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How to Protect Your Dog From Hawks, Owls, & Other Birds of Prey

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Dog Safety By Ben Team 21 min read August 3, 2019 27 Comments

how-to-protect-your-dog-from-hawks

Hawks, owls, and other birds of prey are some of the most universally beloved animals in the world. Who among us can watch them soaring high in the air without feeling awestruck?

Owners of small dogs – that’s who.

Despite the beauty hawks and owls display and the important ecological roles they fill, birds of prey represent a potential threat to every small animal dwelling within their territory.

They may typically prey on rats, rabbits, snakes, and other birds, but they’ll gladly expand their menus when the opportunity arises, or their normal food sources are scarce.

And this means your little dog may be in danger every time you leave the house, as many hawks and owls are potential dog predators.

But there are a few things you can do to help protect your pint-sized pooch from these formidable birds.

We’ll discuss a few of the best ways to protect your dog from predators, we’ll identify the birds that represent the biggest danger to your pooch, and we’ll explain how to scare away hawks, owls, and other birds of prey.

Why Do Hawks (and Other Birds of Prey) Attack Dogs?

Hawks and other birds of prey don’t go around picking fights with dogs for no reason.

Dogs, like other prey animals, tend to fight back, which can cause injuries or death for the bird. So, hawks pick and choose their battles.

This means that hawks and owls usually initiate attacks for one reason: hunger.

dog hawk attacks

However, hawks and other birds of prey may also launch an attack if they feel threatened by your dog or view it as a competitor.

This is usually associated with hawks that are guarding their nests and offspring. In such cases, the hawk or owl may try to drive off dogs that are within 150 feet or so of the nest.   

It’s important to note that these defensive attacks aren’t limited to small dogs. Hawks and owls may even attack animals much larger than themselves in some cases. People are occasionally “buzzed” by nesting hawks and owls.  

But fortunately, most of these defensive attacks do not include serious physical contact. However, when significant contact occurs, it can result in very serious injuries.

The following clip shows what it looks like when a great horned owl attacks a dog. This appears to be a territorial or defensive assault, rather than a predatory response, as that dog appears much too large to for the owl to subdue.  

(Don’t worry: The dog is completely unharmed in the clip.)

Note how silent the owl is while descending and how quickly the entire sequence unfolds. The lucky canine doesn’t even notice the owl swooping down behind him. Were that dog smaller, or this a predatory attack, the outcome could have had a much more tragic result.

For that matter, if that owl had simply made significant contact with the dog, she may have been able to inflict serious wounds anyway.

Birds That Attack Dogs: The Culprits

Just about any large bird of prey may decide that your pooch looks palatable. Mother Nature doesn’t have many hard-and-fast rules about what is and is not on the menu.

That said, the three species below are likely the most common dog predators:

Red-Tailed Hawks

Hawks that Attack Dogs

Red-tailed hawks are incredibly common, and they may be seen in just about any habitat, including deserts, forests, fields, and the suburbs.

In fact, aside from vultures, who don’t often tangle with living animals anyway, Red-tailed hawks are likely the most frequently seen bird of prey in most parts of the United States.

These birds can be difficult for beginners to learn to identify, as they’re remarkably variable – you could see two completely different-looking red-tailed hawks sitting in adjacent trees.

Nevertheless, most red-tailed hawks have pale-colored bellies and reddish tails. This is easiest to appreciate when light shines through the feathers, as the hawk banks or turns.

Golden Eagles

golden eagle

Golden eagles are massive birds who often have wingspans exceeding 7 feet. They’re native to a large portion of the United States, but they’re most common in the western half of the country.

Unlike the red-tailed hawk, whose plumage often varies significantly from one individual to the next, most golden eagles look pretty similar, with dark brown feathers covering the bulk of their body, save for a smattering of gold feathers around the neck.

Golden eagles hunt a variety of different prey species, with rabbits and similar-sized mammals being their preferred prey. Nevertheless, there is at least one case in which a golden eagle attacked a small deer.

Great Horned Owls

great horned owl

There are a few owl species that may grow large enough to threaten small dogs, but the most likely species to give your pooch trouble is the great horned owl.

Great horned owls aren’t quite as big as golden eagles or some other gigantic species, but they still reach very respectable sizes. Some even have wingspans approaching 5 feet.

Great horned owls primarily prey on rabbits, rats, and smaller birds, but they’ll certainly consider adding small dogs to the menu when the opportunity presents itself.

