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Crag Dogs   

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It’s a hotly contested topic among climbers, not far behind the “to bolt or not to bolt” debate. We aren’t here to condemn or condone, but to offer some insight on when and where it’s legal to bring your dog and some guidelines for appropriate crag dog behavior.

Where and how dogs are allowed 

National parks—The National Park Service (NPS) permits dogs in most front-country areas (meaning paved roads, parking lots, some campgrounds) if leashed or “under physical restraint” at all times. Dogs are prohibited from most climbing areas in National Parks. Check the NPS park web page for specific pet guidelines in that Park before bringing your dog.

Forest Service lands—The United States Forest Service requires that pets be restrained or on a leash at all times while in developed recreation areas.

BLM lands—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the least restrictive policy concerning dogs, only requiring a leash where habitat or wildlife restorations exist.

State parks and local government lands—Policies vary, so be sure to check regulations before heading out to climb with your pup.

Private lands—Policies vary and aren'’t always clear. If in doubt, we recommend asking the landowner or leaving your dog at home.

Guidelines for happy cragging with your mutt 

Rock Climbing Photo: Crag dog

Crag dog
Use common sense. When visiting a popular area with lots of climbers or planning to climb long multipitch routes, or if the day is hot and the approach is long, consider leaving your pet at home.

Respect the rights of others. Tether dogs in high-use sites like bouldering areas or staging areas for climbs to keep them out of the way of spotters, belayers, and other visitors, and to prevent packs from being pilfered for food.

Respect the rights of your dog. Make sure your dog has plenty of food and water, and let others know your dog’s name so they can get your dog’s attention if need be.

Keep your dog under control. Be sure your dog responds to verbal commands and can be kept under control, especially around others. Train your dog to stay with your gear and not someone else’s.

Clean up after your dog. Canine feces are unsightly and smelly and can become a problem underfoot. Pick it up and pack it out.

Has your dog reached crag dog status? 

The answer is probably “NO” if …
  • He barks and/or whines incessantly
  • She shows any signs of aggression toward people or other dogs
  • He likes to dig
  • She doesn’t respond to verbal commands

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