Dogs & Dog Etiquette

Dog Guidelines 

Pack it out 

Leaving bagged and unbagged dog waste is hard on the environment and takes away from everybody's outdoor trail experience. Being on trails with a dog is a big responsibility.

  • Always come prepared with dog waste bags, a leash and extra water. 
  • Pick up dog waste and carry it to the nearest trash receptacle.  Want to be a leader in trail etiquette? Pick up abandoned bags and bring them to the nearest trash can.  
  • Carry the dog waste with you! You may believe you'll circle back for the waste, but sometimes we forget or change our routes.  Leaving the bag is unfair to those who would like to walk or hike without seeing trash.
  • Dog waste is not the same as waste from wild animals.  It carries disease and non-natural chemicals from dog food that are bad for the environment and the watershed.  

Know and Follow Local Leash Rules 

All parks managed by Washoe County require that your dog is leashed.  There may be other trails and lands within Washoe County that have their own rules. Know before you go and always have a leash with you. 

  • Never allow your dog to approach another dog or human without permission
  • Do not allow your dog to jump on others
  • Not all people are 'dog people.'  They may have had a negative experience and don't enjoy dogs in the same way that you might.  Respect the comfort level of others and keep your dog under control.
  • Unleashed dogs may chase, endangering the local wildlife populations.  Leash your pet in order to protect local flora and fauna.
  • If you have an unfriendly dog, please consider avoiding Washoe County's dog parks and busier trails.


Dogs and Equestrian Interactions 

Horses have the right of way in all circumstances. Move over for riders on the trail, but make sure you and your pup stay visible when approaching horses. As big as they are, horses are very skittish! Bring your dog in close, and talk to the riders as they pass by.  If your dog is afraid of horses or unsure, consider giving them some treats as the horse passes by. 

Dog Advocacy 

You know your dog best. What they do and do not like. Don't let others persuade you to put your dog in a situation that you know your dog would be uncomfortable in. Make sure you and your dog have a positive experience every time you hit the trail by advocating for your dog and listening to their signals. 

Stay On Trail 

If your park has user specific trails, please stay on the trails designed for hikers with dogs. This designation was for a reason.  Following trail rules makes it possible for dogs to continue to be allowed at those parks. 



Advice for Horse Riders 

 Though most hikers and bikers will yield the right of way to horses, remember that some folks do not have experience with animals and may not react as expected. These encounters are great opportunities to inform and educate other users with a friendly approach. 

As a horse rider, you have a responsibility to manage your animal on the trail; it is not advised to bring horses unaccustomed to high-traffic or multi-use trails until they are familiar with them. Also, remember to keep an eye out for other users in front of you, behind you and joining you at trail junctions. 

Advice for Hikers and Bikers  

When hikers or mountain bikers encounter horses on the trail, they should step off the trail on the downhill side, talk to the rider and the animal (this lets the animal know you are a person). Keep talking in a calm voice as the animal passes. 

If you approach a horse from behind, it’s critical that you announce yourself loudly but calmly so you do not scare the animal. Let the rider know you’d like to pass at the next safe location. Do NOT ride up quickly on animal(s). It’s dangerous for you and the rider. 

Etiquette for Equestrians:  

  • Make sure your horse has the temperament and training for riding on congested trails. 
  • Advise other trail users of your horse’s temperament. For example, a horse with a tendency to kick should always wear a red ribbon in the tail. Assume that not everyone will know what the ribbon means, so be prepared to explain or take the necessary precautions to avoid trouble. 
  • Obey posted speed/gait limits. Avoid cantering or galloping on busy trails. 
  • Know your horse’s limitations. 
  • Leave gates as you find them. Obey gate closures and regulatory signs. 
  • Let other trail users know when it is safe to pass your horse. 
  • Announce your intention to pass others. Come to a walk and pass on the left. 
  • Always pick up after your horse. Keep the trailhead clear of manure and trash. Try to keep the trail clean of manure. Individual trails may require that you pick up manure. 

Yield Appropriately 

Anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to hikers and equestrians. Step downhill and off-trail to let others pass. Bicyclists riding downhill should yield to uphill traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one. 

Staying on trail 

Enjoy where Washoe County trails take you; you won’t be disappointed. Cutting switchbacks and creating shortcuts damages plants and disturbs the soil and contributes to erosion.