No matter where you live, you will encounter some form of wildlife. If you love to hike in the mountains, you will certainly encounter wildlife. Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or a more rural area, wildlife can be found just about anywhere. Some of that wildlife is not dangerous, others certainly are. Whatever area you are in (whether living or visiting) you should have some idea of the wildlife you might encounter.
When it comes to our dogs and wildlife, they quite often are very interested in it. Sometimes too much so. One of our biggest distractions with our dogs is wildlife. At our home, our most common wildlife are rabbits, deer, birds, mice, voles and snakes. But there are others in the area that are less common. Coyotes, bobcats, bears, and mountain lions have all been spotted in our surrounding area. We have also spotted squirrels and prairie dogs on occasion. Some of these animals pose a far greater danger than others. Though even some we think of as less dangerous can pose their own sort of dangers.
Rabbits, squirrels, mice and prairie dogs, for example, seem rather benign at first glance. But chasing one of these into a road can cause a dog to get hit by a car. Catching one of them could expose your dog to a variety of potential diseases. While fleas are less common in Colorado than other areas of the country, exposure to them is a risk as well. Deer typically run if chased, but what if your dog gets too close and gets kicked? What if your dog chases and you can't stop him? How far will your dog pursue?
Your dog might be large enough to handle one coyote, but what if he chases that one coyote back to the pack of coyotes? And in case you are unaware, coyotes have taken down large dogs – not just toy breeds.
While I was out of town, my husband was walking our dogs around our property. As per usual, our dogs were off leash. Romeo spotted something and took off after it. My husband at first assumed it was a rabbit, which is common and not something we are concerned about being a big risk for our dogs. However, when whatever was being chased climbed a tree, it was obvious quickly that this was no bunny rabbit! He realized quickly that Romeo had treed a bobcat. While the bobcat was smaller than Romeo, that's not a close encounter we want to place any bets on. We were fortunate the bobcat chose to avoid conflict and stayed in the tree while my husband collected our dogs and took them indoors. We have not seen the bobcat since then, but we are keeping an eye out.
What's the best thing you can do if you encounter wildlife regularly? Work hard to develop good solid leash manners and/or good solid off-leash skills. A strong recall (come) is essential. A strong Leave It is helpful, or some other way to redirect your dog. For example, when it comes to the deer, a solid This Way (change of direction, and move away) with Zuzu is very helpful.