By Mackenzie Wilder
A Tip from the Hound:
How to have the best climbing/outdoor experience with your dog(s)
As climbers and outdoor enthusiasts we often have one dog, if not multiple dogs, and we want nothing more than to share our outdoor time with them. I, personally, have two dogs. Beatrice, the politest of the two is a pretty great example of what a good crag dog should do. She’s quiet, takes crag naps, listens and doesn’t run away. Gobey, the hound, is the complete opposite and loves to turn his crag time into adventure day, often not coming back for hours. Through trial and error we have figured out some key tricks to keeping everyone happy, healthy, and safe.
Before you leave the house Communication with your partner: it is very important to communicate with your climbing partner. Make sure your partner feels comfortable having a dog at the crag that day. There is nothing worse than showing up not expecting a dog and getting greeted by two. Respect your belaytionship and communicate before you even tie in.
Dog Gear: Yes, dog gear is a thing. Our dogs have all their own accessories for any adventure and it’s awesome! Make sure to pack enough water, bowls, poop bags, maybe a snack if you’ll be out all day, a leash , a rope to tie up, or, as we used to do in the desert, a cam to secure them into the rock. Having dog backpacks could also be a great investment. They not only get to carry their own supplies and poop but know its serious time with those on.
Research: Make sure to do plenty of research on the crag, the weather, and the approach. There is nothing worse than hiking out and realizing your dog can’t make it. Beatrice is also a black dog so any sunny crags over a certain temperature and she starts to roast.
At the Crag:
Communicate at the crag: Upon arrival at the crag I always find it polite to introduce myself and the dogs. I make sure people feel comfortable with them being around. I also make sure people know they are super friendly, can be petted , and will be tied up while I am climbing. I also try to avoid super busy crags if I want to take both dogs.
Safety First: Safety is always important when at the crag both for climber, belayer, and dog. The dogs always get tied up while one person is on the wall and the other is belaying. We figured out this works for us to ensure no dogs are secretly running away, no dog is trying to take a nap on the rope or someone else’s rope, and personally I feel more comfortable knowing my belay partner doesn’t have to worry about them.
A few extra tips/tricks:
Our dogs and multi-pitches don’t mix well. Knowing your dog and their personality is crucial to having a great experience. They are big babies and would get super lonely if we left them for that long.
A quiet dog at the crag is the best dog at the crag … maybe… but quiet dogs are often better accepted at the crag. Gobey has evolved into a quiet dog, which is fantastic, but every now and then the hound in him does come out.
Make sure you pick up all poop regardless of where you are and where they poop! Remember your dog is a dog and sometimes they just want to do dog things and not follow the rules. There will be good outdoor days and bad outdoor days.
In the end it’s okay to leave your dog at home. They love day-time naps just as much as outdoor adventures. Happy adventuring!