Letter: Montara Mountain Lovers, please leash your dogs


Posted by on Sat, September 27, 2008

Lest it not be insult enough that her mountain-majesty is being subjected to a major mountain-ectomy that alters her natural
anatomy forever—-must we be subject to off-leash violators on a daily basis. PLEASE:  leash up or bug out.  (Yes, I love dogs too.)

Kay Lindquist  

Is it just the dogs being off-leash that is the issue, or is it behavior in which the dogs off-leash engage that is the problem?

I’m not guilty of off-leash dogs at Montara, however, I do very much enjoy letting my dog off-leash at Wavecrest, as do many others, and it would be helpful to know the perception here so that we may adjust if need be.  If it’s the former, then so long as there’s a leash-code posted, then yes, that’s a problem, if it’s the latter, then do describe what kinds of things the dogs do so us off-leash lovers may be more aware and keep our dogs well-behaved.

(For example:  even though there are no leash signs posted around Wavecrest, I do keep treats on hand to call my mutt back when I see people apporaching (50-100 yards away).  I then leash him up until folks have moved on, then I let him off-leash again.  He’s gotten to expect this treatment so much, that in the rare occasion when someone surprises us with their presence, my dog sits, waiting to be leashed.  Ha!)


Comment 2
Mon, September 29, 2008 7:33pm
Kay Lindquist
All my comments

There was no hidden meaning to my “leash -up” comment.
Off-leash on Montara Mountain is against posted regulation.
Kay Lindquist

Well then, if the offenders aren’t reading the posted signs of Dogs On-Leash at the trailheads, then they won’t read your message here.  Best to confront them when you see them, on the trail itself.  =\

Comment 4
Tue, September 30, 2008 6:36pm
Todd McGee
All my comments

I hike Montara Mountain very frequently after work, especially in the months when the sun sets later. It’s quite common for me to be greeted on the trail by a dog that is off leash and my experience with the dogs and owners has been very mixed. Like everyone who complains about bad pet owners, I feel compelled to say first that I love dogs. I work in an office where we have a dozen or more dogs at work on any given day. I’m incredibly comfortable with just about any dog I meet.

Most of the dogs I meet on the mountain are friendly and uninterested in me. They might run or walk up, maybe let me pat them or give me a sniff and then they’re off exploring the much more interesting outdoors. A few dogs, however, will run up and begin barking as they stand post in between me and their owners. Most times I can tell they’re bluffing and I can ease past them on the wide trail but in a certain number of incidents I’ve been uncomfortable proceeding until the owners arrived and gained control of their dog. Without exception they have assured me that the dog is friendly and never barks at people, including the ones that do this repeatedly.

I’ve suggested to a few of the owners of the barkers that they should leash their dog or at the very least be close enough to control the dog when they meet someone. Those suggestions are usually ignored or answered with an offhand remark such as “No, he only barked at you a little”. Well, darn it, they barked enough to make a 250 lb rough-and-tumble man uncomfortable. That’s more than a little and it’s not the dog’s fault.

These fools are simply bad dog owners who have done a poor job at training, disciplining and controlling their pets. Suggestions, either written or verbal, will be unlikely to ever change their behavior. They and their unfortunate animals are just a part of the landscape that we have to put up with, sort of like the poison oak that lines the trail.

You just can’t let them spoil a good walk.

Comment 5
Tue, September 30, 2008 7:10pm
Suzy Kristan
All my comments

I thought I should point out that although there are not signs posted all over the coast, such as residential areas and downtown, there is both a city of HMB and a County of San Mateo ordinance that dogs are to be leashed unless they are confined on your own property or where posted OK such as the dog park area south of town.

I could even work with the calling your dog back and leashing him until people/other dogs pass, however I have rarely have experienced this. I understand what you’re saying here Anneliese, as I used to do the same thing back when we lived in HMB & walked our dogs in and around Wavecrest. That was some 15 years ago now. These days we just get the very common “He/she’s friendly” when their dogs run up to us and our leashed dogs. Many of these same dog owners are outright indignant and angry when we ask politely that they leash their dogs in Montara, on the mountain, on Pillar Point, the coastal trail as well as at the beaches and on and on. (BTW the ONLY beach that allows dogs is Montara beach and then only if they are leashed, which is clearly posted before you start down the stairs.) Sometimes I just wish we could take a nice walk with the dogs and not have to worry about so many off leash dogs.

On another note, I do want to thank Bill of the “Montara Dog Blog” for his efforts of putting cans and bags around the trails on the mountain. It has been much cleaner than I have seen in a while. By this time of the year it had been, how shall I put it, pretty unpleasant hiking along the trails.

Good details - thanks Suzy and Todd!  You both reminded me of the few people I’ve run into out at Wavecrest where their dogs would run up to us (my dog and I) with the comment, “He’s very friendly.”  I wasn’t stoked when their dog jumped up on me, complete with muddy paws.

One woman commented, upon seeing me leash my dog away from her dog, “Oh I tried fighting that battle for years, dogs will do what they want, best to just let them be.”

