Some people love deer, and raise plants to bring them onto their property. Others love to hunt deer, and will rise early to go seek them out. Still, other people consider deer a nuisance, and want them off their property. All these people have one thing in common. They all want to know if dogs scare deer away.
Do dogs scare deer away?
Deer are known to be shy and skiddish animals. Hunters go to great lengths to hide their scent and themselves, sitting quietly in deer blinds and tree stands. A person can quickly cause a deer to turn tail and run, but what about a dog?
The Case For Dogs Scaring Deer
This is the answer you would expect. Many people believe, and have experienced, dogs scaring deer. Dogs are a predator, and deer are a prey animal.
Like other animals, they have a keen sense of danger. They can smell and spot predators coming, and will flee the area, at least temporarily, if they encounter a threat.
The Case for Dog and Deer Coexistence
On the other hand, you have people who claim dogs don’t bother deer. They claim to have seen dogs and deer in close proximity, with the deer simply ignoring the dogs.
We don’t have the same studies on deer that we do with dogs and cats, so it’s difficult to know how a deer’s brain and memory works. However, anecdotal evidence offers some clues.
Many hunters say that if they are “caught” shooting a deer, especially more than once, other deer will leave the area. Being “caught” means that one or more deer spotted the injury or death of the deer the hunter targeted.
The deer may leave the area, or become more cautious if they believe there’s danger nearby. They seem to be able to communicate with each other about the danger as well. Of course, white tail deer have their famous white tail.
When a deer is scared, it lifts its tail, exposing the white underside. This is a flag to other deer nearby that there’s danger. This is probably where the phrase “high tail it” means. The deer will all run away.
Communication may go deeper than this, however. If one deer witnesses another deer being killed, how do other deer know to avoid the area? They must communicate it. They also seem to have an excellent memory. Deer won’t quickly forget what they consider a danger area.
Where Do Dogs Fit In?
The most sensible theory is that both camps are right. Dogs scare deer away. Dogs don’t scare deer away. How can both things be true? It depends on the behavior of the dog.
If a dog runs or chases a deer, they will see this as a threat. You can expect them to be scared of the dog, because the dog is acting like a predator.
On the other hand, a dog that doesn’t bark or chase the deer may not appear to be a threat. They may be seen as just another animal in the deer’s natural environment.
It is important to consider that dog’s relatives, coyotes and wolves, are natural predators of deer. It’s possible that deer are scared away because of this similarity, regardless of the dog’s actions. Wild dogs are also known to prey on deer.
Animals and people have a remarkable ability to adapt. Deer in the city can be seen crossing the freeway, even though they are naturally scared of loud noises. As urban areas take over wilderness, the animals will adapt to the situation. Just ask anyone who has found a snake in their home.
If dogs are in the area where the deer are on a regular basis, they may not fear them. They may simply be another part of the environment which they’ve grown used to.
Again, if the dog’s chase the deer, they may fear them. If the dogs leave them alone, they may peacefully coexist. Deer may learn not to fear dogs that bark and chase as well.
If the dogs frequently chase the deer, but cause them no harm, it’s possible that the deer learn there’s no real danger.
Does dog hair scare deer away?
The most common use of dog hair to scare deer away occurs in the garden. Deer will happily munch on your plants if given the opportunity. They have no respect for your hard work or property lines. They simply see food, and eat it. If the food is tastier and more nutritious than grass, they will seek it out. Can you use dog hair to prevent this?
Dog Hair in the Garden
Dog hair is claimed to scare away many animals that would make a meal of your crops, including squirrels, rabbits, and deer. It’s thought that the deer will smell the dog’s scent and retreat out of fear.
It’s impossible to say for sure how effective this is, but it’s worth a try. Since some deer are conditioned to be afraid of dogs, and others are not, it may be hit or miss. It could very well depend on how your deer has interacted with dogs.
