Keep the Trails Pet Friendly By Following Dog Hiking Etiquette

To protect the environment and wildlife, dogs and other domestic pets are no longer be permitted at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. The park has seen a huge increase in visitation over the years and this includes dog visits. This change is implemented in order to protect the park, its wildlife and the people who visit it.

My dogs and I have had many amazing adventures at Joffre Lakes, whether we hiked to the turquoise lakes in the summer or skimmed the frozen surfaces in the winter. There are many other dog-friendly trails near Whistler that we’ll be adventuring to this summer, but unfortunately Joffre Lakes hike won’t be one of them. 

According to B.C.’s Ministry of Environment: “More people means more dogs, which affects the enjoyment of the park by other visitors, raises public health concerns and results in increased conservation efforts.”

Surely, not everyone is a dog lover. Also, too much excrement has been left visible on the trails and near drinking water sources. Additionally, the ministry says that “dogs, on- and off-leash, have an impact on the surrounding wildlife. Their sounds or scents can cause birds and other animals, like pikas (small mammals), to look for different habitat.” Unfortunately, these problems have led to the ban of dogs in the park.

As dog owners we have a responsibility to other hikers who use the trail. Good planning and preparation are essential elements for a successful trail experience. It is our job to ensure our furry friends continue to be welcomed on trails by teaching them how to be good stewards and good ambassadors for other dogs.

To ensure smoother encounters and to help your dog showcase his best manners on the trails, you can follow these simple rules of dog hiking etiquette:

Make sure the trail is dog-friendly, and obey the leash laws if any

Dogs are not allowed in some provincial parks, such as Garibaldi Provincial Parks, and most wildlife refuges. Some trails will allow off-leash canine companions, while some others welcome only leashed dogs. Make sure you do your research before heading to the trail, and carefully follow the laws and regulations that apply.

Scoop the poop 

No one wants to be walking over poop or worse, stepping on it and carrying the unpleasant scent, considering one of the great joys of hiking is to revitalize on fresh air. Also, depending on what dogs are fed, canine feces can take up to a year to decompose. Dog droppings often contains parasites and the eggs from these parasites can linger for years in the soil, leaving other pets and animals vulnerable to serious infection. Pet waste can also wash into lakes and streams, polluting them with bacteria and potentially making people and wildlife who drink from them sick. To avoid all this, bring bags and scoop the poop!

Yield right of way

When you encounter other trail users, whether they are hikers, trail runners, bikers, or horse riders, make sure you observe common sense and simple courtesy. Dogs and owners should always yield the right of way, making sure to step well clear of the trail to allow other users to pass. Many trails are narrow and it is always best to prevent legs, leashes and paws from getting tangled.

Be friendly

A friendly dog owner is always more comforting to encounter on the trails. As in everyday life, being friendly helps foster good relations, especially with non-dog people.

Stay in control

It is important to be considerate of others and to make sure our pooch won’t disturb other hikers or wildlife. If the trail allows dogs to be off leash, make sure your dog stays within sight and within earshot of you, and demonstrate excellent voice recall. If you have a friendly dog, teach him restraint so he only greets when he has permission. This is important to ensure your pooch won’t chase after wild animals or approach other trail users who prefer to be left alone.

Stick to the trail

Hikers and dogs should stick to the trail to minimize environmental impact. It is important to respect natural habitats and leave plants and wildlife undisturbed. Don’t let dogs run where they shouldn’t and the same applies to you. Be sure to stay on the marked trail.

Leave no trace, only paw prints

A dog can have just as much impact on vegetation, wildlife and nature as humans can. Practicing Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect and preserve the environment that we all enjoy. It is important to leave all plant and animal life exactly the way we found it for others to enjoy as well.

Hiking nature trails is amazing for physical and mental health for both you and your dog. Let’s keep our trails dog-friendly by honoring the rules and regulations, which are meant to protect the trails so that we, our pets and others can enjoy safe meaningful hikes.

For more information on the prohibition of dogs in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, please visit the BC Gov New.

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