Bringing dogs with you...safer or not

7:50 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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I have had dogs with me backpacking for 22 years and have not seen a bear when i have them with me or any other predator. Do they have a deterent effect? I know they are a early warning system but i have never seen anything one way or another. I have been in rockies and alaska all my life and have seen few bears anyway. Would dogs bring wolves in though? I would appreciate some of the thoughts of everyone.

8:28 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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Just my $.02

The fact that you may not see predators doesn't mean that they are just beyond your perception. A lion or a wolf would love a juicy dog steak and bears would eat them too, BUT packs of dogs are annoying even to the predators. I have noted that having a campfire can bring animals for miles that hang just out of sight, and the predators know that everything else is there too. What worries me is sitting by a fire that has burned down to coals, knowing that every animal in the area is just beyond sight. Personally I think a dog does NOT make you safer.

Jim S

8:36 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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i always have at least two...not saying they are not there but have not be bothered when with dogs but climbed a tree when younger w/o dogs. I dont worry too much about them. Almost all of the bear attacks in Wy have been by hunters after downing game.

10:37 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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I'll offer my .02 yet again on this topic. Once and only once, have I been not only stalked, but rushed by a bear - this happened twice within 2 hours. The SAR task team and I agreed that the only reason this happened is because we had an air scent dog on the task and it pissed the bear off. Other task teams (ground-pounders) were operating in the general area at the same time. No dogs, no bear. FYI, whistles WORK!

12:23 a.m. on February 26, 2010 (EST)
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Safer? Yes-- from loneliness or the suffering of companionship deficiency. (These are NOT the same thing.) From bears, lions, etc.? I don't know of any good data sets. From ill-meaning humans? Probably, at least to a small degree, I think, though again there's a dearth of decent data sets.

The number and type of variables, even for what seems a simple question, are impressive in scope. Kind of dog? Training? Number of dogs? Season? Amount of, and types of, other human (+/- dog) outdoor activity in the area? Number and types of wildlife? Wildlife exposure to humans? To dogs? And that's a list made without even trying hard.

Most people are going to decide this and similar questions based on their own experiences and/or those of close and trusted friends. What's important to realize is that if one takes reasonable precautions, etc., bear attacks, for instance, are rare events. Attempts to predict what other variables affect the likelihood of a rare event are generally fraught with all kinds of potential for error.

One sees this, for instance, in the oft joked about, and often half-believed, notion that God must really hate mobile homes, given their (alleged) propensity to attract tornadoes.

Here's another one we could consider: Does the wearing of lots of polyester fleece and other static-electricity-building-and-carrying clothing affect the likelihood of getting hit by lightning? Probably not nearly as much as whether you're still on top of the dadgum mountain, is my guess. Now, if your dog is along, and also wearing a dollop of Polartec,.....

10:07 a.m. on February 26, 2010 (EST)
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A dog may sense another person or animal nearby long before you would. That could be good in the event the person or animal is intent on harming you. Thus you could gain some time to formulate a plan for escape/fighting.

A noisy dog may scare away a large animal the same way a bear bell might. But a noisy dog could also disturb others on the trail or bring a curious predator closer to investigate.

A dog who gives chase to a predator/large animal may inadvertently bring that animal back to you when the wild animal decides it's had enough of this noisy creature and decided to stop running and start chasing the dog. Where will the dog think the safest place to be is? Right behind you.

Companionship is right on. A dog is more responsive than a soccer ball with a face drawn on it. They can also provide warmth on cold nights and there are reports of dogs finding help for injured hikers.

If you are truly looking for protection you will likely want a dog bread for hunting large predators. A rhodesian ridgeback is an example of such a dog. Bread for hunting lions they are big, strong and courageous with the proper training. They may, however, become confused when, after giving chase you don't follow-up with killing what they are chasing. This could again bring them and the thing they are chasing right back to you

All this said, the chances of a large predator attacking you or your dog seem pretty slim. I would think the best solution is to train the dog to be just like another human hiker, calm and quiet and let the bear bells and bear spray and proper precautions take care of the predators.


10:17 a.m. on February 26, 2010 (EST)
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I will blindly parrot (in paraphrase) what has been so gracefully said here, by others, in the past. If they're not 2 related, trained Karelian Bear Dogs that you know exactly how to control in the presence of an angry bear, leave the dogs at home. And if you do have two KBD's, I envy you.

I'd take the abovementioned ridgeback in a pinch as well.

12:11 a.m. on February 27, 2010 (EST)
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Don't have two Karelian Bear Dogs? Hmmmm.

How about a quartet of German shepherd dogs?

Would you believe in a good string of bird dogs and an aging blue-tick hound?

Or an ill-tempered Chihuahua with a Harley tattoo and a stud collar?

10:35 a.m. on February 27, 2010 (EST)
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Just observation form experience on the planting block:

-We had a dog with us everyday for 4 months in bear country

-Most of the other crews (5) had a dog too.

What i've seen:

-the dogs will bark after the tree checkers (very useful for us)

-the dogs wouldn't do anything if a bear was on the block or in camp (too busy chasing ground squirrels or running after the quad)

-We got our lunches stolen a few times and had to drive the bears away by shouting-running after them, with the mandatory electric fence and bear trap in camp

So my 2 cents: the dogs that we had didn't do squat when bears were around. I've heard the same thing form other planters in other camps too. So while i don't think for our particular situation they presented a greater risk, they sure didn't improve our safety. YMMV

11:02 a.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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It really depends on the dog as an individual, though the breed has tremendous influence. Obviously, a small terrier that thinks he is six feet tall can get you in trouble by attracting trouble. OTOH, a cowardly three hundred pound Old English Mastiff isn't going to be much use when trouble arrives.

Having a breed, like the Karelian Bear Dog, that hasn't been destroyed by cosmetic breed standards is good, but these dogs are not for everyone. Some of the sheep guard breeds (Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Kuvasc) have all the right instincts, coupled with an impressive voice and size. Unfortunately, they might spend their nights circling the flock (you) giving the occasional bark (loud, almost a bay) to warn predators away (I'm speaking from experience). They are often used now for herd protection from coyotes, wolves, and bears in the US. IMO, the authority in their voice is not going to attract trouble (bears, etc.) but repel it.

