While hiking with your dog, are you tired of tripping over your dog leash or expending unnecessary energy?
If so, since 1996, the city of Boulder, Colorado has had a Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program that allows certified dogs and dog owners to hike on some of the Boulder’s dog permitted trails without using a dog leash. The program allows up to two dogs per person to be under voice and sight control.
To be approved by Boulder’s Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program, you must be able to maintain control of your dog regardless of distractions such that your dog does not conflict with wildlife, people, or other dogs. The program requires that you always carry a dog leash for each dog so that you can leash your dog(s) in the event of failed voice commands or other unanticipated circumstances. The approval process involves watching a voice and sight control video, registering with Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, and purchasing and installing voice and sight dog tags on each of your dogs. The price for dogs tags is $15 for the first dog for Boulder residents ($18.75 for non-residents) and $5 for each subsequent dog.
The program depends on citizens honorably registering their voice and sight controlled dogs. However, park rangers can penalize poorly trained dogs and owners up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. Thus, it is advised that your dog complete the Boulder Valley Humane Society’s Hiking Hounds training course before hiking leash-free.
I recently hiked in Chautauqua Park, near downtown Boulder, and had a positive experience with certified dogs hiking leash-free on many of the trails. So, I recommend that you give both yourself and your well-trained dogs a break by signing up for the Boulder Voice and Sight Dog Tag program. In addition, I recommend that you bring dog treats, pet waste bags, a collapsible pet water bowl, and a dog pack on your hikes. Please read Leave No Trace – 3 Myths, Effects, and Tips for Outdoor Recreation to learn more about the importance of picking up your dog’s feces. The following picture is of a dog owner who wished his dogs were under voice and sight control (the picture is from Mount Antero and is not of me).