Dogs as bear deterrents...

Posted by: rabbitearscarver

Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 12:30 AM

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...
Posted by: aimless

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 12:41 AM

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.
Posted by: GDeadphans

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 12:59 AM

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.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 01:18 AM

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

Posted by: Pika

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 09:35 AM

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.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 01:47 PM

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.

Posted by: GDeadphans

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 03:12 PM

Makes me sad just thinking about. <3 my dog.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 04:32 PM

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!
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 05:58 PM

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.
Posted by: lori

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 06:07 PM

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.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 07:14 PM

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.
Posted by: skcreidc

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 07:53 PM

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.
Posted by: hikerduane

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 09:46 PM

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.
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/11/11 11:26 PM

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?
Posted by: midnightsun03

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/12/11 07:59 AM

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.

Posted by: BZH

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/12/11 10:40 AM

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).
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/12/11 11:17 AM


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.
Posted by: hikerduane

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/12/11 01:06 PM

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.

Posted by: lv2fsh

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/13/11 12:37 AM

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.

Posted by: rabbitearscarver

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/13/11 01:01 AM

Wow- Thanks for all the frank responses. Very interesting subject.
Thanks again!
Posted by: Howie

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/13/11 10:59 PM

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.

Posted by: Howie

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 07/16/11 08:44 PM

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.

Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 10/11/11 01:41 PM

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.
Posted by: immortal.ben

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 10/13/11 01:29 PM

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.

Posted by: nighttime

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 10/31/11 08:13 AM

I expect that a dog present means that you will see less wildlife since the dog's scent will scare off animals.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 10/31/11 12:19 PM

A dog may scare off animals, and it may not. Human scent is normally stronger than any dog. Humans have hunted with dogs since the domestication with wolves.

I have ridden horseback within 15 feet of coyotes and right into the middle of an elk herd. Equines are vegetarians and smell like plants and have 4 feet. Humans and a dogs are predators both usually smell like meat.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/06/11 12:31 PM

I just joined the Alaska Outdoors Forum. It is very interesting to hear from people who live with bears. They are very matter of fact about them. They take their dogs everywhere. They don't allow bears to change their travel plans much.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/09/11 03:54 PM

After some deliberation, I have realized that I take my dogs backpacking because I take them everywhere. They do not stay home, and they do not go to kennels. We rarely fly anywhere. They want to be with their whole pack. Yhey are used to the bush.

Yesterday I saw a video of a large grizzly, ie over 500 pounds, that walked into a fish camp in Alaska after a bunch of salmon were put out on the bank. The bear was obviously interested in the fish. Several people came out with a Schnauzer and some 15 pound mutt. The two little dogs chased the large bear out of the camp at a run.
Posted by: phat

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/10/11 01:12 AM

Originally Posted By ppine

Yesterday I saw a video of a large grizzly, ie over 500 pounds, that walked into a fish camp in Alaska after a bunch of salmon were put out on the bank. The bear was obviously interested in the fish. Several people came out with a Schnauzer and some 15 pound mutt. The two little dogs chased the large bear out of the camp at a run.

I've also seen videos of grizzlys happily eating out of people's hands without harming them.

I've also seen videos of grizzlys running away from kids and cats.

Doesn't make it a good idea.

I've met grizzlys *lots* when hiking. I'm not afraid of them. but I respect them and give them space.

A dog in grizzly country is a liability. Sorry. I love my dog, I won't take him there. It'll just up the chances that the bear, and me, and my dog, end up hurt in an encounter. Sure, the bear might run away, or the bear might stand his ground. and then the dog going after the bear turns a relatively safe situation very dangerous.