7:37 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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You could always bring one of these creatures with you to scare the bear away! ;)

8:38 p.m. on February 28, 2010 (EST)
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I've hiked in wilderness areas that still have grazing leases smack in the middle of 'em. (Most recently, last summer, in the Flat Tops in Colorado.) Some of those grazing animals are sheep, such as I saw in the Flat Tops, and they're protected by some very protective, large, and loud (when they wanna be) sheep dogs. Bears very much seem not to be interested in taking on those dogs in order to get at a nice sheep dinner. Now, admittedly, in that area we're not talking grizzlies, but rather black bears.

Those dogs are very alert, very protective, and (it seems to me) very capable of defending themselves and their flock.

Note: I'd not recommend getting between those dogs and their sheep, either.

2:34 a.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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Perry said:

Or an ill-tempered Chihuahua with a Harley tattoo and a stud collar?

I have one of those minus the tattoo, but she doesn't go backpacking as I don't want to carry her and the extra 4.5 pounds ;).

The Flat Tops are my favorite place to go hiking and yes you want to give those sheep dogs a wide berth when they are working. They can be very playful and friendly when 'off duty'.

The shepards that camp out with the sheep are mostly from South America and welcome any company they can get. My Spanish isn't the best but they told me they don't have too many problems with bears.

3:23 a.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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i have packed with my dog before and yes they make a great warning system but he was keepen me awake all night.

3:30 p.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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You could always bring Big Dog -

5:10 p.m. on March 1, 2010 (EST)
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Big Dog ha ha they used to have a donkey to do that job.

Bears and dogs are friendly to each other for the most part. I expect that curve changes depending on hunger.

2:35 a.m. on March 9, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks DrReaper - a great video.

One of my neighbors dog hassled a black bear in the woods. It chased the dog to my friend. He scared it away with a few pistol shots. I doubt the bear would have bothered him on its own.

Seems to me that how the dog is trained has a lot to do with whether it is a help or hindrance. The breed, of course influences its actions.

11:36 p.m. on March 9, 2010 (EST)
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My American Akita whom I have backpacked with for 12 1/2 years.

130 lbs, very smart, totally laid back, loyal, almost never barks, and nevergives chase to other animals.

This breed is very alert, and in tune to his surroundings, due to his great hearing and sense of smell I always have advance warning to anything moving about close to us.

To me, it's not about whether the dog can stand his ground with a bear, but rather the dog feeding me information about the things going on around us so that I can make the proper decisions to keep us both safe.

My dog has been well trained just for this type of activity and has been an invaluable tool and companion for me to use to stay safe, and I'm not just talking from attacks from wild animals.

He's my best bud, but at 14 years old I have retired him to day hikes.

12:35 a.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Being in Montana we have taken our two dogs in every type of environment possible. One is a lean, hundred pound Shepherd Husky mix that is more Husky than Shepherd. The second IS a Karellian Bear Dog who instinctively is fiercely loyal and protective. In her playing with his bigger and older brother, her instincts on how to "take down" her brother while playing are very evident. Karellians were bread to take down big game animals and if we ever had a bear charge us that spray couldn't stop, I would prefer the dog attempt to defend us rather than not. Neither dog however have ever "chased" any wildlife but they have alerted us on many occasions to the presence of other animals.

The animal we have been taught to fear the most in the backcountry when traveling with dogs are big cats.

3:48 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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...and that's exactly what I'd want: a silent alert to start, followed by patient, silent waiting for my next command. A dog that barks/whines when it knows it shouldn't (nervous), or, even worse, doesn't know when to bark/attack or not, is a liability in my opinion. I mess up enough on my own--I don't need my dog helping me out!!

@Bluetang: It's my understanding that KBD's are "supposed" to, quite aggressively, corner/tree the bear (then wait for you to come along and kill it...), as opposed to killing/wounding the bear independently. Do you get the impression your KBD would act in such a way? Your mention of neither dogs giving chase to an animal speaks volumes about both your dogs' intelligence, and your diligence in training them.

8:27 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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@Bluetang: It's my understanding that KBD's are "supposed" to, quite aggressively, corner/tree the bear (then wait for you to come along and kill it...), as opposed to killing/wounding the bear independently. Do you get the impression your KBD would act in such a way? Your mention of neither dogs giving chase to an animal speaks volumes about both your dogs' intelligence, and your diligence in training them.

Hello - I am aspiring to be a wildlife biologist. I've been very lucky to have spent some time with a unique veterinarian who has taken care of all sorts of wildlife in the field, from here to Russia and has experience with these dogs in the Russian wilderness.

When my dad rescued this dog we did quite a bit of research which included insights and advice from her. The actual line of Karelian that we know now she told me, came from two different lines of dogs. No I am not sure what they were at this moment without looking it up. However, they were bred to be hunting dogs and learned by trait how take a game animal down. So yes I would expect my dog to behave in just that manner - Take it down, not tree it. Based on experience I think she probably would do just that.

As I said, I would prefer the dog to attack on instinct than wait for a command. Our Karelian has not had extensive training and will not sit there under any circumstance until we tell it what to do when it knows danger is present. Our dog though does understand basic commands and what we want and that includes protecting its owners. She is very loyal.

When we've encountered other wildlife on trails like whitetails, jackrabbits, grouse, etc, the dogs get excited, will go on alert and maybe trot off a bit in the direction they saw the animal, but they will not take off on a dead run after it. The Karelian tends to follow its big brother, and the big brother learned hard and fast 3 years ago to leave wildlife alone :)

9:11 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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My experience with dogs in the woods over the past twenty years has taught me that a dogs natural instincts are more often at odds with my best interests, than not.

A dog who goes backpacking with you should be completely within your control, whether on leash or off. If this is not the case, it is only a matter of time before you have problems.

You need to have a dog that is well trained, and you need to know that dog very well, by having worked with the dog, in order to have a credible assumption of how that dog will react to various scenarios / encounters in the woods.

An aggressive dog will create problems, as will an uncontrollable dog.

Any assumption on your (or my) part that the dog (singular) is a match for any backwoods predator, as a basis for, or as part of, your plan to stay safe is something I would advise anyone to avoid.

