A controversial topic

Some really good comments on the West Bragg Creek(Grand Central Station) posting regarding dogs. Also enjoyed Steve’s “lecture” about safety. I don’t think most people are aware of how quickly you can get cold if you become immobilized from an accident. Taking a Wilderness First Aid course opened my eyes to a number of issues which I had never given any regard to.

As a side note, Telephone trail is not a well-groomed, smooth trail and is quite long. I’d be hesitant to recommend this ski to anyone but a fit, intermediate skier.

West Bragg Creek is the most popular destination which this blog’s readers want to know about, consequently, never one to shy away from controversy, I’d like to pursue Peter’s comment:

“The only concern I had (and a few others I met) were all the dogs that were off leash running amuck on some of the steeper sections of trail. One larger husky almost wiped my 7 year old daughter out as she was snow plowing down one of the steeper hills! I think its an accident waiting to happen! It mentions on the trail head sign that dogs must on leash and of the ten I saw only one was on leash. If you ski at west bragg with your dog please keep everyones safety in mind and go on leash!”

In the interests of full disclosure, and as the owner of a dog who loves to ski with us, I probably can’t be very objective here, so I was happy to read Don’s comment:

“There are lots of places to ski where dogs are not allowed. I’ve had more close calls caused by kids than dogs but would not suggest that kids be kept on leash… The key is to be careful where dogs, kids, novice skiers are out in numbers.”

I think that says it all, but I’ll add to the debate. A number of things come to mind, first that the “dogs on leash” rule is one of those unenforceable laws, although I’ve heard of tickets being issued in the parking lot to owners of dogs running loose. No matter what the rules say, there are going to be dogs running loose on the ski trails at West Bragg Creek. Once we can accept that fact, everyone needs to chill a bit, and be reasonable from both sides.

If you have a loose dog, and you’re at the bottom of a hill, how about holding your dog by the collar until the skier is safely down. If you’re the skier, wait until the owner has the dog under control. If you are going hell bent for leather, and can’t spare a few seconds, this may not be the place for you to be skiing.

How about training your dog to respond to commands such as “side?” Your dog would go to the side of the trail which you’re pointing to.

You can’t legislate common sense. There are people who are self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and spoil it for the rest of us. Unfortunately, that’s the society we live in and it’s not going to change. It happens whether we’re on the ski trails, the highway, or a myriad of other public places.

It’s a good thing we have a place for people to ski with their dogs. For the dog-owner, the safety of other skiers should be your prime consideration which is one of the main reason I asked A1 Kansas City Dog Training | A1KCDT to train my dog.  They have some of the best experts who train with motivating them to be better and is extremely helpful especially when on a train.

I can relate a personal experience from yesterday. After finishing the Moose Loop, while returning to Mountain Road on those very steep hills, I had to bail into the soft snow while descending the final downhill. Halfway up the hill was a skier sprawled across the trail. The way you look at this situation depends on your attitude. I was happy to see a new skier out here trying their best on a difficult hill. I hit the snow with a smile on my face.

Your comments are always welcome.

This just showed up in my inbox: News from the Canmore Nordic Centre


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Interesting conversation. Several good points by many commenters. The argument about a dog on a leash being more of a hazard than if running free is something I hadn’t thought about and is very hard to argue against.

    I would like to stress two points dear to me: 1- If hypothetically I don’t want to encounter dogs, or children, or students, or piercings and tattoos (hate those), or… etc., I avoid places where dogs, children, students, or tattoos, are likely to be encountered in greater numbers. If I have a peanut allergy, I won’t go on a field trip to a nut-bagging factory and ask the place to be cleaned up just for me. See my drift? If you think you’re bigger than life, please get one.

    2- We can’t have and enforce laws about common sense, civility and tolerance, whichever side of the dog issue we’re on. If everyone shows some respect to their fellow, the occasional and inevitable jerk will just be an exception that we shouldn’t focus on.

  2. Here’s the K-Country website which specifies where dogs are allowed and whether they need to be leashed:

    The rules state that on Provincial Forest Lands “we recommend that it be leashed at all times.”

    Leashing is not a specific requirement. The trails at West Bragg are classified as Provincial Forest Lands.

    The parking lot at West Bragg is classified as a Provincial Recreation Area, and dogs are required to be on leash.