Black bears that get hunted with dogs, possibly a different story - with a good big dog. I still would not take a dog into an area with lots of bears.

if I were *hunting* bear, totally different story. if I were carrying a gun with the intention of shooting a bear, totally different story. I'm not doing that while hiking. so, no bear liability dog for me.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/10/11 11:14 PM


Check out the discussion on Alaska Outdoors Forum on dogs in the bush. Alaskans are around bears all the time, and they almost always take their dogs.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 12:19 AM

Alaskans are around bears all the time

I think you maybe missed the fact that phat is also around bears all the time. He's from British Columbia, which is pretty much as bear-infested as any place in Alaska, except perhaps the Kenai. He has many decades of experience with bears. I would think he doesn't require a dose of chatty Alaskans to tutor him in bear behavior.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 12:29 AM

Actually, phat is from Alberta. He hikes in the Canadian Rockies which are prime bear habitat, with most of the area being national parks where both black and grizzly bear are protected and therefore unafraid of either dogs or humans.

I generally don't hike in grizz country (except for Wyoming's Wind Rivers where grizz have recently turned up even in the southernmost parts of the range), but I don't worry about my dog. I always keep him on leash or at heel behind me on the trail. He's wimpy enough that he wouldn't try to chase a bear anyway--he's scared to death of the neighborhood cats!
Posted by: aimless

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 01:07 AM

At least I located him on the correct continent. blush
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 01:21 AM

And in the correct country! Besides, I'm sure he goes over the divide into BC quite a bit, as well as hiking the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island! laugh

In fact, a couple of years ago he was here hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with several other TLB members! We need to schedule another TLB hike somewhere! The one suggested for Colorado (to be hosted by Food/Ringtail) didn't work out, but the one we had here was a great success,
Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 01:25 PM

I'm more scared of moose than bear. See a lot more of them too. Moose kill dogs - at least once a winter I hear about a moose stomping a mushers line of dogs (while they are pulling the sled.)
Posted by: TomD

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 08:32 PM

Everything I read about moose (mooses? meese?) says (more or less) "really, really, really big deer with a bad attitude." grin
Posted by: phat

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 09:44 PM

Correct, I'm from Alberta - Altough I trek into BC a lot.

Now as for moose, they don't scare me much, but I eat a lot of them. Bulls in the rut can be agressive, but are basically dumb as posts then. Both cow moose and cow elk however can be dangerous when they have calves with them. Their survival strategy for milennia of wolves is to stomp anything that threatens baby until it doesn't move. Always best to give a cow moose or elk with a baby space.
Posted by: phat

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 09:45 PM

Originally Posted By OregonMouse

In fact, a couple of years ago he was here hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with several other TLB members! We need to schedule another TLB hike somewhere! The one suggested for Colorado (to be hosted by Food/Ringtail) didn't work out, but the one we had here was a great success,

Maybe you could all cross the border and we could all do West Coast Trail..
Posted by: JPete

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/11/11 10:52 PM

Without suggsting that this is funny, I had to laugh because in something like 65 years of spending time in the back country pretty regularly, the only critter that has ever attacked me was a bull moose (in season -- late fall in Maine). Best, jcp
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/12/11 11:58 AM

Moose are definetly not to be messed with. Nor are elk or buffalo. This Sept I was elk hunting in NE Nevada near the Idaho border. The herds were scattered and spent most of their time in the deep riparian stands of aspen and willows. I played ring around the rosy with a large bull in a willow thicket at 25 yards. He was not intimidated by my presence, and made some demonstrations to that effect. I felt like the muzzleloader in my hand was more for protection than anything.
Posted by: Franco

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/12/11 07:19 PM

A very interesting book that touches many times on the subject is Polar Dream by Helen Thayer.
The short version is that her dog saved her life several times fending off polar bears.
BUT it was a husky that had a natural instinct to cope with the situation.
(IE not a pet, it was an Innuit working dog used to polar bears)
The interesting part is how very differently the dog behaved with different bears.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/14/11 03:45 PM


Polar bears can make even experienced explorers tremble. I have no experience with white bears, except for reading about Arctic explorers and canoesists on high latitude rivers. After living with Barren Grounds grizzlies, even for months, it is common for these intrepid types to dread going north into the range of polar bears.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/14/11 04:18 PM

I have heard the Inuit/Polar Bear realtionship described as "mutual predation."
Posted by: skcreidc

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/15/11 01:39 PM

This isn't to anyone, just a statement. I know what to do about black bears and taking my dog into those areas doesn't concern me. So far she has responded well to any exposure to black bears and listens to my commands. But I am certainly not using her as a defence against them. However, grizzly and wolf territory she is not familiar with and I am not willing to put her at risk of getting killed. Having her there could also exacerbate the situation when what we need is to be cool.

