Dog and wildlife conflicts
Not all dogs act the same when they see a bear, a squirrel or a bird. Some will chase on instinct. Some will bark. Some won’t. Remember that dogs are domesticated predators. A chasing or barking dog harasses wildlife and adds to the challenges that wild animals face.
Wild animals react to dogs in different ways. Some will flee, perhaps abandoning their young or critical habitats. Some (coyotes especially) might be attracted to your dog – and perhaps attack it, or pick up diseases from it. Beware too of the real risks associated with porcupines, skunks and traps set by hunters.
Dogs have a fair likelihood of picking up fleas from squirrels and other small animals. These fleas may carry the plague. It is endemic to places along the Pacific Crest Trail. Your dog could transfer these plague-ridden fleas to you. Keeping your dog on leash and burying your dog’s poop, goes a long way toward protecting wildlife. Even on a leash, a dog can harass wildlife, but it reduces the chance that it will harm or kill wild animals or get lost or injured while running after its target. Only let your dog off leash when it’s allowed by land managers and you’re sure that it won’t harm wildlife or other visitors.
Dogs and other people you meet
We share the Pacific Crest Trail with others. Not everyone (particularly children) likes dogs and many people do not want to hear barking while they’re seeking quiet time in nature. A barking dog will wreak havoc on other people’s sense of solitude. Ask people if they’re comfortable with your dog passing them on trail or being off-leash in a campsite.
We’ve all been startled by an unleashed dog running at us while on trail. This can be especially terrifying at dusk or during the night or when the dog is barking or acting aggressively. Your dog could be harmed by people acting out of fear with boots, sticks, pepper-spray or other weapons, even if it’s not aggressive. Keeping your dog on leash reduces this problem.
Protecting your dog’s food
Animals are attracted to your dog’s food and dirty dishes. Be sure to protect these as you would your own food and mess kit.