Again, it is important to note that the three species listed above aren’t the only birds of prey that may try to attack your dog. These are simply the most likely species to attack dogs in the U.S. and Canada.

Bald eagles, for example, will eat mammals from time to time, but they prefer sushi. So, they probably aren’t as big a threat to your dog as their golden cousins are.  

Other species pose threats in Europe, Australia, and Asia. The Harpy eagles of South America flirt with the 20-pound mark and hunt sloths. The ominously named monkey-eating eagle of the Philippines is also a big bird that represents a danger to dogs living within their range.

So, be sure to familiarize yourself with the large birds of prey native to your part of the world.

How Much Weight Can a Hawk, Owl, or Eagle Carry?

Hawks and other birds of prey are certainly formidable predators, but they are actually smaller than most people think.

Red-tailed hawks and great horned owls usually weigh less than 3 pounds. Bald and golden eagles are substantially larger, but they rarely exceed 15 pounds.

It isn’t clear exactly how much weight various birds of prey can carry off, as ornithologists have slightly varying opinions on the matter. It’s a difficult thing to test, so we must primarily rely on chance observations. Additionally, the wind and weather conditions at the moment will also play a large role in determining a bird’s carrying capacity.

With all of that said, the upper limits are almost certainly less than the body weight of the bird in question. And in most cases, the comfortable limit for a bird is likely less than half that.

This means that it is only the smallest dogs around that are in danger of being carried off.

small yorkie

It is also worth pointing out that ornithologists typically explain that immature (and therefore slightly smaller) birds are probably most likely to attack your pet, given their relative inexperience.

However, birds of prey don’t always carry off their dinner. If they attack a larger animal (which does happen on rare occasions), they may eat it right there on the ground.

The takeaway?

A large bird of prey may be able to carry off a 2-pound Yorkie puppy, but it’s unlikely that a 20-pound Boston terrier would be light enough for most birds to lift. But that doesn’t mean a hawk or owl wouldn’t try to feast on such a terrier, so it still makes good sense to provide protection to dogs this size.   

How to Protect Pets from Birds of Prey: The Basics

Hawks, eagles, owls and other birds of prey are formidable predators, who are quite skilled at doing what they do.

In fact, they’ve evolved the ability to deal with a variety of different prey species over time – some have even been recorded attacking porcupines and other armored prey. So, they obviously represent a serious threat to small dogs.

This means that one of the first things you want to do is discourage them from hanging out around your home and property. A few ways to do so include the following:

1. Tidy Up Your Property

Yard debris provides hiding places for mice, rats, frogs, and snakes – all of which may serve as food for birds of prey. So, do what you can to keep your yard neat and tidy. This is a great rule for coyote-proofing your yard too, as they are similarly attracted to these critters and may enter your yard if rodents are nearby.

This will hopefully reduce your local rodent population, thereby reducing the appeal of your property to hawks and other big birds.

squirrel

2. Implement a Pest-Control Program

It may be necessary to take further steps to reduce your local rodent population if tidying your yard doesn’t have the intended effect.

You’ll never get rid of all the rodents in the area, but you can often keep their populations in check. Just be sure that you (or the pest-control company you hire) use pet-safe traps that won’t harm your dog.

3. Prune Nearby Trees

Hawks use trees for nesting, but they also use them as hunting outposts. They’ll sit on conveniently situated branches for long periods of time, scanning the ground below for catchable critters.

So, hire a tree service to prune your trees and remove those branches that’ll make good perches. Just be sure to do so during the non-nesting season.

4. Get Rid of Your Bird Feeders

Bird feeders not only attract songbirds, they often attract squirrels, chipmunks, and rats too.

And when you concentrate all of these creatures in a small area, the local hawks and owls will definitely take notice and begin patrolling the area.

bird feeder

This means that you may need to take down these feeders if you’re worried about your dog being attacked by hawks or other birds of prey.

What Are Hawks Afraid Of? Deterring & Scaring Off Predators

Like many other predators, hawks and owls are always keen to avoid danger. This not only includes obviously dangerous things, like hunters and other predators, it can also include things that are simply odd or unusual.  

So, there are a few things you can do to try to frighten them away or discourage their presence.

However, all hawks and owls are individuals, and some are more easily frightened than others. This means that you may have to try a few different methods or products to find one that’ll work.

