Adam Sawyer's Hiking Tips: Pet Etiquette Skip to content

Tillamook Coast Life Blog

Adam Sawyer’s Hiking Tips: Pet Etiquette

Pet Etiquette

Hello, friends!

Next up in our series on trail etiquette, safety, and stewardship, is pet etiquette and helpful hints for dog owners. I know that this topic can cause some folks to become a little standoff-ish, so please take any recommendations or reminders of rules and regulations in the helpful spirit they are intended. Here we go.

For starters, please always adhere to the leash regulations of the trail or recreation area you are visiting. They vary, so please check before you go.

When it comes to the coast, off-leash dogs are generally allowed on most beaches as long as they are under direct control of the owner. However, dogs must be on-leash at all times within State Park boundaries or if otherwise requested or required.

So what does “Direct Control” mean? In short, the dog’s handler must remain within sight of the dog and the dog must respond to voice commands. Owners are required to carry a leash and leash their dog at the request of authorities. If your dog is well-behaved, does not approach other people or dogs, does not chase birds, approach wildlife or other domestic animals, your dog is welcome to enjoy the beaches of Oregon off-leash. Please ensure that your dog’s behavior checks all of those boxes before releasing the hound, so to speak.

However, you may also choose to consider upping your courtesy game by “reading the beach” and adjusting what you do with regard to leashing accordingly. For example, are there people or children that look a little concerned or even frightened by the sight of your dog? Are horses present? Are there noticeably skittish animals around or even other pet owners not paying attention to their own dogs? If so, consider keeping your pet leashed for the time being to help ensure the comfort and safety of all.

When it comes to dog waste, bag it and take it with you. Do not leave bags to be picked up on the walk back, as they diminish the experience of those that come after you. If you don’t like the thought of poop bags exploring the space in your backpack, there are a number of secure receptacles available online or at pet stores.

On the trail, keep your pet well-controlled and yield to other hikers when possible.

Bring water for your dog. Salty, oceanic water is not an option.

Be aware of things that might be harmful to or make your pet uncomfortable – ticks (not so much on the coast), green algae, sharp or hot surfaces, or even windblown sand. You might giggle, but some dogs are susceptible to irritation from sand in their eyes and benefit from made-for-canine goggles. Same with doggie hiking boots.

And finally, have ID on your dog’s collar, and ensure that the microchip information is up to date. Losing your pet is a horrible feeling.

The beaches and trails are wonderful ways to enjoy time with your dog. And when done safely, courteously, and in accordance with regulations, you help to ensure not only a great outing for you and your pup but everybody else out there as well. Cheers!

Learn more about how you can be a steward of our trails and natural areas by visiting Caring For Our Coast.

A Picture of Adam Sawyer
Adam Sawyer
Adam Sawyer is an outdoor and travel writer, photographer, and published guidebook author based out of Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Northwest Travel, Portland Monthly, Columbia River Gorge, Central Oregon, and Backpacker Magazines. He currently pens articles as the Portland Hiking Examiner for and authored the bi-weekly column Portland Family Outdoors for Craigmore Creations. He was the co-host of the KEEN HybridLife Radio Show for its duration and now serves as a Brand Ambassador for the company. In addition to “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon” he is the author of the forthcoming "Best Adventures Near Portland," and the co-author of "Hiking Waterfalls in Washington," all for Falcon Guides. Adam is also a “Resident Expert” for Portland Walking Tours and leads a variety of tours through the streets of Portland, including the company’s popular Epicurean Excursion. Follow him at: