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Dog Tips from the USDA Forest Service
Before You Get Started
As you are packing up for your hike, camping trip, or other outing, please consider what would happen if you became separated from your dog. Be sure to have accurate identification on his collar, and consider obtaining a microchip in case he loses his collar. If you become separated and you cannot find your dog, call local authorities such as county animal control and veterinarians to see if someone has found your dog. If you are at a campground or other facility, inform the management. The best way to avoid this situation is to keep your dog on a leash at all times.
Your packing list should include the following:
- 6-foot leash
- identification on the collar
- pick-up bags
Have you thought about what you will do when you want to go somewhere that dogs aren’t allowed? Dogs left in cars, even for just a few minutes, can become overheated very quickly. And even if you leave your car in the shade, the heat from your car’s engine will keep the interior hot for quite a while, and your car might be in the sun when you return. We strongly encourage you to reconsider leaving your dog alone in the car, even for a short time. For information on boarding facilities, contact the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce at (530) 542-5060, the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce at (775) 588-1728, the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce at (530) 581-6900, or the Incline Village Chamber Office at (775) 831-4440.
There is nothing better than having your dog with you on hiking and camping trips, especially when you keep in mind your dog’s physical conditioning. If your dog hasn’t walked anywhere but in your yard or around the block lately, he will need to adjust to the altitude and the physical effects of extra exercise and walking on rocky trails. It is common for dogs to become exhausted while hiking, and dogs frequently injure their sensitive paws and become unable to walk while hiking long distances. Be aware of the distance from your vehicle, and consider whether you could carry your dog back to your starting point if he couldn’t walk.
Do you expect to pack snacks for yourself? Then be sure to bring snacks for your dog, too. Dogs need to keep their energy and blood sugar at a healthy level, and younger dogs are especially prone to hypoglycemia, so offer good-quality dog treats as often as you treat yourself.
If your dog will be wearing his own pack, consider your dog’s physical condition and the effect of the pack’s weight on him; check his breathing and paws frequently for stress.
Remember to bring enough drinking water for all of you! The parasite Giardia is present in both streams and lakes in the Tahoe Basin, so you should limit your dog’s intake of this water. Follow this link for more information on Giardia.
Even if your dog is very friendly, you may encounter others who will not appreciate your dog getting close to them; they may be afraid of dogs, or their dog may be frightened by yours. You have no way of knowing this before your dog approaches others, so please use common courtesy and control your dog at all times.
A highlight when hiking and camping is seeing wildlife; however, the presence of a dog will frequently eliminate this possibility, and a loose dog will disrupt the feeding and nesting patterns of many species. In addition, dogs can be injured by wildlife such as porcupines, bears, and coyotes. For the sake of your pet, wildlife, and other hikers and campers, keep your dog on a leash, do not leave him unattended at your campsite, and leave him at home if he likes to bark.
Developed campsites such as those at Camp Richardson, Meeks Bay, and Zephyr Cove are managed by concessionaires and are subject to rules established by the managers; please check with them for their rules before starting your trip.
Several companies offer boat trips and kayak/boat rentals for people and their dogs. Remember that Lake Tahoe-area lakes and streams are very cold year-round, and dogs can become incapacitated quickly even if they are used to cold water; you may want to put a life jacket on your dog each time you go near the water.
While your dog is not allowed on any designated swimming beaches which include Nevada, Pope, Baldwin, Meeks Bay, and William Kent Beaches, there are still plenty of places for both of you to enjoy the water. Dogs are allowed at the Tallac Historic Site from Valhalla Pier to Tallac Point (where the Lake of the Sky Trail meets the lakefront) in South Lake Tahoe, North Beach at Zephyr Cove Resort, Hidden and Chimney Beaches on the east shore, Coon Street Beach in Kings Beach, Ski Beach in Incline Village (from October to April only), and Echo Lakes. Also, the lakes and streams in Desolation Wilderness are another good option.
Many dogs enjoy playing in the snow, and dogs in good shape will have great fun accompanying you on short cross-country or snowshoeing trips. Several local businesses groom cross-country ski courses and permit dogs on leash. Common sense is especially important when taking your dog on excursions in the snow:
- Pay attention to the effects of cold air, altitude, and the snow on your dog.
- It is common for dogs to become exhausted quickly while running through snow, and snow on the fur in their pads can form painful ice balls.
- Running through deep snow also poses hazards such as stepping on sharp objects hidden by the snow, and broken bones and dislocations from uneven ground.
- Consider whether you can carry your dog back to your starting point if he becomes injured or so tired he can no longer walk on his own, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
While the LTBMU manages a majority of the public land in the Tahoe Basin, many areas are managed by other public agencies such as the California State Parks, California Tahoe Conservancy, Nevada State Parks, El Dorado County, Douglas County, Placer County, Washoe County and the City of South Lake Tahoe. These agencies have their own regulations regarding dogs; please respect them.
Please Help us!
We at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit hope you enjoy your time spent on National Forest System lands with your dog. However, we ask that you help us protect the land, the lakes, rivers and streams, and the wildlife of this beautiful place. Please pick up after your dog, and keep him on a leash and under your control.