Dogs in the National Forest


Many hikers enjoy taking their dog along on the trail, whether for a day hike or backpacking. National Forest guidelines require that dogs be on a six-foot leash at all times when in developed recreation areas (means an area which has been improved for recreation) and on interpretive trails.  There is no leash requirements for most of the forest. There are some trails and areas requiring your dog to be leashed.

If you plan on bringing your dog with you to the national forest familiarize yourself with the trail you want to hike, situations that can be hazardous for a dog, other hikers, or for other trail users like horseback riders. Update all vaccinations, provide flea and tick control for your pet and make sure your dog has identification tags, tattoos and/or chips in case you are separated.

Be sensitive to other visitors who are uncomfortable around a dogs. Unless your dog responds well to voice commands and is comfortable around people then keep your dog leashed especially while at busy trailheads, and parking lots.

Dogs are NOT allowed to chase game animals.



There is nothing better than having your dog with you on hiking and camping trips, especially when you keep in mind your dog's physical conditioning.

Most likely, you would never hike to the top of Mount Pugh without conditioning yourself for this rigorous 11-mile, 5,300 foot elevation gain hike. If your dog hasn't walked anywhere but in your yard or around the block lately, he will need to adjust to the altitude and the physical effects of extra exercise and walking on rocky trails.
It is common for dogs to become exhausted while hiking, and dogs frequently injure their sensitive paws and become unable to walk while hiking long distances.  Be aware of the distance from your vehicle, and consider whether you could carry your dog back to your starting point if he couldn't walk. Work on slowly hardening up your dog’s paws on slow walks on rough surfaces or get booties to protect your dog's feet.
You might want to take several short hikes to build up your dog’s endurance. This is especially important if you plan for your dog to carry a pack. Check your dog's physical condition and the effect of the pack's weight on him; monitor his breathing and paws frequently for stress.
Food - Hypoglycemia
Do you expect to pack snacks for yourself?  Then be sure to bring snacks for your dog, too.  Dogs need to keep their energy and blood sugar at a healthy level, and younger dogs are especially prone to hypoglycemia, so offer good-quality dog treats as often as you treat yourself.
Water - Dehydration
Many of our hikes have no water sources along the trail. Dogs can easily become dehydrated. A panting dog is rapidly losing water. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and treatment of heat stroke and heat exhaustion with dogs. Remember to bring enough clean drinking water for all of you!
The parasite Giardia may be present in both streams and lakes in the area. A leash comes in handy to keep dogs from drinking.  Follow this link for more information on Giardia.



A highlight when hiking and camping is seeing wildlife; however, the presence of a dog will frequently eliminate this possibility, and a loose dog will disrupt the feeding and nesting patterns of many species.  In addition, dogs can be injured by wildlife such as porcupines, bears, and coyotes.  For the sake of your pet, wildlife, and other hikers and campers, keep your dog on a leash, do not leave him unattended at your campsite, and leave him at home if he likes to bark.

Dogs roaming off trails can trample vegetation.  On popular trail there can be many dogs which can destroy the vegetation by trampling, scratching and digging.
Small wasps called yellow jackets make their nest in abandoned rodent holes and will consider a sniffing dog to be a threat. Wasps will attack stinging the fur at its thinnest (nose, eyelids, lips, ears) multiple times. Wasps will follow up to 30 feet and can get trapped in a dog's ears.

The dog will experience pain with a risk of severe swelling in its throat, a reaction to the histamine in the wasp’s venom, and can be life threatening. You might want to carry an antihistamine (like Benadryl) just in case.

There are plenty of ticks on the forest. Check yourself and your dog carefully for ticks. A bite that develops a large red circle or a "bullseye" of concentric circles may be from a tiny deer tick. Deer ticks sometimes carry diseases, so you should consult a doctor in the next few days.


Other Trail Users

Most of the trails on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests are open to hikers but some of our trails are available to horse and mountain bike traffic as well.  So you and your dog need to be prepared to meet all type of trail users.

Even if your dog is very friendly, you may encounter others who will not appreciate your dog getting close to them; they may be afraid of dogs, or their dog may be frightened by yours.  You have no way of knowing this before your dog approaches others, so please use common courtesy and control your dog at all times.

Your dog may run ahead and could startle a mountain biker or equestrian, causing the rider to be thrown before you can intervene. Trail etiquette requires hikers to yield to equestrians. On a narrow trail, a dog should be held close on a short leash. Encourage your dog to remain calm and sit as a horses passes. Never stop on the uphill side of the trail, when waiting for a horse and rider to pass.


Camping with Your Dog

At night, your dog is probably best kept inside your tent. Most animals will not attack your dog. However, bears, raccoons, skunks, etc, will be attracted by the odor of the dog's food. Be sure to feed the dog well away from your tent. And be sure to hang the dog's food (and all other food and scented items) high in a tree well away from your tent site.


Summing Up

All these situations are less likely to occur if your dog is on a six-foot leash, because the dog moves at your pace and you will see the situation before it becomes a threat to the dog, to you, or to other trail users.


Please Help Us

The Forest Service hopes you enjoy your time spent out on the forest with your dog.  However, we ask that you help us protect the land, the lakes, rivers and streams, and the wildlife of this beautiful place.  One easy way to help, keep your pet on a leash, under control and pick up after your dog. Remember to pack out all garbage, which dog poop bags are! You could be cited for littering.