Rock Climbing Etiquette: Should You Bring Your Dog?

A dog is like a child, and to leave your child at home for extended periods of time is less than ideal. The trouble is that your dogs aren't always welcome wherever you go. In the rock climbing world, dogs are the subject of many heated debates. Are dogs welcome at climbing areas?

The answer is yes and no. Some climbing areas don't allow dogs, some do. Some climbers dislike them, while others don't mind. Michael Orellana, a climber in California, falls under the latter category, "Ever since I've been a rock climber, dogs have always been welcome. Many people that climb have dogs and they're awesome to have around."

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Ultimately, it's about you, not your dog. Practice proper dog etiquette to prepare you and your pet for a better climbing experience.

Rock Climbing Etiquette Tips

If you take your dog climbing, be sure to follow the unwritten rules. These help keep your dog safe, and make Fido less of a burden on other climbers.

Only Go on Single-Pitch Trips

Don't attempt a multi-pitch trip with your dog tied to a tree. Single-pitch climbs allow you to check back on your animal as much as possible. If you want to do a multi-pitch climb, have a dog sitter stay with your pup to provide water, food and comfort.

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Use a Leash

Climbers don't want to deal with an off-leash dog, and nor will you. For Scott Peterson, an avid climber, all it took was one trip to learn this lesson: "I thought 'poor dog; she really needs to get out. I will take her with me.' Bad idea. I took her off the leash and spent the rest of the day trying to get her back."

Find a Dog-Friendly Area

In general, the National Park Service allows dogs in front-country areas, as long as they're tied up. However, state park and private land rules vary from one place to the next. Always check beforehand to see if your furry friend is welcome, and if so, what rules you need to observe.

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Best Dogs for Rock Climbing

There's not one breed that makes the best rock climbing companion. However, the following characteristics, in any dog, make them easier to have around at the climbing site.

  • Relaxed temperament: Your dog burdens no one as he relaxes off to the side.
  • Minimal barking: Barking is one of the biggest complaints from climbers. A barking dog takes away from their experience, especially when the owner isn't around to soothe the animal.
  • Well behaved: Train your dog to stay away from snakes, spiders and other creatures that are potentially dangerous.

Chris Weider, of the says, "The thing that climber/dog owners don't seem to understand is that, at best, their dog is only mildly irritating to fellow climbers. Even well-behaved pooches occasionally walk on ropes, snarl at other dogs, and threaten, if not eat, our lunches."

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