Are you a BearWise dog owner?

If you own a dog and live in or travel to bear country, eventually your dog may encounter a bear. Understanding why some dog-bear encounters end peacefully and others end with dogs and people being injured or killed can help keep people, dogs and bears safe.

angry dogBears don’t like to be barked at, chased or cornered. When bears feel threatened and don’t see an easy way to get away from “danger,” their natural instinct for self-preservation kicks in, and the bear will most likely defend itself. No matter how big and strong your dog is, pound for pound bears are much stronger and more powerful.

Research shows that dogs have been involved in the majority of incidents involving people and black bears. Many of those dogs were injured or killed; the people trying to protect their dogs were often injured as well.

BearWise Bulletin about dogs and bearsTake time now to find out why bears and dogs naturally don’t get along and how you and your dog can live responsibly in bear country. For lots of tips, tactics and sound advice, visit our webpage on bears and dogs and also download our free 2-page bulletin: Dogs + Bears = Problems.

Checklists for Dog Owners

 Living With Dogs In Bear Country

  • Feed pets indoors. If you must feed pets outside, feed only single portions and remove bowls as soon as your pet is finished.
  • Keep your dog on a non-retractable leash even if you’re just going to the car.
  • Install motion-activated security lights. Check the yard and bang on your door before you let your dog out.
  • If you see a bear, bring your dog inside. Don’t allow it to bark at or harass the bear, even from inside a fenced yard.
  • Pet doors should open into completely enclosed areas; some bears can squeeze through openings as small as nine inches high. Cubs (and other critters you don’t want in the house) can fit through even smaller openings.
  • If your dog gets into an encounter with a bear, don’t try to rescue it. If you can do so from a safe distance, use your bear spray or a high-powered garden hose.

Out Walking Your Dog?

  • Keep your dog on a non-retractable leash at all times.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • Stay alert; music and phones are distracting.
  • Avoid walking at dawn, dusk or at night in areas with known bear activity.
  • If you see a bear, turn around and leave.
  • Don’t let your dog bark at, harass, chase, or corner a bear.
  • If your dog gets into a fight with a bear, don’t try to rescue it. You will get injured. Instead, use your bear spray.

Thanks for not putting people, dogs and bears at risk.

BearWise®. Created by bear biologists. Supported by State Wildlife Agencies.
Dedicated to helping people live responsibly with black bears.
Copyright © 2018-2023 BearWise | All Rights Reserved. To reprint, redistribute or excerpt without changing or altering content in any way, please credit: Courtesy of BearWise® | and notify us where this article will be used. To request written permission for any other use, please contact us
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