A few of the best products that may help frighten off hawks are detailed below.

1.  Scare Tape

Nobody is entirely sure why, but reflective metal tape often frightens birds.

Metal tapes are probably frightening because they reflect a lot of light and make bizarre sounds when they blow in the wind. So, all you have to do is hang long strips of the tape up on trees, awnings, or fences in the desired area and let them do their thing.

There are a bunch of reflective, bird-frightening tapes on the market, but PREDATORGUARD Scare Tape is probably the best option available. The 2-inch-wide tape comes in 150-foot rolls, which is enough for about 4,000 square feet of space.  

Details

  • USED BY FARMERS & PROPERTY OWNERS AROUND THE WORLD - Predator Guard Scare Tape frightens birds and...
  • SCARE TAPE USES VISUAL AND SOUND EFFECTS TO SCARE BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS AWAY - Ultra reflective...
  • SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE, LONG-LASTING - Easy to install - Tie 3' strips to poles or stakes, hang from...
  • HUMANE, ECO-FRIENDLY - SCARE TAPE is proven to help wildlife and pest bird populations by causing...

PROS

Scare Tape is very easy to cut and install, and it is reasonably affordable too. Most of the people who tried it found that it was effective at scaring away small birds and several customers also mentioned that it appeared to frighten away hawks too.  

CONS

Scare Tape seems to be a pretty effective solution in many cases, but a handful of customers who tried it reported that it didn’t appear to have an effect on birds at all. Also, flapping metal strips probably aren’t the most attractive thing to put in your backyard.

2. Bird Spikes

Bird spikes come in a variety of styles, and they’re made from several different materials, but they all work in the same basic way: They make it difficult for birds to perch comfortably.

Once deprived of a comfy place to hang out, most birds will move off and find somewhere else to chill.

A bunch of companies manufacture bird spikes, but we wanted to focus on two different options, which both appear to work very well.

Abco Tech Bird Spikes feature relatively short spikes, and they’re made from plastic, so they won’t rust over time. They come in strips that are about 19 inches long, and they’re easy to mount in a variety of ways. You can use screws, glue, zip ties, or Velcro strips to keep them in place.

Details

  • EFFECTIVE SECURITY SPIKES – Prevent intruders such as birds, animals, cat, dogs and even human...
  • EASY TO INSTALL & VERSATILE – Our fence spikes are super easy to install, and are safe for use on...
  • COVERS 16 FEET – The pigeon spikes come in a set of 10 x 19.2 in spike strips, for a total length...
  • SUPERIOR QUALITY WEATHER RESISTANT MATERIAL – Our bird repellent spikes are made up of...

If you’d like a more significant deterrent, you may want to try Bird-X Bird Spikes. These spikes are about 4.5 inches long, and they’re made from stainless steel. They come in 1-foot-long sections, so they’re easy to add to any fence line, and they’re backed by the manufacturer’s 10-year warranty.  

Details

  • CREATES A BARRIER TO REPEL FLYING PESTS: Stop damage in its tracks and prevent birds from pooping,...
  • PREVENTS BIRDS FROM LANDING OR PERCHING: Make any area a landing-free zone! Our ultra sharp bird...
  • EASY TO INSTALL STRIPS: Each strip of our Bird-X Regular Width 6-inch Stainless Steel Bird Spikes...
  • HEAVY DUTY CONSTRUCTION: Our durable spikes are crafted from stainless steel and are made to last...

PROS

Both types of spike strips appear to work in most cases, although most customers use them to deter small birds, rather than hawks or owls. The Bird-X Bird Spikes will probably be more effective at deterring large birds, but both versions are worth trying, given their relatively low cost and ease of use.

CONS

A number of small bird species appear undeterred by spikes (some even built nests amid the spikes). However, this shouldn’t be a problem for dog owners who are trying to frighten off hawks and owls.

3. Scarecrow Owls

Scarecrow owls are plastic replicas that are usually used to help discourage rodents and small birds from hanging out in your yard or garden. However, they may also prove helpful for keeping birds of prey at bay.

There are a number of scarecrow owls available, but the Gardeneer By Dalen looks like the best one on the market.

Details

  • Gardener By Dalen Rotating-Head Owl Realistic head bobs and turns in gentle breezes
  • Helps repel birds and pests while adding charm
  • This product is made in China
  • Realistic head bobs and turns freely in the breeze which repels birds and pests

This scarecrow owl is hand-painted for maximum realism, and it features a rotating head that will move when the wind blows. The owl stands about 18-inches tall and you can mount it in a variety of different ways.

