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Dog with on the C&O Canal Towpath?

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Dog with on the C&O Canal Towpath?

Old 12-12-15, 11:23 AM
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Dog with on the C&O Canal Towpath?

I want to make the most of this nice weather in December and plan a quick solo overnight to the C&O. I'll probably camp in a fixed spot and ride upstream one day and return to camp, and downstream and back the next. I have a pointer mix who's a demon runner and would absolutely love the trip but I'm cautious about having her accompany me. She would be running off-leash and she is a hunter, but has good recall so I'm not too worried about losing her. Does anyone have experience and advice about riding with dogs on that trail? Thanks!
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Old 12-12-15, 12:46 PM
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The C&O Canal is a national park and dogs are not allowed off leash. The leash cannot exceed 6 feet.

Pets - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 12-12-15, 08:52 PM
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You must use a leash. There are lots of other users that don't want to deal with your pet. Bikes, peds with and without dogs, kids and lots of wildlife. I actually called the park police on a woman that had her dog on a 50 foot leash, and the dog was behaving aggressively toward me. They showed up in about 5 minutes.
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Old 12-13-15, 01:20 AM
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My advice is to not take the dog on the trail unless you too are walking and the dog is on a leash.
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Old 12-13-15, 04:07 PM
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I have trouble riding at a walking pace. High risk of crashing. Not to mention when she suddenly stops to pee. Walk your dog, and yes the leash issue.
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Old 12-13-15, 05:33 PM
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Bummer. Well, she'll be disappointed to miss it so I'll take her someplace different next trip.
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Old 12-13-15, 05:58 PM
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Having ridden the C&O this past Spring, I'm on-board with "unleashed is a bad idea". The path is popular and so you're likely to run into someone who might be displeased. I'd head out to a National Forest area with some less populated forest roads for riding and unleashed fun.
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Old 12-13-15, 06:18 PM
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Old 12-13-15, 06:37 PM
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sounds like a lot of reasons not to... doggon C&O towpath!.
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Old 12-13-15, 06:46 PM
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FWIW, I never thought unleashed dogs were a big deal unless they bite or jump on people. I always get bummed out at the mindset that the outside world needs to be sterilized/safety-checked. Lots of dogs run at me when I'm mountain biking, out riding with my GF, or walking across campus. Whatever!
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Old 12-13-15, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Having ridden the C&O this past Spring, I'm on-board with "unleashed is a bad idea". The path is popular and so you're likely to run into someone who might be displeased. I'd head out to a National Forest area with some less populated forest roads for riding and unleashed fun.
When I rode the GAP a few years ago I nearly got crashed out by two large, un-leashed dogs who ran right at me. They turned out be non-biting, but I didn't know that. The owners had a difficult time understanding why I was pissed.
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Old 12-13-15, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
FWIW, I never thought unleashed dogs were a big deal unless they bite or jump on people. I always get bummed out at the mindset that the outside world needs to be sterilized/safety-checked. Lots of dogs run at me when I'm mountain biking, out riding with my GF, or walking across campus. Whatever!

Lots of people simply don't like dogs. How are they going to know that your dog doesn't jump or attack? Nothing to do with the outside world being outside world "sterilized/safety-checked". Everything to do with respecting other people.
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Old 12-13-15, 08:21 PM
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In addition to disrespecting others I would say it is awfully cruel to your dog to have him running all day unless you wanted to make short days. And there is lots of wildlife along the trail. Unless you dog is very disciplined, you run the risk of the dog running after an animal. Not to mention it is cruel to the animal. A dog can run a deer to death. Hunters have been known to shoot dogs pursuing deer.
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Old 12-13-15, 09:01 PM
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I don't like riding over dog crap. It generally smells worse than horse crap. Neither should be permitted on trails.
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Old 12-13-15, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Lots of people simply don't like dogs. How are they going to know that your dog doesn't jump or attack? Nothing to do with the outside world being outside world "sterilized/safety-checked". Everything to do with respecting other people.
First off, I am all for respecting other people, in the sense that if your dog bothers people, it's irresponsible to bring it. I cannot speak for OP's dog, but I know dogs who are total sweethearts that really don't need a leash law.

