Gettin' Ruffed Up

Dog-owner etiquette while climbing.

Your dog is an extension of yourself. You take her everywhere, she picks you up when you’re feeling down, and to the dismay of your significant other, she enjoys prime real estate in your bed. When you’re making plans for a day of climbing, you imagine her standing beside you with a promising look in her eyes that says, “You’ve got this.” Now, to spare us from delving into a Dream vs. Reality: Taking Your Dog Climbing, or worse, a Pillory: Dog-Owners at the Crag, follow these guidelines to make sure that you, Lucy Lou, and everyone else on the rock enjoy pleasant company, respect, and absence of excrement.

Do: Understand your dog’s temperament—how she interacts with people and other dogs, and how to control her.
Don’t: Bring her to a climbing area if you’re concerned about her behavior. If you’re not confident, leave her at home.

Do: Take your dog to a low-traffic spot for training. Teach him not to step on ropes or pee on backpacks. Show him that when you go up, you always come back down.
Don’t: Take your dog near a cliff if you’re concerned about rockfall. Dogs don’t look out for falling rocks, and they might accidently kick rocks down on others.

Do: Correct your dog if she misbehaves. Apologize if she’s bothered another climber—without making excuses. If you’re halfway up a route and she tracks mud on another person’s gear, accept that someone else might have to discipline your dog.
Don’t: Ask other people to make accommodations for your dog. People will respect your dog if your dog respects them, but if you find yourself saying “don’t mind him,” “just give him some space,” or “he never does this,” you’re messing up.

Do: Exercise your dog beforehand, so he’ll be more content to sit tight while you climb.
Don’t: Leave your dog’s poop behind at the crag. (Or your own, for that matter.)

Do: Know where your dog is at all times. If you’re climbing, have your partner keep track of her.
Don’t: Leave your dog at the base of a multipitch route unless you’re absolutely certain he’ll be welcoming to other climbers. Dogs can be much more protective without their owners nearby.

Do: Bring extra water and snacks for your dog. If you run out of water, don’t let him get dehydrated—it’s time to head out.
Don’t: Take your dog climbing if it’s hot out and there’s no shade or water.

Do: Take breaks from climbing to play with your dog. Don’t make it all about you; let her in on the fun!
Don’t: Expect other climbers to find her as charming as you do. She’s sweet and wonderful and just so cute, we know, but so is everyone else’s dog.