PROS

Scarecrow owls are not only affordable and easy to use, but they will probably help frighten away some of the rats and mice in your yard too. This means they may not only scare away hawks on their own, but they’ll also make your yard less appealing to raptors in the first place.

CONS

Scarecrow owls don’t always appear to frighten hawks away. Additionally, because hawks have good vision and are pretty perceptive, they’ll often learn that these kinds of scarecrow owls are fake over time. It may sometimes be helpful to move the scarecrow owl around your backyard periodically.

4. Bird Balloons

Bird balloons are essentially large, inflatable beach balls.

However, they are painted with large eye-like markings that often prove frightening to birds and other animals. Some – like the De-Bird Balloon Repellent – even feature tassels for additional movement.

Details

  • Bird proof home in minutes - Bird deterrent prevents birds from setting up home at your property.
  • No more unwanted feather guests - Scare-eye balloons float in the water to keep ducks out of pool!
  • Does not deflate easily - Effective, robust, wear-resistant and weatherproof bird deterrent
  • Safe & easy to use - Inflate, apply eye sticker & hang bird repeller on any area you want to...

You can use these types of balloons in different ways, but if you are trying to frighten away hawks and owls, you’ll likely find it most helpful to simply suspend the balloons from branches or fence posts.

PROS

When they work, bird balloons offer a very quick, easy, and affordable way to frighten away unwanted birds. Most people use these to deter geese and ducks from hanging out on their property, but a few customers reported that they appeared effective at keeping raptors away too.

CONS

The biggest drawback to bird balloons is that they sometimes appear to have no effect at all on their intended target. Bird balloons may also prove frightening to skittish dogs.

5. Hawk-Proof Netting

Poultry farmers have been using things like wire or netting to protect their chickens, ducks, and other birds from raptors for decades, and small-dog owners may find a similar strategy appealing.

Essentially, you’ll just need to rig up a wooden or metal frame, to which you’ll attach the net to make a protective “cage” for your pup to enjoy. This should prevent hungry hawks and owls from being able to access your pooch.

This is certainly a labor-intensive approach, but it will also provide more protection than anything else.

YARDGARD is a great choice if you like the idea of metal wire, while Noa Store Netting is a good option for owners who’d prefer a textile-based net.

Product

Details

  • Galvanized before weaving
  • Hexagonal poultry netting has reinforced lines equally spaced across the netting
  • It is made perfectly straight and flat, and stays that way
  • Use for garden fencing, poultry enclosures, insulation retainers, storage bins, and decorative...

PROS

Both YARDGARD and Noa Store Netting received good reviews from people who tried them, and they both appear effective for deterring a variety of different predators. Also, while constructing an enclosure with these materials will certainly be a big project, both materials are easy to work with.

CONS

Unless you build a small enclosure for your pet, you may find that wire or net enclosures are pretty expensive to construct. Additionally – and this is no small matter – hawk-proof netting or wire may ensnare an attacking hawk. This may require you to contact a rescue group or wildlife control official to free the bird.

Raptor-Proof Dog Vests

Hawk deterrents may make your backyard safer for your pup, but they don’t always work. For that matter, they won’t offer your pet any protection while he’s running at the park of going on a walk with you.

That’s why some dog owners turn to raptor-proof vests. These vests are designed to help protect pets from birds of prey and prevent a bird’s talons from injuring your pooch.  

There are two high-quality options on the market. We’ll discuss them both below.

1. RaptorShield  

Details

  • Extra Protection From Birds of Prey — Limit your pet’s exposure to attacks from animal threats...
  • Puncture-resistant Polycarbonate — Made with the same material as bulletproof glass
  • Adjustable Sizing — Choose from our size list for the perfect fit for your pet; exchanges at no...
  • Great for Small Pets — Designed for animals under 22 lbs. See the Raptor Shield Sizing Guide to...

RaptorShield was invented by company owner Bill Caruso after “Daisy,” his 9-pound pup, was attacked by a large hawk.

Daisy survived, but the ordeal prompted Caruso to develop a protective garment that would help to shield dogs from the large talons of hawks and owls.

