As a dog owner walking or hiking with your dog, you have an responsibility to manage your dogs actions and follow dog related rules set by city, county and state.
Obey the rules specific to each location, area or trail
Most cities, counties and trails that allow dogs, require dogs to remain on-leash. A few Missouri places DO NOT allow dogs at all; some of these areas are designated protective animal preserves. Before you bring your dog to any location, verify if dogs are allowed. Check online, or with the land manager and always remember to consult the signs at each trailhead.
No matter where you are with your dog, it’s up to you to make sure your dog behaves calmly and can respond to voice control. Even in areas that designate dogs are allowed off leash, your pet should always be under voice control. If your dog does not come when called, you should keep your dog on a leash at all times.
Yield the right-of-way
— To hikers, bikers, etc. When dog owners meet other hikers, the dog and owner should yield the right-of-way, stepping well clear of the trail to allow other users to pass.
— To horses. When dog meets horse, the dog owner should yield the trail. Make sure the dog stays calm, refrains from barking and doesn’t move toward the horse.
Leave no trace. That means, pick up and carry out, or bury your dogs’ poop. The only poop visible should be from the animals who live there. Consider packing a trowel and bury the waste as you would your own, or better yet, pack it out in a bio-biodegradable baggie.
Be courteous to other trail users
Keeping your dog on leash is especially important on busy trails. You may have the nicest dog in the whole world, but other people don’t know that. All they see is a dog, sometimes a big dog. They might have a reactive dog and would rather avoid a dog fight! Or they’ll wonder… Is it this dog friendly? How is this dog going to react to meeting my dog? My kids? Where are the owners? Will it jump on me or knock me over? And regarding children, an unexpected, frightening encounter with a dog on a trail can lead to a life‐long fear of dogs.
Respect the wildlife
There are few dogs that have the self control not to dart off after creatures who live in the woods. A leash protects these critters and makes sure your dog doesn’t get lost or hurt dashing off after them. If your dog encounters and corners an animal a fight could ensue. Many areas are designated protective animal preserves. Before you bring your dog to a location, check and verify online, or with the land manager and remember to consult the signs at each trailhead.
Protect the vegetation
Dogs, no matter how well trained, are not mindful of fragile plants. This can be the case on trail, when dogs veer off into the trees or romp in the meadow while bounding ahead of their owner. And it’s particularly true at the hiking destination, especially around water (streams, ponds, lakes) when you stop to rest. These places usually get more impact from hikers anyway, and dogs simply compound the damage. The higher you travel, the more fragile the vegetation gets. So please, keep a close eye on your dogs in these locations.
Keep your dog safe
There are a lot of natural hazards out there ‐ cliffs, sharp rocks and branches, boulders, rivers and creeks to cross, wild animals. An off‐leash dog is more likely to be hurt off‐leash than on‐leash… or get lost. And speaking of hazards, watch for broken glass and barbed wire fence too.