Besides that, there was one night where a bear ran by our camp and she was so tired she just slept through it all. For that matter, the wife and kids slept through it all as well.
Posted by: midnightsun03

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/15/11 05:48 PM

When it comes to bears in Alaska, there's alot of different issues. Sure, we're used to sharing the trail with both blackies and browns. Most of the time in Anchorage they are pretty good neighbors. But sometimes they aren't. A dog isn't going to deter a grumpy bear, although it might alert the bear to human presence in time for the bear to take off before the human is in sight. But a bear guarding a kill isn't going to care whether there is a dog, a wolf, a coyote, or a 15 year old on a mountain bike, they are going to be aggressive. We don't hike with dogs to deter bears, we hike with dogs because we like to hike with dogs. Maybe because bears are just a "normal" part of the scenery they all seem to play pretty well together in the sandbox. But if you were to take a dog into an area that it is not familiar, with the potential of meeting a bear, with which it is not familiar, the dog might get itself hurt.

You really can't compare bear behavior in Alaska to bear behavior anywhere else. I've said this before and I will say it again. You can't even compare bear in Anchorage to bear in Kenai or Kodiak or in the Brooks Range. Bear behavior is based on how well it is thriving and how hungry it is and how plentiful food is at any given time. When food is late in arriving we have alot of incidents with bears. When berries and fish arrive on time, fewer incidents. You can not make assumptions about bear safety from reading a forum. We learn to hike with all of our senses - you have to be alert at ALL times. I can't tell you how many times I've had a black dog run up behind me and scare the crap out of me because out of the corner of my eye he looks like a juvy blackie, and they can be more dangerous than you'd think (like any teenager, they tend to act like they think they are invulnerable). You rarely walk through the woods without seeing wildlife because you have to keep your senses on alert at all times. We behave differently because of the bears, but it is so innate that when we talk about it we sound almost flip about the dangers. But believe me, most of us who hike in AK, with or without dogs, take something else as deterrent (bear spray or gun depending on one's feelings on the matter).

MNS (who is not currently in AK, but still looks for bears!)
Posted by: bermuda ern

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/17/11 01:18 PM

I took my three year old pit bull out for a 3 day trip at Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland the other weekend because I thought she may finally be up to the task. She still isn't used to carrying her food on her so I had to, but she is conditioned very well to hiking 8 hour day hikes over steep terrain with me since we live right on the border of a great state park.

I greatly underestimated her ability to sleep outside though. She was quite nervous for a few hours in the tent and was growling at every passing critter she could here in the night. At about 9, a black bear wandered down the hill into our camp and started ambling about and sniffing. If my ears are as good as I think, the bear was anywhere from 10-20 feet away from the tent and seemed pretty darn curious. Needless to say my dog was scared. I keep my camps immaculately clean and haven't had a bear approach camp since I was like 15 in boy scouts. My only explanation is that the bear was curious about the dog and was drawn in by her scent and sound. Nerve-racking.
Posted by: OldScout

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/18/11 03:49 PM

I'd be up for doing the West Coast Trail. (or, as my kid says, "I'm down with that.") In fact, my hiking buddy and I were talking about the West Coast Trail a couple of weeks ago and talking about how we needed to learn more about it. I had intended to contact Phat to get the particulars. OldScout
Posted by: BradMT

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/19/11 10:09 AM

I didn't see it mentioned, but here in Montana Grizzly country, the other thing to consider is wolves...

A wolf WILL KILL your dog if they come into contact with it. Period.