I firmly believe prevention is the best cure, by being bear aware and camping in a manner that shows it.

I use my dog for companionship, and to feed me information. He has also been a great backpacker & navigator, often finding water on his own which has been a great help to me.

9:39 p.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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My dog won't listen to a single command outside. Inside he will close the front door, roll over, drop anything he is holding in his mouth, sit, He is very smart. Put him outside and his inner cat takes over.

I took him to arrow bear camping one year. We got out of the jeep and in five minutes time he had run through every camping spot in the camping area four to five times at about 30 MPH. The dog was crazy. His back paws were in front of his nose he was going so fast. I had to chain him up the rest of the camping trip when he wasn't on a leash. It is too bad because if he would listen outside we could take him more places.

10:12 p.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I always bring my dog. I don't go anywhere I cannot take my dog(i.e. national parks). I've never had a bear problem in 30+ years. Just follow good camp cleanliness and have your dog decently trained. All of my dogs would help me find the trail if it disappeared. They were better than I was at finding the trail again. They were not super well trained but they would come when called, which is the most important command.

5:17 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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All of the above comments make good sense and come with years of experience to back them up. I like dogs but I'd never ask mine to do something I wouldn't, like chase a cougar or bear off. Dogs are living things and therefore unpredictable A decent pistol like a SW .44 mountain gun or, for those philisophically opposed, a giant can of bear-rated pepper spray work well for me. Pepper spray has proven its self over and over in real life attaks to be a very good bear stopper. Both spray and gun are lighter, easier to feed and carry than a most dogs. And a gun is always handy if you are lost. Better yet, if the woods scare you, stay home.

6:08 a.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Your remark regarding bear spray is not based in fact:

Pepper spray has proven its self over and over in real life attaks to be a very good bear stopper.

Most instances in which bear spray is used are not "real life attacks" but chasing bears away from camps and food - and it is not always effective against black bears in that. Under the conditions in which it is most likely a hiker will startle a bear - high winds and/or heavy rain - bear spray is largely ineffective.

Your last sentence, ignoring the pompous tone, is also a poor recommendation. If we avoid all those things we fear, we never grow as individuals.

7:20 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I am a woman who often backpacks alone, but made the decision to train a service dog for backpacking and mountain biking after my one bear encounter and several "bubba" encounters in the Ozarks. I wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback and I'm still seeking one, but I got an Anatolian Shepherd puppy from the pound named "Little Boy", and he's a BIG boy now that he's a year old. He's naturally non-aggressive, though he is trained to show his teeth and growl if commanded. I didn't want a dog to be aggressive in a bear encounter unless I command it. He is trained to bark once as a notification, and I'm hoping his bark is enough to warn the bears we are coming. He is trained not to chase, which was done by praising him and rewarding him for not chasing the cats--a fun time was had by all! After reading these posts I think I need to train him to "go" as well as "come". Poor dog didn't know what he was getting into when I got hold of him.

All kidding aside, the best plan for wildlife encounters is warning & avoidance (make noise), keep a cool head, back away when sighting wildlife, be prepared to make a lot of noise and look big, and use deterrents when pressed. Little Boy and I carry bear bells with magnetic silencers, while I carry UDAP bear deterrent spray, an air horn, and a .44 Magnum. I backpack in Missouri mostly, and this is an "open carry" state. The new law allowing open carry on federal lands was a blessing for me because I'm going to carry a firearm regardless. I know there is a controversey in carrying firearms while backpacking, but I am trained to use them and have used them all my life. I wouldn't recommend that just anyone should suddenly get a .44 to feel safer on the trail. I'm not a hunter but I respect hunters and have a hunting permit to make carrying a weapon more accepted if stopped. I haven't killed anything with a firearm since I was about five and it was my job to shoot crows in my grandmother's garden. If a .44 makes it possible for me to backpack without being molested, then that's my choice. I'm not going to stay home just because it's harder to get hiking companions in my age group.

1:26 a.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Note to self--Don't molest wall-climbing lizards in Missouri, they may be armed.

3:02 p.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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In the Ozarks, it's Bubba you've really gotta watch out for. Like on the Florida Trail, the natives are opportunistic.

Men may not run into this behavior like women backpackers do, but invariably every male hiker or woodsman I run into asks me if I'm worried about my safety. I have to presume the male pre-occupation with my safety does not bode well, well...uh...for my safety.

How many other female backpackers get the same third degree about their safety from strangers? Is that behavior just an opportunistic quiz to find out if you are packing heat or otherwise capable of fighting back? That's how I have to take it.

I jest act like I didn't hear the question or jest don't understand it. If they keep up that line of questioning and the hair on the back of my neck sticks up I excuse myself to go "potty" and urge them to continue their hike. If they don't take that hint, I prepare for the worst.


3:22 p.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Hopefully they're only projecting their own fears about camping when they ask that (if not for their own safety, then for the safety of the women in their lives-- it's almost instinctive for guys to think women need their protection).

While some are no doubt dyed-in-the-wool creeps, most are probably thinking about their wives and kid sisters out in the wilderness all alone.

9:46 a.m. on March 23, 2010 (EDT)
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I will base my opinion on experience and region.

I have been backpacking for over 30yrs in an area densely populated with black bears,perhaps highest in the east.

I couldn't begin to tell you how many encounters I've had during this span but the fact is that these bears are not habitual "not accustomed to human activity" which allows them to react to my presence in normal behavior,they run.

I have found in every situation that black bears are quite passive creatures and have a high degree of fear for humans.

I've had several encounters with sows sporting cubs and clearly remember on a few occasions where i startled them only to find the sows behavior opposite of what everyone told me,cubs retreat to the trees and momma runs a safe distance away patiently waiting for me to leave.

I could go on and on .

Now...for the last couple of years I've been backpacking with a well trained,well behaved Border collie and my bear sitings and night-time visits have all but ceased,mice even stay out of my pack.YMMV

7:13 p.m. on March 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Welcome to the forum Dreamer, and nice to see another friend of Border Collie. To the question of dogs in my area is not a matter of safety, there is no wild animals that are a threat. But the big thing about dogs on tour is the friendship and wellbeeing that follows with a dog.

