Crag Dogs

It’s a hotly contested topic among climbers, not far behind the “to bolt or not to bolt” debate. We aren’t here to condemn or condone, but to offer some guidelines for appropriate crag dog behavior and to let you know where and how it’s legal to bring your dog.

Essential Skills

  • Check the rules and regulations ahead of time to make sure your dog is allowed.
  • Bring a leash or tether to restrain your dog if needed or if land rules require it.
  • Commit to keeping your dog out of the way of belayers, spotters, and other people’s gear.
  • Bring adequate food and water for your dog’s day out.
  • Bring poop bags and plan to clean up after your dog and pack it out
  • Make sure your dog responds consistently to verbal commands and can be controlled around other people and dogs.
  • Do not bring a dog that shows signs of aggression toward people or other dogs.
  • Do not bring a dog that barks and whines incessantly.
  • Do not allow your dog to dig or chase wildlife.

How do I know if my dog is allowed?

Dogs are not allowed at every climbing area, so know the rules before you go. Do some online sleuthing and figure out who owns the climbing area. Check the area page on, where other climbers make note of rules and regulations. Or do a quick Google search of the area you’re planning to visit. If you Google “Smith Rock + dogs”, you’ll quickly learn that dogs are allowed at Smith Rock, but must be leashed at all times. It’s also wise to know the guidelines for public lands.

  • National Parks are the most restrictive of our four-legged companions. Dogs are prohibited from backcountry areas (with some very rare exceptions), and only allowed in front country areas (like developed campsites, parking lots, roads, paved paths and scenic overlooks) if leashed or “under physical restraint” at all times.
  • Forest Service lands typically allow dogs in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails, but they must be leashed at all times. Read more about what the US Forest Service has to say about bringing your dog.
  • Bureau of Land Management lands have the least restrictive policy concerning dogs, and they only require leashing where habitat or wildlife restorations exist.
  • State parks and local government lands vary wildly, and typically require your dog to be leashed. Check regulations before heading out to climb with your pup.
  • Federally designated Wilderness areas usually allow leashed pets, unless inside a National Park or posted otherwise.

If you’re not sure what type of land your favorite climbing area is on, and you can’t find it on the internet, it’s best to leave your dog at home.


CulturePoopGearPack It OutCampParkAccessChalkBoltsGroupsBe NiceLocal Ethics