Dog and deer do’s and don’t’s

Deer and dogs can coexist safely in our communities, if we follow a few basics

Dogs and deer can co-exist safely.

Dogs and deer can co-exist safely.

Sonja Seher

When polled in early 2014 for Cranbrook’s Urban Deer Residents Survey, respondents reported aggression towards pets as a top concern.  Deer and dogs can coexist safely in our communities, but only if we as dog-owners understand and adhere to a few key practices when out with our pets.

No. 1. Avoid Problem Areas

You may have seen warnings at trailheads or heard from your neighbours about local does guarding fawns or aggressive rutting bucks.  Should there be any indication a wild animal showing aggressive behaviours is present in an area you are recreating in, please leave the area and choose another place for you and your dog to enjoy.  Return at a time when there isn’t such risk to a wildlife encounter: it’s just not worth it.

No. 2. Leash Your Pets

Dogs must be under your control at all times, be it on the sidewalk or on the trail.  Please remember that the City of Cranbrook prohibits and impounds dogs considered to be at large (off-leash and out of your control) when they are not on your property.

No. 3. Do not allow your pets to harass deer (or any wild animal)

Deer are protected under the Provincial Wildlife Act from harassment by domestic pets.  Conservation officers are permitted to take measures to control dogs that are at large and harassing wildlife.  Beyond the legal implications, in harassing a wild animal, your dog may be creating or escalating a conflict that leads you into the path of danger.  Ensure your personal safety by not allowing your pet to aggravate wildlife.

No. 4. If the deer shows interest, try and create space between you and the animal

If you and your dog come across a deer that is reluctant to leave an area: give the animal a wide berth as you move around it, maintain control of your dog on leash, and ensure the deer has a clear escape route should it choose to run.

No. 5. If the deer attacks, let the leash go

In most aggressive deer encounters with dogs and dog owners, the deer have focused their aggression on the dog, not the person.  By creating separation between you and your dog, you allow the dog to use its own energetic resources to escape an attack.  If the deer sees your dog as a threat, by dropping the leash you eliminate that connection between you and your dog and divert the attention away from yourself. In the event of an attack: remain upright, protect your head with your arms, and fight back with a walking stick or whatever you have at hand. When the attack stops, seek shelter behind any large object that can serve as a barrier between you and the deer.

Thank you again for helping to keep wildlife wild and our communities safe.  For more on safely recreating around wildlife, visit Should you encounter an aggressive deer or see other wildlife activity of concern, don’t hesitate to report it through the Conservation Officers Service 24-hour reporting line 1-877-952-7277.