When they perform a job like carrying a pack or pulling a pulk they know that they are doing something you like, and this makes them feel good. In addition they are always smiling and eager to please you.

It is sad to read that Gecko feels obliged to carry a gun just to feel safe, that is too bad. I do not want to start a new discussion over guns, but USA is different than almost every other country on earth by allowing everyone to carry guns. Still they have the highest mortality rate due to firearms. A stupid idea came up in my head: could there be a link there?

I do not have a statistical evidence, but I think here it is more women hiking between the huts than men. Noone ever thinks about lack of safety for them, it's the single men that run a risk :)

The people that go for a hike must be some of the most honest people there is. Here we have huts we call selfserviced, and they are filled up with normal food for the visitors. But there is noone that collects the money, it is all a matter of trust. You take what you want, pay in the hut or write it down and pay when you are at home. And it works!! You could never do that in a town, only in the mountains where just hiking people come. Beat that for security!

8:13 p.m. on March 23, 2010 (EDT)
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And now, a message from your friendly neighborhood Trailspace moderator. The topic of the thread is "Bringing dogs with you...safer or not." Not weapons or bad guys. We've had enough threads go off in that direction already. All that can be said on the subject has already been said. Please stay on topic.

My opinion on the dog subject is an objective one. If you have the right dog, trained correctly for the purpose, by the right person, there should be no problem taking your K9 companion out on the trail. It's the people that think, just because they own a dog, it's their right and/or duty to take that pooch along that make things difficult for themselves, others, and the dog.

11:42 a.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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We should check the state and local laws before venturing forth with dogs. Some states require a dog always be leashed. In many states it was legal for anyone to shoot a dog seen chasing large mammals (typically deer); however, many states now allow only duly authorized officers to shoot the dogs (NY still allows anyone to shoot-on-sight dogs chasing deer).

[Off topic: Unfortunately, only two states I'm aware of are still enlightened enough to allow anyone to shoot cats seen harassing wildlife -- three cheers for NY and Maryland! Cats, an invasive species, are the number one threat to many native bird species.]

Ignoring the source, the following is a list of some state laws regarding dogs:

10:27 p.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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I understand your fear of guns. If you met me hiking you would not even be aware that I'm packing heat. But, I invite you to hike the Ozark Trail in Missouri and see if you feel as safe as you thought you would. I didn't start carrying a weapon until I ran into way too many men who were worried about my safety while thinking about their wives and girlfriends. Oh, the feral hogs out here put Alaskan grizzly bears to shame. I much prefer the shy coyotes. Each to their own.

1:51 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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That was awesome I have never seen that before! "Big Dog" video. As far as the pups go, I have 3 guys, a 120 female German Sheppard, a male Hound-mix and a male Australian Kelpie, The only one I will take with me is the Sheppard all my guys are last chance rescues, the Kelpie will chase animals but is loyal as the day is long but needs to be leashed on the trail, the Hound mix is too timid from prior abuse and I have had to replace both his rear knees from prior abuse it is hard for him to take a hard trail and he is a whiner when nervous. The Sheppard will listen but can be very vocal when she senses others close at hand and can become somewhat aggressively protective until she can evaluate the threat or I muzzle her. I love to take my guys out with me but only on day trips or site camping, extended 7 to 14 day trail hikes I sadly do alone I would love to take them but they do not have good trail etiquette yet I am a firm believer that all must have proper trail manners so everyone enjoys the trail so they stay on the farm and chase the rabbits till dad comes home.

9:59 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I have had dogs for almost as many years as I have had bush experience in northern and western Canada and would make the following comments.

I have not had any dogs other than working strain Rottweilers since 1986 and have both my little champion bitch and a superb 120 lb. 2.5 yr. old male now. I have handled a lot of different dogs of many breeds and prefer a GOOD Rottie over any for home defence. I have taken them into the Grizzly areas of BC, but, do not depend on them for preotection.

Anyone, who seriously thinks that a Karelian or any other breed of dog will ...take down... a Grizzly is not going to become much of a wildlife bio., a field where I have some considerable field experience.

The foremost breeder of KBDs in North America, is Dawn Deeley of Vancouver Island and I know her and was just discussing Karelians with her in early Feb. I will not have a Karelian here because they do not co-exist at all with Rotties....and NO, the biggest male KBD is NOT a match for 130 lbs. of Rottweiler, let alone a bear.

KBDs BAY the bear and then YOU shoot it or, you are in deep doo-doo, so, this is a part of the puzzle that urbanites who fantasize about working in the wilderness with all the cute little animals need to get real about; nature is raw, dirty, bloody, harsh, merciless and death by being eaten alive is a big part of it.

Bear spray is the biggest CON JOB since the Kennedy administration and is NOT foolproof or always effective. I cannot be bothered packing that crap around. It makes amateurs and total novices feel that they have a level of protection that they do not in fact have and is not even close to an appropriate gun which you are competent with in terms of bear defence.

The BEST policy for backpackers is NOT a gun, NOT spray and NOT a dog, it is to travel in large, noisy groups, stay close together, learn what fresh bear sign looks like and leave an area id it is very common around that trail and practice clean camping as rigourously as a nun saying her rosary. We seldom see a problem here in bear country with people doing these things.

10:41 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I have had limited experience backpacking with my black labrador retriever. We take her hiking but have only had her with us on one overnight trip.

I should add that she is like a child to my wife and I so I got little or no sleep because I spent the night worrying if she was warm enoughand trying to keep her in my sleeping bag and on the pad with me (even though it was atleast 30 degrees out).

We were in the wild life preserve just outside the Great Sand Dunes national Park near Alamosa, CO and had a black bear wander into our camp in the middle of the night. Now I am new to back packing and having never encountered wildlife like this, I had no idea what to do. The bear snorted at the tent and batted my pack around flipping it a couple times and left after standing there about 10-15 minutes.

The odd thing: My labrador ddin't even sit up, she was not in the least bit concerned and even snored a couple times loudly enough to give me a hard attack, but the bear didn't care about her or us anymore than she cared about it. Once it didn't find food it moved on.

I don't know if her smell kept the bear from bothering us further or not. Is there sence of smell good enough that your clothing or hands could attract them even if you didn't cook but just had gorp for dinner and had none of it near the sleeping area?

