JOSHUA LAWTON
Matt Ostler, right, and Matt Kesner walk on Chautauqua Trail with Odin, a long-haired German Shepherd.



Hiking and trail walking can be great outdoor activities to share with your canine friend.

In fact, according to the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Web site, more than 100,000 dogs explore the area’s 144 miles of trails every year.

But while you’re on the trails and in county and city parks in Boulder, there are some rules in that apply to help keep you and your furry companion safe:

— All pets must be on a leash and under the physical control of their owner or guardian at all times.

— Any owner/guardian accompanying a dog in an off-leash area must have the ability to restrain his or her dog when requested.

— Dog off-leash open space properties include Twin Lakes Trail and Reynolds Ranch.

— Remember to pick up, carry out and properly dispose of all dog excrement.

— Dogs are prohibited in the areas of Hall Ranch, Heil Valley Ranch and Caribou Ranch open space.

Leah Idris is a University of Colorado senior and just got her 5-year-old Australian cattle dog, Althea, at the beginning of summer. Since getting her new companion, they’ve already been on plenty of hikes together on Boulder’s trails.

“I like to bring my dog on the trails because it is good for her and me to get exercise as much as possible,” Idris said. “Althea is a very mellow dog but loves being outside. I think it’s also good for her to have contact with other dogs. Going on hikes allows her to make lots of new friends.”

Despite having hiked and walked in much of Boulder’s open space and trails, Idris didn’t know much about the Voice and Sight program, but had seen the tags on dogs before.

“I am not registered with the Voice and Sight program,” Idris said, “but after reading about it on the Web site, I would like to get registered so I can avoid getting a ticket, which are pretty pricey.”

What is the Voice and Sight control program?

A program to help owners and dogs stay safe when in Boulder County/city open space, as well as on the trails in the area. Mandates owners to register dogs with the city program if they want to be able to let their dogs off leash in the designated areas.

The program was long in the making, according to Steve Mertz, spokesman for Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, and was a big community oriented process.

“What it came down to was people getting sick of muddy dogs jumping up on them, their kids being knocked down or smaller dogs being beaten up by bigger dogs,” Mertz said.

What is Voice and Sight control?

When your dog is off leash it must stay within your sight and under your control. This means that if you call your dog it must come the first time you call it, but you still must have a leash with you at all times.

Only two dogs per person are allowed off leash at once and each dog must display a voice and sight dog tag. You cannot carry the tag with you, it must be on the dog at all times in V&S areas. Having the voice and sight dog tag means the owners have to be registered with the Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program.

Participation in the Voice and Sight program is the law and is stated in City ordinance so unless you want a ticket it’s a good idea to go ahead and register. It’s only $15 for residence of Boulder so you may as well do it.

What is the Trailhead Leash Program?

Basically, you have to keep your dog on a leash upon exiting your car at all open space trailheads, and in the area of trailheads. Again, you can technically only let your dog off the leash if you’re registered with the Voice and Sight program.

According to Mertz, the program has “effectively cut own on the issues with dogs bothering other dogs and people and also dog waste at the trail heads.”

Other tickets you can get while in parks and open space areas with your dog. (Even if you’ve registered for Voice and Sight), according to the city’s Web site:– You’re walking more than two dogs under voice and sight control.

— You fail to display the voice and sight tag on your dog. (Must be on them at all times)

— Your dog isn’t within your sight and control at ALL times. (Hence the law)

— Your dog charges, chases, tries to fight with a person or another dog, or just behaves in a way that any “reasonable person” may find harassing or disturbing.

— Your dog disturbs or harasses wildlife or livestock.

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