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#152527 - 07/11/11 12:30 AM Dogs as bear deterrents...
rabbitearscarver Offline
member

Registered: 06/10/11
Posts: 26
Loc: Steamboat Springs, CO
Maybe this has been covered before, but wouldn't a big (German Shepherd) barking dog scare off bears, esp at night?
What's the official take here?
Thanks in advance...
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#152528 - 07/11/11 12:41 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
I do not think that a bear's reaction to a barking dog would necessarily be fear. Whether or not a bear confronted by a dog would leave the scene would depend on other factors, including the bear's personality and its past experience with campsites.

It is also worthwhile to contemplate whether the dog confronted by a bear would continue to bark and stand its ground, or react with fear. This, too, would be subject to the personality of the dog and its past experience.

It does not sound like a reliable bear deterrent system to me.

NB: This is not "offical", but merely how it strikes me.

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#152530 - 07/11/11 12:59 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: aimless]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
I think the variables aimless pointed out are fair to say. With that said, I do feel the odds would be in favor of the dog scaring the bear.

If anything, having a dog is a great early warning system for sure.
_________________________
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel

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#152533 - 07/11/11 01:18 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: GDeadphans]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Its my own humble opinion that anyone who takes their pet with them (and risks their pets life) to protect them from bears because the person does something so stupid that they need a dog to protect them from a bear, does not desserve the love of said dog. There are trained and bred bear dogs, but anything else is bear lunch and might attract bear or lions by barking.

No - if you take your dog camping its you who will defend your dog and take responsibility for it. smile While some of us camp with our dogs that are trail trained and stay close in, others of us leave our dogs at home for their own protection, even though they hate it. cry

Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#152545 - 07/11/11 09:35 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Unless you know for sure how your dog will react to a bear, you are far better off leaving the dog at home.

First of all, unless you leave food laying around camp, the risk of having problems with bears (I am discussing black bears here) is relatively small.

Second, taking an untested dog along in the hope that it would scare a bear away is risky to the dog and potentially annoying to anyone who might be camped nearby. A dog left outside as a camp guard can spend the whole night barking and fearful. And, if a bear does come along, remember that dog/bear encounters are almost always resolved in favor of the bear.

I have been hiking, backpacking and mountaineering for over 60 years and have never had a truly threatening encounter with a bear; black or grizzly; I have had a few adrenaline rushes though. I realize that not everyone has had that luxury. But, if an encounter does occur, I don't think having a dog around would improve things and could easily make the issue worse.
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#152554 - 07/11/11 01:47 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
The last two posts are spot on. Don't bring along Spot to protect you from a bear.

Also, how would you feel if your pet was seriously injured by the bear because you placed it in harm's way?????

......not to mention the fact that dogs are prohibited in many wilderness areas. There's a reason for that.

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If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#152555 - 07/11/11 03:12 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: Trailrunner]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
Makes me sad just thinking about. <3 my dog.
_________________________
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel

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#152562 - 07/11/11 04:32 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: GDeadphans]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If you live in a state where hunting bear with dogs is still allowed, the barking dog might work. Most states banned this practice years ago, so in most places, fear of dogs is no longer instilled in bear (or cougar).

The most common scenario with dogs and bear: Unleashed dog is allowed to run ahead of owner. Dog sees bear. Dog runs up to bear barking. Bear gets mad and chases dog. Dog makes hurried retreat to owner for protection with angry bear in hot pursuit. This can happen not only with bear but with elk, moose, cattle, even deer. Good luck if that happens!

Actually, dogs are allowed in most wilderness areas in national forests, but not anywhere off the pavement in national parks. Leashes are required in some areas and are a good idea everywhere--to keep the dog from getting into a dangerous area (like the crumbly edge of a cliff), to prevent the dog from threatening other hikers (even the sweetest, friendliest dog can become fearful and over-protective in a strange place), to prevent the dog from chasing wildlife, to prevent him from "going" on a possible campsite, etc. Unless your dog is so thoroughly trained that he will always come to you immediately the first time called, no matter what distractions are around, even a running rabbit, he should be on leash. Your fellow-hikers will thank you. Barking dogs are a considerable annoyance to others camping in the area, too! Please don't let your dog indulge in activities that will contribute to the prevailing anti-dog attitude among many hikers--the result will be the banning of all dogs!

As mentioned above, the dog is not going to protect you from much; you'll need to protect the dog!