Side note to dog-hikers... if you're on NF land please leash your dog. It's the law and it's the courteous thing to do.
Posted by: Stu Jordan

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 01/04/14 04:04 PM

I know this is an old thread, but...

Live in the Ozark National Forest. Specifically where the game office drop off bears that are written off as "trouble makes" caught near residences.

Last March I was charged by a rather large, male, black bear...the only thing that saved my bacon was a dog named Doo. Not "Scooby-Doo", but "Doo". Then there are the dozen or so encounters where the bears came into my yard that Doo ran up a tree. Then there was the time a bear busted out two of my windows. Bears here are not afraid of people.

Long story short...a dog is a must. If you walk in brown/griz country...I'd take at least three. Don't have to be big dogs. Funny thing bears can count. They tend to think twice with one dog, but two dogs....they will take cover rather than advance. Three worries.

Half guard dog and half hound is a good bet. Best of both worlds without them straying too much. With that said you don't want the "half-hound" to be red-bone, blue-tick or anyother hound adept at running 20 miles a day. You will loose them in short order. A mild hound like a "water-dog" (lab/weimeraner) mixed in with a BIG guard dog (mastiff/dane).

Any LARGE pure bred guard dog will do, but they cost money while muts are typically free. Even a single teacup poodle is better than nothing...assuming you can out run the dog of course. A single pitbull will work, but you can't run more than one cause they'll fight your other dogs if not kill them.

With my experience with black bear...I'd never test my luck with brown/griz...

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 01/05/14 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By Stu
Bears here are not afraid of people.

First off, Welcome to the Forums!!!

It's nice to have another Ozarker here. What part of the NF do you live in?

Stu, you're the only person I've ever heard say that black bears are a problem anywhere in the Ozarks. I've spent a lot of time in the Ozark NF, weeks wondering around each side of Push Mountain Rd, weeks within the Richland Creek Wilderness and the Buffalo River Wilderness areas, and a lot of time in others parts of it too.

I know a lot bears are killed in Arkansas each year. 431 were killed in 2012, and that same year there were 130 reports statewide for nuisance bear calls logged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, which I consider pretty low.

I'd love for you to chime in on the discussion going on here in the Backcountry Health & Safety Forum.

I've been telling people here just about the exact opposite of what you're saying, and you seem to have a lot more experience with black bears here than I do, so I'd like to hear more about those experiences, as I'm sure others would too.

Posted by: Country Jay

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/18/16 04:25 PM

Wow, after reading these topics I had to come here and post a comment.

People who stated in your forum topic claiming that you are only out to get your dog killed. That if you bring a dog along with you on the trails will only get a dog killed.

To me these people have little to no experience at all. I know some newly back packers perhaps think nature is a pink fluffy bunny that if you think a certain way a bear will just come up to you snuggle.

For one thing, nature is hostile. If you want to bring a dog in a hostile environment then I suggest you do so with pride. Pride in your dog, and pride in yourself.

I love my dog, and my dog loves it in the bush. If I didn't take my dog with me when I went out in the bush, he would be devastated. When he is out in the bush with me, he is the happiest dog in the world. He loves it more than me an I love going out in the bush. Do I take my dog out to get him killed? No! Would I protect myself and my dog if need be? Yes!

Reading this forum on people suggesting that a dog potentially saving someone's life if wrong is absolutely disgusting to me. These people have no experience long term in the woods or they have some sort of mental issue. (Like thinking bears and nature is a pink fluffy bunny that is always under there control.) It is the way Tim Treadwell's way of thinking was. (Tim Treadwell ended up getting eaten by a bear.)

A dog is a companion, and my life may have actually been saved because of my dog.

Not too long ago I was out in the bush coming back to my camp when my dog kept growling and barking in a direction of thick bush in which I was heading towards. So I decided to head back to camp. I tried a few times to see what it was but I didn't see anything. My dog continued to act strange all the way back to camp. Once I got back it was then I saw the bear.

If it wasn't for my dog trying to get me to come back to camp. I would have stayed out there.

btw, my dog is a bichon which is no bigger than a poodle.