  3. Please note that the information re: dogs on the Kananaskis Country website has been updated.
    In Provincial Recreation Areas (i.e. West Bragg Creek parking area) dogs must be on leash at all times but on Provincial Forest Lands Kananaskis Country officials recommend that dogs be on leash at all times. The reasons are fairly straighforward:
    – dogs running on ski tracks often ruin the tracks for others and a lot of time and effort goes into setting the tracks
    – dogs off leash are not as well controlled as dogs on leash which causes numerous problems including endangering other skiers, endangering the dog (no one wants their dog to be at the receiving end of a sharp ski or pole) and critically, dogs endanger wildlife

  4. Maybe “responsible” was too strong of a word.

  5. I bike too. Some fellow mountain bikers are atrocious for the sport. Riding off trailing environmentally sensitive areas, vandalizing parks property (ie destroying signs showing trail closures in fish creek to give a specific example) – I would seriously consider taking actions to bring those responsible in line if I came across it.

    Likewise – if I have a bag/backpack to stick litter or co2 cartridges in, I’ll pick them up. But do I think I or you should be held responsible to do that, even if our bags are full? No, picking up is a nice thing to do not an obligation. Likewise, vandals in fish creek and those who disrupt environmentally sensitive areas piss me off and I’d probably say something if I caught them, but I certainly don’t want to be held responsible for catching them.

    Another analogy – some university students out on 17th ave on Friday or Saturday night are drunk hooligans. Doesn’t mean I see all university students as hooligans.

  6. To clarify my comment a little further for Jeff, let me give another example: I used to do a lot of mountain biking. On multi-use trails, the behavior of other mountain bikers certainly affected the attitude of hikers etc. to us, no matter how we may have been behaving. I have made an occational comment and picked up several tubes, power-bar wrappers etc over the years.

    Like it or not, the behavior of ALL dog owners does affects my opinion of the next dog owner I see coming up on the trail, bike path, etcetera and a comment from a fellow dog owner is going to be a LOT more well-received than one from a non-dog-owner.

    Also, just like I know I’ve had things like wrappers and tubes accidentally fall out of my pocket or bag over the years, I suspect that most such litter on the trails is accidental. Nonetheless, a hiker seeing a tube laying in the middle of the trail is often just going to blame “mountain bikers” for littering. (And, IMO, fellow mtn bikers have a greater responsibility to pick up this sort of thing than hikers, since there’s a 0% chance a hiker ever dropped a tube).

    …just like those little bags of dog crap I find all over the place. I can tell you that there is NO chance I’ve ever dropped one of those, whereas I suspect most dog owners have dropped at least one over the years…

  7. I must disclose a bias before the following comment: I usually classic ski.

    A few weeks ago, a skate skier whacked me with his pole and almost knocked over my wife and some nearby snowshoers. While I transiently might have wished I could call animal services on the skier, most skate skiers are responsible people. And I definitely would not hold other skate skiers responsible for keeping that skater in line, or picking his litter up after him (though I’ve picked up litter from other skiers myself when I get a chance!).

    One of the great things about the variety of ski sites in the area is there are so many options: areas where you can classic only, classic or skate, with your dog, or in area without dogs. However, considering there are few areas where classic skiers are banned (just like I haven’t found anywhere people without dogs are banned) – I certainly wouldn’t work to ban skate skiing (or skiing without dogs) from any of the trails offering those options. 😉

    So if I really wanted to avoid skate skiers – all I would have to do is head to Peter laugheed. . . I just wouldn’t be able to bring my dog. 😉

  8. Sounds like about my experience with dogs all over the place: the vast majority are either (fairly) well trained or on a leash. It’s the rare, odd time that you run over some dog s_ _ _, get chased or (worst case) bitten.

    I do think that the responsible dog owners (for sure the majority) do owe it to us non dog-owners to hound the irresponsible people a little more and do things like pick up that tiny bag of dropped dog s_ _ _ once in a while.

    p.s. Anna if your dog “responds poorly” to humans who are scared no matter what size you’d better keep it on a leash at all times.

  9. As a non dog owner but one who has friends with dogs and who is happy to know there are locations that we can ski where dogs are allowed here’s my ten cents:

    1) I’m okay with dogs not being leashed at West Bragg Creek as long as the dog is under control by the owner (i.e. the dog can be called back to the owner or side of the trail rather than running up and almost through your legs while skiing – which has happened on more than one occasion at WBC. I prefer this to wondering if I’m going to be clotheslined by the leash!

    Having said this, I support the banning / leashing of dogs in other areas that are more sensitive (i.e. the national parks, etc) as I believe there are other reasons for minimizing the number of dogs in an area.

