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Grand Adventure

Solution to boondocking with dogs at night

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We almost always boondock, and part of the reason is that we don't want to leash our dogs while camping, while not bothering anyone else in the process. My wife, who's much smarter than I am, came up with a way to see where our dogs are at night while boondocking, using cheap headlamps from Costco:

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Works like a charm.

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I do not care to be around anyone with an unleashed dog.  Our leashed dog has been attacked by larger off leash dogs.  I do not care how well trained your dog is, it is still an animal and has animal instincts.

Ken

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39 minutes ago, TXiceman said:

I do not care to be around anyone with an unleashed dog.  Our leashed dog has been attacked by larger off leash dogs.  I do not care how well trained your dog is, it is still an animal and has animal instincts.

Ken

Which is why I don't camp anywhere near anyone else, so as to not annoy those who feel the way that you do. The Western U.S. is majority public land, so it's easy to find a couple of hundred acres to call my own for a few days. If I'm remotely near anyone the dogs are leashed.

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As one that boondocks nearly exclusively, I always find conceptions like this interesting. Be it generators, screaming ATV's up and down the road all day, blaring music, light strings or dogs off leash... it seems there is the general misconception that just because you don't see anyone on your way in to a campsite, or hear anyone yourselves, that you are the only souls alive for miles. Especially in heavily forested areas you may pull in to camp with neighbors only 100 yards off that you may be completely unaware of.

Dogs off leash? I quite often have vistors of the, obviously, pet variety pay me a visit. Likely attracted to my camp noise or smells. (Probably much like their owners... I had no idea anyone else was nearby and have no idea where they came from. :lol:) I don't "especially" mind them, per se. Can't really fault the animal for following it's instincts/curiosity. I don't travel with a dog or cat so I'm not concerned about pet attacks, but in my years I HAVE had food stolen off my table by dogs, have caught them trying to tear my temporary trash baggy down and had one run off with a dish towel on one occassion.

I think the only times it's especially annoying is during hunting season, you have game hanging and they try to sneak in for a taste. Once they do they just keep coming back again and again. Even firing a shot over their heads won't keep them away for long.

Of course, even if you try and talk to the owners it's always the same. "Our dog/dogs never go further than we can see them". (Ever wondered how much ground a dog can cover in 5 minutes? Look it up. ;)) I can count on two fingers the number of times an owner has actually just said, "Sorry 'bout that."

One bright side of the coin though. Away from their owners (not in "protective mode") and in foreign territory themselves... they are very rarely "ever" aggressive. 

But whatchagonnado? Where others may go to greater efforts to be able to enjoy the beauty and solidute of nature... and where camping etiquette "should" be more closely observed... it seems that, for many, "boondocking etiquette" is either completely foreign to them or goes right out the window as soon as their tires break pavement.

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5 hours ago, Grand Adventure said:

If I'm remotely near anyone the dogs are leashed

Thank you! Ours are always leashed when not enclosed. We also use x pens to create a safe area under our awning, not so much to keep ours in, but to keep the "never left my side before" pets, and other wildlife, out.

E vets are not cheap or plentiful, and we have a duty to our pets to keep them safe.

 

We have greyhounds. 40mph in a few strides... even as seniors, if they are awake. They have been rushed several times, but never attacked. We stop the rushing animals as needed, within the law.

For night walks, they wear flashing collars and leash. Always have a reflective collar on as well.

Edited by Dp26

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Whether boondocking or camping in more rural campgrounds, there can be critters lurking not far outside the illuminated area of your campsite checking it out for an easy meal. If the dog(s) go out of the campsite area to do their duty and it is not found and cleaned up this is another attractant to potential unwanted campsite visitors. Most dogs are no match for a coyote, bear or mountain lion. If you enjoy the sounds of the coyotes at night, you can bet they have checked out your campsite. I see coyote scat in campgrounds and boondocking sites all the time. In one RV park outside of Tucson, not far from the interstate, coyotes visited the park every night and occasionally stalked pets on a leash with their owners. A light on the dogs collar will only tell you which direction to search in for the body. There are also smaller critters like skunks and porcupines that can result in a very unpleasant experience for both dog and owner.

I have traveled with 2-3 hunting dogs for decades. They are never off leash or outside of an enclosure unless hunting or training (which is almost a daily occurrence). They are perfectly content to lay around the campfire on a picket or stay in the RV sleeping in their favorite spot. During the day, they will lay picketed where they can get in the shade of the trailer or awning if they desire. They do not need to be wandering loose.

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We have two dogs who are always leashed when out for a walk.  One of them, a "lap dog," I do occasionally let go "free range" for awhile, depending on where we are, but she's always near me and within sight.  The other dog, a Basenji, is too prey driven to ever be off leash anywhere other than a secure fenced yard.  If he saw a rabbit, squirrel, deer, or other wild animal, the chase would be on and we'd never see him again.  We always tell people that a loose Basenji is a dead Basenji.

