water sources or wildlife habitats.

Train and Socialize Your Dog - Before embarking on a hiking adventure with your dog, ensure they are properly trained and socialized. Practice basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, and come, to maintain control in various situations. Expose your dog to different environments, sights, and sounds to help them feel comfortable and confident on the trail. Additionally, consider the physical condition and limitations of your dog, choosing trails that are suitable for their age, breed, and fitness level.

Be Patient and Flexible - Finally, remember to be patient and flexible while hiking with your dog. Every outing is an opportunity for learning and growth, both for you and your furry companion. Be prepared to adjust your plans or pace to accommodate your dog's needs, whether they need a break, encounter a challenging section of the trail, or show signs of fatigue. Enjoy the journey together, and cherish the moments spent exploring nature side by side.

Hiking with your dog can be a fulfilling and enriching experience, but it's essential to approach it with responsibility, respect, and mindfulness. We share the trails here with many locals and visitors. You never know who is coming up around the bend. By following these hiking trail etiquette tips, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and harmonious outdoor adventure for you, your dog, and fellow hikers. So leash up your pup whenever you encounter other hikers or wildlife, pack your essentials, and hit the trails with confidence, knowing you're both prepared to make the most of your wilderness journey.

Mar 14 Spay/Neuter Clinics- Contact the Veterinary Clinic of your choice directly to schedule a time during our next clinic, spaces fill quickly: Moab Vet Clinic 435-259-8710, Mill Creek Animal Hospital 435-259-2733. $60 Male Cat • $80 Female Cat • $90 Male Dog • $100 Female Dog. Additional charges for animals in heat, pregnant or lactating, cryptorchids, and dogs over 50 pounds. Sponsored by Humane Society of Moab Valley, 435-259-4862,

Dog-Friendly Walks/Hikes
in the Moab Area

Corona Arch - Easy/Moderate. 1.3 Miles one way. Trailhead is 25 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Mill Creek Pathway - Easy. 1.1 Miles. Little to no driving. Starts at the intersection of 100 South and 100 West,
a block off of Main Street.

Portal Overlook - Hard. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 20 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Grandstaff Canyon - Moderate. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 10-minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to the River Road (Utah 128)

Visit MoabBARKery website

Dog Friendly Walks/Hikes in the Moab Area
Trail or Walk Difficulty Length
(one way)
Proximity to Downtown
MillCreek Pathway
easy 1.1 miles Little to no driving
Starts at 100 S & 100 W
Portal Overlook
(trailhead @ Jaycee Park)
Hard 2.0 miles 25 min drive N on US-191 to W on Utah 279 (4.2 miles)
Moab Rim Hard 3.0 miles
(to Hidden Valley trail)
8 minute drive 2.6 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Negro Bill Canyon
(aka William Grandstaff Canyon)
Moderate 2.0 miles 10 minute drive N on US-191 to
W on Utah 128, 3 miles
Hunter Canyon Easy 2.0 miles 25 minute drive (mild off-road)
7.5 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Corona Arch Trail Easy/Moderate 1.5 miles 25 minute drive N on US-191 to
W Utah 279 (10 miles)
Hidden Valley
(trailhead at end of Angel Rock Rd)
Hard 2.0 miles 10 minute drive S on US-191
3 miles to Angel Rock Rd
Fisher Towers
(trailhead 2.2 miles off Utah 128)
Moderate 2.2 miles 35 minute drive N on US-191 to Utah 128, then 21 miles

Tips for enjoying your time with your dog here in the Moab area:

  • Bring lots of extra water for you and your dog.1 gallon per day for every 60lbs of dog!!
  • Don’t let dogs chase wildlife (especially coyotes, they can lead dogs into an ambush).
  • In the city, dogs are required to be leashed, but on public lands off leash with voice control is allowed.
  • Slickrock and sand is very abrasive!  Check paw pads often, or buy and use booties.
  • If it’s over 85 degrees only consider early AM or late PM hikes, daycare or leave your dog at home.
  • Pack out my poop!  Seriously or the other hikers without dogs will eventually demand no dogs allowed!

To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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