10:54 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Is there sense of smell good enough that your clothing or hands could attract them even if you didn't cook but just had gorp for dinner and had none of it near the sleeping area?

Working w/ PA Game Commission officers, I've learned that black bears have a sense of smell as great as 7000 times better than ours. Can YOU smell gorp on your hands? If so, BET that the bears can too. :-)

11:27 p.m. on April 1, 2010 (EDT)
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According to what I have read F klock is quite correct.

In accordance with the recommendations for camping safely in bear country, I cook and eat in a 'kitchen area' set up 100+ feet downwind of my tent. I keep my hands and face clean, I change out of the clothes I cooked in and put on different clothes to sleep in at night. I also hang my food, soap, chap stick and other smelly stuff in a bag way from my tent as well.

I keep only drinking water in my tent area, or tent. This helps cut down on rodents, raccoons, and other critters as well. You know, I love the little animals, but I don't need them digging in my stuff.

I also agree with dewey. I don't have his level of experience, but after owning and discharging bear spray I can see how it may not be effective under some circumstances like wind, heavy foliage, you can't get it out as fast as you thought, you can't find it, your scared stupid for a moment. People have also ran through the spray mist before, temporarily blinding themselves.

I know there are many instances where it has been used with positive results, I'm just trying to say it's no silver bullet.

Not a bad idea to practice your cowboy draw some with it maybe.

I did.

2:06 a.m. on April 2, 2010 (EDT)
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A healthy bear has a scenting ability that one has to observe in action to believe and ANY odour may attract them. We usually had our dogs with us in bear country, but, these dogs and we kids grew up with bears literally in our back yards and any bear around a human habitation was always shot, so, they were FAR more wary than is now the case.

Some Black Labs are good bush dogs and others are hopeless and you really cannot tell until you have an actual encounter. Rotts, Akitas and such breeds are TOO brave and want to fight the bear and NO dog can handle a mature Blackie,, let alone a Grizzly.

Ranch raised Border Collies and Heelers are good and a lot of guys in BC use them, a working strain Airedale would be good, but, like good Dobermans are now almost extinct. Some GSD s and Huskies are good, but, again, you never know until you see the given dog in action.

I think that we will see much better chemical defence tools in production soon and that plus "Bear Aware" behaviour is the best option, IMO. I love guns and am VERY capable with them and have dozens of them, but, I hate packing the extra weight and almost never do or have when backpacking alone....course, an ornery old geezer like me probably would not be preferred bear treats, anyway!

12:41 a.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Fedor 115lbs

Tito 100lbs

I dont know weather dogs attract bear or other wildlife, but if they do whatever decides to play better come with it's A game. I always have both my pitts with me. even when i go to the store.

And normaly a Glock g38. Ill take the extra weight for the peace of mind.

11:12 a.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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For most of us with some experience in bear country it is not a question of who would "win" in a confrontation, but rather the ability to avoid one altogether, which is unquestionably the better alternative. I'm not suggesting you mean otherwise, I'm sure you understand that. I've been backpacking for quite a while in black bear country and a good part of that has been with a dog. If you would, allow me to share my thoughts with you. My experience is limited to Black Bears, Dewey or one of the other guys can tell you about Browns.

I have, and have had, dogs even larger than yours because I prefer large dogs from the working group. I like a dog big enough to carry his own stuff plus a bit of mine. I picked a breed that was mild mannered and laid back, friendly with people yet still able to "come alive" if needed because I wanted the dog to also serve as sentry around my home.

It is fine to be proud of the dog you own, and yes dogs have a loyalty to their owners that is outstanding, many breeds are courageous in the face of immenent danger to the owner.

However we must find a balance that works in the backcountry, we have to consider the rights and feelings of other hikers out there, which is why dogs are required to be kept on leash during hikes, and several other rules that vary from place to place. Dogs running loose, and who don't know any better than to challenge wildlife, especially bears, can create a dangerous situation where otherwise none existed.

Bears are not wandering around looking for a confrontation with you or your dogs, but aggressive behavior on the part of dogs (charging, snarling, etc.) will probably only aggravate a bear. A full grown aggravated bear who has decided (for whatever reason) to stand its ground is more than a match for a couple dogs, even fearless ones.

My point being is that avoidance is the best policy, it is not too hard to simply avoid an encounter all together by being in tune with what is going on around you, understanding how to hike and camp in ways that are bear friendly, and by following & practicing the rules of the area you are hiking in. These rules are set up to help us all stay safe, and to give the beginning hiker the information they need to stay safe without learning things the hard way.

Remember even a Black Bear can reach 500+ lbs, they can attain speeds of 35 mph without warning, yet are still quick and nimble enough to snatch fish from running water.

Fortunately black bears will avoid you, not understanding maybe what you are, and so having a natural fear of man. The single biggest problem I have seen in the backcountry is the improper storage of food that attracts bears and then they learn that campers mean a meal. Not the camper, but their food.

Here is a link you might like:

12:18 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Not that i think that both of my ridiculously trained dogs could "kill" a bear, or any other wildlife in my area. But i think alot of people, not saying your one of them, do not no how unbelievable smart, fast, and powerful American pitbull terriers and dogs alike (satffordshire terrier) really are. The APBT were the product of inbreeding between bulldogs and terriers. They were initaly breed in England, Ireland and Scotland and brougth to the united states by immigrents. While in the United states they were used as "catch" dogs for wild cattle (recorded 2200lbs with a top speed of about 20 mph), and hogs (recorded 550lbs with a top speed of 30-35mph), to hunt, and drive livestock and as family companions. I would imagen they should have some effect on a bear. Granted cattle and hogs dont have razor shap claws, they do have long horns and razor sharp tusks. I would think that If any dog were suited for large game a pitbull would be the one. Lets get one thing straight, I am proud of my dogs, and have alot of time and money invested in their training. But one thing alot of people get twisted about alot of things, not just dogs, is that bigger is better. early breed pitbulls were around 50 to 60 pounds. now they are growing in weight but still have the athleticism of there earlier family members.