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Here's my 2 cents worth. Just like the previous poster said about coyotes. They can run in packs and I've seen them in a chase after a dog.  You mentioned about all the land out here in the western states. All of those have coyotes and lots of them, so many that some states, although I strongly disagree, have coyote hunts, where hunters will shoot dozens and dozens in a single day.

I would never consider having my dogs out of my PHYSICAL control.

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The issue is “control of your dog” As a dog owner you have a legal responsibility to control your dog. If you are anywhere near other people, dogs, or other animals like ,squirrels,rabbits or coyotes one should always keep your dog on a leash. If you are truly alone and your dog is trained to return to you on command it may be responsible to have your dog off leash. An important exception are service dogs who are trained not to pee or poop while on leash and must be let off leash to do their business. They are trained this way so that the owner can take them into shops and restaurants and not worry about an accident happening. They know they are off duty when off leash. 

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as i type this both of my girls are gone. and i do agree, a bad dog is a bad dog.

discipline is key here,  (no not beating them, i train with love) but yes when in unknown areas i do tend to have used the leash. but when out on a walk with nobody around maybe off leash.

after a dog gets into garbage it is very hard to break them of that very bad habit. and it is not just camp raiding, some even at home.

it shows bad owners.

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On 12/16/2017 at 5:05 PM, TXiceman said:

I do not care to be around anyone with an unleashed dog.  Our leashed dog has been attacked by larger off leash dogs.  I do not care how well trained your dog is, it is still an animal and has animal instincts.

Ken

sad you feel this way, but mostly not the fault of the dog but due to bad people.

i raised two loving rotts, 9mixed). both were trained hand/sound signals, were very loyal. and did as told.

(even in the city i lived in at that time had a mandatory leash law, but the animal control saw how well behaved they were and i had great control, they left us alone even off leash).

but i do agree till i know the "new dog" i would rather they be restrained. as mine would be in some, areas. (aka: new).

so yes i understand your fear. but it should not be universal. its like saying everybody with a tattoo was in prison for drug use.

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18 minutes ago, packnrat said:

even in the city i lived in at that time had a mandatory leash law, but the animal control saw how well behaved they were and i had great control, they left us alone even off leash).

This is flawed thinking.  Just because a law is not enforced does not mean the law is invalid.  You may have been lucky, even for years, but if there is a leash law, you are always in the wrong, and are subjecting your beloved pets to harm.

For instance, we have a leash law where I live, and have off leash areas, which are rarely used.  Why?  Because many feel their special pup is OK to be off leash wherever they wish.  The flawed thinking costs their beloved pet.  The cost?  Since those who obey the law, for their and their pet's safety, do not know the off leash dog, they are well within their right to defend themselves in any legal manner should they be approached by an of leash animal.  Personally, I do not risk the time to see what an off leash animal will do.  If I cannot vacate safely, I defend, and the defense may consist of offense.  The law does not allow me to stop the human, so the pet has to bear the burden of their human's mistake.

In the last 5 years, this has happened 5 times.  We start (there are usually two of us), if time allows, with an air horn, then pepper gel, then a stun stick.  There is one more step we can take, but we hope to never get that far.  All 5 times, it resulted in pepper gel, which has worked well enough for us to vacate after use.

Our law enforcement backs us up every time, and actually thanks us.  One case, a ranger (we were at a park) pointed out the other party was lucky we were not carrying a gun (wrong assumption)...

I am not saying off leash is a never.  Just pointing out an off leash dog is always in the wrong when there is an issue with a leashed dog.  I do not want my dogs to be on the short end, and I am not willing to be approached by an off leash dog either.  It is not fear, it is common sense and experience.  We vacate often, as avoidance is the best safety, but when there is no other option, we are not going to be bullied.

An off leash dog approaching another animal or person is NOT a dog under control... even if their handler is yelling about how friendly their dog is.  If an off leash dog is controlled, and does not approach me, live and let live is fine.

Edited by Dp26

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No i never thought the law was bad in any way, or that i (or my dogs) were "special". was just saying that to show how good some dogs and there owners can be.

now i always did leash them under new conditions, new people, new dogs. in the woods, campgrounds, (except some open areas with NO one else around. or any place i thought they would walk away and not know how to "find home". and never out of sight.

they knew the property lines and never did walk away on there own. just layed there on the front grass sleeping in the sun.

why i believe in proper training and full time control. just wish cat owners would do the same.

on ALL walks i had both of there leashes hanging over my shoulder or in my hand.

heck holly would stop in her tracks if her tag collar fell off. and both of them went crazy (fun crazy) when i got out the "walking collars and leads".

