Bear Safety for Dogs


Spring has sprung and that can only mean one thing in Whistler; the bears are waking from their winter slumber. According to experts, although predatory attacks on humans by bears are extremely rare, a disproportionate number of attacks by bears on humans are related to dogs. These situations are often a result of a dog running back to their owner for protection during an encounter or an owner trying to intervene in a scuffle between a bear and their dog. Bears are an inevitable part of life in Whistler so here are some tips for keeping yourself and your furry friend safe out on the trails. 


Prevention:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, keep an eye out for signs of bear activity such as scratches on the ground or trees and feces
  • Attach a bear bell to you and your pooch (this will alert any bears in the area of your presence and reduce the chance of you starling them)
  • Avoid hiking at dawn and dusk which are opportune feeding times for bears
  • Avoid any areas where there was recent wildlife activity or encounters
  • Take caution when running or biking with your dog as faster movements increase the likelihood of you startling a bear 

      Preparation: 

      • Take a wildlife safety/awareness course online 
      • Carry an air horn to deter an approaching bear in the event of an encounter 
      • Carry bear spray, have it accessible, and know how to use it!
      • Develop a reliable recall with your dog so if you do encounter a bear, you are confident that you can call them back to you! 

      When encountering wildlife, always be prepared for your dog to exhibit unpredictable behaviours. Any dog with a consistent, reliable recall may still choose to ignore you when faced with a bear. The safest option (as always) is to keep your dog leashed. Long lines are a great option to allow your dog freedom with less compromise to safety during bear season. Prevent, prepare and get out there and enjoy the lush spring trails!