5 Tips for Avoiding Bears During Your Wilderness Dog Walks

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Yogi Bear wasn’t your average bear – he was friendly, well-dressed and enjoyed stealing people’s picnic baskets as a lark. While bears of the non-cartoon persuasion will also happily steal your picnic basket, a meeting with a real life bear isn’t funny at all… especially if you have a dog with you! Whether you and your dog are backcountry canoeing, hiking a mountain, or enjoying some time at a campground, be prepared for a run-in with one of Yogi’s cousins!

Related: What Animals To Watch Out For While Hiking With Your Dogs

While an encounter of the furry kind may sound exciting, it’s best all those involved – people, dogs and bears – should never meet. Follow these tips to avoid bear encounters while out in the bush:

  1. Keep your dog on a leash. Keeping your dog on a leash makes it easier to keep your dog under control. Should you surprise a bear, you and your leashed dog can quickly leave the area, and everyone avoids becoming a statistic.
  2. Make some noise. There’s plenty of debate on how effective bear bells are. But one thing all the bear experts can agree on is that making noise is the best way to avoid surprising a bear. Talk or sing to your dog, or just make noise. The more warning you can give a bear that you are in the area, the more time they have to flee.
  3. Keep a clean campsite. Dog bowls, treats and toys must be cleaned up and put away immediately after use. Put anything food related away in a bear box, or secure it in a bear resistant container. Feed and potty your dog at least 100 meters from your sleeping area. Water bowls and poop may not seem like tempting items, but for a curious bear, anything even remotely food related might be enough to attract them.
  4. Keep your dog inside at night. Sneaky bears love to come in under the cover of darkness to snoop around looking for food. If your dog is in your tent with you, he’s going to be able to give you a warning that there’s a bear out there.
  5. If you see a bear, remain calm. Your calmness sets a positive example for your dog as well. Remain calm and assess the situation. Most bears are going to want to leave the area. Make note of which way the bear leaves, and go in the opposite direction.

Have fun out there and always stay bear aware. Pay attention to your surroundings, look for bear scat and fresh tracks. Listen to your dog – he’s likely to give you some signs if there is a bear close by. Some dogs react by becoming clingy, while others will put on a brave face. Either way, it’s your job to manage the situation and keep everyone safe.