Should You Bring Your Dog to the Crag?

If you have a dog and love spending time with them outdoors, then you may be wondering if it’s ok to bring your dog to the crag. I have the cutest Red Heeler/Australian Sheperd mix and we go hiking together and do a ton of activities together but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea so I decided to do some research.

You can bring your dog to the crag if they will stay with you, no matter the distractions. Some climbers bring their dogs with a chain or leash so that they don’t wander off when they see wildlife. However, in most cases, it’s better to leave your dog at home while climbing. If you still want to bring your dog with you to your favorite climbing spot, considerations such as the weather, environmental exposure, and potential injury risk if your dog gets hit by a falling rock or if you fall on them, should be reviewed before bringing your dog to the crag.

Prior to making your decision, here are a few things to help you decide if your dog would be a good climbing buddy and what you can do to keep them safe while you are on the rock.

Consider Your Dog’s Temperment

Not only is your dogs temperament toward people a necessary consideration when deciding to bring your dog to the crag, so is your dogs temperament toward other dogs and wild life. It is likely that your dog will see or hear another animal and their response to that creature makes a difference for if they’re a good dog to bring climbing.

  • If your dog tend to chase wild life, then leave your dog at home.
  • If your dog barks at other humans for hours at a time, then leave your dog at home.
  • If your dog chases butterflies, leave your dog at home.

Check the weather

Typically, before going to your favorite climbing spot, you should check the weather. This is even more important when considering if you should bring your dog. Many dogs will be ok in the sun, but if it’s really hot, you’re going to want something to shade them. Not all climbing areas have trees that they can sit under. In these cases, by checking the weather, you can identify if you need to bring an umbrella or some sort of shelter for your dog that creates shade.

Additionally, if there is lightning or rain forcasted in the weather, consider skipping the crag and going to the climbing gym instead. That way you can stay safe.

What does the approach look like?

Sometimes, crags aren’t in the most convenient location and you may be scrambling up loose rocks or traversing across some questionable areas. If you are doing anything that requires you to use your hands, then it may be challenging to help your dog through that part of the approach as well.

Some dog owners bring a harness for their dog or a sling that so they can carry their dog through these types of situations. Though that can be a great solution, make sure that your dog is familiar with it before getting into a tricky situation where them squirming or running between your legs can be dangerous.

In addition, at most crags that require scrambling to get to them, have very little space for the climber and belayer. This means that your dog may not have a place to sit, stand or lay down while you’re climbing without getting in the way.

If you have to scramble during the approach, it’s probably better to leave your dog at home.

Have an Extra Person to Watch Your Dog

Whether you are rope climbing and need a buddy to belay you or you are bouldering with a friend to spot you, it is ideal to have at least one other person whose sole job is to watch your dog. This will ensure that they are cared for when you are climbing or belaying. Additionally, this person can keep the dog occupied while you are climbing the wall.

Make sure that person understands that their job is to watch the dog, however, that way they know what they’re getting into before meeting you at the crag. One way you can go about this is by doing a rotation – a person climbs, then belays/spots, then watch the dog, then climb again, etc.

Keep them on Leash

Your dog may be incredibly obedient and typically stays near you while you are out and about. However, the crag has many distractions such as other people, wildlife, and bugs that can distract them. By keeping them on a leash, you’re also keeping them safe. Chasing after wildlife can be dangerous, especially if they are smaller than what they are chasing, or if their teeth are less pointy. It can also prevent them from wandering off into holes or traps.

If you’re looking for a cute leash for when you are out and about (especially camping) then you should check out this Sassy Woof Scout Set.

I got the leash for our dog named Scout. It is super fun, plus the handle has extra padding on it for a premium feel. Not to mention the poop bag holder that clips directly below the leash handle – soooo convenient.

We not only use this leash when we’re out climbing or camping, but we also use it on our daily walks and she absolutely loves it!

Bring Extra Water

Probably one of the worst things that you could let happen while your dog is with you at the crag is forgetting water and a dish for them to drink from. Unfortunately, it happens quite often when climbers are packing for their day-trip to the crag.

There are water bottle add-ons that connect directly to a bowl for your dog to drink out of. Though these are perfect for hiking and backpacking where you’re constantly moving, a dish for your dog to drink out of will be more convenient. That way you can fill up the bowl and leave it by your dog so they can drink it whenever they want without you needing to hold the water bottle.

If you want the bowl to be more convenient to bring to the crag, consider getting a collapsable bowl. These types of bowls often have a place for a carabiner so you can clip the collapsed bowl to the outside of your pack, if you’d like.

Pack-Out Their Poop

One of the worst things to find at the crag is dog poop that is now caked to the bottom of your hiking shoes (hopefully not your climbing shoes). To help keep the crag clean and enjoyable for everyone, make sure that you are packing-out their poop.

This means that you’ll need to bring poop bags and a way of carrying the poop off the mountain. Many people choose to bring an extra quart-size bag that they can put the poop bags in. There are also fanny packs that are made to hold poop bags, complete with trashbag liners for easy cleaning.

Even if you didn’t see your dog poop while you were climbing, take some time at the end of your climbing session to look for poop and to bring it back to your car with you.