Dog Care 101

Dogs & Wildlife: What To Do When Your Dog Chases Wild Animals

Following are some interesting one-on-one confrontations that have occurred between our dogs and wild animals.

Plus tips from the experts on what you should do if your dog as a run-in with some form of wildlife.

Don’t be like I was when my dog caught a rabbit. And then later when my dog caught a squirrel.

It’s best if you have some idea ahead of time what you should do…

Dog / Animal Encounters In Our Backyard

We have a fenced-in backyard. We’re talking a 6-foot privacy fence with no gaping wide openings.

Yet somehow, wildlife manages to venture into our enclosed yard and taunt our dogs — year after year.

Let’s see… to date, we have dealt with:

  • A half-a-dozen or so frogs & toads… which I’m terrified will poison the dogs if they get just one lick, not to mention a mouthful of toad.
  • A mama bird… that chooses our toasty warm dryer vent as the place to make her nest and hatch her eggs each Spring. Only problem: the dryer vent is up high, and comes out the side of our house. It must be at a downward slope too, because each year one or two of the eggs always fall out and land on the ground — cracked. It’s a tasty breakfast treat for dogs. (They’re very small blue eggs.)
  • A skunk… that was seeking refuge under our big air conditioning block in the back yard. We had to deal with this one during a late-night potty break, and it took a water hose on full blast to scare it out from under there. (Fortunately no one got skunked!)
  • A million and one other birds… that enjoy the neighbor’s bird feeders, and choose our tall fence as the place to digest their food (and leave their droppings!). Our dogs both have a lot of Black Lab in them, and they seem to be excellent bird dogs. They eye the birds from a distance, then slowly creep up on the ones sitting on our fence. At the precise moment, they then charge ahead full-speed & scare the birds away.
  • The occasional mack-daddy-sized grasshopper… which fascinates the dogs for hours. They’ll just lay in wait, watching a grasshopper’s every move, without causing it any harm.
  • A gazillion or more Japanese beetles… which, until this year, have been completely ignored by our dogs. But for some reason, little Tenor has chosen to test his bug-snatching abilities on as many Japanese Beetles as he can catch. (He’s dead-on accurate, too.) Now he serves as a canine flyswatter in the house!
  • Squirrels & chipmunks galore enough to send our 3-year-old Black Lab-Golden Retriever mix into a salivating, body-trembling, mad barking frenzy just about each and every day. Squirrels are the most common wildlife sightings for many dogs.
  • Oh, and did I mention the crawfish?… I have no idea where that one came from, because we don’t live anywhere near water. I would have to assume that one of the above mentioned birds whisked a crawfish away from somewhere else and dropped it off in our yard. (Probably in the bird’s haste to exit the premises before being swarmed by some Japanese beetles, licked by a nasty toad, pounced on by a backyard bunny, carried up a tree by a squirrel, or worst of all — skunked!)
  • Several times, our dogs have discovered rabbit nests filled with baby bunnies… I’ve documented a few of those times. First, was the time our Black Lab / Golden Retriever found some newborn baby bunnies in their nest under the air conditioning unit a few years ago. Most recently, was the time our Great Pyrenees / Black Lab found some bunnies in a rabbit hole, and he patiently watched over them for days until they all left the nest.

Yep, those are all common occurrences in and around our quiet suburban backyard!

Geesh, I can’t wait until we move to our new house in the beautiful countryside. There are bound to be many episodes featuring deer vs dog and dog vs turkey. (Don’t let that first video of the deer and dog throw you… Here’s what a determined mama deer can do to a dog and a cat that get too close to her baby!)

Hopefully, there won’t be any dog vs snake or dog vs turtle encounters. (As with the determined mama deer video above, a turtle might not back down as easily as you’d think!)

What To Do If Your Dog Encounters Wildlife

For the record, here’s what you should do if your dog has a run-in with some form of wildlife.

The short answer: LEAVE IT ALONE!

Here is a veterinarian’s perspective on this.

Don’t allow predatory wildlife to get comfortable with being near humans and our homes! Yell, wave your arms, and even throw things at intruders. This could save not only your pet’s life, but also that wild animal. If a wild animal does not leave or becomes aggressive, report it. 

–DFS Pet Blog

There are a few unique things you should do if you (or your dog) happen to come face-to-face with the following wildlife:

Where To Find Help Locally

So, if your dog crosses paths with some form of wildlife in your presence, do this:

If the animal is not injured…

Just leave it be.

It is best to let wild animals remain wild, and don’t try to nurture them or care for them yourself. They are less likely to survive if separated from their natural environment.

If the animal is hurt…

Put it in a shoebox. Then, contact a wildlife rehabilitator, a rabbit veterinarian, or a rabbit rescue group in your area.

If you can’t find anyone near you, then contact your state game department (they issue permits to wildlife rehabilitators).

The Bottom Line

There’s really no need to panic. Many dogs actually “make friends” with creatures from other species.

Here’s a tribute to some interspecies relationships that have lasted — like this dog and deer, and this dog and elephant, and this dog and dolphin.

Then again, sometimes different species of animals don’t get along…

Like this time a bird attacked a dog.