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Hiking Washington State Parks With Fido

Hiking with your dog this summer will, no doubt, bring about hours of exercise, entertainment and a time of bonding for you and your dog.  Armed with the right information you can avoid some blunders that some pet owners unknowingly make.  

First, find out if your dog is allowed! It’s never wise to show up unwanted so do your research before you decide to take your dog anywhere with you, especially when planning a trip to the state parks. In Washington, dogs are welcome in the state parks as well as on the campgrounds but unfortunately, they are not allowed at swimming beaches, nature preserves or any area that has been prepared for the ski season.  If you’re looking to camp over night or stay in a cabin, you can use this user friendly search tool to find the perfect park for you and your pooch to go hiking.

For quick reference, the parks listed below boast pet friendly cabins as well as yurt rentals for the pet friendly family:

  • Battle Ground Lake State Park
  • Bay View State Park
  • Cape Disappointment State Park
  • Conconully State Park
  • Dash Point State Park
  • Dosewallips State Park
  • Fields Spring State Park
  • Grayland Beach State Park
  • Ike Kinswa State Park
  • Kanaskat-Palmer State Park
  • Rasar State Park
  • Steamboat Rock State Park
  • Twin Harbors State Park

Next, use proper etiquette by keeping these points in mind:

  1. Follow the rules! Following all hiking rules and guidelines that have been set forth by the park will keep your pet safe as well as make him a welcome guest.  For example, a park may be open to your dog, some of the trails may be off limits to him.
  2. Leash your dog. While your dog is permitted in the state parks of Washington, you must always keep your dog on a leash that is no longer than eight feet.  Even in parks where your dog is allowed off the leash, you should keep him leashed anyway.  This is the only way that you can assure his safety as well as protect the vegetation, habitat and wild life of the area.
  3. Maintain control of your dog at all times.  In addition to keeping your dog on the leash, you should only bring your dog on the trails with you if he follows directions all the time.  This is for the safety of your dog as well as other animals and people that are enjoying the park.  If your dog lacks obedience, leave him home while you go hiking to avoid him getting injured or lost if he cannot be recalled back to you. 
  4. Yield to other hikers as well as people on horses.  Allow others a clear path so that they may pass you.  Even if your dog is friendly, you should always respect the other people who may not be so keen on coming across your dog.  This is equally important if someone on a horse comes by.  If your dog frightens a horse, a very dangerous situation could occur leaving you and your dog hurt, or worse.
  5. Clean up after your dog.  Carry poop bags with you or bury it in the dirt.  Never leave used doggie bags along the trails. 

Finally, be prepared!

  • Train your dog and acclimate him to hiking trails.  As mentioned above, it’s not safe to toss your city slicker dog into the wilderness if he doesn’t generally listen to your commands.  Between the wildlife and other hikers out there, your dog will be in sensory overload.  It is during these times that our dogs decide not to follow our commands and could potentially get lost, hurt or killed.  
  • Bring your dog’s leash and collar as it is required in Washington State Parks.  In fact, bring an extra just in case.  
  • Don’t forget to bring a lot of water for your dog as well as food and treats. He’s going to thirsty out there and heaven forbid you to get lost; you want to make sure you have enough water on hand for both of you. There are many options for water bowls on the market now and that includes travel bowls. 
  • Pack poop bags or a little shovel for potty breaks
  • Be sure to carry a photo of your dog in your back pack as well as update your dog’s tags on his collar.  Even if your dog is micro-chipped, which he should be, dog tags allow for quick identification by other hikers or authorities.
  • Don’t leave home without a first aid kit! First aid kits for dogs may be purchased already assembled or you may custom make your own at home.  Click here to see what items should be included in your custom made kit.

We hope that you will keep these rules of etiquette and preparation tips in mind as you head for the trails this summer with your dog.  Don’t forget to prepare for yourself, too! What’s your favorite Washington State Trail to bring your dog on?