Leave Only Paw Prints VALUES

Leave Only Paw Prints® is a set of values and a way of life. We take a holistic approach to protecting pups and park access across California, suggesting simple tips for thoughtful dog travel. In addition to minimizing impact on wildlife and natural habitats, we create a safety net for pups. That’s especially important when you visit unfamiliar trails and beaches.

Protecting both your dog and the environment is easy. Check out our six Leave Only Paw Prints® values as you plan your next adventure—whether you’re walking down the block or trekking in new terrain.

Dog and water

1) Plan ahead and carry water

Planning ahead helps keep travels fun and safe. Start with the basics. Make sure your dog is micro-chipped and wearing a nametag with your cell number. Bring some bags for puppy bathroom breaks. Whether you’re hiking the trails or hitting the beach, pack plenty of fresh water for you and your four-legged friends.

Dog leash sign on beach

2) follow posted rules

Respect all rules posted in parks, at trailheads and on beaches. Sure, you’ll save yourself an expensive fine by following instructions. But you’ll also protect local wildlife, sensitive habitats and your own family—including both people and pups. That “No Dogs Allowed” sign at the lake could be safeguarding a source of community drinking water or shielding a threatened species.

Girl on horse

3) Be considerate of others

Being a considerate dog parent means more than following rules and cleaning up after Rover. Dog travel is a privilege that we must carefully protect. Your furry friend may be a gentle soul who would never hurt a fly, let alone a human. Still, some people have had bad experiences with dogs.

Dog and bird in water

4) use voice commands when off leash

Many of California’s beautiful trails and beaches have off-leash areas for dogs. This is a treat for pups and a privilege that people need to protect. Being responsible with an off-leash dog means keeping that furry friend in your line of sight at all times. Make sure dogs respond to your voice commands, as well.

Maybe a plover

5) protect wildlife

This simple Leave Only Paw Prints guideline is one of the most significant: Please respect and protect California nature. Wildlife and habitats here are incredibly rare. In fact, many of the Golden State’s 770 native wildlife species and 6,300 plant species exist nowhere else. Check out this resource guide for more ways to travel lightly—with or without your dog.

Young woman holding trash bag

6) Leave Only Paw Prints®

Why are pups so often banned from parks and beaches? Dog waste. When poop bags and piles get left on trails, people complain and public agencies respond by restricting access. In many areas, it’s common to see unwanted pet poo brushed to the side of paths. This happens even when open space districts have installed bags and waste containers at trailheads.