Edited by OregonMouse (07/11/11 04:38 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#152565 - 07/11/11 05:58 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Dogs are not allowed in National Park wilderness areas, leashed or not. Since half the area of all National Parks is wilderness, that's quite a bit of real estate.
_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#152566 - 07/11/11 06:07 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Folks who want to take dogs hiking don't think about what if the dog gets hurt... I've run into people trying to carry out dogs that tore up the paws walking on open granite.

Dogs need to be conditioned for the task, same as people, and you'd also need to train the dog to come reliably and not chase animals, including other dogs, stock, people, etc. Then you need to train the dog to sleep in the tent without tearing it up to get outside for some reason. Then you'd need to train the dog to carry the pack with its food, and if something happens, you get to carry the pack and the dog along with your gear.

And yes, national parks do enforce the no-dogs-on-trails rule - seen people hiked out of the backcountry and fined for ignoring the rule.

I do know hiking dogs - some of them are great on the trail, awesome companions, very well trained not to drink or eat until told to (did you know dogs can get giardia?). But it's a lot of training and conditioning to get them that way.
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#152568 - 07/11/11 07:14 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: Trailrunner]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Just to set the record straight: There's far more acreage in national forest wilderness areas, at least in the western US, than in national park wilderness area! All but a very few high-impact areas in national forest wilderness areas are open to dogs as long as they are under control. More and more national forest wilderness areas are requiring leashes on at least some trails.

In national parks, dogs are forbidden on all trails, not just in the wilderness sections. (The one exception that I know of being the PCT in Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Parks.)

Lori is correct in that hiking dogs need conditioning, just like hiking people! Hiking dogs also need training. A series of good obedience classes are a must. Crate training is a big help in getting a dog used to staying in a tent. Agility training is really helpful in giving a dog confidence in tight places. Dog boots are needed in areas with sharp rocks and pumice (some of which are better avoided with a dog). And your first aid kit needs a few dog-specific items.


Edited by OregonMouse (07/11/11 07:20 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#152570 - 07/11/11 07:53 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
There are a lot of great comments here. I would underscore Lori's points. I have a german shorthaired pointer that I take pretty much everywhere I go. As noted, that limits where I can go. She carries her food, a full set of leather boots for her feet, as well as a few other items. I have a portion of the FAK dedicated to her. She is a hunting dog by birth, but will not run after rabbits, deer, or whatever unless I let her. I have spent a couple of years training her.

If I want to avoid harassment by bears, I keep a clean camp, store my food properly, and pay attention to what is going on in the area around me.

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#152574 - 07/11/11 09:46 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: skcreidc]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I've had three bping dogs. Lots of bag nights with and without them. Cannot say they deter or attract bears. I've heard both ways they can prevent a visit and some say will attract bears. My last dog, Pooch, a Yellow Lab X, barked at bears a couple times. Once at home to a bear tipping over my garbage can that was in the back of my truck, that I was taking to the transfer station the next day. The other time, in broad daylight, he growled while sitting next to me and I looked in the direction he was looking and a bear had come to the lake we were camped at and was walking along the outlet of the lake. Good doggie! I've never had issues with bears when out bping. I scare them up early mornings ususally and they take off, whether they have cubs or not. They can't pick out a standing figure, but if you shift your weight from foot to foot, they instantly zero in on you.

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#152577 - 07/11/11 11:26 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: hikerduane]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
I have had a bear walk right up to our campsite despite the barking dog, and help itself to dinner that was cooking at the time. We had to hold the dog back, because we didn't want to carry a dead dog out.

Think this through, and you will realize that the dog is in much greater danger than you are....why would you put your dog in that situation?
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balzaccom

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#152591 - 07/12/11 07:59 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
How would a bear know the difference between a dog and a wolf? Although neither is a predator of the other, they are antagonists and tend to both be drawn to easy food. If a bear sees a dog they could think the dog was protecting a "kill cache," which could draw them right in. It all depends on where you are and what the bears are habituated to (common theme with bear safety). On the local trails around Anchorage bears are familiar with dogs, and I haven't heard of any stories where the bear was drawn to the hiker because of the dog (but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen). However, I would think in the deeper wilderness areas where bears are habituated to wolves, the bears might have a completely different reaction.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Bottom line when it comes to bears - know the bears in the area you are visiting! Don't make assumptions about bear behavior in your location based on behavior of bears elsewhere. A Kodiak Brown isn't going to act the same as a Kenai Brown, and although they are the same species, neither will act the same as a Yellowstone Grizzly.

MNS
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YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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#152595 - 07/12/11 10:40 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
I think people here are over thinking the question.

