We all love to let our dogs enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with boondocking. However, there are some good reasons to keep your dog leashed, even while out in the great outdoors.
Of course, there are also times when it is totally appropriate to let your four-footed friend run free.
Keep Your Dog Leashed if You Are Near a Road
Even if it’s a dirt road that sees little traffic, there likely will be a few cars going by. That’s especially true if it is a known boondocking area. While your dog hasn’t been known to chase cars, there is always a first time, especially if they think they’re defending territory. Also, other campers walking by could cause a problem. Once again, dogs are territorial creatures and they can sometimes confront people walking by, especially if they have dogs.
Keep Your Dog Leashed When Walking By Other Campers
Yes, your dog loves everybody and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but that’s not true of everyone’s dog. What if your friendly dog encounters a not-so-friendly dog? If the not-so-friendly dog is on a leash, their person is left managing a situation they shouldn’t have to deal with. It’s not cool to yell out, “he’s friendly”, to a person holding back their snarling snapping beast from attacking your dog.
Also, dogs are attracted to scents, and what if your dog decides to run into someone else’s camp? Maybe they smell a hot dog that fell into someone else’s fire pit. Or, maybe they smell another dog and want to pee on their turf. Once again, not cool. Maybe you think your loveable mutt’s antics are cute, but other campers will not.
Keep Your Dog Leashed in Case of Coyotes
Coyotes and campgrounds go together; these wiley, wild canines love a free meal. So, don’t let your dog cross paths with a coyote while out and about. Also, do not leave your dog tied up outside alone! That will only make your dog an easy kill for a coyote or other predator. Always bring your dog inside with you, especially at night.
Keep Your Dog Leashed in the Woods
If you let your dog off-leash, you want to have a line of sight to keep track of their whereabouts. What if they take off after a rabbit, and you lose sight of them in the trees? Also, there are dangers in the forest, such as bears and mountain lions. Just keep these things in mind when hiking with your dog in the woods. If you see or sense any wild animals, leash them immediately.
Keep Your Dog Leashed Around Wild Horses, Burros, and Livestock
Chasing is a natural reaction many dogs have around hoofed animals. Most of the time, the livestock will simply run away, but you never know when they might turn. This is especially true if there are babies and mamas in the mix. Wild burros are especially notorious for stomping dogs. Even if your dog is on a leash, keep your distance from free-range livestock.
Keep Your Dog Leashed in Areas with a Lot of Deer, Antelope, Elk, or Bighorn Sheep
Once again, a dog’s instinct is to chase. But, chasing these swift-footed creatures could lead to your dog getting lost. Or worse, these animals could turn and attack with their sharp antlers.
When It Might Be Appropriate to Let Your Dog Off-Leash
If all of the following conditions are fulfilled, you might be able to let your dog off leash. But, if they are off-leash, you still need to keep a watchful eye on them at all times. Also remember, just because you haven’t heard coyotes howling at night, doesn’t mean they are not around.
- When there are no other campers within 200 yards.
- You are in an area, such as the desert, with a clear line of sight.
- There is no free-range livestock in the area.
- The area isn’t known for deer, antelope, elk, or bighorn sheep.
However, your dog needs to listen to you, and come when they’re called. If your dog has a tendency to play hard-to-get once they’re off-leash, it might be smarter to not let them run.