Every season is safety season when it comes to your dog. But hunting season requires a bit more precaution and consideration when it comes to protecting your pooch. If you’re planning to enjoy the great outdoors and cool fall weather with your dog, be sure to use these tips to keep her safety this hunting season:
1. Check Your Local Hunting Season Dates
Every state and region has different dates that they open their hunting seasons. Whether you’re hiking during duck season or deer hunting season, you will want to be aware of the possible danger associated with these dates to keep your dog safe. Mark them on your calendar or save them as alerts in your phone as reminder to appropriately prepare before you head out with your dog.
2. Know Where Hunting is Permitted
Check your local ordinances to find out where hunting is allowed. Many state and city parks allow hunting, so be sure to avoid these areas during hunting season or take all precautions to prevent an accident.
3. Purchase the Right Safety Equipment for Your Dog: Visibility is Key
A reflective safety vest in hunter orange is the best way to keep your dog highly visible to hunters. Bright orange is easy to see even in the densest woods, and reflective material helps highlight your dog during dusk and dawn.
You will also want to attach a bell to your dog’s collar before heading out on your walks. This will alert nearby hunters of your dog’s presence and make your dog easier to find should he pull free from your grip.
4. Dress Yourself for Safety
Your dog isn’t the only one at risk during hunting season. Like your dog, you should wear bright, highly visible colors, including a hunter orange hat if you have one.
5. Leashes Keep Dogs Safe During Hunting Season
When walking in parks, rural regions, or in areas where hunters may be present, keep your dog on-leash at all times. Dogs can’t help but act on their prey drive and chase wildlife. To prevent your dog from bounding after a rabbit, deer, or other animals in the crosshairs of a hunter’s gun, keep your dog secure and safe with a well-fitted collar and strong grip on his leash.
6. Declining Daylight Means Extra Danger
A reflective vest, collar, and leash can significantly improve your dog’s visibility as the sun sets or rises. You may also want to bring a flashlight along just in case it gets dark while you’re walking.
7. Don’t Leave the Trail
Most hunters are required to stay within designated regions of parks and state forests. These areas are often selected to be further away from trails. To keep yourself and your dog safe, don’t stray from marked trails and roads.
8. Don’t Be Shy About Making Your Presence Known
If you spot hunters on your walk, don’t assume they see you. Be sure you get their attention by waving and calling out that you’re nearby.
9. Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside without Supervision
Between stray bullets or trespassers looking for a new hunting spot, your backyard may not be as safe as you think. Try to keep your dog indoors if you hear gunshots or live in a rural area where hunters may be present. You also don’t want your dog to startle from gunfire and escape your yard and run off.
10. Keep in Mind Many Dogs are Afraid of Gunfire
Guns are loud and can scare even the bravest dogs. Be sure that your dog’s collar is tight enough to prevent him from backing out and return home if your dog begins acting erratically. Keep in mind your dog’s hearing is better than yours. Just because you cannot hear gunshots, doesn’t mean there aren’t any.
Use hunting season as an opportunity to try out some new hiking and walking trails with your dog. Think of areas where you won’t find hunters: the shoreline of a lake or beach or a park that doesn’t allow hunting. Most importantly, remember to gear up, stay safe, and know when to go or stay home.