I'm so sorry that you got these horrible comments and believe me, they have no idea what they are talking about.

Stay Safe!
Posted by: aimless

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/19/16 02:01 AM

Country Jay, I don't have any idea if you will come back here to read this or if your comments were just the result of a one time visit you will not repeat. I would hope you will stick around, share what you know and learn from what others know.

However, I would like to challenge your assumption that because you have one set of experiences and have drawn your conclusions from them, that your experience invalidates everyone else's or nullifies their conclusions. I do not know where you hike or how long you've backpacked because you did not fill out your profile or give this information in your reply, but I do know that what applies to Georgia may not apply to Arizona, or that experience that is true in Michigan may not be valid in Alaska or Montana. When you've learned all there is to know about every wild place, then you can make such unqualified statements and they'll be respected. As it is, we have forum members from all over the world. Lots of them have decades of backpacking experience. But no matter how experienced you or I may be, there is always more to learn and someone else who knows more about it than you or I do.

You may believe that your bichon saved your life by growling at a bear, but my experience (as well as the relevant data) tells me that black bears attack and kill humans so rarely that it is justified to say it is no more than a one in a million possibility. If the bear were a grizzly (aka brown) bear, then the chances of a fatal attack are not quite as remote, but still pretty rare. Because black bears are several hundred times more numerous than grizzlies, which can only be found in a handful of U.S. states, chances are your bear was a black bear. If so, your life was not in very much danger, dog or no dog.

As for nature being "hostile" as you say, or "a fluffy pink bunny" as you seem to think others may believe, I would say that it is neither. Nature is more or less indifferent. It can kill us or spare us, but not because it cares about the outcome either way. The more you learn about the way nature operates, the easier it is to abide by its rules and thrive within them. When this forum works the way it is supposed to, we all learn from each other and we all end up safer and happier during our time in the wilds.
Posted by: Pika

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/19/16 10:29 AM

+1. My views too.
Posted by: Country Jay

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/19/16 03:52 PM

Thank you for the reply. What you said was well said, and I don't disagree with anything you said.

I just notice some tree huggers at times do more damage than good. Like for instance, ruining a possible life long friend ship, a friendship with a dog.

People claiming that you are an animal abuser because you want to take a animal companion out into the woods is just dis heartening to me. These tree huggers would destroy a life long partnership with a friend, a friend who is a dog. That just upsets me.

I have heard countless stories of dogs deterring bears from humans. They give you a sixth sense. They really do. And in return they can be out in the wild with you. Most people with bad bear encounters usually happen when they are alone.

My dog tolerates being at home the same way I tolerate working for a living. But when we hit the trails out in the woods. We are having the time of our lives.

If the original poster is around, I'd say get a dog. You will live longer because you have a dog, and a dog only wants friendship, a home, and to be loved, in return. Pretty low maintenance if you ask me.

What more could you ask for?
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/19/16 06:24 PM

Depends on the dog, its training, its purpose, the bear, the bear's species and where the bear is located, sparse bear population or crawling with bear. Rural working dogs are trained to "deter" predators by barking, which warns the humans. The dogs can and do chase of wild animals that would kill their herd, if trained to do so. Many dogs are protective of their owner. Whether they would fight to death to protect thier owner or flee depends on training. I do not plan on testing that with my dog. Whether a bear hearing a barking dog would leave or attack is another unknown. Most horse packers take dogs and swear that the dogs deter bears. But, as said previously, these dogs trained as are more than just pets.

My dog is a warning signal, inasmuch as that is a deterant. We trained her NOT to chase animals. The only animal she is allowed to chase is a squirrl or chipmunk. She loves to chase them up trees, just for the fun of it. She has been through a formal rattlesnake avoidance class.

We have had a bear wander near camp and our dog just sat there, staring at the bear, not moving or making a sound. I think this unfamiliar big beast actually scared her. Had she only heard the rustle in the bushes and not seen the bear, I think she would have barked. Had the bear advanced agressively towards us, hard to say if she would have jumped into our arms in fear or growled fiercely.

