Hiking and Camping with Dogs
Frequently Asked Questions
Hiking and Camping with Dogs
That depends. In the Santa Catalina Mountains dogs are NOT allowed anytime in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, including Seven Falls, and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Sheep Closure Area. The Pusch Ridge Wilderness Sheep Closer Area includes Ventana Canyon Trailhead, Finger Rock Trailhead, Pima Canyon Trailhead, Linda Vista Trailhead, and portions of Romero, including Romero Pools, and Sutherland Trails accessed at Catalina State Park.
Aside from these two areas, you can take your dog with you when you hike, picnic, or camp elsewhere on the Coronado.
Yes! Always keep your dog leashed, except when inside a vehicle, tent, dog crate, or portable kennel. Do not allow your dog to wander freely on a trail or around a campground or picnic area. You must obey all federal regulations or closures, and you must also obey the state and county leash laws while on National Forest System Lands.
In addition, your dog must always wear a collar with current tags.
Of course. Most federal, state, and county litter laws require it. Dog waste can spread disease to wild animals and it can contaminate wild waters. Picking up dog waste is also just common courtesy to the campers and picnickers nearby or the hikers following you on the trail.
No! Not even for a few minutes. State and county laws prohibit animal cruelty and abandonment. Some local animal cruelty laws prevent you from chaining your dog. You can confine your dog in a suitable crate or in a portable kennel, but you must remain present. Also, on warm days, remember to place the kennel or crate in the shade.
Never leave your dog alone in a car; in desert heat, a car quickly becomes an oven that can injure or kill your pet.
An occasional bark can be expected, of course. But dogs that bark uncontrollably are even more annoying in a quiet wilderness setting than in an urban environment. If your dog barks uncontrollably, don't bring it camping with you.
In developed campgrounds, excessive noise after 10:00 p.m. is prohibited. A barking dog after hours in a campground will attract the ire of other campers and can get its owner a hefty citation.
No! While a dog may drink from a stream if it can find one, you should always carry enough clean water with you for your dog, and you should remember to share your water with your dog whenever you drink. It is not advisable to let a dog drink from a stagnant pool or puddle.
Also, feed your dog as you would at home. Don't allow your dog to forage or hunt. Aside from the fact that doing so is prohibited by leash laws and game laws, a dog unused to such a dangerous environment will usually be injured (or worse) by such things as cactus, rattlesnakes, scorpions, desert heat, cliffs, flooded washes, bears, and mountain lions.
Further, if you think losing a dog in your neighborhood is bad (and it is), its much worse to lose a dog in the middle of a remote wilderness. Dogs lost in the wild have little chance of surviving long. If you lose your dog, contact animal control for the appropriate county.
No. This feeding procedure may work at home, but that's because you probably don't have any 300-pound black bears wandering through your house. Bears love dog food. Leaving dog food in a bowl will likely invite a visit to your campsite by a hungry black bear. Just as you should never leave any human food unsecured, lock up the dog food in a vehicle or bear-proof container immediately after your dog finishes her meal.
Most dogs will sound an alarm when they sense nearby wildlife. It is also true that many dogs will defend their owners if necessary. And despite the occasional heart-warming story of a dog saving her owner from a bear attack, the fact is that a single dog, no matter what the breed or how large, is no match for a hungry bear or mountain lion. Even these heart-warming stories often end in tragedy for the dog.
Unfortunately, dogs in the wild often become the prey of prowling black bears and mountain lions -- the scent of a dog in the breeze may actually draw these large carnivores into your camp. Generally, dogs unused to wild surroundings will spend most of the night warning their owner of every rabbit, ground squirrel, and cricket within a hundred yards, until the sleep-deprived and frazzled owner tells the dog to shut up. It is usually about that time -- when the owner is angrily chastising the dog for its incessant warnings -- that a bear or lion wanders into camp.
Also, remember that skunks are common visitors to campsites, and they seem to take special delight in spraying curious puppies. So, unless you brought five gallons of tomato juice camping with you to neutralize the skunk odor, the ride home with Lucky in the back seat will be quite memorable.
We all love our canine friends, and we want to take them with us wherever we go. And though it may be fine to exercise Scruffy on a trail or a picnic during the daylight when the weather is appropriate, camping with a dog -- especially a dog that is unused to wild surroundings -- can be a significant challenge for the owner, the dog, and any other campers within earshot.
As, a rule, if you have not previously introduced your buddy to the wild with many day hikes and picnics, don't bring him camping.
Also as a rule, if your dog is boisterous and poorly behaved at home, a camping trip will not improve the dog's behavior. You'll do him -- and any nearby campers -- a favor by leaving him at home.
Finally, please remember that wild areas can be very dangerous places for dogs. Use great care when bringing your pet with you.