Crag dogs at the mountain

Crag dogs: what to consider before taking your dog to the crag

Should you take your dog climbing or not?

To be honest we love dogs at mrclimb, but you should really consider before taking your dog to the crag. We made this list of things to consider before taking your dog to the crag. The first thing to check is the rules of the climbing area.

1. Area rules and regulations

Before taking your dog, its important to check if dogs are allowed. You should do this with any place you take your dog to, including the crag. You can start out by googling the information and you can check the national parks/state parks/wildlife services etc sites.  Often there are more specific rules even if dogs are allowed. There might be a rule to keep the pets leashed at all times or specific seasons (such as nesting) when they are not allowed at all. You should always check the access information of the site for humans so why not do it for your furry friend as well.  what if you can’t find the information anywhere? Then you should consider it a no go and leave the dog with a dogsitter or a home. 

2. Is your dog friendly? Not only to other dogs, but to people as well. Is your dog going to pee on the other peoples belay jacket while they are climbing or fall asleep on their crashpad and growl at them for approaching? Some dogs just don’t really like people and in a crowded climbing spot the dog might be stressed out. Is your dog going to get in to fights with other crag dogs? Are there farms near with barn cats that your dog might chase (and even catch!). Is your dog going to scare and chase cows, sheep or chickens? Is your dog going to be crazy with his instincts when surrounded by all these fascinating smells, that it would be much more relaxing for them to be at home resting. 

Crag dog rules and considerations

3. Consider the wildlife! Is your dog going to chase wildlife? Are there dangers that you should consider, like snakes, spiders or porcupines that could harm your dog? What about poisonous berries or plants with spikes? Is your dog going to pick a fight with a boar or a bear? 

4. Leave no trace applies to dogs as well. Many crags are open to dogs and most climbers tend to like dogs at the crag. That is if they follow the same rules as all climbers do, including leave no trace. You should consider what your dog is doing to the environment of the crag. Are you going to leave holes on the ground or is your dog going to run around in some protected moss, that will get the access to the site revoked for everybody?

Are you going to pick up your dogs droppings? Well at many spots you should pick up or bury them. Another thing to consider is that people don’t always follow this advice and many dogs end up eating or rolling around in human waste. It STINKS that you have to stop climbing early, literally. 

5. Dogs bark at times. That’s okay to some extent, even at the crag. Its usually ok if your dog gives a little guarding bark to notify you of something approaching. But if your dog is going to go crazy when you disappear behind the rock face and bark his head off it might not be a good idea to bring him along. Its easy to understand the worry of these pack animals when they don’t understand what is going on. So take some time to consider if your dog is going to enjoy the time at the crag or whine the whole time? 

Crag dog giving beta on a boulder problem

6. Do you have the necessary gear for your dog? Make sure you bring all the gear your dog needs to be protected from the elements and to be comfortable. This includes protection from rain, sun, cold etc. Crashpads or rope coils can look like nice dog beds, but when you are trying to give your friend some more rope you dont want to be shooing the dog away from top of the rope. Or when you are bouldering at your max, you don’t want to have a pooch snoozing below you so you might want to consider bringing something nice and soft for the dog to sleep on. 

Also you should consider an event where your dog is hurt and you need to carry them back to your car. While climbing a mountain with my dog I have personally seen a husky injure her paw in such a way that it had to be carried from the mountain top, thankfully the owners had prepared for this and had a backpack that the dog could safely jump in. You should also consider taking some fun toys for your puppy to play with while you are sending your project. 

7. Bring food and water. Taking enough dog food can make the difference between continuing the climbing or needing to head home early. Also bringing along a nice bone to chew can make the difference between peaceful climbing or demanding barking (see # 5). Bringing water can seem like an obvious thing, but many times you just take the usual water bottle and end up sharing with your pupper. Taking enough water for both of you is a good way to make sure you stay hydrated as well instead of just pouring the water for your dog only to get a  few sniffs. Your doggo might choose the muddy puddle, but its unlikely you want to drink the water from his bowl. 

8. Dog training. Your dog should be well trained for the crags and/or you should always have a designated person on dog-watch to make sure he is behaving. Your dog should not touch anyone’s belongings, or eat their food. Also consider if YOU are trained enough to focus on spotting or belaying while your dog is doing something really really cute and you just have to take a photo! 

I hope to see some amazingly happy crag dogs and dog-owning climbers in the future as well. See you at the crag puppers, doggos and responsible owners! Please enjoy this AI generated image of “climbing dogs”:

AI photo of climbing dogs with climbing helmets and harnesses

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