I really do not see bears as any more threat to my dog then me. We still take her with us. The fact that there are few bear attacks it the first place, makes me think that bear attacks on dogs are just as infrequent. Thus we do not hesitate to take the dog. And yes, when we ran into the black bear, we were in country that also had infrequent sitings of grizzly (very low population).

I laughed at the comment regarding "low maintenance". Our dog got sick and I just cleaned up more than a dozen barffs on my carpet! She takes a swim in the pool, rolls in my garden, and then bounces into the house mudding up everthing (this when my husband is on duty and HE does not clean the house)! I have to use a sleeping bag cover when she backpacks to protect my very expensive sleeping bag from getting dirty. She sheds like crazy. Companion, yes; low maintenance, no! But, in comparison with a 5-year old grandchild we just had for 10 days, she at least does not make me listen to hours of "Sponge Bob riddles and jokes". I love that dogs are non-verbal.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/19/16 09:39 PM

But, in comparison with a 5-year old grandchild we just had for 10 days, she at least does not make me listen to hours of "Sponge Bob riddles and jokes". I love that dogs are non-verbal.


Posted by: Zuuk

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 06/20/16 12:28 PM

If I seen a bear with my dog, he'd bark at it, then hide behind me as if to say, "I got it's attention, now he's all yours!"

He's a Shih-poo, and he's learned to bark at almost anything that moves... thanks to being at my mother's house while I'm at work. He loves to bark at the squirrels, birds, cats, bikers, etc. that go by the window.

Last time I had him out for a little hike, he was pretty well behaved. I'm curious to see if he'll bark like mad with just me around, or if it's a house only thing with him.

Might take him for a short over-nighter in the tent this weekend.
Posted by: hudsonriver

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/06/16 10:31 AM

I recently installed a dog barking/growling sound fx app on my cell phone for use as a possible black bear deterrent when hiking/camping. Normally while hiking a trail my phone is turned off and packed away, so most of the time the app is useless, especially useless if its a surprise encounter. But while taking a break, sitting around camp or just plain lucky enough to spot the bear before it gets too close, the barking app could work. Of course the bear might not have any fear of dogs but i think chances of that are very low. What i do wonder is, if the bears hearing is sensitive enough to recognize its not a real dog barking and if that would make much of a difference... grin
Posted by: Linden M

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/07/16 01:49 PM

I work for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on the Kenai Peninsula, AK.
Our LE Officers and Biologists say it's 50/50 if dogs will help deter bears. Sometimes they can deter bears, and sometimes they can bring them right back to you.

I live alone on Skilak Lake, six miles from my nearest neighbor in a guard station. Last year two mailings occurred within 5 miles of my cabin, this past year only one mauling occurred on the Kenai River about 8 miles from me.
3,000 black and 800 Brown/Griz bears are estimated to live on the Kenai Peninsula.

If I take my dog with my she is on leash. I don't want her bringing a Brown/Griz bear back to me.

Everything I do is solo in heavy bear country.
I backpack, hike, canoe and do solo patrols.
I carry bear spray at all times.
Posted by: Lonerock

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 11/10/16 01:29 PM

I've hiked with dogs over the years and encountered black bears on at least 6 occasions. Neither of the two dogs i've had over the span of 25 years acted aggressive during a bear enounter which i think helped me avoid potential problems. Usually when I spot a bear I remain quiet and slowly leave the area. I think a barking dog could be viewed as agressive by a bear and result in an attack.
On one occasion i was out with my dog along with a couple of other dogs when we encountered a cougar on the other side of a creek. The dogs stood on one side of the creek barking and snarling while the cougar stood on the other side hissing and growling. This went on for a few minutes until the dogs won out and the cougar left. So perhaps your app may have some value, just not with bears.
Posted by: 4evrplan

Re: Dogs as bear deterrents... - 01/13/17 10:04 AM

If nothing else, I bet it helps with raccoons.