Dogs - first time at a crag

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 James Malloch 15 Mar 2021

First of all - I'd rather this didn't become a dog-owner bashing thread as I'm hoping I don't become one of the dog-owners at a crag that everyone hates! I'm working real hard to train him well in general, but I'd also like to be able to take him to crags (and on van trips) once life and injuries allow. So I'm looking for general advice about introducing our dog to climbing areas - I've read some of the past UKC threads & articles which have been a good start! I'm conscious that not everyone likes dogs and they can be unpredictable too.

In addition to bunch of standard training (and work with Sheep with a local trainer) I'm trying at home at the moment to make him sit in his bed whilst I'm on the board, and only coming over once I'm off the wall and I ask him to, but as with all these things being outside will be different when there's lots of smells and distractions.

And I know for the foreseeable future trips to the crag will be dog-training-focused, rather than just going to do something that I want to do. 

I'm looking for any advice on:

1) Venues to start with (around Skipton area ideally)

2) Boulder vs. Sport

3) Anything more general


On venues, we will obviously check whether dogs are allowed etc but I'm interested in finding out any particularly good venues to start. I'm thinking either some quiet places without livestock, or some busier crags with, perhaps, some quiet sections where we can be away from others. 

We visited Sharphaw Bouldering yesterday on a walk which seemed a good option. Lots of (currently dead) bracken to run through, no livestock in the climbing area (currently at least) and a lot of easy bouldering so we can get up/down quickly to get him used to us going up/out of sight/coming back. Also a nice walk in where he can tire him self out a bit and not close to any roads which could cause problems!

Any other suitable venue recommendations would be much appreciated!

Sport Climbing

I guess that sport climbing will be influenced by how happy he is being left whilst bouldering as he would have to be tethered for longer periods. I guess being tethered within reach but so he can't get to the belayer would be best. Again though, I would welcome any advice for sport climbing. Places like Malham would be off-limits but there's enough places around which I think would work. 


Given we've not tried him outside climbing yet - I'd be interested to hear what people do to keep their dogs under control. Are the things you screw into the ground strong enough to keep a medium dog (cocker spaniel) in a certain radius or will he just rip it out (obviously the type of ground makes a big difference here)? Whilst he'd tire himself out quickly whilst he's still young I'd prefer to get into a routine of only running around once I'm off the rock and can take him for a little walk/train/retrieve rather than leaving him to his own business. Give him a year and he'd be able to carry on going all day!And finally, any general tips are welcomed as well. We won't allow him near other people's bags, won't allow him free reign to go and greet everyone (which is what Spaniels would certainly do) and we'd keep etiquette as high as possible. If he's awful and disruptive we'd move or go home as I'd not be enjoying it either. 

Any help would be appreciated as I'm keep to start getting out now the weather is improving, so it seems like a good time to get him used to being out with me!

Post edited at 12:57
 BillyBoredEU 15 Mar 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

good luck - remember ground nesting bird time is now! Limestone grass lands maybe less of an issue

 supersteve 15 Mar 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

I have a 1 year old cocker who comes bouldering with me all the time. First couple of sessions she was a little whiney as I would tie her to a tree with a good length of rope, and a small bed to lie on. She was particularly loud when I topped out on a boulder and disappeared out of sight, but I made a conscious effort to ignore her, and she quickly learnt that if I went out of sight, I would come back. Now when I'm out, as soon as I put the pads down, she finds a sunny spot to sit and watch the world happily whilst I do my thing. She remains tied up as I don't want her wandering or annoying anyone else, so is nice company. 

I also tend to do extended walks into the boulders, so she gets a bit of a run too and from the rocks, and it's a good warm up for me too. 

Couple of hears ago when I had a slight incident (there is a short thread on that somewhere), my other dog (a Jack Russell, who as soon as I touch a boulder, finds somewhere comfy to sit - he knows the drill LOL) sensed there was something wrong, and sat with me the entire time I waited for the emergency services. Good boy. 

 nobalga 15 Mar 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

Earl crag is probably your best bet. All the grit around Embassy is either on, or requires using permissive ways on bird hunting land so dogs are banned.