    2) As the other responsible dog owner had mentioned, dog poop on the tracks disgusts me…this is a problem everywhere…trailheads, parking areas, parks in town…please pick it up!

    3) regarding the “attitude” that one conveys when encountering a dog…I’m not sure if anyone could mask the uncertainty felt when skiing along and finding a dog either catching up behind you or bounding up the trail towards you as you’re coming down. I know the number of times this has happened to me it was quite unnerving although at the last split second the dog would veer off…still unnerving and unpredictable

    4)dog owners should understand that people who have had bad experiences in the past (particularly being attacked) will likely have a genuine fear or at least an apprehension of dogs. Also, just because one doesn’t want a dog encounter (even a friendly one) doesn’t mean that they have a bad attitude.

    5)people who are afraid of dogs should probably not ski at West Bragg Creek. There are lots of trails elsewhere where dogs are not allowed. While this may be unfortunate in terms of the distance needing to be travelled, etc I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect all areas to ban dogs.

    One time I was walking in a park (I was actually doing a navigation course) and came out of the trees into a clearing where a woman was walking 5-7 large dogs all off leash. Of course the dogs knew I was there and all started running towards me barking so I simply stopped and calmly asked the woman to call the dogs back. I wasn’t afraid of being attacked but I have had the experience of dogs “jumping up on me” and I prefer not to be jumped on. I was trying to be polite yet this didn’t stop her from rudely asking me what my problem was. I didn’t bother to answer her and simply waited until she finally gathered up her dogs and continued on.

    So I don’t think my attitude towards dogs is negative, just to dog owners who feel that it’s okay for their dog to poop everywhere (and not clean it up), to jump up on you or come running at you at high speed or who automatically assume that you’re a “dog hater” because you’re not as much in love with dogs as they are.

    My friend who has become a recent dog owner and very diligent in training her dog has also been teaching me how to handle her dog and behave around him (he’s a large puppy…over 80 lbs and will grow to about 120 lbs!). I have to say this has helped me tremendously in understanding dogs and I would just remind dog owners that NON dog owners may simply just not know how to act around your dog.

    Well, I guess that’s more than ten cents…I plan to continue to enjoy skiing at West Bragg Creek…and look forward to skiing with my friend and her dog there…I might be one of those asking you to call your dog if we encounter each other in opposite directions on a hill…please don’t take it as an insult and view it as chocking up another positive dog experience for a non dog owner.

    I just want to add that the folks maintaining the trails are doing an incredible job. It would be great if we could get as much support and comments on their great work as we see on the “dog” blog. I’m planning to send them a donation (wish you could donate on-line) and encourage others to do the same!

    Happy Skiing!

  10. Well, I stand corrected. As the link that 2wheeler supplied states, dogs are indeed required to be on leash. There are however none of the usual K-country signs at the trail entry points to inform users of this, leading to my assumption that dogs were free to roam. Nevertheless, I will continue to exercise my own personal judgement- leashing when there is a risk of encounters with downhill skiers, and running freely alongside when I am the one skiing downhill (safest for both skier and dog). In the end, the real test should be- is your dog, leashed or not, a hazard or nuisance to other trail users or wildlife?
    A bigger issue for West Bragg skiers might be the huge ruts left by a large truck driven partway up the mountain road. Trail conditions on Tuesday afternoon at Moose and Sundog loops remain good overall, but showing signs of wear from the holiday crowds. No melting going on despite plus 3 at 3pm when I started out, a thin layer of Start purple did the trick.

  11. Um, doesn’t make sense – dog stays close give it a longer lead?
    But anyway, personally, I’m not going to use a leash, I will (like always) keep the dog under control near hills.
    If you don’t want to experience dogs (I have yet to see a nasty dog at West Bragg Creek but then maybe I’m not looking hard enough), go to the many places that don’t allow dogs.

  12. Well DL,

    I think Bruce’s comments about dogs being well trained and “under control” should be a guide. If your dog trots beside you you probably can have a longer leash. If its apt to run across in front of others a shorter leash would be appropriate.

    And the idea of banning dogs was yours, not mine. I would just like the applicable rules to be followed. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask to me.

  13. Ok 2wheener, how long should that leash be then?

    I suspect it won’t be long before dogs get banned at West Bragg Creek if posters like 2W get their way.