The resulting product is a puncture-resistant polycarbonate dog vest that remains attached via two straps (one goes under your dog’s neck, the other goes under your dog’s belly). The straps feature Velcro connections that make it easy to put the vest on your dog.

RaptorShield is made in the USA and it comes in four sizes, which will fit dogs ranging from 2 to 22 pounds.

PROS

Most RaptorShield reviews were quite positive. We couldn’t find any documented accounts of the vest successfully deterring a hawk, but on the flip side, we didn’t find any reports of RaptorShield-clad dogs being attacked by a hawk. Most owners found that it fit their dog well and was light enough to permit normal movement.

CONS

Aside from a few owners who experienced sizing issues, there weren’t any serious complaints about RaptorShield. A few people complained that it seemed expensive, but it’s hard to put a value on your dog’s well-being and safety.

2. HawkShield  

HawkShield is a product designed to protect small dogs from raptor attacks.

It is produced by a company called Coyote Vest, which was started by Paul Mott, Pam Mott, and Nicole Mellom, after the Mott’s family dog was attacked by a coyote.

hawk shield

HawkShield is an add-on product that is designed to be used in conjunction with the original CoyoteVest. It is made from a triple layer of Kevlar (the same material used in bullet- and knife-proof vests), and it attaches to the CoyoteVest via Velcro strips.

The HawkShield then works in two ways: First of all, the Kevlar material inside the guard helps protect your dog from the sharp talons of a hawk.

Secondly, HawkShield is designed to tear away from the CoyoteVest when the hawk grips it. This way, the hawk gets to fly away with the HawkShield, and your frightened pup can then run away.

HawkShield is available in four different sizes that are designed to fit whichever CoyoteVest is appropriate for your dog.

PROS

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any third-party reviews of HawkShield. However, because CoyoteVest has received pretty positive reviews from most owners who tried it, and HawkShield is designed to work in conjunction with CoyoteVest, we still feel comfortable recommending it. The triple layer of Kevlar will likely stop a hawk’s talons, and the break-away design is a clever concept.

CONS

HawkShield is about half the price of the only other raptor-proof garment on the market, but it must be used in conjunction with CoyoteShield, which means you’ll be spending a pretty penny to completely outfit your dog.

What to Do When a Hawk Attacks Your Dog

Hopefully, by implementing some of the tips and tricks discussed above, you can dissuade your local hawks and owls from picking on your pooch. But no single strategy will always prove effective, so it is important to be ready to act if your dog is picked up by a hawk.

There is nothing you can do that is guaranteed to prevent or end a raptor attack, but your best bet is to try to frighten the offending bird away. You want to convince her that your dog is simply not worth the risk and that she should look elsewhere for an easier meal.

In many cases, your simple presence will keep hawks at bay. Adult humans are much too large for a hawk to eat, and people may be dangerous. So, it is important that you always accompany small dogs when outdoors.

small dog hawk attack

But, if this doesn’t work and a hawk actually initiates an attack, you’ll need to frighten the hawk away before she can get a grip on your pooch or fly off with him.

Even if the hawk later decides that your dog isn’t worth the trouble, she may drop him in mid-flight, which will almost certainly result in severe injuries.

In most cases, running toward the hawk while waving your arms and screaming like a banshee will frighten it off. Just try to make yourself look as big and frightening as possible.

In my time as an environmental educator, I often saw hawks snatch prey off the ground. Many times, I tried to sneak up and see what was for dinner without spooking the bird.

But this proved exceptionally difficult – even when I would creep through the forest ninja-style, the birds were almost always frightened by my presence, which would cause them to drop the food item and fly off.  

So, while you certainly want to do everything you can to prevent hawk attacks from ever occurring, you probably have a decent chance of scaring away the bird if you act quickly and make a huge commotion.

Legal Issues With Attacking Hawks

It is important to note that all hawks and owls are protected by the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC, 703-711), which states in part (the added emphasis is ours):

it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product…

Further, the golden and bald eagles are both protected by additional legislation, called the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d) (once again, the emphasis added is ours):

… prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit Bald Eagle sitting in tree (16 U.S.C. 668(a); 50 CFR 22). “Take” includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3)

This all means that you can’t kill the hawks or owls living in your backyard to protect your pooch – this is clear. But it isn’t entirely clear what authorities would do to someone who is defending their dog from an attacking bird.

Would you get into trouble for throwing rocks at an attacking hawk or hitting it with a stick? I wouldn’t think so, but I’m not an attorney.

