Canine Code of Conduct
- Keep your dog under control in all places at all times. Dogs must be leashed, unless in a designated off-leash area or on a designated leash-optional trail.
- Scoop your dog's poop and deposit the bag in a designated container (not the forest). Leave all trails as clean—or cleaner—than when you arrived.
- Respect wildlife and their habitat—you and your dog are in their home.
- Keep your dog out of streams, creeks, ponds, wetlands and shorelines. A variety of wildlife lives in these areas including fish, frogs, salamanders and birds.
- Keep your dog from digging or causing damage.
- Yield the right-of-way to other hikers. Keep your dog close and under control as others pass by. Yield the right-of-way to equestrians. Say hello so riders know you are there, and keep your dog close, quiet and under control as horses pass by.
- Always be courteous. Don't give other trail users any reason to complain. Set an example by being a conscientious owner with a well-behaved dog enjoying the trails.
The Scoop on Poop
Dog poop is not fertilizer. It’s full of bacteria, nitrogen and salts which don’t dissolve and can be harmful to plants, aquatic life and people.
Since dogs are meat eaters, their feces can carry pathogens including coliform bacteria, salmonella and giardia which can contaminate soil and water (and make people sick). Some parasites can linger in soil for years. This can put young children at risk if they inadvertently eat contaminated dirt or grass. Persons confined to hand-activated wheelchairs and active sports participants may also be at risk.
What about horse poop?
Horses are herbivores (eat grasses, plants). Their manure (in small amounts) is organic and biodegradable, and tends to dissolve quickly. Horse manure does not contain the contaminates, bacteria and salts that dog poop does.
It adds up!
In 2010, 10 million visits were made to Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. It’s estimated that 24% (2.4 million) of these visits included a dog. A medium sized dog (e.g. cocker spaniel) discharges 0.34 kg of feces and about 720 ml of urine each day. Using these averages, that means about 961 half-ton truckloads of feces and 513 oil drums of urine are deposited in Metro Vancouver regional parks each year.
... And it gets around
Dogs typically defecate along the first 100 to 150 metres of a trail. Two or three days’ worth of poop from about 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing.
Safety Tips for you and your dog
Ensure both you and your dog have an enjoyable visit in regional parks. Here are a few tips:
On the trails:
- Choose a hike to match your dog’s ability.
Dogs, like people, need to be conditioned for exercising. Start slowly, and don’t ask your dog to do too much too soon, especially if your dog is a puppy. For an older dog, long hikes may not be fun, especially if the dog has arthritis or any other medical condition. Like people, the dog may feel the effects of a long jaunt later! Your awareness will play a big role in the success of your outing.
- Carry water for both you and your dog.
Water from streams, ponds or puddles is not always available or safe to drink. Carry lots of water, especially if the weather is hot.
- Keep your dog out of creeks, streams and away from shorelines.
Many of the waterways in regional parks are rearing habitat for salmon and trout. Dogs that consume raw salmon and trout run the risk of infection from bacteria including a parasitic trematode worm that can cause death. If you think your dog may have eaten raw salmon or trout, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Keep your dog from eating plants.
Some plants may be toxic to pets.
- Check for ticks, especially after a hike in spring.
Ticks can carry diseases that affect dogs, including lyme disease. Look carefully in the neck and head area, and underbelly. If you find a tick, remove it and crush it. If the tick has embedded in the skin, carefully remove it -- without squeezing it -- with a tick removal tool. Check with your vet if you have any concerns.
- Check and treat your dog’s foot pads for injury. Your dog’s foot pads might not be used to hard, rocky or gravel surfaces -- especially if it’s used to walking only on soft grass. Check for cracking, sores and punctures.
- Stay on the trails.
The best way to avoid natural hazards is to stay on-trails and keep your dog on-trail too.
In off-leash areas
When in an off-leash area:
- Be sure your dog wants to be there.
Some dogs, like people, are shy and would rather not be in an off-leash area with several other dogs.
- Keep your dog in sight and under voice control.
Your dog must be supervised at all times, even in the off-leash area.
- Leash up immediately if your dog—or another dog—becomes aggressive.
Dogs can get rambunctious whilst romping around in groups. Stop any fights before they start.