Depending on where you live, deer might be a common sight in your area. These majestic animals can live in both rural areas and on the outskirts of suburbia.
Deer sightings are most common in the springtime. Mating season is in the fall, and new fawns typically emerge around May or June.
Most people think of deer as harmless beauties. They're natural scavengers and don't hunt out prey. They largely survive on fruits, nuts, and vegetation. How harmful could they be?
Unfortunately, attacks do occur, and many of them involve dogs.
Canines are predators and are often seen as a threat to deer. They can go into fight mode, showing aggression to your dog and possibly causing severe injuries. So, what do you do if a deer attacks your dog?
Why Deer Attacks Happen
First, let's look at how these unexpected attacks occur.
It doesn't matter whether you have a tiny Pomeranian or a wolf-like Siberian Husky. Your dog is a predator in the eyes of a deer. That's an important thing to keep in mind because many people make the mistake of thinking they can approach a deer with their dog in tow.
First, you should never walk up to a deer with or without your pup with you. It's not a good idea!
Secondly, seeing your dog is an automatic red flag for these animals. They'll either run away or attempt to protect themselves and their young. The latter behavior is what leads to attacks.
A solitary deer may prefer to run away unless they feel cornered. But attacks are more likely if you are unlucky enough to encounter a mother with a fawn.
Fawn are relatively helpless, so mothers enter deep protection mode to keep their young safe. In many cases, dogs don't even have to make a move for female deer to think they need to protect their fawn. It's your dog's mere presence that can trigger an attack.
Out of Self-Defense
Of course, lone deer can also attack dogs in self-defense.
Many dog breeds have a high prey drive. That means they have an instinctive urge to chase down anything that looks like prey. It's why your dog chases small animals like squirrels.
Deer are just another would-be prey animal. If they are the aggressor, a deer could fight back.
How Does a Deer Attack a Dog?
Deer look distinguished and innocent, but they have many ways to fight your dog. Believe it or not, deer can bite. They're known to bite humans that get too close and dogs that try to nip their feet.
However, the worst injuries usually come from kicks. You have to remember that deer are massive animals. Females weigh around 100 pounds, while males can tip the scales at 150 or more.
A kick from a deer is not a light injury. It can knock your dog out or worse.
These animals can use any leg to deliver a mighty blow, but it's kicking with the rear legs that cause the most damage.
If your dog is unfortunate enough to approach the deer from behind, the animal can perform a "mule kick" powerful enough to do severe damage.
Male deer (bucks) also have antlers. They're like built-in weapons that bucks use to fight back with great ferocity. A buck could use it to launch a dog away or pierce them.
You must be extra careful around deer mating season. Bucks are notorious for being aggressive and chaotic during that time, making encounters dangerous.
Here's a video of a deer attacking a dog in the backyard
What You Should Do When a Deer Attacks Your Dog
Deer attacks can be traumatizing, and it doesn't take much for these animals to turn their attention away from your dog and onto you. Your goal during an attack is to get you and your pup away from the area and toward safety as efficiently as possible.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Make Yourself Big
This is a potentially life-saving tip. Deer will think twice about messing with a considerably large predator. You can make yourself big to scare it away. This method doesn't always work, but it's worth a try if you cannot separate your dog from the animal.
Try opening your coat and spreading your arms. You can also try making assertive noises to get the animal to run away.
Whether making yourself big or not, you must remain calm. Freaking out and jumping around will only worsen the situation. It can cause additional stress for the deer, making the animal focus on you.
Lead Your Dog Away
Your primary goal should be to leave the area and seek refuge. Lead your dog by its leash and immediately get away from the attacking animal.
Always remember this: Do not carry your dog or put yourself between your dog and the deer!
There are reported cases of dog owners suffering debilitating injuries because they tried to use their own bodies to shield their canine companions. It's an admirable sacrifice, but it's one that could end your life.
Resist the urge to pick up your dog. Doing so will make you the focus of the attack. It could also anger the deer, causing it to chase you. Instead, swiftly use your leash to guide your dog away.
Find Shelter and Protection
As you get away from the deer, it will likely lose interest and move on. Either way, don't look back or stop moving. Find shelter immediately.
If a structure is not nearby, go to a place where there is a physical barrier that would stop the aggressive animal. For example, you can go behind a tall fence or a place with thick vegetation.
Bring Your Dog to a Vet
Examine your dog for injuries.
Deer can cause cuts, bruises, broken bones, and worse. Go to your vet as soon as possible. Even if you think your dog is fine, it's worth the examination. The deer can hit your dog somewhere soft, causing internal bruising or bleeding.
It's also a good idea to call the relevant authorities. Reporting the incident can help get the word out and prevent other dog owners from experiencing the same thing.
Avoiding Future Attacks
The best way to not have a run-in with a deer is to be wary of where you're walking your dog.
Do some research about your area and call the local wildlife patrol. Wildlife organizations can provide you with information about where deer are mating and the locations of recent sightings. Choose a place that's far away from those areas to minimize encounters.
Keep your dog on the leash when not in fenced areas. If you encounter a dead or living fawn, leave the area immediately. When you see a fawn, its mother is likely near.
At home, consider investing in a tall fence and deer deterrents like motion-activated lights or sprinklers. You can also get rid of any fruit-producing plants to make your property as unappealing as possible.
A Final Word
Deer attacks can be one of the most frightening things you experience with your dog. You never expect an animal as beautiful as deer to go on the offense, but they're fully capable of getting aggressive when necessary.
Never forget that you're dealing with wild animals!
Take steps to avoid those encounters, and keep our tips in mind if you do. They can help you escape the situation and keep your dog safe.