Hunting Safety For Dogs: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 9 July 2015

If you are a hunter, or even just live in a rural area with a strong hunting community, you will need to take steps to keep your dog safe during hunting season. When you take your dog with you on hikes or hunting trips, you can reduce the chances of you or your pet being injured by taking specific precautions.

1. Get hunting supplies for your dog's safety.

You should outfit your dog in proper hunting attire, even if you are not looking for game. The reason is because other hunters may see your dog move through the trees and mistake him or her for another animal. Most hunting supply shops should provide a variety of hunter's orange safety vests. Always have your dog wear the vest when you are hunting or exploring wilderness areas during hunting season.

You should also wear a vest along with your dog, because a human standing upright is easier to identify than a dog. Also, carry a whistle with you so you can let other hunters know that you are present in the area. Make sure that your pet is heard by attaching a bell or similar noise-maker to the vest or collar. Other hunting supplies include:

  • a gun safe. Dogs usually will not be much of a danger to guns, but keeping firearms in a safe during travel will bring an added level of protection to you and your pet. You can never be too safe when it comes to handling guns.
  • a first aid kit with basic bandages and medicines for dogs. Ask your vet about what should be included in these kits.
  • hunting boots for your dog. If you will be traveling through water or through very wet, rough areas, you might want to protect your dogs feet with doggie boots made for the trail.

2. Stay together.

Dogs love to romp and play in open areas, but if danger from other hunters is a possibility, its best to keep your animal close. Use a leash or, if your dogs are exceptionally well trained, use your voice to make sure they stay close to you. Staying close prevents your dog from startling game or other hunters, but it also helps you to be seen. Two brightly-vested individuals traveling together are easier for others to see.

3. Train your dog in proper hunting behavior.

Another danger to your pet is the hunt itself-- if you field dress your kills, it means that some of the animal will be be left behind. Dogs are foragers by nature, so they may be tempted by the remains of other hunters, or the remains of your own kills. Fresh raw meat is not really a huge danger to dogs, as domesticated animals can still eat raw foods, but older bones and skin can be an issue, as they can be contaminated with bacteria that would make you dog ill. Train your dog never to eat anything on the trail.

Dogs can also be frightened by gunshots if they are not trained, making them a flight risk in popular hunting areas. Do not take your dog into a hunting zone if they are not prepared to hear and respond well to gunshots. 

4. Stay in safe areas.

Part of hunting involves trapping. Never take your dog into popular trapping areas, and stay away from common trapping lines. Traps are dangerous to dogs and can result in death if your dog happens to wander into one. Check trapping reports in your area, and know that most hunters will use the same areas for traps. If you are not hunting or trapping yourself, stick to the open areas and trails to increase pet safety.