This article will discuss in depth the most effective dog hiking tips to protect your dog from predators in the wild while hiking in the mountains or wilderness. Although German Shepherds are large dogs and can definitely fend for themselves, it is still important that you know exactly what to do if you happen to encounter a dangerous animal on the trail.
This guide will cover tons of dog hiking tips as well as the most likely predators that you will encounter on your journey into the wilderness. It will explain what to do if you see one and what is best response if you and your dog happen to get attacked. To begin we will first go over how to prepare for any potential predators and what to bring on your hike so that you are ready.
1. Bring Supplies to Prepare you and your Dog for the Hike:
One of the first dog hiking tips is to be prepared with the proper supplies. There are several different supplies that you can bring on your hike with your dog to keep both of you prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. Having the right supplies can mean the difference between life and death. The safety of you and your dog should be the number one priority.
1. Bear Bells
Bear Bells are a great way to alert any bears in the area of your presence. Simply attach one to your dog’s collar and your on your away. The come with a silencer to reduce the noise that you hear. We recommend Coughlan’s Bear Bell with Silencer.
2. Bear Spray
Bear Spray is a must on your outdoor excursion. Practice using it at home so you are ready if the time comes. We explain how to use this later in the article. We recommend this two pack of Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray.
3. First Aid Kit
This is one of the most important items to bring on your hike. You need to be prepared in the case of an emergency. You want to have the right supplies if your dog happens to run into trouble. We recommend the Adventure Medical Kits “Me & My Dog” First Aid Kit.
4. Heavy Leash
A nice thick leash is essential for your adventure into the wilderness. If your German Shepherd does end up seeing a wild animal, you definitely want to be able to hold him back if need be. Leash Boss makes a nice Heavy Duty Nylon Leash for camping or hiking that comes in either 10 or 15 feet lengths.
5. Knowledge of Predators
This is definitely number one on the list of tips for keeping your German Shepherd safe from predators while hiking. Below we tell you exactly what to do when you encounter predators and how to react accordingly if you happen to get attacked.
2. Avoid Jogging on Dangerous Trails
Avoid jogging on trails that have a reputation for encounters with dangerous predators. The motion of a jogger or runner can trigger the animals predatory instincts which can lead to an attack. Wild animals love the chase!
3. Look for Tracks
Be on the lookout for any animal tracks or scat that they left behind. Do a little research so that you can recognize the different types of potential predators. This is a good sign that a wild animal is active in your area.
4. Make Some Noise
No we don’t mean singing your way down the trail! Leave that to the professionals. However it is good to make some noise on your hike. This will alert predators ahead of time so that they are not surprised by your presence when you come around the corner. Bear Bells on your German Shepherds collar are a great way to accomplish this.
5. Never Wear Headphones
You need to stay totally alert on your hike so headphones are a bad idea. They can hinder your ability to hear predators on the trail.
6. Plan Your Hikes in Bear Country
You should plan your hike in the middle of the day if possible when hiking in a location where bears are prevalent. They are more active early morning at dawn and late in the afternoon after dusk.
7. Obey Leash Laws
Check the local laws and ordinances before going on your hike. Some trails will require that you keep your German Shepherd on a leash. In cases where they do allow off-leash hiking, be sure to keep your dog in close proximity. You do not want your dog to wander off and bring back a dangerous predator.
8. Tell Family or a Friend
This is one of the most important tips we can give. Let your loved ones know that you plan on going hiking and where you will go. God forbid something happens, your family or friends will know where to look.
Now that you have some general tips on how to stay safe, lets go over exactly how to respond to certain predators in the wild.
9. Have a Plan for Encounters with Predators
This is one of the most important dog hiking tips and one you should take very seriously. You want to have a solid plan in place for any spontaneous encounters on the trail. Here are some of the most probable predators that you may come into contact with on your adventure into the woods.
When you Encounter a Bear:
- Don’t panic if the bear stands up. Sometimes they are just trying to find a better view.
- If you happen to spot one but it doesn’t notice you, try to get away from the bear fast and without making a lot of noise. Do not attempt to run away.
- In the event that a bear spots you, stay cool and remain still. Try not to make any quick movements.
- Let the bear know that you are human by speaking and moving your arms.
- Presuming the bear starts to follow you, attempt to throw something on the ground to distract it such as a bag. It’s curiosity may end up saving your life.
When a Bear Charges You:
- The first thing to remember when a bear charges you is to stand your ground. It may be bluffing. If and when the bear stops, slowly start to back away until you are a safe distance. DO NOT RUN! A bear can run over thirty miles per hour and will most likely chase you.
- Do not attempt to climb up a tree. Like running, bears also love to climb and are very proficient at scurrying up trees. In the event that they see you climbing up a tree, they will likely want to follow you.
When a Black Bear Attacks You:
- Scream and yell while simultaneously waving your arms around in the air. Hopefully you can scare the bear off by causing enough ruckus assuming their are no cubs around.
- Spray them in the face with Bear Spray given that you have it. Stand your ground until they are about ten yards away and then spray the entire can directly at their face. Make sure to have a good grip on the can with one hand on the can and the other hand on the trigger. The bear shouldn’t be able to see or smell because of the spray and should retreat back into the woods.
- Definitely fight back if you have to. Be as combative as possible and use anything around you throw at the bear. Find a large stick or a rock on the ground nearby and go on the offense.
- Playing dead is only recommended if you are positive that the bear is a mother protecting her baby cubs.
When a Grizzly Bear Attacks
- Play dead and try not to move.
- Lay on the ground with your face down and your hands holding the back of your neck. Keep your legs separated.
- It is important to realize that even if the bear leaves, you must remain still. Often times a bear will keep his eyes on you from afar and come back in the event that they see movement.
When you Encounter a Coyote:
- Back away from the coyote in a slow calm fashion without turning your back on the animal.
- Do not run. His prey drive may kick in causing him to chase you.
- Keep an eye out for others, where their is one, there is normally a pack.
- Try to inflate your appearance by putting up your arms to scare the coyote.
When a Coyote Attacks
- If you feel like an attack is looming, get combative and throw anything you can at the coyote.
- Scream and yell until hopefully it backs away and retreats.
When you Encounter a Mountain Lion:
- Stand still where you are and do not run.
- Stay facing the animal and do not turn your back on it.
- Talk to the Mountain Lion in a strong manner.
- Try your best to back away from the Mountain Lion slowly without making any sudden movements.
- Similarly to the Coyote make your appearance look as big as possible by putting your arms up in the air.
- In the event that the Mountain Lion starts to become threatening, throw anything you can at the animal.
When a Mountain Lion Attacks
- Never run away
- Fight back with the best of your ability. Use whatever is necessary to combat the Mountain Lion including personal items, rocks, sticks, tree branches etc.
- Try your best to protect you face, head and neck.
When You Encounter a Moose:
- Don’t approach it and stay as far away as possible.
- Moose can be stubborn and may not get out of your way on the hiking trail. Take a detour if you have to and keep your distance.
- Keep your dog nearby and don’t let him go towards the animal.
We hope these dog hiking tips help you on your journey into the woods. Make sure you visit the rest of our blog for more German Shepherd Articles. Check out our 5 German Shepherd Hiking Tips for more breed specific tips.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience hiking with your dog in the wild? Have you ever encountered any of the predators we mentioned in the wild? We would love to hear any dog hiking tips that helped you on your journey.