On Belay! The do's and don'ts of dogs at the crag.

On Belay! The do's and don'ts of dogs at the crag.

Climbing is our favorite sport here at Wilderdog. Or no, maybe it's skiing. Or wait maybe mountain biking! In any case - we love climbing! Wilderdog's first ever product was the famous climbing rope + carabiner leash, fashioned after the leashes we used to make out of our own old climbing rope. So what's better than a day at the crag (crag day = single pitch outdoor rock climbing)? A day at the crag with your pup!
Here's our friend Kim (@kimmylenz) with some tips on bringing your dog rock climbing, and how to make the day fun for everyone -
Hi, I'm Kim and I love everything outdoors! What makes it even better, is if it I can take my dog Molly along with me. Of course, not every outdoor activity is dog friendly, but when the plan is to get out for an easy crag day with my friends, we'll definitely make sure Molly gets to come along. We all get to have fun day outside together, and come home exhausted and ready to do it again tomorrow!
If you're thinking of taking your pup to the crag there are definitely some rules of etiquette to make sure the day is fun for everyone in your climbing party, as well as the others around you.
Firstly, think about your dog’s temperament, their training, and the area you are heading. Some dogs fit in great; others not so much. It is our responsibility as dog owners to make sure that our pets do not jeopardize our safety, or ruin the outdoor experience for those around us. This is especially true around climbing areas.
If you are unsure how your dog will act while you are climbing, go out on a test run - take your dog to a place where there are no other people. Take the time to show your dog that when you leave the ground, you always come back down. We've all heard the screeching dogs panicking that their human is going up up and away forever. That is not fun for the dogs or the climbers!
Teach your dog that it is not OK to step on ropes or other gear. (We know, the rope bags are the comfiest spot!) Tell, or show, your dog where they should hang out while you climb. This should be well-protected area from falling ropes/rocks/gear, and tie them up if needed. Always bring extra water, a bowl, and a couple of snacks. Of course, if it's a hot day, make sure they have access to a shaded spot to hang out in. And, this should go without saying, clean up and pack out dog poop!

If I'm setting out on a multi-pitch adventure, you can be sure Molly will be staying at home. No one likes to see dogs tied up at the bottom of a multi-pitch climb, or left wandering around alone. Rocks get dislodged and people drop things all the time. Also, it can be pretty stressful for dogs to not be able to hear or see their owner in a new spot.

Know where your dog is at all times. If there are no restrooms, there tends to be human feces in the woods surrounding popular climbing areas. If your (gross) dog is like my (gross) dog, they will sniff it out and eat it. Not only does it make for disgusting dog breath, but they can get very sick.

If your dog can’t relax and watch you climb, consider leaving them at home. Or maybe your dog needs to go on a run before heading with you to the crag. Hyper dogs that walk on people’s ropes, pee on people’s backpacks, or incessantly whine/bark ruin the experience for everyone. The last thing a climber should have to worry about is if their belayer is being distracted by a dog.

Of course, there are a lot of benefits of having your best furry friend with you while climbing outdoors. The moral support, belly rubs, exercise, laughs... I could go on! Let’s just be respectful/responsible dog-owners and keep it a safe and fun environment for everyone!
P.S. I am not a dog expert, just someone who loves dogs and climbing. See you out there!