As far as respecting other hikers, i have no problem with adhearing to the rules. both of my dogs are always tied or leashed some way. But i personally cannot help weather a person subscribes to the general stereo type of these dogs. If you know anyone who has a Staffordshire terrier, or a Staffordshire bull terrier, or a American Pitbull terrier alike. They will undoubtedly tell you they are they most loyal and gentle dogs around. I have 3 neices and a nephew that ride both of my dogs like a horse, pull on their ears bend their tails in half and just about any other thing you could think of to be annoying. Just because some idiots like to mistreat them and force them to fight does in no way change the breed as a whole. I honestly have had my vet tell me that they have more Lab and Golden retriver bites than any other type bites.

Before i go ranting any more. i just want to clear something up. I in no way want you to think im one of those idiots who thinks hes right no matter what anyone else says, or that what i have is better than what everyone else has. Im sure you all know one of those guys. I just wanted to bring to peoples attention some facts about these dogs because i feel they are severely discriminated against and have an unjust reputation/ stereotype. I also feel as i said previously said these dogs while not the largest breed ever stand a very very good chance in stopping whatever i need them to.

For people who don't understand these dogs and how to control them should not own one, they are what is concidered a "power" breed and are not for everyone. If you are a responsable owner, these dogs are just as "scary" as any other breed you would come across on any trail in america.......:end rant:

4:47 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah not putting down the breed man, I have been around several Pit Bull Terriers over the years and you are correct, many are very sweet dogs that get stereotyped, however I've also been around some (and more that just that breed) that will try to bite your head off for no reason. As you pointed out, that is due to improper handling and training.

The same is true of the breed I have, the American Akita.

How much or how little socialization a dog has early in life has a big impact on its demeanor towards both other people, and other dogs.

Another factor is the bloodline within the breed that a dog comes from, since different bloodlines are bred to have different traits and temperaments. Dogs of the same breed can be bred for more, or less, aggression among other things. Unfortunately some people will breed a bloodline to produce a dog that has uncharacteristic aggression for that breed. This has happened with several breeds including mine.

To get back on topic though, my point is that I have backpacked safely in bear country with a dog for many years with only one encounter, and that was when I was wade fishing a stream that a bear decided to cross. I simply backed out of the stream, the bear crossed, and all is well.

A dog trained to stay by your side, who has the right temperament, should not provoke a bear. A dog that visibly wants to challenge the bear has the potential to create problems that are completely avoidable.

Most black bears seem to be quite laid back, and wish to avoid encounters with people. Some have become habituated to human food and will come to campsites in search of it. In the latter case a dog can let you know that something is approaching because the dogs sense of smell & hearing allow it to detect something long before a human can. This gives you time to think clearly and take preventative measures like talking, whistling, etc. to let the bear or other animal know you are in the area. Most times it turns out to be a raccoon or something. Sometimes it is another hiker. I'm talking mostly about being solo, or by yourself here as opposed to being with a group in an area that sees a lot of use. When you're in remote areas by yourself you have to take more precaution, and the right dog can be helpful, IF trained right.

I've never had a case where there was any real danger, I just think it is cool to watch the dog work and have the dog feed you information that maybe you would never be aware of.

My dog also inspires me to keep hiking when I'm tired, he can out hike me any times he chooses. My dog is 14 years old, so we just do day hikes anymore, but we have done some very cool bushwacks together deep in the mountains over the years, and I have been very impressed with the abilities K-9's possess.

They have 4 wheel drive, and stamina galore when properly conditioned.

How old are yours?

6:37 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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one of my friends have an Akita and hes an awsome dog. just gets a bit excited and for its size has no place running around and knocking you over.

Both my dogs are around 2 years old, i don't really know because i adopted them both from the pound.

I don't want anyone to think im like going out into the woods with my two vicious dogs looking for some confrontation, they are as i stated before layed back and calm, well trained dogs. Untill they are required to do work. i honestly think they are almost to layed back, most of the time i have to drag them out of bed. My main thing with having these two with me, like you said before is that they will let me know if something or someone is around that shouldnt be. Im more worried about the someones. As far as the bear thing goes. I don't think they would totally embarass a bear. Im just saying in the extreamly unlikley situation that i come across a bear or other wild life. that they might buy me some time to react properly. plus might do some damage to the attacker. Granted, there are alot of other dogs ment for alerting tasks. i feel mine will do a fairly good at alerting me and im banking on the APBT's unmatched bite strength.

8:31 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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While pit bulls have a good bite, that works against them with bears. Pit bulls bite and hold, hence pit bull owners are encouraged to carry "break sticks" to lever the dog's jaws open in the event the dog bites someone.

Holding onto a bear has certain disadvantages. First, the bear has a very well protected neck with thick fur, muscle, and fat; a dog will not choke off the air passage. Second, anything holding the bear's neck is in line with the front paws. Third, a five-hundred pound bear can smash the ribs of a hundred pound dog just by falling on it hard or slamming it against a tree.

The breed that traditionally did best in bear hunting was the fox terrier. It was bred to be tall enough to keep up with the hunting hounds and would charge in when the bear was cornered. Because the terrier did not bite and hold, but dashed and nipped at the bear faster than the bear could turn, the terrier provided a distraction for the bear until the hunter arrived for the kill. This, of course, saved the lives of the hounds, who would hang back and let the foxxie do the close work.

Sometimes large size and strength are not right for the job.

8:52 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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would the pitbull be the best of both worlds.....they were breed to have the athleticism and strength of the bull dog, but the gameness of the terrier......IMO they are a terrier. and I have never herd of a " break stick" and ive had both of my dogs train by a pro dogs training school. they are trained in everything a police shepard is, other than drug sniffing. which i dont think even regular k9 units are.

Also i think the misconception of the dogs biting and holding is false. while they do bite and hold. they are also known for speed for attacking ......lundging in and out if you will......I guess it'd be hard for someone to understand how these dogs go about attacking without seeing it in person, but it's been clearly displayed to me with the trainer in a full bite suit..... they attack initaly by nipping and tearing and once it senses your injured or struggling they then go for the latch bite, doing something similar to an aligator death roll.......and as i said before, im not thinking by any means that they would kill the bear, just simply give me enough time to spray, or use that handy glock 20 (10mm) or 38 (45a.c.p.) i have.

i can only agree with you in the sense of larger size and strength are not always better. i doubt a great dane or saint bernard would do well against an attacker even though they are some of the largest breeds.

