Dogs who are trained specifically for hunting and are active participants in shooting sports are at the most risk for injury during game hunting season. Family and service dogs also have the potential to be injured by hunting accidents if appropriate precautions aren’t taken. This risk can be especially significant if your dog is sometimes allowed to roam off-leash in wooded areas while on walks or without a fenced-in yard, even if they are not prone to straying far from home and family.
How to know when hunting season is in your area?
Typically hunting seasons are in the fall and winter, but each state is different and requires its own licensures to legally hunt. To learn when and generally where hunting can take place in your state, look at your state’s fish and wildlife or hunting agency website. To learn when hunting seasons are in California, you can look at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
While some individuals prefer to hunt on wildlife designated ecological reserves, helping to facilitate population management, others have their own private land to hunt on, which might not be as obvious regarding boundaries as government property. Public spaces are often labeled with a sign titled: Public Hunting Area - Limited public hunting under Federal and State laws. However, if the property is private, it is important as a dog owner to be alert to your surroundings and keep an eye out for signage that indicates landscape transitions or private property that is labeled as leased/private hunting land. Hunting is only legal during the daytime, ultimately making this the most dangerous time of day, but you should also avoid letting your dog roam at dusk or night in areas that could be potential hunting space.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Service Dog
Some precautions that can be taken during this time of year are:
- Place a colorful bandana, sweater, or vest on your dog so that they are easily identifiable and cannot be mistaken in the brush for another animal such as a deer or pheasant.
- If you are passing through a wooded area, make your own presence obvious by wearing bright colors.
- Take steps to keep your service dog on a leash or confined and consider keeping them inside at night.
- Take the time to consider putting a bell on your pet’s collar if considered beneficial.
- Be sure to announce yourself and your pet if you see a hunter.
- Keep a pet first-aid kit handy on outdoor excursions.
- Stay on a well-traveled road when walking your dog.
- Chose parks where hunting is not permitted.
- Discourage your dog from chasing wildlife.
Service Dogs in the Hunting World
Since service dogs have such a strong foundation of training and following skills, sometimes handlers choose to have their service animal trained as recreational hunting dogs as well, allowing their handler to participate in this activity in ways they might not be able to independently. While this practice is still uncommon, it can be a desirable option for individuals who enjoy these recreational activities.
Chad Waliguara, who medically is described as a super quad, or someone who suffers from paralysis, but still maintains control of his triceps and arms with limited hand function, is leading the way for individuals with disabilities and service dog partnerships who enjoy fishing and hunting. Chad is a professional outdoor writer, magazine editor, and a professional disabled hunter who has been published on the cover of Sports-N-Spokes a magazine printed by Paralyzed Veterans of America. He and his service dog, Vegas, enjoy participating in outdoor sports together and supporting causes that promote independence for those with disabilities.
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New Life K9s places service dogs with veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to the veterans and first responders.
- Service dogs who hunt: Blazing a new trail for disabled hunters. Cure Medical. (2019, April 25). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://curemedical.com/service-dogs-who-hunt-blazing-a-new-trail-for-disabled-hunters/.
- Billings AF Staff. (2013, September 19). Hunting safety: Tips for keeping your pet safe in hunting season. Vet in Billings | Billings Animal Family Hospital. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.billingsanimalfamilyhospital.com/hunting-safety-hunting-season-pet-safety/.
- How to protect your pet during hunting season. How to Protect Your Pet during Hunting Season | PetSafe®. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.petsafe.net/learn/how-to-protect-your-pet-in-hunting-season.
- 15 safety tips for your dog during hunting season. Puppy Leaks. (2021, August 13). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.puppyleaks.com/dog-during-hunting-season/.