  14. Out people freaking out about dogs.

  15. 2wheeler you should quit whining about dogs that aren’t on a leash, ski somewhere where they aren’t allowed or deal with your fear of them. There are a lot of people that have dogs and enjoy taking them out when they go skiing and they shouldn’t have to deal with uptight stessed

  16. Hi Steve

    Thanks for your empathy, and yes it is a rare occurrence. I’m not sure where you got your information from, but both Provincial Recreation Areas (such as West Bragg Creek) and Provincial Forest Lands require dogs to be on leash:

    Perhaps you could append your source of information regarding leashes?

  17. I would far rather deal with a dog off leash because it can usually be dodged. When there is a dog on one side of the trail attached by a rope across the trail to the owner on the other side, you are pretty much hooped. If dogs are a concern to you, ski at the areas that don’t allow dogs. This also applies to skate skiers – ski where there are skating lanes and don’t wreck the tracks for track skiers.

  18. Lets just say that not all dogs have a right to be on the trail system if it is on leash or off leash. A well trained dog that is under control in an off leash area is not a problem. A poorly trained dog on a leash is still a problem no matter what area it is in. At the end of the day the owner has to decide if their dog should be out there. Telling someone that their dog is excitable( poorly trained) and they should watch out is not acceptable. I have had this happen many times in public areas. I have also skied/moutain biked with friends and their well trained dogs.

  19. There are of course no excuses for an aggressive dog ruining someones day, but that is a rare occurrence. I’m sorry to hear of your bad experiences with dogs, but I would suggest that it works both ways, as it is true that a dog will pick up on an unfriendly attitude from a person, and possibly reciprocate, just as another human would. One of the great things about West Bragg is that dogs are welcomed, and are in fact NOT required to be leashed. We do however, keep our mutts skijoring lead handy for a quick clip in, should a situation arise. Usually we will clip her on when going up a longer hill, just to be ready to reel her in if a skier descends. The rest of the time while at West Bragg she is free to run, and enjoy cross country skiing as much as we do. I would add that it bothers us as responsible dog owners as much as anyone to find dog turds on the trail, I flipped several out of the tracks on Saturday. We tend to avoid the busiest times at West Bragg, to minimize any potential dog conflicts, and skiers who cannot handle dogs, kids and beginners, all of which West Bragg is ideal for, should consider doing the same, or just relax a bit.
    Life’s too short, get out and ski!

  20. I like the fact that some cross country ski areas allow dogs and some do not. We have choices. When I want to take my dog I go to west Bragg or Ribbon Creek.

    My worst fear is a dog on a rope. I can get around a dog, the rope scares me.

  21. Your logic is circular and your argument offensive

  22. Now you’re BIG and frightened. Dogs can smell fear. You’re blaming dogs for your own issues.

  23. Anna

    I will answer your question at face value, although it certainly sounds like you are suggesting that being attacked by a dog is the victims fault. When I was younger I delivered newspapers, and was constantly harassed by dogs. My “fault” at that age was that I was small and frightened.

    Perhaps if I had been assaulted by a person you would have more sympathy?

  24. 2wheeler, I’ve been hiking and skiing for 25 years and probably covered more territory than Bob! I dare say I have encountered thousands of dogs on the trail and not once have I ever been attacked by one.

    What is it about you in particular that makes dogs want to attack you?

  25. Just FYI… I skijor. So my dog is on-leash. And my kid is still towed in a sled. So neither of them are a threat to anyone. *deep sigh*

  26. At least MY kids don’t sniff your crotch, slobber all over your legs and try to eat your lunch when skiing at west bragg 🙂

  27. As near as I can tell there are two “arguments” presented here; that dog owners will allow their dogs to run amok, ignoring the rules of the park and therefore the rest of us have to accept it. By the same logic I should have to put up with the cars speeding down my residential street, endangering me and my neighbours, or accept a smoker blowing smoke in my face at work all day. The second that children or novice skiers pose the same risk to others safety as unleashed dogs. Children and novice skiers have one significant difference to dogs, they are people. Dogs are the property of their owners, and as such are the owners responsibility. I see no need to be “understanding” of someone who blatantly ignore the rules of the park.

    Dog owners are mostly oblivious that an encounter with an uncontrolled and unknown dog can be terrifying for other trail users. Having been attacked by dogs on several occasions in the past I can personally relate to the extreme anxiety of every uncontrolled dog encounter and know many others who have the same reaction. Depending on the personality of a particular canine such an incident can certainly ruin my whole outing.

    Please keep your dogs on leash, it is your responsibility to other trail users and to your dog.

  28. So… since I ski with my dog AND kid, I’m screwed, eh? ;>)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *