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Safe Hiking Tips - Wildlife and Dogs

Fall is a beautiful time to be out and about with the dog. The cooler temperatures and gorgeous colours make hiking a favourite activity to enjoy together. At this time of year, though, wildlife are out and about getting ready for the upcoming winter. Here are some tips from Dog Hiking Canada to help you hike safely with your dogs.


"Dogs and wildlife do not mix. Ever. Wildlife abound in the National and Provincial Parks and can pose a real threat to you and your dog.

There are those who believe dogs have no place on a mountain hiking trail because they can cause serious problems if they encounter other animals. This indeed has happened because the dog owner has not acted responsibly and had control of their dog.

I have hiked for years in the Canadian rocky mountains with dogs and have not had any unfortunate incidents, so it is possible, but you as a dog owner must take the initiative to make that happen. I caution against taking your dog deep into the backcountry campgrounds for several reasons, the main one being the high probability of meeting wildlife. If your dog does accompany you into the backcountry, keep her on leash at all times.

Bears, both black and grizzly, inhabit Canada’s western National Parks. Bears hate dogs and have been known to be provoked enough by a charging, barking dog to attack. If the bear does not attack your dog, it may follow your dog back to you which is not a good thing. I cannot stress enough the importance of having your dog leashed when you are hiking, especially in areas inhabited by bears. Bears do not attack unless provoked or surprised and 99% of your time in the wilderness, you will never see them. If you encounter a trail closed due to bear activity, leash your dog and high tail it out of there!

Deer, elk and moose may look pretty harmless, but those long legs and sharp hooves can deliver a nasty kick. These animals are far more aggressive during the fall rut and may charge a dog running towards them.

Coyotes are very common in parks all over Canada. A pack of coyotes can lure a dog away to become dinner, so again, keep your dog on leash.

Cougar encounters are very rare, but they have happened. Dogs running at large through the bush can been seen as an easy meal to a hungry cougar.

Porcupines may be encountered on a mountain trail or in a city park. Picking quills out of your dog’s muzzle is not fun for you or your dog.

Skunks are another furry friend you would do well to avoid. There are many remedies for after being sprayed by a skunk, but the best one is to avoid it altogether.

This information is not meant to frighten you, but to make you aware of the animals whose home you are walking through. I believe if you as a dog owner exercise common sense when hiking and keep your dog leashed, you can venture into some pretty spectacular places.

It is up to us as dog owners to hike responsibly so dogs continue to be allowed in Canada's parks.

Please be respectful of the wildlife and hike responsibly by keeping your dog on a leash and practicing good trail manners."


Thanks again to Dog Hiking Canada for this information!

If your dog is off-leash, he should still be under your control. Watch your dog carefully for signs that wildlife may be in the area. For example, if he starts 'scenting' it's a good idea to leash him just in case he decides to run off. If you do encounter wildlife, immediately recall and leash your dog (if he's not already leashed), give the wildlife lots of space, and leave the area right away. Do not allow dogs to chase or harass wildlife, even in 'fun' -- it might initially be fun for the dog, but it's not fun for the wildlife, and it can turn dangerous for both the wildlife or the dog in an instant. Hike safely, hike responsibly, and enjoy your time together in the great outdoors.


"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace." (Milan Kundera)

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