Deer and Dogs

Deer and Dogs

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Homeowners have reported encounters between mule deer does and pet dogs that have resulted in the pets requiring veterinary attention.Deer will act defensively when approached by dogs and people, especially if there are fawns in the picture. In one of the incidents, a fawn was actually seen in the vicinity of the doe before the confrontation with the dog took place.

Fish and Game advises that there are a few things people should keep in mind to reduce conflicts with wildlife, especially this time of year when animals are caring for young and are extra protective.

Give animals their space (stay at least 25 yards away). Approaching animals like deer and moose, especially if they have young, is not a good idea for people or pets. They will defend themselves against any perceived threats, even a tiny dog.


Just like humans are protective of their kids, wildlife moms are protective of theirs. This time of year, assume every deer or moose has a fawn or calf nearby, even if you don’t see it.


Maintain control of your dogs. That may mean keeping them inside your home or in a kennel, and leashing them when venturing outside.


Deer are more active in the morning and early evening, and that is when you may observe more wildlife visitors in your yard or neighborhood. Pay attention to those activity patterns and perhaps adjust your schedule or behaviors accordingly.


Before letting your pets outside, check your yard for deer or other wildlife. Consider keeping pets under your control with a leash when going into your yard-- especially this time of year. If at night, consider joining them outside with a flashlight in hand to scare off any critters that may be in your yard.


Don’t feed deer. In some places like Pocatello, it is against city ordinance to feed deer… and for good reason. One issue with feeding is that it can draw deer to yards and create conflicts with people and pets.

Living and recreating around wildlife can be both a joy and a challenge. Much of the time, there are steps YOU can take to make the experience more pleasant and safe. If you have any questions or concerns about living with urban wildlife or what you can do to reduce potential conflicts, please contact your nearest Idaho Fish and Game office.

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