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Do Deer Attack Dogs?

Deer are thought of as graceful and skittish creatures that keep their distance. Despite this, it is not uncommon for deer to make their way into your backyard, which is where most dogs like to spend their time.

If you have a dog and have noticed deer in your yard, you may ask yourself  “do deer attack dogs?” In most cases, that would be a no, since deer are not the type of animal to attack.

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Keep reading to learn more about what could cause a deer to attack a dog.

Do Deer Attack Dogs?

Domestic dog and deer in the grass field
Domestic dog and deer in the grass field | image by Don DeBold via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Deer are generally thought of as peaceful and aren’t known for attacking other animals, including dogs. However, there are some situations where a deer may feel the need to attack out of self preservation or while protecting its young.

This is because deer are not normally aggressive creatures, but there have been cases of deer attacking dogs. In most instances, however, it is because the deer felt provoked or attacked, and was either trying to defend itself or its baby.

Why Would Deer Attack A Dog?

Aggressive dog outside
Aggressive dog outside

Dogs are not a part of the deer’s diet, and the main reason for an attack to occur is because the deer is protecting its baby (fawn). If the deer feels that the dog, no matter what its size, poses a threat to its fawn, then it will attack. Most cases of deer attacking dogs occur during the spring season, which is when fawns are typically born.

Another potential reason as to why a deer would attack a dog is that your pet got a little too close to a buck during rutting season. Rutting season is the time of year when the male deer, known as a buck, pursues the female deer, known as a doe, for breeding. During this time, the buck can be a bit more aggressive and can attack and severely harm a dog if the animal doesn’t keep its distance.

Will Deer Stay Away From A Yard With A Dog?

Mule deer in the yard
Mule deer in the yard

Deer normally stay away from yards that have a dog, and even This Old House recommends having a dog as effective deer repellent. That doesn’t mean, however, that no deer will ever come into your yard if you have a dog. While it is true that the sight, sound, and smell of your dog can keep deer out of your yard, it isn’t 100-percent effective and merely one of the many options to help keep deer out of your yard.

How To Stop A Deer From Attacking A Dog?

If your dog is attacked by a deer while you are out walking it, never grab the dog and try to carry them away. Instead, let the dog walk away on its own. According to Sgt. Denny Chretien of BC Conservation Office Service, carrying your dog during a deer attack can make the animal even more aggressive and attack both you as well.

The better course of action is to flee from the area while still holding onto your dog’s leash. Seek shelter to discourage the deer from chasing or attacking any further.

What Steps Can I Take To Prevent Deer From Attacking My Dog?

Angry dog ready to attack
Angry dog ready to attack

If you’re concerned about deer encountering your dog, you can install a fence that is at least 6 feet tall. There are even fences made specifically to keep deer out, known as deer fences, that are 7 ½ to 8 feet tall. Deer can jump fairly high, so avoid any fence that is below 6 feet tall.

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Can Deer And Dogs Be Friends?

It is not uncommon to see videos and hear stories of deer playing with and even befriending deer. However, this isn’t something you should try to force or even expect to happen. These encounters are few and far between, and there is no guarantee that the deer, which is a wild animal, won’t attack your dog even after previous pleasant encounters with one another.

Would a Deer Ever Eat a Dog?

Deer are not hunters, they are foragers who feast on various grasses, crops, vegetation, nuts, and acorns. Deer don’t normally consume meat, but it is not completely unheard of. Since meat is not a normal part of their diet, the chances of a situation where a deer eats a dog are extremely slim to none.

Scientists from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota who placed nest cameras as part of their research caught white-tail deer consuming not only bird eggs, but small birds as well. They assumed the reason for this was because the deer were not getting enough protein from the plants they had been feeding on.

When a deer does attack a dog, and it has happened, it isn’t because they see the dog as a food source. It is because they see the dog as a threat to themselves or their young.