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  1. #1

    Default Is there really so much animosity towards dogs/their owners on the AT?

    I've decided to walk sections of the AT next April- probably about a month's worth, and decided to research to make sure the trail permitted dogs. I have to admit, I was pretty taken aback by all the backlash against dogs and dog owners, and evidence of a dog owner culture I've never even heard of before.

    I live in Colorado and am blessed with access to several trails. I normally hike with my two dogs (a lab/golden mix and a german shepherd) weekly, and we've done a couple one week hikes. I consider myself pretty responsible and considerate. And we encounter hikers regularly, as well as several other dogs (I'd say one in every four people has a dog). I've never seen any negative reaction to having a dog on the trail. Racking my brain, there was only one time I woman was very clearly petrified when she saw my dogs, so I called them away, they came, and she was apologetic.

    I've always thought I was a very responsible dog owner- meaning my dogs are in my control at all times. However, by the standards on these boards, I shouldn't be allowed to have a pet. Here's what I don't get:

    - My dogs are never on-leash. They respond very well to voice commands, they come when I call them. They respond to heel, to wait, to a host of other commands reliably. But I don't keep them on-leash when I'm walking and I don't restrict them to a heel on the trail either. They freely go off-trail, though they stay close and responsive. I guess I can kind of see that this might be a slight threat to the wilderness, except no more than any other animal, or indeed person who gets of the trail to do his or her business. Indeed, I'm sure I could practice with them and have them follow closely on a leash, but it sounds so cumbersome! Any slight pull as we all make it up the path and suddenly everyone's balance is out of whack. I'm sure it's significantly less fun for the dogs, for myself, and also for others. Paths are often narrow. I've always thought it was an advantage for dogs to be off the trail, so as to give people more room to easily pass.

    - Packing out my dogs' poop? Seriously? The first time I read it, I thought it was a joke. I mean, obviously if they go on the trail, it needs to be picked up and moved out of the way, but how many animals and people are crapping in the forest, and the dogs' poop is particularly detrimental?

    These two aspects of the expected culture sound non-sensical to me. I'm not bull-headed about behaving in one way just because I have been. But is there really that much of an anti-dog bias on the AT? And are these two policies really regarded as indispensable for responsible canine behavior? If so, is the PCT culture noticeably different? I don't particularly relish the stress of everyone staring dagger eyes at me. But I'm also not going to follow "unspoken rules" that seem non-sensical and counter-intuitive.

    (I know the PCT is harder on dogs. I don't plan on walking the whole thing. Just until one or all three of us has had enough.)

  2. #2
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    I doubt the PCT is harder than the AT on dogs. The PCT is graded for horses. There are some places on the AT most dogs have to be carried.

  3. #3
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AT_Anna View Post
    I've decided to walk sections of the AT next April- probably about a month's worth, and decided to research to make sure the trail permitted dogs. I have to admit, I was pretty taken aback by all the backlash against dogs and dog owners, and evidence of a dog owner culture I've never even heard of before.

    I live in Colorado and am blessed with access to several trails. I
    - My dogs are never on-leash. T
    Does that include the trails where dogs must be on leash in the Boulder CO area? (Golden Gate Canyon SP comes to mind, Indians Peaks Wilderness as well. And so on. ).

    40% of the AT it is mandatory to have your dog on leash.

    Please be respectful and keep your dog on the leash where it is mandated. Both on the AT and when I see you in the local Boulder area trails!

    This link may be helpful:
    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...king-with-dogs
    Last edited by Mags; 01-23-2012 at 18:08.
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    dont worry about the tirades here. its really not that much of an issue on the trail. just be courteous.you dont have to pack out your dogs poop unless its been eating a lot of sunflower seeds.

  5. #5
    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    I have no problem with dogs on the trail as long as they aren't aggressive and are under some sort of control. Verbal is fine.
    "The difficult can be done immediately, the impossible takes a little longer"

  6. #6
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    Personally I'd rather share a shelter with a dog than a farting,snoring old man any day, lol.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunchbx View Post
    Personally I'd rather share a shelter with a dog than a farting,snoring old man any day, lol.
    Hey, I resent that remark!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lunchbx View Post
    Personally I'd rather share a shelter with a dog than a farting,snoring old man any day, lol.
    I dont snore.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunchbx View Post
    Personally I'd rather share a shelter with a dog than a farting,snoring old man any day, lol.
    My dog farts and snores too.

    Packing out dog poo would seem a bit extreme, except perhaps in alpine environments. The biggest complaints I've heard or had issues with myself are dogs who are out of sight of their owners / not under control, and dogs that are allowed to bother hikers or their belongings in shelters. I don't like anyone's dog laying on my gear or begging from me while I'm eating.

  10. #10

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    Mags,

    Of course I generally follow the rules. That was the whole point of doing research on this in the first place. I recognize that there are on-leash areas and no-dog areas for a reason, even if that reason is just so that people who really don't enjoy running into dogs can enjoy nature too. Often there are hazards or delicate wildlife to worry about.