11:34 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
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That you have never heard of a break stick is worrisome. Look at

Just google - break sticks pit bull

This is, as the websites say, "something every responsible pit bull owner should possess."

No matter how well-trained you may think your dogs are, they probably have triggers you don't know... most animals and all humans can surprise us sometimes. When you have dogs bred for generations to fight and kill, you must be prepared for the worst. All it takes is an infection or broken tooth, perhaps some hot weather and a bitch in heat... suddenly years of training are overwhelmed. Some dog or person could die as a result.

3:23 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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So i guess your saying im not a responsible owner??

These sticks are only intended for "packs" my dogs never fight, and I as an alpha male take the role as the pack leader..... i have around 3 thousand dollars give or take invested with each of my dogs for training. like i stated before they are poilce dogs.......without drug sniffing capabilities.

Also wouldnt any dog having an infection or a bitch in heat, cause them to act irregular.....or is that something only pitbulls do????

You should not subscribe to the geeral misconception of these dogs. you should do research on them before commenting on you own a pitbull breed, or have any expreiance with them, or even know anyone that owns a bullie breed?

Just because you may have read something about them using some sort of training method (bite sticks) does not mean that some owner that does not own one in is not a responsable owner, or makes you some expert on the breed.....i tryed to not act like a "dick" about this situation but now i feel the gloves are off....i don't knock other breeds and was simply only putting my 2 cents input into this general discussion, not saying my dogs were better than another but only stating why i felt more comfortable with my dogs in the bakccountry than another breed. I will not however stand for downplay or discrimination against the breed. And anyone who dosnt realize that dogs of all breeds have a special place with man should maybe just keep their mouth shut. especially with pitbulls....there are so many mythical thoughts about these dogs. I have read both of these articles you reffered to andwhat both of them have forgetten to mention is that when an APBT is in full out bit (lock jaw) only after it's been tampered with or annoyed to the point it cannot stand it anymore.....if i dicked with you for along time and annoyed you would you flip out too???? this is how these dogs respond..and like stated previously, if you cannot control these dogs please do not own one. there is no reason ever for a pitbull to go into full latch mode unless provoked. now if an animal( persons alike) torments them or makes them feel unsafe. they have every reason to defend theirself and others they love. Wouldnt you do the same....or should i lable you as some sort of unstable human because you defended your loved ones in some sort of extraordinary situation? i said before....these dogs have alot of neg. rep. from the media and just general population...people fall victim to urban legends every day. this should however not effect this dogs stellar record. while alot are condemed for wrong doings there are just as many who have save familes from would be attackers and burining buildings......those however are very rearly published.

I guess for someone who is used to a little house on the prarie type lassie dog some big bad PITBULL would be one ever asked you to buy, adopt, or like one for that matter.....but this also dosnt mean you should knock the people who understand and love these dogs...Finally Bite sticks are a joke.....the only reason a dog with a 2000+ psi bite would let go is because it wants to. not because your making it let go.

My advice to you is do some research before following the typical "sheep" who think these dogs are some sort of killers......come on this isnt days of our lives.....they are just dogs.....get real.

4:13 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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trouthunter..... im assuiming that you have an Akita, "The Akita is a large spitz-type dog of Japan. The breed acquired its name after the prefecture of Akita, located on the northern part of Honshu Island. This dog was used as a hunter, guard, hearding, and fighting dog." Maybe we should use bite sticks and give them some sort of bad name because they are "fighting" dogs too.....rite?

Bluetang on,Karelian Bear Dogs

"The dog should be brave. Often they tend to be aggressive towards other dogs but usually it is because they are very territorial or they feel threatened. They are cautious around strangers at first but usually warm up to them eventually. They have been bred to be very independent and a good bear dog should be able to actively hunt for hours at a time without any contact with its master.

Proper socialization and training is necessary as these dogs demand proper authority and respect to work well with their master and other animals. Treating them harshly will cause them to mistrust so one must be firm but careful when working with them. They must have a trusting and obedient master/dog relationship for everyone's safety.

They must always hunt only with their master and it is best not to have more than two Karelians hunting together or they will either go off hunting on their own or fight over the prey. They work better with other Karelians with which they are raised."

I guess maybe everyone who has a dog hiking should have a bitestick or some sort of managment for their dog.....they are agressive!!!!!

4:45 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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OHHHH yeah and lets keep in mind here, im talking about the highly very super extreamly unlikley chance id run into a bear where i want my "killers" to alert me before hand so i could react correctly....maybe the bear would bank on me having a bite stick?

8:31 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Let's put this thread back on topic, constructively, or it will be locked.

Please, no personal attacks or rants.

9:52 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes SP99 I own an Akita.

These dogs can be bred for show, protection, and utility/ companion.

Akitas, like all breeds can be bred with differing temperaments that suite them to the needs of the owner.

My dog is considered a utility dog bred for working, I shopped around and talked to a lot of breeders before choosing one.

My personal feeling is that I take my dog hiking with me primarily as a companion who can carry his own gear, and as a tool for me to use to gather information about our surroundings.

It's just kinda cool to be sitting around camp and see the dogs head & ears swivel around and fixate on a particular direction. Then several minutes later I start hearing hikers talking to one another and the faint click of trekking poles on rock. Do I NEED to know this? Probably not.

I just have respect for the dogs abilities, makes me realize how much I don't know about what's going on around me. It's no wonder why we as hikers don't see the wildlife that's out there, the animals are aware of our presence and avoid contact with us.

I think that just makes me realize how much we are not suited to live in the woods without all our gear.

10:13 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Just wanted to add, my particular Akita is a huge puppy, he is not aggressive towards strangers or other animals. As soon as we got him we started socializing him with both people and other animals, including farm animals to some extent, the man I used to work for had a farm.

I personally think any dog taken out in public should be well socialized, and should display the ability to discern between a friendly greeting by a stranger and an actual threat to the owner, regardless of the breed.

My dog looks mean but he is not, when other hikers see how well he behaves and obeys commands they seem at ease. While I try to hike in areas that do not see much use, if we should encounter other hikers we move off the trail and say hello. I keep the dog by my side, and always on the other side of me from the trail.