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I do not trust any animal enough, even if well trained for many years, to believe I can 100% control it off leash in all circumstances.  I don;t believe we have ever been approached by an actual well trained dog, but there is no way to be certain.

With that said, if we see an off leash, it is too close for our peace of mind (see above), so we vacate as best we can, and defend 100% of the time if approached.  We know reporting illegal off leash is useless, and that is not going to change, nor would I want it to (much more important things for peace officers to handle).  We do report every defense. The dye in quality pepper gel allowed our local animal control to fine an owner whose dog had been getting out of their yard over and over, and had bitten people, but was not caught. The dye in our spray was the proof it was loose.  This poor dog was left alone all day, with access to their yard by doggie door.  The owners neglected fence care and discipline.

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On 12/17/2017 at 7:14 PM, Twotoes said:

An important exception are service dogs who are trained not to pee or poop while on leash and must be let off leash to do their business. They are trained this way so that the owner can take them into shops and restaurants and not worry about an accident happening. They know they are off duty when off leash. 

I just want to correct this misunderstanding, for people reading this thread later...

Properly trained service dogs are trained to go potty on leash. They are trained not to wander around sniffing or doing any of those other doggy things, and they go do their business on command. In most of the world trained service dogs are never off lead in public places except in those instances where doing their work requires them to be off lead for a specific task. 

One of the greatest fears I have with my service dog is that an unleashed dog will attack or intimidate her. A service dog that becomes afraid of anything, including other dogs, can't work any more. My dog cost $30,000 to train and training takes two years. So people that let their dogs loose around my dog actually put me and my dog at risk. We've been charged at by a sweet little poochy poo that wouldn't harm a fly and now I am terrified of dogs that aren't on leashes. I'm glad I haven't encountered that yet when we've been boon docking. 

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9 hours ago, CeeLaVie said:

One of the greatest fears I have with my service dog is that an unleashed dog will attack or intimidate her.

What type of service dog do you have? My duaghter-in-law is blind(totally) and uses guide dogs. She is nearing the time to retire her third one. 

Sadly, the "service dog" designation has become a very abused and misused designation.

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Since this thread popped to to the top again, I will add my comments. 

Unless our dog is within the fenced confines of our backyard, she is on a leash. Period.

It is just as much about her safety as anything else. Many are talking about being attacked by an unleashed dog, but that is not the only animal in the woods or where ever. When we do boondock (admittedly not often) we are in the mountains where one might run into a skunk, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion or bear. 

No I prefer to have her close so I can offer some protection if needed.

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56 minutes ago, Chalkie said:

Since this thread popped to to the top again, I will add my comments. 

Unless our dog is within the fenced confines of our backyard, she is on a leash. Period.

It is just as much about her safety as anything else. Many are talking about being attacked by an unleashed dog, but that is not the only animal in the woods or where ever. When we do boondock (admittedly not often) we are in the mountains where one might run into a skunk, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion or bear. 

No I prefer to have her close so I can offer some protection if needed.

To put in simply : X2^ . ;)

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I live near a wilderness area and have many wild animals come through my yard, thus my yard is fenced and when i camp dogs are leashed. One of the first times i camped as a 20 yr old , forty yrs ago i had my large dog loose as we hiked, surprised a deer and the dog was gone chasing the deer. We did not find him till the next night. We were thankful he was safe. Have had friends lose dogs to wolves and small dogs to eagles in addition to run in with skunks and porcupines. Glad I do not live around deadly snakes!  For me my choice has been walk dogs on leash or have them contained at campsite, less worry for me.  

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I know many pet owners think their canine is well trained and can be allowed off leash under many circumstances.  Maybe they have taken them to formal training, maybe they have just worked with them by themselves.   If you are out in the middle of no-mans land out west and you decide to let your canine roam freely then you are always taking a chance.  There is a chance your pet could be killed or injured and a chance you could be liable for someone getting injured.  

In my previous career I did a stint as a K-9 Officer (State Police).   At the end of our initial academy a part of our certification test was the "long stay".  You commanded your canine to the down (laying down) position and told him to stay.  Then you walked away and out of sight.  With my partner I actually walked into a close by building, sat down and had a soda.  I could see him out the window and he never moved, even with other troopers and K-9 teams walking around the area.  I went back out about 20 minutes later and continued the certification process.  Another part of certification was "recall".  A well trained canine loves to chase the bad guy and apprehend them.  When your canine had chased down the bad guy (trooper in a bite suit) and was about ready to apprehend him/her, you yelled the recall command and your canine had to stop and return to your side.  

The point of my story is, even as well trained as my K-9 partner was I would have never allowed him to roam freely without being closely monitored, no matter where we were.  He was still a dog with those instincts. 

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