We reached out to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and asked them if a dog owner would likely face prosecution in such cases. We also asked them what they would recommend a dog owner do when faced with an attacking hawk, but we have not received a response.  

Note that many birds of prey also receive additional protection at the state or local level. This means that it is critical that you familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your area before adding hawk-deterrents to your land or taking any other steps to address the problem.

***

Hawk attacks on dogs are incredibly rare, but that’s not going to matter if your dog ends up fighting for his life while in the clutches of a hungry raptor.

So, this is one of those cases when it is better to be safe than sorry. Just be sure that you supervise small pooches when outdoors and try to implement the techniques or use some of the products described above.

Has a hawk or owl ever threatened your pup? We’d love to hear about the experience (especially if it has a happy ending). What kinds of things have you done to help keep your pooch safe?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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Sandy

Years ago my two chihuahuas (both under 7 lbs) were in the yard a distance away when I noticed two birds flying overhead. I assumed they were vultures as they are a common site and have a breeding area close by, but then I noticed they were circling tighter and closer until they were only a few feet above my dogs. I ran up to them while yelling and waving my hands, and they left. Prior to this incident, I had no idea that birds of prey could or would take pets – naive, I know – but it doesn’t seem to occur as frequently here on the east coast as it apparently does in other areas. What made this even more alarming was that though I was some distance away, a neighbor of mine was out working on his car and was pretty close to both dogs, but his presence and movement weren’t enough to deter the hawks. I mentioned the incident to my vet during our yearly visit but, though polite, he didn’t seem alarmed nor gave me any warnings. At our next visit a year later, he admitted it was because he didn’t believe me! LOL It wasn’t until he had to treat another patient’s Pomeranian for puncture marks after it had been snatched and subsequently dropped during a hawk attack that he remembered my story and apologized for his skepticism. I wasn’t upset. Like I said, it just isn’t a common occurrence – gators are the more immediate and known threat. It’s been a long time since that incident, and I’ve since purchased a house in a suburban area, but it’s flanked by a good deal of woods that is home to both hawks and great horned owls. Luckily, they seem satisfied by the rather large squirrel, rabbit, and bird population here. We also have some free-roaming neighborhood cats that have gone unmolested. Still, I do have my worries, especially since I’ve remained a small dog fan.

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Paul Beddows

My 12 lb dog was attacked by a bald eagle in SW BC in November. She was returning with a ball she was chasing when it swooped down on her, Fortunately a neighbor was close by and scared it off when it was only a couple of feet away, There is a stream with spawning salmon within 1/2 a mile which is why they were in the area. I ordered the coyote vest and hawk shield. I am considering ordering their hawk eye add-ons as well. My wife ordered it in pink. I hastily phoned and changed it to yellow. Pink may make her look like a spawning salmon. I now always scan the sky and nearby trees, just in case. There are coyote and cougar attacks around here as well. a couple of weeks ago a cougar attacked and and carried off a German Shepard who was on a leash. https://globalnews.ca/news/7693267/cougar-attack-german-shepherd-puppy/

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Ben Team

Yikes, Paul! That’s scary, but we are glad your pooch turned out OK.
Bald eagles aren’t as widespread a threat as, say, red-tailed hawks are, but their size certainly makes them more dangerous than some other birds.

Best of luck with the vest! Let us know how it works out.

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Lynn Ranew

Our Jack Russell Terrier has been threatened twice in the last week by a barred owl. We have a pair nestling in our very wooded acre yard. They have been there for years, so this is their territory. One has swooped down twice. We will try the tape and the owl scarecrows you recommend. For now we are taking her out in a leash. She weighs 16 pounds. We are thinking this may be more about nesting protection than dinner, but we don’t want her hurt.

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Ben Team

Yikes! That sounds scary, Lynn.
Best of luck! Let us know how the scarecrow and tape work out.

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S Krellin

I was walking my two dogs when a red tailed Hawk swooped down from a power line and attacked my 5lb morkie who was 3 ft from me on a leash. I yanked and screamed as the Hawk continued to grab. It finally retreated to the wire when I picked up my morkie…as I was trying to get my other dog, a 14 lb Shiapoo the Hawk swooped again and tried to attack the shiapoo…I was screaming and it flew away …two weeks prior a Hawk was at the bottom of my driveway in a pile of leaves. It flew up into a tree as we walked by it…I was lucky then it didn’t attack. I am now deathly afraid to walk my dogs and am buying the coyote vest and spikes.

