Leave No Trace — Pets

August 11, 2020

Enjoy the Outdoors Responsibly with Your Pet

Pets and outdoor adventures were practically made for one another. Everyday, millions of Americans venture outdoors to take advantage of the beauty that lies among public lands. Whether it’s a day hiking, a picnic in the park, or a weekend in a campground, people love being outside, and they love having their pets with them, too.

Outdoor travelers are very fortunate to have many outdoor spaces available to them that are open and welcoming to pets. While spending time outside with our pets can be fun for us and them, it is also important to be mindful and responsible of human and pet impact while recreating outdoors. Leave No Trace has specific skills and ethics to follow to ensure you’re doing your part in protecting our public lands for years to come!

Know Before You Go

Planning ahead is the easiest way to protect outdoor places and to enjoy a safe visit with your pet. Knowing site-specific regulations beforehand will help protect the areas you enjoy. Government offices or Internet sites can provide you with pre-trip information. Use a map, bring a small first aid kit, and remember to bring additional clothing to keep you warm and dry. Wear good shoes or boots to walk through puddles, or choose trails that are not muddy. Always have a leash for your pet. Carry plastic bags that you can use to pick up your pet’s waste. The more you know and the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to protect the places you enjoy visiting.

Pick Up Poop

Pet waste can be a serious problem in the outdoors. With so many people recreating with their pets, the potential to impact the environment is significant. Pet waste smells can be a health hazard for people (particularly children) and other animals, and is not natural to any environment. Cleaning up after your pet helps protect water resources, plant life, and habitat for native animals. The solution is simple — clean up after your pet. Many areas supply bags you can use to pick up your pet’s waste. If these are not available, a plastic grocery or newspaper bag will work. Bag your pet’s waste and put it in the trash. This simple act keeps lands used for recreation clean for all to enjoy.

Manage Your Dog

Keeping your dog in control protects your pet, other visitors and their pets, and local wildlife. Be sure to check with local government officials or land managers about area leash requirements. If leashes are required, use them. Respect private property by not allowing your dog to wander from designated trails or off-leash areas. Always manage your dog — for their sake and yours!

Be Considerate of Others

Remember, we all enjoy the outdoors in different ways. Pay attention, expect to encounter others and their pets, and be courteous. Yield to all. Others may not appreciate your dog’s company; always ask before allowing your dog to approach them. Excessive barking is never in style — let nature sounds prevail.


Leave No Trace combines knowledge and judgement with ethical responsibility. In its simplest form, Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect the world around you — the world we all enjoy. Do your part to pass California’s heritage of outdoor recreation on to future generations. To learn more about Leave No Trace, please visit their website or read our blog post outlining their Seven Principles.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.