It's not like we're talking about a playground in New York City. It's practically the woods. There should be some relaxation of policy. If you're afraid of dogs, you can rehabilitate yourself at the local dog park and expect an occasional dog in national parks and trail systems.

Should we also ban bicycles? Many people get awful nervous when I pass by... or maybe it's a better idea to just have an expectation that this space isn't your living room, and to expect a variety of uses.

it is awfully cruel to your dog to have him running all day unless you wanted to make short days. And there is lots of wildlife along the trail. Unless you dog is very disciplined, you run the risk of the dog running after an animal. Not to mention it is cruel to the animal.


Seems like a HUGE stretch to judge what is "cruel" to the animal. You don't know the animal. Many breeds, including pointers, are evolutionarily honed for running all day. They are naturally athletic dogs, they LOVE the activity and if they're used to it, can not only handle the running, but thrive off of it. I'm sure the owner knows well enough to take breaks, give water and food, etc.

Lots of conclusions being leapt towards with aplomb in this thread... "ALL dogs are bad and ALL running is cruel and ALL of the counter-opinions are ignorant because I don't like dogs."
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Old 12-13-15, 11:45 PM
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I think he was talking about it being cruel to the animal being chased, not necessarily the dog. And I'm not sure why we have to argue about it, the OP decided not to bring the dog. In my world, there are a lot more dogs off-leash than there should be. Bringing them on a bike trail isn't the best idea, in my estimation. For one thing, dogs don't seem to get the notion of getting out of the way, just had that happen while descending on doubletrack today. Fortunately, not with an aggressive dog
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Old 12-14-15, 09:39 AM
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When I rode the C&O during a warm spell in October for three days with my daughter, we went for very long stretches without seeing anyone else. If you get out of the DC area, past Harpers Ferry, on a weekday in December, you are not likely to encounter any one. The water pumps at the campgrounds will be shut off and you'll have nice places to set up a tent. If you're willing to go against the law, I don't think you'll have any problems.
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Old 12-14-15, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I think he was talking about it being cruel to the animal being chased, not necessarily the dog.
Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
it is awfully cruel to your dog to have him running all day...

...the risk of the dog running after an animal. Not to mention it is cruel to the animal.
Hard to say which animal he thinks is suffering from cruelty in the second sentence, but in the first one he is clearly saying taking a dog out for a long ride is cruel to the dog. My dogs (lab X, hound X and Golden Retriever X) and their veterinarians (all purebred humans) have all disagreed with this. My current dog, a Golden Retriever X, gets so excited when I take him for a ride that I have to let him pull me for the first few kms to get him to settle down. They L-L-L-O-V-V-E it!. Over the years, after hearing people's opinions like spinnaker's, I have described how I ride with the dogs (mellow road rides up to 20 km and 3 and 4 hour fast trail rides) to the vet and he/she has always said it is a good thing and that I should continue.
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Old 12-14-15, 10:12 AM
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Disregarding questions of legality, liability, etc., I have to say that off-leash dogs are a whole lot more fun for all involved. Leashed dogs are often much more aggressive, especially towards one another. Of course an off-leash dog has to be well trained, and has to unquestionably return to owner when called. And so on. Not all dogs are good off-leash; but some are very good indeed.

I don't know OP or his dog, but clearly he knows his dog well enough to think this might be a good idea; in which case, I think: don't ask me! You know what you can get away with. Just don't get caught.
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Old 12-14-15, 10:25 AM
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I'm kind of ambivalent toward dogs, but here are a few things all dog owners should keep in mind:

1. no one loves your dog the way you do, and some people actually dislike dogs
2. it is hazardous to your dog to have it out of your control around bikes, which could severely injure your cherished pet
3. no one know whether your dog is friendly or aggressive
4. it is hazardous to bike riders to have a dog nearby
5. no one likes muddy paw prints on their clothes
6. your dog's crap is your responsibility
7. in many places, it is illegal to have your dog running free and there are usually several reasons for this
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Old 12-14-15, 10:28 AM
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Dogs should NEVER be off leash no matter what (unless it is in a controlled environment like your own fenced backyard) No dog on the planet can be controlled if they decide they want to do something. People who think they can control their dogs simply haven't been in a situation where the dog sees something they want to check out. I love dogs, but I certainly don't want anyone of any species barreling down on me in any situation friendly or not unless I know them (and even still sometimes them barreling down is a bad thing).

