June 19, 2024

MyNature Animal Tracks MyNature Tree Guide MyNature Animal Tracks MyNature Fishing App

Should there be a Leash Law in the Adirondacks?

Before you answer that question let’s see if I can set the scene for you, one I’ve experienced one too many times hiking in the Adirondacks. It’s a beautiful day for an adventure, you and your spouse throw your gear in the car and head off to hit the trail. You’re having a great time, the Fall colors are beautiful, you don’t have a care in the world, walking, chatting, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly without warning 4 dogs are charging you at full speed, some barking, some growling. They stop abruptly only a few feet away in a definite aggressive posture, baring their teeth, the hair on their back is raised. You freeze in your tracks and for a several tense seconds your wondering if your going to be mauled in the middle of the trail on a beautiful day. A half a minute later the dogs owner rounds the corner and you hear him say “Oh, don’t worry they’re friendly”.

I do want to state right off the bat that I’m not a dog hater but I am neither a dog lover. Twice in the past 10 months my wife and I have been harassed by dogs on the trail.  The above mentioned incident happened last October on a hike down to the confluence of where the Indian River meets the Hudson.  A few weeks back we were at the Indian again, this time fly fishing coming back out on one of the access trails to the river. We weren’t far from the road when this time three large dogs charged us again stopping just a few feet in front of us growling and barking. The owner, this time an older woman gave a half hearted command to the dogs to stop nearly a full minute later. Again she was no where in sight on our initial contact with her dogs. It wasn’t until she walked by us that the dogs stopped their aggressive behavior and followed her. No apologies, no nothing!

Just yesterday on a hike into the newly open trail to OK Slip Falls we weren’t on the trail more than 10 minutes when a large dog sprinted towards us from the rear. This one was friendly, we knew that how? because his owner yelled to us from a few hundred feet back “he’s friendly”, but does that make it alright? We encountered 3 other dogs running freely on the trail that day.  We didn’t have an incident with any of them but yet we still had to wonder if we were going to and like the other times we were confronted by dogs the owners were no where in sight. The last dog we came upon was leashed and I made it a point to commend the young guy with the dog for having the courtesy to leash his animal.

Did I forget to mention my wife was mauled by a dog as a child?

In my opinion and from my experience there should be a mandatory leash law in the Adirondacks on any and all trails inside the park on public land. Dog owners may think their dogs are cute running up to people but they aren’t. I don’t own a dog, I’m not hiking with a dog so why would I want to deal with your dog?  I don’t care if your dog is friendly, I don’t want to be friends with him. It’s obvious from my experience that some people shouldn’t even own dogs let alone be allowed on public trails with them when they actually pose a risk of injury to myself or someone else.

For you dog owners that are reading this shaking your head saying “this isn’t my dog”, it is your dog. Unless your dog is leashed this is your dog and I do not want to interact with your dog period! We have discussed carrying a canister of mace on future hikes.  I will not have a problem macing the next canine that decides to charge at me, but really why should it be my worry to do that?  Show some consideration and respect for others on the trail and leash your dog.

Currently as far as my research shows there is only a leash law for part of the Eastern High Peaks area and no dogs are allowed whatsoever on AMR trails.  The fine for having a dog off the leash in the high peaks is a mere $15.00, far too little to get the point across to dog owners who don’t obey the law. It seems like a no brainer to institute a leash law throughout the whole of the Adirondack Trail System. Is there any less chance that an unleashed dog will bite someone on Mt. Marcy than the trail to the Blue Ledges?

So to answer my own question, “should there be a leash law in the Adirondacks?”  My answer is a definite YES!

Please feel free to leave your opinion on the issue in the comment section below.


  1. Shane Holmes says

    Dare you to mace my dogs on a trail.

    Can’t believe you would write and publish such an article.

    You sir, are a moron!

    Shane Holmes
    Long Lake, NY

    • MyNature Apps says

      I can tell by your reply that you are part of the problem!

    • flyfisher111 says

      You are definitely part of the problem. It is your responsibility to control your animal, although you don’t seem to understand that.

      I hike and fish in the Smokies, East TN, and N GA and it is a problem everywhere. Some dogs that are friendly in their home environment can become very defensive in the woods and his behavior can change accordingly. I have been accosted too many times to count over the past six decades. I carry a weapon as I am usually alone and there are some 2-legged predators out there. Shane, if your dog threatened my safety, mace would be the least of your problems.

      I go to these places to be alone and enjoy peace and quiet. I , and most others who frequent those places do not appreciate fools with no sense of responsibility or respect for others.

    • Tom Dowling says

      If your dog rushes up on somebody and gets maced, too bad for the dog. And if you get aggressive with the person who maced the dog, you will get maced too. Then you and your dogs will get reported to the Park Rangers.

      Get real Mister. You and your dogs have have no right to threaten people.

  2. I am both a dog owner and a dog lover. And I agree with you.

    Our 85-pound dog doesn’t like other dogs. This is learned behavior resulting from being attacked by two different dogs more than once in our neighborhood when he was much younger. When charged by a loose dog now, his response is one of aggression.

    My husband and I hike in the Adirondack’s all the time. He is our constant, on-leash hiking companion. We hike early in the morning and avoid popular trails on weekends to minimize interactions with off-leash dogs as much as possible. Despite our attempts at avoidance, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been charged by a dog while it’s owner sing-songed “it’s ok, he’s friendly” from a hundred feet away. “Mine’s not! Control your dog!” is my standard reply, even though he’s a perfect gentleman two-legged hikers.

    To prevent confrontations, it’s usually my job to step between the onrushing dog and my own and grab it before it gets to mine. One day I will get bit. But that’s a better outcome than having an irresponsible dog owner call the cops or sue us should his dog come out on the losing end of a confrontation.

  3. Sylvia Vidal says

    The problem with mandatory leash laws is responsible owners and dogs pay the price for the bad ones. Do we really need more laws to tell us what is right and wrong? I think common courtesy is needed more than another written law that no one will abide by……for example drinking and driving, cellphone usage while driving, I could go on and on…

  4. Walter F. Wouk says

    I carry pepper spray when hiking and if I’m threatened by a dog I will not hesitate to use it.

  5. Your post was correct.

    I am a dog lover and dog owner. I keep my dog on a leash because he is a beloved member of the family and we don’t want to lose him or see him attacked by another dog. I carry pepper spray recommended by my mail carrier that is effective. Being threatened by another dog is reason to spray when you have no idea what he’s doing, and don’t wait till he gets too close.

    Irresponsible pet owners put their dogs at risk by letting them run loose. At least pepper spray is temporary, whereas wild animal interactions are not. So who loves their pet more?

  6. Teri in Keene says

    I have encountered the similar but slightly different problem of dogs running off-leash on the roads near my house with their owners either following on foot or, worse yet, in a car. After their dog comes charging toward my two dogs (who are on leashes), I hear the ever-reassuring call of “It’s okay; he’s friendly!” Well, now, my normally friendly dogs have gone into protector mode and they growl and bark to scare away the threat to the pack. We can hold them back but the person in the car can’t and doesn’t even make a move to get out of their car.

    I’m not sure if the $15 fine even happens on a town road and if it did there wouldn’t be a ranger or trooper anywhere nearby to enforce it.

    I wish people would have the common courtesy to lease their dog whenever they’re off their own property for the safety of all involved. Fido will love the ADKs just as much when they’re right by your side and you’ll get to see their smiling faces too.

Speak Your Mind