I can't stand it when dogs come running up to me in the woods and I can't see the owner, but I can hear their incessant calling for the dog to come back. More training is needed! (For the dog too.)

10:50 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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i agree with you trout, and these ques a dog gives are something special i guess. To be honest i doubt id take my dog hiking if they hadnt had these. and i ment in to way to go off on a rant. or to get off subject, but somethings i feel are out of line and attacking breed of dog, or the owner are one of those weather it's off topic or not.

8:25 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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A young Black Bear can weigh about 200 lbs, is as fast as ANY dog and FAR stronger, plus, a Bear has larger teeth AND claws which can disembowel a dog in seconds.

NO dog and certainly not the pair of medium-large ones in the posted photos is going to have a chance in an encounter with a bear.

Yes, I HAVE considerable "hands-on" experience with Pittbulls and find the whole idea of ...their A game... to be, quite frankly, silly macho posturing.

Carrying a low-powered handgun in bear territory is more of the same and this is based on actual experience as well. A VERY fine shot with a HEAVY revolver is BARELY adequately armed for Black Bears and not at all for Grizzlies.

Sorry, but, I have to post this after some thought, as the comments by "SP99" could, IMHO, lead novices into behaviour that could result in serious harm or even death.

As, I posted some days ago, if there is a real issue in your area with bear encounters, best to leave your bonediggers at home and do some research into just how to deal with bears in the bush.

I very strongly suggest this book, as a start, it is used in training the BC Forest Service and other such working personnel here in BC and other jurisdictions. I have taught "bear safety" in BC and Alberta and the author KNOWS what he is talking about.

Bear Encounter Survival Guide by James Gary Shelton.

While I would take issue with some of Gary's comments about we BC wilderness conservationists, his practical bear coping advice is the BEST I have ever seen in print...and I own and have read about all of it, plus was trained by BC "oldtimers" many years ago.

So, forget the pistols and buy and study this book and THEN train your pooch and decide when and where he/she should accompany you.

9:08 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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well, to be totally honest when i posted my first reply on this topic and shared those photos of my dogs, it was really kind of a joke and was poking fun at the topic. There was however no "macho posturing" as you called it. If you read any of my replys you would have seen that i said several times that i in no way thought that my dogs could take down a bear.

And how familiar are you with gun calibers?

"The most commonly available, reasonably portable, autoloader that might serve our purpose is the Glock Model G20, chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge. The G-20 is as reliable as a powerful auto gets, and relatively compact. This pistol comes with a 4.6" barrel, is 7.59" in overall length, and weighs only 26.28 ounces. In recent years Glock has promoted the G20 as a hunting pistol. The EAA Witness DA autoloader is also offered in 10mm Auto, and the Colt Delta Elite version of the 1911 Government Model used to be. There are probably others of which I am unaware.

The potential problem is the 10mm Auto cartridge itself. Powerful for a true auto pistol cartridge, it is not particularly impressive when compared to the popular magnum revolver cartridges. The Federal 10mm factory load with a 180 grain high antimony lead bullet has an advertised muzzle velocity (MV) of 1030 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 425 ft. lbs. This load probably offers about the best penetration that can be had from a 10mm factory load, short of a 200 grain (SD .179) full metal jacketed bullet that offers no possibility of expansion at all. The sectional density of the 180 grain 10mm bullet is only .161, however. Hornady offers a 10mm factory load using their 200 grain jacketed hollow point XTP bullet (MV 1050 fps, ME 490 ft. lbs.). Hornady recommends this bullet for "medium game," which would presumably include wolf, cougar, jaguar and black bear but not grizzly, brown and polar bear."

read the rest of the article here if you want.

every hand gun is underpowered but i doubt anyone here is backing a Rem. 700 nitro express into the backcountry.....And for what i may come across in Pennsylvania a 10mm Glock 20, which i already stated i owned and carry frequently in the woods is more than enough.

Also nothing i said is gospel, nor is anything anyone on the computer says is. everyone has different ideas on what works, and what does work for some does not work for others.The internet, and especially a fourm should not be taken very seriously, while this site is loaded with gobs of info, it should be used as a tool to gather information for forming your own ideas and opinions and to help what you may think will work for you best in your particular situation. If someone new were to read this post and believe what every one on this fourm says and thinks its the one and only way to do things, i believe they would be in just as much trouble if they hadnt read the info posted here.

again all this is off subject and with that said im going to graciously bow out, feeling that no matter what is said some armchair elitist will undermind my thoughts or have something snide to say.

I also dont want to make any enemies on here by continualy posting off subject responses. so good day to all you detractors.


10:34 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
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(<----hoping this thread doesn't get locked...) Note the intent above. The bullet may be made for some kind of game, but those ratings are based on numbers and lab physics, for some hypothetical, typical hunting scenario. I'd point out that a surprise backwoods bear encounter, black or brown, is much different than a prepared hunting trip.

Yes, that 10mm glock 20 is a fine package (esp. with the extended mags.), and could probably down a small black bear with it in a hunting situation if you had the jump on it at around 30 yards. And yeah, it might work on the trail as well, but be a really good shot man!! I suppose it would suffice to silence a bear cornered by one's KBD's, at any rate...

I'm gonna read that book, Dewey.

7:59 a.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
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We placed a moratorium on "guns in the backcountry" threads and posts late last year after ample discussion. See here:

The topic has been discussed at length many times on this site, and while many members on both sides of the issue have thoughtful comments, the nature of the topic means that it inevitably has to be shut down.

I've let the rare gun mentions (like Dewey's above) remain on the site since the moratorium, because those comments have been on-topic and constructive, but I'm not opening up the entire guns-in-the-backcountry discussion again.

I'm going to lock the thread (sorry, pillowthread).

[editing to add the following]

I want to add that I dislike censoring any subject outright, as long as it is on-topic for Trailspace. I know from experience that there are many Trailspace members on either side of this subject, and in the middle, who are capable of a civil, informative discussion, and have proven so.

The issue is how to keep an online discussion about such a controversial topic civil and useful and not allow it to take over the entire site: Only let members discuss? Relegate it to one thread only (pursuant to all the usual rules)?

I'll keep considering the issue of how to handle this topic for the future.

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