Quite simply... can a dog keep away a bear? The answer is yes, though I can imagine in certain circumstances a bear being drawn to a dog.

In my experience, I remember once as a kid walking through the woods. We saw what looked like a black lab further up the trail. My dog took off after it and we watched a black bear amble away (dog +1). Of course I was camping once with that same dog. She woke me up in the middle of the shaking with fear. It took me a little while to realize there was a bear outside our tent. She never said a peep (dog -1).

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#152597 - 07/12/11 11:17 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: BZH]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
BZH

I am going to disagree with you. The OP asked a question that really involves bigger issues...and the experts on these boards shared their opinions. Because what the OP was REALLY asking was: shoud I take my dog backpacking to help with bear problems?

And I think the responses here did a great job of exploring that question.
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#152608 - 07/12/11 01:06 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: balzaccom]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I'm wondering if I keep too clean of a camp to attract bears? All the years I have been out and also since Pooch passed away 8 years ago or so, have I been visiting high bear problem areas in Yosemite and SEKI. Rancheria Falls in Yose, Vidette Meadow in SEKI, nary a bear. Was I there when their route took them elsewhere and I got lucky? I would agree with protecting your dog, if it is not a trained bear hound, it may not know what to do and get itself killed by one swift swipe.

Duane

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#152629 - 07/13/11 12:37 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: hikerduane]
lv2fsh Offline
member

Registered: 04/27/08
Posts: 111
Loc: socal
My dogs takes me for bear protection. She is pretty smart but can't shoot worth a crap. Actually have never had an issue with a dog while backpacking but wouldn't think about going without her. So I guess the National Parks are out.




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#152630 - 07/13/11 01:01 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: lv2fsh]
rabbitearscarver Offline
member

Registered: 06/10/11
Posts: 26
Loc: Steamboat Springs, CO
Wow- Thanks for all the frank responses. Very interesting subject.
Thanks again!
_________________________
I before E except after C....Weird!

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#152666 - 07/13/11 10:59 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
Where I live black bears are common. They are where you find them and they are known to wander into the city from time to time. We have a bylaw that we cannot put out garbage before 6 am. The idea is to stop people leaving their garbage out all night and attracting Yogi. I like to walk my dog. If I were worried about bears I would never take him out of the house. Actually I am more concerned about coyotes than bears. Hiking in the Provincial Parks I have rarely come across a bear, and when I did it wasnít an issue. Rebel was with me and off leash when we came within 100 yards or so of a mother bear and cubs. Rebel was curious but I told him to stay and he did. He didnít even bark at them.

This year a lady in BC was killed by a bear. It happens. Bears can be dangerous as well as unpredictable. I would not expect Rebel to protect me from a bear. He is not an aggressive dog to begin with. Last year we were walking near the river when I saw what I thought were two dogs. They were actually two bears which disappeared before we got close. This has been my experience so far. It is wise to keep a dog on a leash as others have said.

Howie

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#152745 - 07/16/11 08:44 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: Howie]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
One more thing, to answer the question I think dogs do deter bears in general. There is a trail near where I live that was known for bears, but now several people hike the trail regularly with their dogs, bears are rarely seen there anymore.

Howie

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#155669 - 10/11/11 01:41 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: Jimshaw]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
It all depends on how you raise your dogs. I live in rural Nevada with eagles and owls on the property, and surrounded by coyotes separated by a wire fence. My dogs (3 herding dogs) have a pack mentality and have chased bears out of my camps numerous times. The bears do not come back either.

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#155759 - 10/13/11 01:29 PM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: ppine]
immortal.ben Offline
member

Registered: 09/10/11
Posts: 91
Loc: Arizona
Taking a dog specifically to deter bears is a bad idea, unless the dog is trained for that purpose.

I take my dog whenever and wherever I am backpacking or camping, but he is a service dog, and there is nothing a park ranger can say or do about it. I also take him when I go bow hunting, unless I am going for bear or mountain lion.

My dog lets me know if there are bears or other dangerous animals around, but he would not go out to investigate unless I told him to do so. I would not do that in any case, however. I also know that if something were to attack us and I wasn't able to draw my weapon and tend to the problem, the dog is able to outrun any bear.

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Life is a verb.

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#156500 - 10/31/11 08:13 AM Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... [Re: lori]
nighttime Offline
newbie

Registered: 10/31/11
Posts: 10
I expect that a dog present means that you will see less wildlife since the dog's scent will scare off animals.

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