Sport wise  stoney bank will be best option, but are nesting bird restrictions. The giggleswick crags have some narrow spots at the base of the crag, are a pain with people let alone navigating past a dog

In reply to nobalga:

I wrote a quick read tips thing the other week;

Might be useful, any questions feel free to shoot me an email

 George Ormerod 15 Mar 2021
In reply to Alex Riley:

My tip is to keep your dog leased otherwise she might end up finding where some dirty bastard has had a shit and roll around in it. She’s then puzzled why no one will stroke her. Other than that she’s a perfect crag dog. 

 smollett 15 Mar 2021

I love dogs and most ive met at the crag have been fine. The ones that scavenge round your bags trying to get at your lunch or sit howling and barking as soon as their owner is out of sight have been my only irritations.

 Andy Gamisou 16 Mar 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

Doesn't really address your post, but couldn't resist posting photo of one of ours on his first day "out climbing":  

 James Malloch 16 Mar 2021
In reply to everyone:

Thanks a lot for all of the replies. Good to hear the success stories (especially one from a cocker!).

It sounds like somewhere quite will be useful for the first trips out - I think I’ll stick with Sharphaw for now as I’m not a gritstone fan (due to the top outs) and there’s lots of easy stuff there which I’ll be happier on. I do like Earl but I need to get my head back into things before going there I think!

We’ve got a 10m training line so I’ll aim to use that for starters and see how it goes. 

I’d not heard of Stoney Bank but I’ll give that a go once the weather is better and nesting restrictions are over. The other option is Trollers Gill if we can find a quieter time. That has the bonus of having things I’d quite like to try and I seem to remember the base being quite good for dogs.

Also - I expected more than 5 dislikes, so I must not have been controversial enough. Some people must really hate dogs at crags...

 Andy Gamisou 17 Mar 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

> Also - I expected more than 5 dislikes, so I must not have been controversial enough. Some people must really hate dogs at crags...

Well, so what if they do?  Having had bad experiences with people's kiddies at crags I'm not overly fond of the little tykes being around when I'm climbing, unless they're well controlled.  I'm not about to go around disliking every post that combines climbing and children or interject into every such thread crap about how they should be left at home with a bowl if water (which is what generally happens with any dog related thread).

Looks like you're doing everything right, and I'd be more than happy to share the space with you and your cocker

Oh btw - I've had a bit of success with the corkscrewy things for fastening dogs, and with GSD sized pooches too.  Provided you can get the things into the ground properly.

Post edited at 05:53
 James Malloch 02 Apr 2021
In reply to James Malloch:

We took him To Sharphaw today and used one of the ground screws and a 9m cable. He was more than happy running around with his ball on that and wasn’t interested in us climbing. Didn’t really settle but happy playing the whole time. 

Sorry to the person he barked at! He’s not a barker at all (except when the door goes) so I can only assume he was surprised by the bouldering mat (despite us carrying them too!). 

It felt like he’d make an awesome crag dog after today. He was I. His element!

Thanks for all the tips!

In reply to smollett:

> The ones that scavenge round your bags trying to get at your lunch or sit howling and barking as soon as their owner is out of sight have been my only irritations.

They are the only ones (mostly) that I have encountered. My last trip out my lunch was eaten by a group of three of the f8ckers. Keep them and the kids at home I reckon. Either that or I'll start bringing a sound system playing Death Metal.

In reply to James Malloch:

I take my collie out and about but just make sure he is tied up to whatever there is to stop him bugging people , as not everyone likes dogs .... oh and get a harness with the ability to clip sacs onto so he can carry his own ( and your ) lunch ... I prefer to take mine to the crag as opposed to leave at home and he is happy to wait and greet when I finish my climb which is quite sweet .. have fun and make him / her carry some of your stuff ! Within reason 

In reply to Andy Gamisou:

How did that get a dislike!

Gorgeous dog.

 mrphilipoldham 02 Apr 2021
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

We had a cheap £5 one that managed to happily hold 3 dogs, each of which is 30kg+ and quite energetic, shall we say... made me wonder if I should buy a couple more for us as portable belay stakes!

Post edited at 21:05

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