It’s similar to people with bratty kids.  Some people parent their children so that the kids are a joy to be around, others don’t.

So I guess Todd, your point’s well-taken:  “Suggestions, either written or verbal, will be unlikely to ever change their behavior.”

I said that comment to be funny, btw, in case my sarcasm didn’t emote itself well in text.  :)  But I still think it’s worth voicing the objection.  When the woman advised me to not be so restrictive with my dog and “just let him be,” I told her I didn’t like that.  She got her say, I got mine.  Better than not saying anything at all!

See you on the trails!

Was fishing on Montara beach not too long ago when a woman came up to me and asked if I was using live bait because she was afraid her (off-leash) dog would go after it while a cast was being retrieved. The solution seemed obvious to me!

I have previously addressed the off-leash dog issue on my web site (Montara Dog Blog, http://www.montaradogs.com).  Here is a reprint from the blog archive.

To Leash or not to Leash

That is the question that many of us dog walkers often face.  The one percent of you who have your dogs under perfect voice command need read no further. This article is not for you.

It is my opinion,  that for a dog to be happy and well adjusted, he (or she) needs time off leash to run around, sniff, explore, and to play and interact with other off leash dogs.  This is particularly true with young dogs who have lots of energy to burn off.  There is an old saying that “a tired dog is a good dog!”

Unfortunately, there are some exceptions.  Any dog with aggressive tendencies should always be on leash, unless you are in the middle of a large open field where you can see in all directions and can get a leash on your dog quickly if the need arises.  Several years ago a friend of mine was jogging in the state park when he was attacked and seriously bitten by an off leash dog.  Unfortunately, the perpetrator went unpunished because the dog was from San Francisco and the attack took place in a state park in San Mateo county.  The authorities could never agree on who had jurisdiction!  I had a personal experience just a few months ago where I was riding my mountain bike in the state park up San Pedro Mountain road with Kaylee trotting along side on leash.  We encountered another cyclist with two off leash dogs coming down the hill.  One of the dogs attacked Kaylee, engaged in a brief scuffle, then kept on going.  I checked Kaylee and she seemed to be OK, but that evening I noticed blood on her bed, and discovered a deep puncture wound in her neck.  So most of the following day (Sunday) was spent waiting in the emergency vet office to get the wound treated ($176).

Most of the time when I am walking in the fields with Kaylee (who is not at all aggressive) she is off leash, but I keep the leash handy.  I do have a protocol by which I decide when to put the leash on, which I will share with you, but every dog is a special case, and your protocol will probably not be the same as mine.

When I encounter other people on the trail who are not accompanied by dogs, I put on the leash.  I assume that these people are not particularly fond of dogs, or they would be accompanied by one of their own. Unfortunately, Kaylee has a bad habit of running up to people and begging.  In the past, other dog walkers have given her treats, and now she expects everyone we meet on the trail have treats.  People who do not know dogs might think she is attacking!

When I encounter small children I put on the leash, to protect both the child and the dog.

When I encounter another person who has their dog on a leash, I put Kaylee on her leash.  Until the two dogs meet, I have to assume that the other dog is on a leash because he (or she) might be aggressive.

When I encounter someone on horseback, I put Kaylee on her leash.  Most horses are trained to ignore dogs, but others are skittish.

When I encounter someone else who is accompanied by an off leash dog, I usually leave Kaylee off leash, but carefully observe the body language of each dog to see if there is any tension between them.  Warning signs are when the ruff is up, tail is straight, and legs are stiff.  Most of the time encounters with other off leash dogs go fine, and they either play a little, or sniff each other and go on their way.

And last, but not least, if we are in an area where leashes are required, by regulation, I put Kaylee on leash if I spot a ranger.  This is known as “ranger roulette,” and is necessary to avoid a stiff fine.  My own modest form of civil disobedience.

I hope that by sharing this protocol with you, it will help you to decide when it is appropriate to leash your dog, or not.

Bill wrote:

  “When I encounter someone else who is
  accompanied by an off leash dog, I
  usually leave Kaylee off leash, but
  carefully observe the body language of
  each dog to see if there is any
  tension between them. Warning signs
  are when the ruff is up, tail is
  straight, and legs are stiff. Most of
  the time encounters with other off
  leash dogs go fine, and they either
  play a little, or sniff each other and
  go on their way.”

The importance of being attentive to a dog’s body language can’t be over emphasized. Too many people, in my opinion, do not recognize those warning signs, particularly in their own dogs. Intent staring is another sign that a scuffle might be in the offing. The ASPCA has a handy brochure that summarizes the meaning of various canine body postures, for folks that are interested.

May I encourage everyone to use this as an opportunity to reiterate to the Midcoast Community Council the need for a dog park in Montara (if not also elsewhere on the Coastside).

To Bill B.
Excellent leash / no leash strategies.

To Joel, and others who might not be aware: T
here is a dog park located near the horseshoe pits at Smith Field, west of Cameron’s Inn in Half Moon Bay. It’s no frills, but a good place to let your dog(s) fun free and socialize with other dogs.