How should I prepare for and react to unleashed dogs when hiking with young children?
I take my young children (0-7 years) outside to local trails. It's not remote, virgin wilderness, just a few dozen hectares of forest and stream. The kids enjoy it, and the youngest one is still learning to move on uneven surfaces. They are interested in dogs, but from at least 2 meters away (and preferably if the dog is not interested in them).
Local dog owners take their dogs there for walks. That seems great; please take your dog to enjoy the forest trails, too. Part of the area has a dog-on-leash sign. Part of it does not. The sign may have an impact, but there are certainly owners who disregard it for the signed area.
It is not uncommon for a dog larger than my children to gallop around a boulder and run up to us to investigate our smells. This is pretty unsettling for my small ones.
- How do I prepare my children for encountering dogs on the trail?
- If I'm in a leash-only place, how do I respond to dog owners who disregard the signs?
The owner typically reaches us 15-60 seconds later with an apologetic look to tell me that the dogs "are friendly." I take it for granted that they think their dogs are friendly. Otherwise, I assume they would not have them off-leash in a public place, sign or no sign. Are they inviting me to pet the dog? ↩︎
Optionally: Should I respond differently in a place where dogs are forbidden altogether? There's a park further away with a leashed-dogs path that becomes no-dogs-allowed beyond a certain intersection. ↩︎