However, even if the deer isn’t typically afraid of dogs, it may act as a deterrent. If you place dog hair on or very close to the plants you want to protect, it may go against the deer’s instinct to get that close to the smell of a potential predator.
Does dog poop scare deer away?
Deer have a heightened sense of smell, similar to dogs. Some people claim that dog poop will scare them away, because it’s similar to coyote poop. However, most people don’t think that poop is an effective deer deterrent. The smell of poop, even that of a predator, seems to have little effect on them. Why it doesn’t phase them isn’t really known, but it’s not a recommended method for repelling deer.
Does dog pee scare deer away?
Urine is believed to be a much better deterrent than poop, but there’s no clear answer to why this is.
The Case for Dog Urine
The best research says dog urine can scare deer away. The urine of a coyote or a wolf is said to be highly effective at scaring deer away from an area.
There’s a caveat though. To be effective, it needs to be the pee of a predator. When an animal eats a large amount of meat, it can be detected in their urine.
Deer can smell the difference between an animal with a high meat diet and one that also eats plants. They are hardwired to fear carnivores, because carnivores are their predators.
So, if you want to use your dog’s pee to scare away deer, it might help to feed them a high protein diet.
Not Always Effective
There are many anecdotal stories of deer being unphased by dog pee. One Quora user named Diane shares her story. She has two dogs. Deer will come to the edge of her yard, and even within 15 feet of the house at times.
The presence of her dog’s doesn’t bother them. However, the dogs are chihuhuas and don’t bark at or chase the deer. The dogs pee in the yard, of course. This doesn’t deter the deer at all.
The ineffectiveness could be related to the dog’s size or diet. It could also be that the deer have grown accustomed to the smell, and realized there’s no danger associated with it.
Does the scent of dogs scare deer away?
Deer have a heightened sense of smell. Can the scent of a dog scare them away?
Deer’s Sense of Smell
A deer’s sense of smell is greater than that of a bloodhound. It’s their primary defense against predators. In fact, a deer’s nose has 800 times more receptors than your nose.
Deer, like dogs, also have a Jacobson’s organ. This organ essentially allows them to smell with their mouth as well as their nose. A large portion of a deer’s brain is devoted to diciphering smells, and determining if they are dangerous.
Habitation and Curiosity
Deer are naturally curious and cautious animals. Generally, if they smell a strange scent, they will be cautious and defensive. They err on the side of caution when they are unsure if they are encountering a predator.
Deer are naturally afraid of common predator animals, like coyotes and wolves. Domestic dogs, while similar, won’t smell quite the same. So the deer may run out of caution, because it’s an unfamiliar smell, or because it’s similar to their predators.
However, if a deer smells dogs on a regular basis, but comes to no harm, they will become habituated to it. They will learn over time that the smell is nothing to fear. They may even become curious, and begin getting closer to the dogs to learn more about them.
What kind of dog will keep deer away?
If you want to keep deer away, some dogs are better at the task than others. Generally, you want a large dog who won’t attack the deer, but will chase them away. In general, any breed of working dog should work well.
Pyrenese are one of the best known llivestock dogs. They will protect a herd of livestock from potential predators and intruders. However, they will also protect your home or your garden.
They are gentle and affectionate with their owners. They are great with children and young livestock. They have a long shaggy coat that will keep them warm in foul weather.
They are nocturnal. Deer are typically nocturnal as well, so the Pyrenese is an ideal choice.
The Australian Shepard is well known as a herding dog. German shepards and Anatolian shepards are also excellent for keeping deer away.
They are excellent family dogs, but they are protective of their home and territory. You can expect them to chase away deer and other intruders.
Sheepdogs are also excellent for repelling deer. The Komodor, also known as the Hungarian Sheepdog, and the Polish Sheepdog are excellent choices. They are large dogs who are good with livestock.
Collies, particularly Border Collies, are herding dogs. The breed became famous with Lassie. They are wonderful family dogs, and are excellent for protecting livestock or gardens as well. They are friendly and intelligent.