You can still ride the C and O but I would just make sure to be extra careful and mindful, have an extra leash and the supplies needed to keep the dog comfortable (as temps do dip at night). Maybe try a shorter sub 24 hour tour and see how that goes?
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Old 12-14-15, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Disregarding questions of legality, liability, etc., I have to say that off-leash dogs are a whole lot more fun for all involved.
For all involved? Not for me, when I'm out for a ride and someone's dog is off the leash or even on a long leash.
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Old 12-14-15, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Dogs should NEVER be off leash no matter what (unless it is in a controlled environment like your own fenced backyard) No dog on the planet can be controlled if they decide they want to do something. People who think they can control their dogs simply haven't been in a situation where the dog sees something they want to check out. ...
You're right in a general kind of a way, but wrong when it comes to the word NEVER. Dogs that are accustomed to being off-leash are much calmer, and reliably calm, than the ones that are on the leash. A dog accustomed to be on the leash is much more likely to behave erratically than the dog that's comfortable off the leash. The worst dog-related incidents I've read on BF all involved a leashed dog that broke free from the leash when the bike came into view. @alan s's remark about a dog on a long leash is absolutely to the point; a dog on a long leash has all the problems of a dog on a leash, and none of the advantages of being off-leash.

Obviously the law is on the side of the pro-leash lobby, and the law is the law. But a leash does not, in general, make for a better behaved dog.
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Old 12-14-15, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
You're right in a general kind of a way, but wrong when it comes to the word NEVER. Dogs that are accustomed to being off-leash are much calmer, and reliably calm, than the ones that are on the leash. A dog accustomed to be on the leash is much more likely to behave erratically than the dog that's comfortable off the leash. The worst dog-related incidents I've read on BF all involved a leashed dog that broke free from the leash when the bike came into view. @alan s's remark about a dog on a long leash is absolutely to the point; a dog on a long leash has all the problems of a dog on a leash, and none of the advantages of being off-leash.

Obviously the law is on the side of the pro-leash lobby, and the law is the law. But a leash does not, in general, make for a better behaved dog.
The point is you cannot control a dog when they wish to do something. It is not that leashed dogs are more behaved, it is just that if let's say a dog wants to go chase another dog, that dog is going to do so no matter how many times the human companion says "(insert dog name) get over here" or whatever they might use. I see it all the time with dog who use leashes and dogs who don't. There are times you might get lucky but in general you probably won't. Plus you cannot control another dog which makes being able to keep a close tab on the one you are caring for very important.

I had a friend who was walking her dog recently and some other guy was letting his run wild and they got into a fight and the other guy couldn't get his dog under control but luckily my friend was able to get her dog off the ground before she really hurt this other dog who came running at her (which dogs can see as a threat to their companion and do some pretty chompy things) and the guy who's dog was off leash threatened to call the cops even though the incident was entirely his fault and the laws were pretty clearly marked and he had already been told several times to use a leash. The dogs ended up OK though my friends dog is stuck inside for a month or so just for her own safety.
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Old 12-14-15, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Obviously the law is on the side of the pro-leash lobby, and the law is the law. But a leash does not, in general, make for a better behaved dog.
Never imagined I would be involved in a discussion about 'big leash', but bikeforums has it all! Big leash and their fat cat(or dog?) lawyers are all too happy to sue those who just want their beloved little family member named Hugo who weighs 85lbs to be without leash!


Ok, in all seriousness, I agree that a leash doesnt make for a better behaved dog. What a leash does do is make for a better controlled dog. And all thats important when out in public with an animal is that they always be under control.
My 2 dogs are sweet as anything, dont have an aggressive bone in their body for people, yet will forget all training and pleading if they see a woodland creature of any size. They will run anywhere at any time if given the opportunity and absolutely no training would ever stop that.
Leashes allow for control- whether thats to keep the animal from potentially hurting other people, other dogs, or running after an animal until the dog is hit by a car. Big leash is all about control.
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