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Los Alamos County; Local Business Offer Education For Safe And Fun Dog Walking Excursions

on April 12, 2019 - 7:33am
Nik Ramburn and Cait Fischer with one of their dogs. Ramburn and Fischer recently started their business, Good Dog Pack Hikes and Training. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/
Los Alamos Daily Post

Spring’s arrival means warmer temperatures and longer days and as a result signifies the growing desire of pet owners to click the leash on their pets and head to the trails.

But before dogs and their owners head off on their hikes or walks, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Los Alamos County Code includes the following requirements:

  • Animals that are off the owner’s premises need to be on a leash.
  • There are provisions for “voice and sight control” for dogs to allow them to be off-leash in designated areas such as the stable area and Los Alamos County trails. The County also has dog parks in both Los Alamos and White Rock where dogs can run and play off-leash.
  • Unreasonable animal noise such as barking is prohibited.
  • It is unlawful for the keeper of a dog to fail to promptly remove and dispose of excrement.
  • Dogs must have valid rabies tags attached to their collar whenever they are off the keeper’s premises.

Senior Public Safety Aide (PSA) Robert Aragon said it is important for dog owners to utilize voice and sight commands in park areas. He mentioned a map that identifies these areas can be found here

Aragon said pet owners should “make sure your dog is on a leash while walking on sidewalks (and) make sure owners have voice and sight control while walking on trails.”

PSA Alysha Lenderman said another thing to remember is to bring a dog baggie to pick up after the animal.

“We need to pick up our trash and our pet's trash, to keep our trails and sidewalks clean,” she said.

Dog owners also should be sure to bring water for their pets on walks. Lenderman added if a dog charges, chases, displays aggression or behaves in a manner that one may find harassing or disturbing toward another dog, or any other animal as well as cyclists, joggers and equestrians, or charges, chases and disturbs wildlife or livestock, even if the pet is in voice and sight command areas, the dog should be on a leash.

Lenderman said voice and sight control means the keeper has the ability to control the dog by voice command and the dog must respond immediately to that command. The dog must remain within sight of the keeper. Even in designated voice and sight control areas in Los Alamos, the dog must be on a leash unless it meets the requirements of voice and sight control. Animals within voice and sight control must always have the ability to come to and stay with the keeper immediately upon command by that person regardless of the distraction.

To help spread awareness about good dog behavior, Lenderman said Los Alamos County Animal Shelter is hosting several special events. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Lenderman said the shelter will promote the importance of knowing that every dog bite, even those that don’t break the skin, needs to be reported.

Also, Lenderman said this week is National Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week. Lenderman said staff and volunteers plan to take extra time to take shelter dogs out on walks in the canyon for a change of scenery. She added that the public is encouraged to show their support by bringing in a toy or some item for the shelter animals.

Several adoption days are being scheduled. April 30 is Adopt a Shelter Pet Day and Lenderman said May 4-5 at Smith’s Marketplace will be Cinco de Fido Day. Additionally, May 11 is Animal National Disaster Preparedness Day. The goal is help reduce the number of incidents involving dog attacks, Lenderman said.

A number of local businesses can help pet owners comply with County code requirements and be safe out in public. These include Los Alamos Doghouse PhD, LLC, Rendija dog hikes, Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club and New Mexico Ready. Set. Sit! Dog Training LLC.

Good Dog Pack Hikes and Training is one of the newest local businesses available to help dog owners. Nikhil “Nik” Ramburn and Cait Fischer, owners of Good Dog Pack Hikes and Training, started its operation two weeks ago.

Dog owners can register for hikes that range from 3 to 5 miles. They will take dogs to either the ski basin or Rendija Canyon. Dog owners can choose from packages that include three or 12 hikes as well as individual leashed walks.

Before going on a hike, Ramburn said they will hold a meet and greet with each dog to see what type of walk would be the best fit. For instance, a puppy might need a high energy hike while an older dog might prefer a low energy one. He added that there are a lot of benefits to taking a group of dogs on a hike.

“Being able to be in a pack environment helps with social skills,” Ramburn said.

He explained that dogs become more comfortable around each other and can play with one another. Plus, there are benefits to being in the great outdoors, he said.

“We think there’s a healing aspect to (being in nature),” Ramburn said, adding pack hikes offer physical and mental exercise.

These organized hikes are also beneficial to the dogs’ owners, Fischer said.

“We love offering the service to people who are working all day and don’t have an opportunity to walk their dogs,” she said.

Besides the pack hikes, Ramburn offers his services as a trainer. He provides private training sessions as well as classes at Los Alamos Doghouse PhD. They cover everything from dealing with teenage puppies and Los Alamos Doghouse PhD also offers classes to certify dogs as American Canine Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens.

Ramburn said they can help dog owners use basic commands such as sit, stay and leave it. They also can teach dogs to pay attention to their name.

“It’s just a great way to work on general skills sets as you take your dog out and about,” Ramburn said.

One trick to instilling good behavior is to bring treats for the dog while on a walk, Fischer said.

Ramburn and Fischer are newcomers to Los Alamos. They moved to town in November. Previously, they lived in Santa Fe and before that, out east. They brought with them two dogs of their own: Chai and Sai.

Ramburn has a long history working with dogs. He started training dogs when he was 12 or 13 years old.

“From the get-go I was interested in deepening my connection with my dog,” he said, adding that he loves participating in dog competitions such as obedience trials and scent competitions.

Before meeting Ramburn, Fischer said she didn’t really consider herself a dog person. But once she got her own dog, Fischer said it changed her life.

“I love spending time with the dogs and the more the better,” she said. “I get so much joy out of it … every dog wants to have the best day ever.”

For more information about Good Dog Pack Hikes and Training, visit

To see about enrolling in one of their training classes at Doghouse PhD, visit