Tales From The Trails:

Six Tips for Dog Adventurers in Forest Park


We love our dogs. Run, walk, hike, play–as active as Portlanders are, so too do many of us want to bring our dogs along to enjoy the fun. After all, there’s nothing better than hitting the trail with your pooch. For Forest Park adventurers, here are six useful tips that’ll keep human and canine companions alike safe and happy on the trails:

1. Know before you go --- dogs must be on a leash at all times in Forest Park

There are tons of options for dog recreation in Portland, but the rules can be different depending on where you go. Forest Park is a forested, natural area that supports sensitive wildlife habitat, fragile streambanks and native plants. That’s why, in all areas in Forest Park, leashes are mandatory. So, if you want to roam leash-free, Forest Park isn’t the right choice for you and your dog. Instead, check out other options for sanctioned dog parks where you can safely, and legally, let your dog off-leash.

2. Love your leash

Yes, it’s the law, but the simple fact is that a leash is also your dog’s best protection. In Forest Park, there are plenty of steep embankments, blind corners and multi-use trails where bikers, hikers and runners can encounter one other without much warning. Additionally, as friendly as your dog may be, not all react well when being passed on tight trails or taken by surprise. Incidents of dog bites, accidents and injuries are increasingly common in the park. In Forest Park, a leashed dog is a safe dog is a happy dog.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

Forest Park is a magical place, home to many creatures. No doubt that small birds and mammals can be an irresistible chase for even the best trained dogs. Protect wildlife (and your dog) by keeping your dog leashed, calm and in control. Remember, streams are fragile and many support native fish and other aquatic species. Please keep your dog away from and out of Forest Park streams and creeks.

4. Leave no trace --- pack it out

Praise be to owners who clean up after their dog–how we love you! You help prevent pollution from seeping into waterways, protect the environment, and make everyone’s life much, much more enjoyable. However, please DO NOT leave poop bags anywhere on the trail or anywhere in the park. Even owners with the best intentions can forget where they’ve left a bag, thinking they will be back to pick it up later. Leave no trace: Carry it along and out of the park to dispose of properly.

5. Be courteous and kind

Good trail manners help ensure everyone has a good time in Forest Park. Communicate with other dog owners, hold onto your dog securely, and step gingerly to the side (being careful not to crush fragile plants) to allow others to pass un-accosted. Simply shouting “my dog’s friendly” isn’t enough; other dogs may not be and it can be frightening to other users (especially children) to encounter an unfamiliar dog. And hard as it is to believe, not everyone likes muddy paw prints on their pants. Best bet is to keep your distance and allow space for everyone.

Retractable leashes are their own kind of trail hazard: don’t let them be so long they become a trip danger and impede other users, or allow your dog to stray off trail. Forest Park trails can be narrow; a shorter leash is often easier and more manageable.

Runners and walkers without dogs, you can help too. Communicate with others who have dog companions and let them know you’re getting close and which side you are planning to pass on. Give dog owners time to control and calm their canine companions. On blind corners, don’t hesitate to give a friendly call out if you suspect someone may be rounding the bend and might be taken by surprise by your sudden presence.

6. Prep your pooch

Before hitting the trail, make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Bring water for both of you–a lightweight, packable water dish for your dog is handy trail item. To avoid potentially harmful bacteria, don’t let your dog drink from culverts, creeks or streams. Just like humans, if your dog is not conditioned for long treks, build endurance with shorter hikes before attempting longer, more difficult routes. There are lots of options in Forest Park.

To all of you Forest Park and dog lovers out there, we know you probably have some great tips of your own. Send your ideas to Sheryl Sackman and we'll post them on social media. As a thanks for sharing, we’ll be giving away one of our stylish Forest Park Conservancy designer leashes to one randomly drawn winner, just for sending in a comment. We also have them for sale too, perfect for you and your furry companion. See you on the trails.


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