Dogs are allowed in Canada’s National Parks if they are accompanied by a person on a three-metre or ten-foot leash.
However, dogs that are unfamiliar with wild life may put their humans in jeopardy. Be aware that travelling in bear country with your canine companion may be exciting, to say the least.Fido might come running back to you with a bear, cougar or coyote in pursuit.
Two years ago, a couple were walking their Spaniel on the Bourgeau Lake Trail in Banff National Park. They noticed their pet sniffing the air. When they looked up the hillside in the direction their dog was facing, they saw a grizzly bear also sniffing the air. The bear came down the hill and stood nose to nose to the small dog. The couple stood frozen, attached to their dog by the leash. Finding this situation a little too exciting, the hikers dropped the leash and backed up slowly.
The two animals started to paw at each other and play, one jumping over the other. Just having fun! The bear was a young 3 – 4 year old grizzly that still lives in the area. The hikers left the area and headed down the trail to their car. They didn’t know what to do about their dog. Obviously the dog hadn’t consulted them so there wasn’t much they could do. Ten minutes later, they noticed their dog trotting along behind in the distance. The dog wasn’t running, just trotting along to catch up. The bear was following the dog. Not anxious to catch up to the dog, the bear abandoned this play after less than a kilometre. The couple however was breathless to say the least. All’s well that ends well.
Some dogs can help you on your hikes. By paying close attention to their reactions they might warn you of approaching wild life. Watch their ears and their nose. I had a trained hiking dog that would point in the direction of a bear and then walk backwards away from the bear. Don’t expect your dog to do this unless he or she has extensive training.
Happy and safe hiking!