I recently e-met Floyd and his human Lisa on Instagram (@helloiamfloyd) when she asked for some recommendations of on-leash hiking trails near Vancouver. Not belonging to a pup myself yet, I wasn’t able to offer much advice about leash-friendly hiking. It also got me thinking about why she wanted on-leash trails as most doggies I encounter while out hiking seem to be frolicking freely through the trails. We got to talking and I’ve learned so much about the importance of keeping pups leashed up when on trails or in general areas designated as on-leash spaces so I wanted to share this with you. Floyd agreed to share his thoughts about why it’s so important to him to have these rules followed so read on below for his write-up (dictated to then written up by his human, of course).
Hello. I am Floyd. I am a dog. You might wonder why a dog is writing on a blog for hikers. Well, the truth is, that I really enjoy hiking myself! I moved here from Thailand a few years ago and since then I’ve had a chance to explore many amazing BC trails. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite Lower Mainland hikes and talk to you about leash advocacy.
NEEDS OF OTHER DOGS
I’ll start with sharing that I’m considered to be “reactive” toward other dogs. Back in Thailand, I had to survive on the streets. I’m not an aggressive dog by nature and I’ve never hurt another dog before. But my initial reaction is to tell dogs that run up to me that I don’t want them so close. I do have lots of great dog friends, but it’s because my humans have introduced me to them calmly and politely. We choose on-leash trails so that I have no reason to worry about dogs charging up to me on my hikes.
Further to reactivity, there are other reasons dogs want personal space. A dog may be blind or deaf and be frightened when another dog runs up to them. The dog may be recovering from an injury. It may have been attacked at some point and be fearful. Just last month, while hiking at Lindeman Lake in Chilliwack, my little senior bro dog Tux was grabbed and flipped over by a dog passing by! It was so scary and fortunately, he wasn’t hurt! We also need to remember some dogs could be in training. After talking to many other dogs, it turns out I’m not the only one who chooses on-leash trails.
ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
While on a recent hike I stopped at a stream for a drink. It was then that I noticed all sorts of little fish along the creek’s edge so my human kept me out of the water. If I’d been off-leash she might not have noticed the fish. There are many birds in BC who nest on the ground. They don’t want us dogs trampling over their eggs and babies! And then, of course, there’s just old-fashioned erosion. The more we go off-trail, the more damage that we do.
YOUR OWN DOG’S WELL-BEING
Many areas are on-leash for reasons you might not have thought of. There could be steep cliffs off of the trail edge. Predators could be known to frequent the area. A nearby river might run too fast for us dogs to swim in. There could even be toxins like mushrooms or other plants that are native to the area. If the signage says “on-leash only” take heed that it may be for safety reasons.
NOT ALL PEOPLE LIKE DOGS
Gasp! How can this be true? Well, it actually is. Some hikers may not be dog lovers, and seek out on-leash trails to avoid dogs bounding up to them. You’re thinking “But my dog is so friendly”; however, the reality is that it doesn’t change how that person feels. Some people want or need to avoid dogs altogether. Usually it’s for a really good reason that you need to respect. Some people have allergies to dogs, and others have had really bad experiences with them and even the friendliest dog may terrify them. Whatever their reason, it’s important that everyone’s needs and preferences are respected by abiding by the rules of the trail.
RIGHT VERSUS PRIVILEGE
It’s important to remember that we are privileged to have access to some of the most beautiful green spaces in the world. It is not our right to disrespect others by mismanaging this privilege. We’ve already lost access to many places that used to allow dogs. After many complaints, Pacific Spirit Park near UBC implemented “no dog” trails on weekends. Recently Joffre Lakes in Pemberton became a “no dogs” trail too. Please respect leash laws and choose designated off-leash trails if you want your dog to roam free. I will appreciate it, and I guarantee others will too!
MY FAVE ON-LEASH TRAILS
Dog Mountain, North Vancouver
Tynehead Regional Park, Surrey
Lindeman Lake, Chilliwack
Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver (all trails are great!) http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/cypress/hikeski.html
Deas Island Regional Park, Delta
Whyte Lake, West Vancouver
~ Written with the assistance of my human, Lisa Wagner. Follow me on Instagram at @helloiamfloyd
ABOUT MY HUMAN
My human, Lisa Wagner, is Operations Director of Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid, based in Vancouver BC. In her spare time, Lisa likes to join me exploring Lower Mainland trails. We also spend a lot of time adventuring in BC’s South Chilcotin mountains.