What About Bears and Dogs?

Black bears usually run away when dogs chase them. Even the smallest breeds of dogs have scared black bears away.

However, bears learn to ignore dogs that are tied up or in pens. Ely researchers watched a yearling black bear forage and rest 100 yards from a dozen barking, tethered huskies.

This video shows a 35-pound dog chasing a 200-pound bear out of a yard in northeastern Minnesota.

Polar bears sometimes play with tethered huskies near Churchill, Manitoba.

Of course, problems can happen. In Wisconsin, a black bear ate from a poodle’s bowl on a porch and was attacked by the dog and its owner. In the fracas, the bear bit the dog, bit the owner’s arm, and then carried off the dog.

Dogs that are walking with their owners sometimes run off into the woods to harass bears. Usually the bears run away, and the dogs come back wagging their tails. But mothers with cubs have chased some dogs away. In a few instances, the dogs retreated behind their owners, bringing mother bears and owners face to face.  When the mothers paused, the dogs resumed harassing the mothers in at least three instances, creating stories of dogs defending owners. One owner punched a mother bear in the nose, and the bear hit back, causing minor injury.

Keeping dogs on leashes avoids most problems. In northeastern Minnesota, a man has walked his dogs almost daily for over 35 years. He enjoys seeing bears, including mothers with cubs. His dogs became used to seeing bears, and did not give chase. They have never had a problem.

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