Your dog is your companion, and he or she goes everywhere with you. In most states, there are bears (even Florida has them).
It is important to always be on the lookout and to be prepared on all your hikes. No matter how well-trained your pooch is, this may not be enough to save him or her (or you) in a situation in which you encounter a bear while you are out exploring and hiking through nature with your dog.
While absolutely every animal and every encounter is and will be different, there are a few precautions and preventative measures you can take.
1. Pay Attention to Your Pup
Typically, your dog will absolutely alert you that a bear is near before you even see it. Learn how to pay attention to your dog for tell-tale signs.
Usually, the canine will bark and become aggressive, sometimes pulling at the leash. Sometimes, they may become frozen or even fearful. It is important to pick up on these signs and to pay attention to them. They may save your life. A barking dog may deter a bear, or attract it.
2. Keep Your Dog on a Leash
Keeping your dog on a leash at all times is paramount in the event that you do encounter a bar. If your dog is off lead, ahead of you, he may not stand a chance. When your dog is free lying running around, they have a higher probability of getting into something that they shouldn’t.
Keeping your pup leashed up ensures that you are controlling where you go. Here, you can keep your dog a safe distance from the unknown of thick bushes or brush.
3. Be Educated on Bear Behavior
In most cases, it has been found that bears are very cautious and even wary of human interaction. They are rare, but do happen. When they happen, they sometimes result in an attack.
If your dog is smaller than you, the bear may go after your dog first. It is said that bears are actually shy animals and want to be left alone, so be sure to do your research and do just that. They are usually more active around dusk and dawn, so it may be a good idea to avoid being out at these times in areas with many bears and bear sightings. Unfortunately, bears are not known to like dogs very much.
4. Bears and Bear Cubs
Like most animals, mama bears are especially protective over their young. It is extremely important that if a mom and her baby are encountered, that you keep your dog away from that baby at all costs.
5. Stay Vigilant
Keeping a look out at all times is important. Never stop observing your surroundings and even looking back at some points. While being out with your dog is fun and exciting, do not let your dog down by letting down your protective guard! You are their lookout.
6. Keep Food Packaged Up
Because bears have an excellent sense of smell, when you are walking, or stopped for a rest tr to set up camp, keep food in a container, not in a bag.
Do not leave any unfinished food or scraps on the ground, as this can attract bears. They are known to break into residential trash cans. Coming after your food in the wild is no different.
This also goes along with not leaving your pooch’s food bowls out either. Be sure to clean up well after you feed your dog and to not stay close to trash cans.
7. Bear Bell
There are devices called Bear Bells that you can put on your dog’s called to alert the bear and scare them away before your dog gets too close. Bears are known to not like surprises and it is a great and cheap way to try to avoid any problems. This also is a great way to always know where your dog is by keeping an ear open for the jingling.
8. Area Education
Get educated on the area you are intending to take your dog. Do some research on the wildlife, trails, campsites and bear sightings. Ask others who have been there before and gain some insight from park rangers. It is never a bad idea to get all the information you can before hitting the trails with your fur baby.
Hopefully, your biggest takeaway is to not let your pup off of his or her leash, ever, to not leave food out or open, and to always be on the lookout.
Keep in mind that you are a parent to your dog, and that means that you are responsible for their safety. You are their mama bear!