When we head out in the world, we abide by our communities’ laws and regulations, and when our dogs join us, we must ensure they behave appropriately for the good of everyone’s safety. Everyone has a good time when you learn park guidelines. Follow our Marina Village Veterinary and Integrative Care team’s etiquette tips as you and your canine companion head out to the trails, the dog park, and everywhere in between.

Hiking trail etiquette for you and your dog

Hitting the trails with your pup is awesome for exercising while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors, but remember you are sharing nature with many other people, dogs, and wildlife, and we want everyone to feel safe and enjoy. The East Bay is home to many popular dog-friendly hiking trails, including:

Out on the trails, you are responsible for the safety of everyone who encounters your dog. To ensure that dogs continue to be allowed on the trails, know park rules, and follow these simple dog hiking etiquette tips the next time you and your canine companion head out: 

  • Success through training Before you take your dog on the trails, ensure they have mastered the  “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come” commands. Your dog should also be comfortable on-leash, and consistently display good leash manners. If your dog drags you down the trail, and jumps on every passerby, no one will have fun, and your dog could injure your and fellow hikers. Stay off crowded trails, and enlist a qualified trainer’s help, if your dog is reactive on-leash, fearful of strangers, or aggressive toward other dogs. 
  • Choose dog-friendly trails When choosing a trail, double-check that dogs are allowed. Most national parks do not allow dogs, except in designated areas, but national forests do welcome dogs. Do your research to locate the best dog-friendly hikes, and ask friends and family for recommendations.  
  • Abide by leash laws Know your chosen trail’s leash law, and if the trailhead sign says “All dogs must stay on leash,” follow the rules. In addition, keep in mind that not all leashes are created equal—to ensure you have control of your dog at all times, use a nonretractable leash that is six or less feet long. 
  • Be mindful of other hikers and dogs — When hiking with your dog, avoid confusion and ensure a smooth encounter by always giving others the right-of-way. Hike proactively— look ahead for approaching hikers, dogs, horses, bicyclists, and wildlife—and if someone is approaching, have your dog heel, step aside, and allow others to pass. If you are in a wide section of the trail, command your dog to “Sit” and “Stay” until the other party has passed. If your dog is small, pick them up.

Dog park etiquette

Dog parks can be an oasis where your dog can run and play to their heart’s content, and where you can meet fellow dog owners and new friends. However, not all dogs behave appropriately at dog parks, and those who do may at times need your help to stay safe. Ensure everyone enjoys the dog park by following the park’s guidelines and these etiquette tips: 

  • Monitor your dog — Closely watch your dog while at the dog park, and resist the urge to scroll through your phone. Know where your dog is at all times, and focus on their body language for distress signs, including:
    • Raised hackles
    • Tucked-back ears
    • Tense or low posture
    • Wide eyes
  • Clean up after yourself and your dog — Properly dispose of your dog’s business and any of your debris (e.g., empty coffee cups, chewing gum wrappers) to ensure the park stays clean for everyone to enjoy. 
  • Bring water — Bring plenty of water and a portable bowl to prevent your dog’s dehydration and overheating while running and playing at the dog park. Do not allow your dog to drink from shared water bowls, as they may contain contaminants such as Giardia.
  • Ensure your dog is healthy — Before you head to the dog park, ensure your dog is healthy, up-to-date on vaccinations, and spayed or neutered. If you are unsure of your dog’s health status, speak with your veterinarian. 

Spending time with your dog on the trail or at the dog park can be a delight for everyone, especially when you are mindful of these etiquette and safety tips. Contact our Marina Village Veterinary and Integrative Care team to ensure your dog is trail- and dog park-ready. Enjoy your summer!