    I will confess to flouting the rules recently at Royal Arch though, partially because I've read conflicting things about dogs needing to be on a leash (it says you don't need one online, but there's a pretty clear sign to the contrary at the trailhead), partially because I hadn't run into even one other person on the whole first half of the trail, but mostly because it was simply too steep in places for me to feel comfortable without the use of both my hands to scramble up rocks. In those sorts of situations, I'm pretty comfortable with putting safety first until I feel grounded and realizing I just may get a ticket.

    No need to be pointlessly erm... dog-matic.

    (Sorry. Heh. Couldn't resist.)

  11. #11

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    40% is a lot of trail. Anyone know about what percent of the PCT is restricted to no dogs or leashes only?

  12. #12
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AT_Anna View Post
    40% is a lot of trail. Anyone know about what percent of the PCT is restricted to no dogs or leashes only?
    Even more. Most of California (due to all NPS land and state parks) , Crater Lake NP (IIRC), Rainer NP, Cascades NP with even harder logistics to shuttle around the dog. Then there's the dry and hot areas in So Cal that many dogs do not like.

    The leash rules on the AT are very benign. Overall, the AT is very friendly for dogs (cooler, wooded environment with easy logistics and support for the few places where dogs are not allowed).

    http://www.pcta.org/about_trail/faqs.asp#AreDogsPCT

    Not being dogmatic...just being realistic. Too many people think the dog rules do not apply to them or their dog. Being a good dog owner who never puts their dog on leash (except when someone brings it in legal areas when I brought it up. ) , that does not apply to you of course.
    Last edited by Mags; 01-23-2012 at 18:51.
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  13. #13

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    girl, no worries. you sound like a very responsible dog owner. i hike with two dogs, and in the past, as many as 5. all off leash. i have NEVER had anybody say anything to me on the trail. it's only arm chair hikers on the internet who like to pretend they know everything.
    that said, i don't stay in shelters because i hate them so nobody else has to put up with my dogs regardless. as for the leash law. well.. i don't take them through the smokies and they won't go to baxter state park, but other than that, they are always off a physical leash. the only exceptions are road crossings and towns. and that is because i don't trust humans. don't believe half the crap on this site. most of them don't hike.

  14. #14

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    oh, mags.. it's not just the dog rules.

  15. #15
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kanga View Post
    oh, mags.. it's not just the dog rules.
    It's why I stopped doing group hikes. Too many people took advantage of my good nature and brought their dogs off leash, ignored the RSVP I had to in place keep trip numbers down, etc.

    Not sure why leash laws can be ignored..but, well, there you go.

    But, I'm just an arm chair hiker.

    In any case, enjoy the AT. Be courteous, tent vs using a shelters (Shelters aren't fun anyway) , and honestly try to follow the leash laws.
    Last edited by Mags; 01-23-2012 at 19:01.
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  16. #16
    Registered User Papa D's Avatar
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    I love dogs and don't mind responsible partnerships of responsible owners and dogs on the trail - I've also been snarled at, put up with incessant barking and so forth. I also have caught stray dogs for people, returned them to their owners etc. - who smile and say, oh, thanks man, so sorry. This is tiring and shouldn't happen. I also really don't like finding strays on the trail because I feel compelled to rescue them - it's really not why I'm out there. I also think a lot of hikers that bring their dogs are a little selfish - more for them and less for the dog - and I worry about the dogs - their hydration, paws, health, etc. All this said, I'm supportive of dogs on their partners being on the trail as long as they follow leash laws (as Mags has mentioned) and are on their very best behavior. Sounds like the OP falls into this category.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa D View Post
    I love dogs and don't mind responsible partnerships of responsible owners and dogs on the trail - I've also been snarled at, put up with incessant barking and so forth. I also have caught stray dogs for people, returned them to their owners etc. - who smile and say, oh, thanks man, so sorry. This is tiring and shouldn't happen. I also really don't like finding strays on the trail because I feel compelled to rescue them - it's really not why I'm out there. I also think a lot of hikers that bring their dogs are a little selfish - more for them and less for the dog - and I worry about the dogs - their hydration, paws, health, etc. All this said, I'm supportive of dogs on their partners being on the trail as long as they follow leash laws (as Mags has mentioned) and are on their very best behavior. Sounds like the OP falls into this category.
    come meet my dogs. they'll change your mind.

  18. #18
    Registered User dink's Avatar
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    I have hiked with my old mutt but always on a leash...she is dumb as a clam and would chase a chipmunk off a cliff!! I don't use a collar either, just a harness...65 pounds of dog hanging by a collar choking to death just does not seem too good to me...she really has run off cliffs!!!

  19. #19
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    Default Dogs on Trail

    I love the domestic animals on the trail.
    There was the really nice lady and her dog I met early last year on the AT:
    Appalachian Trail 2011 040.JPG
    There was a cool dog at Kincora named Noah:
    Appalachian Trail 2011 181.JPG
    There was a really cool dog packer at Damascus:
    Appalachian Trail 2011 201.JPG
    My experience was positive with dogs on the AT.
    At least on the AT you see people packing with dogs.. out on the left coast they do things a little different:
    Pacific Crest Trail 2009 693.jpg
    Headed in to town.. You gotta rock the down! -fellow hikers mantra

  20. #20
    Registered User SassyWindsor's Avatar
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    The vast majority of dogs on any trail are not under the control of their owners. This is what causes all the rant.

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