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Ben Team

Eek! That sounds terrifying, but we’re glad to hear your pups made it through the ordeal without suffering serious injury.
Let us know how the coyote vest works out for you!

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Paul Beddows

My 12 ib dog was almost attacked by a large Bald eagle inside our complex yesterday while chasing her ball. Fortunately a neighbour happened to be walking by her when the eagle swooped down and scared it off. It was large bird. I have ordered the coyote vest and hawk shield, and in the meantime I have her on a 45 ft leash while she chases her ball. I usually live in Mexico in winter and only have to worry about cayman, but I am in BC due to Covid and it’s salmon spawing time, so eagles are around. They sell a hawk eyes decal that sticks to the vest. Wondering it that is at all effective. I did order the vest in yellow. I figure red or pink looks too much like spawning sockeye to an eagle. I am wondering if those whiskers are effective. Maybe an eaglel with previous experience with a porcupine

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Liz M

I have a small puppy and he has been approached by a hawk twice we go out with him all the time. Each time we were more than 10 feet from him. I’ve noticed our bird feeders haven’t been used over the past month. We use hot pepper food to keep mammals away from the feeders. I’d love a way to keep this hawk away without running away our other feathered friends. This is terrifying.

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Karen

I am reading your article this morning because I had a frightening experience with a hawk. Early this morning I was out side with my puppy. He is a miniature schnauzer. He is 10.5 lbs. he is about 3.5 months old. We live in a new house so there is some open land behind our house not developed yet. There are a lot of hawks around us. I have seen 8 to 10 flying around during my walks in the morning. I have been good about accompanying my puppy outside because of all the hawks around. I have gotten more lax as our puppy has gotten larger. Thanks goodness I was out there this morning! A hawk came in out of nowhere. I screamed! it was literally 5/6 feet away with tallons out coming toward my puppy, Henry! Henry just froze. The hawk detoured at my noice and left. I am a little spooked now and my puppy was just confused. I don’t think he ever realized why I was upset and made him come inside the house.

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Ben Team

Wow! That sounds pretty scary, Karen!
Glad you were outside and your pooch escaped unharmed.
Give him some scritches for us and stay vigilant!

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Adam

It was March 15th around 2pm 2020 when me and my wife took our dog’s Daisy, Lilli, and Giorgio out to go to the bathroom and walk; we live in a apartment complex in the city next to 3 empty schools due to COVID and a water treatment centre and a open field full of prairie dog’s. As we we’re walking to the entrance of our complex my wife says “What’s that, do you see that in the tree; is that a bird?” I gave her Giorgio’s leash and told her to stay there as I walked up underneath a 60 foot Cottonwood Tree and of course to my surprise it was either a Golden Eagle or the biggest Ferruginous or Dark Coloured Red Tailed Hawk’s I’ve seen; and I used to help out with a Professional Hawker and he had Harris Hawk’s we used for Pigeons in a Stadium. It was checking out this group of kids coming to play under the tree and they were like “Woah that’s a BIG Bird!” And I told them they need to go inside as they had about a 2 or 3 year old that obviously was sizing up untill it focussed in on my 3 dog’s and wife, and as soon as it did and I saw the specific “Bob” of the head I YELLED to my wife “GET THE DOG’S OUT OF HERE!” and it took off toward them mid sentence and I took off after it and yelled at it and threw a small stick at it as to try my best to not harm it but protect my dog’s and or wife and then it majorly changed direction off target. And as soon after as we get inside we see another one just as big bit completely different in colouring it was mainly a white body but small dark brown feathers in spots, I’ve seen a “Baby” Red Tail Hawk that lived at the stadium I worked at and it was NOT that there’s a Mating Pair of these bird’s terrorizing it’s up to 4 mile radius as the bird’s tried to go after me and my dog’s this morning on May 23rd around 10am; one saw us and sized us up again cause he was pretty high up gliding and then kind of dived bombed us but I threw my plastic dog bag dispenser toward it and it changed direction.
Big Bird’s of Prey are bold as I never felt threatened for my dog’s well being even living 40 minutes outside the nearest Mountain Town a year ago and we had Mountain Lion’s. Also the Bird’s that we’re at my job have a Residence with the City and they don’t even scare easy to the 4th of July fireworks that happen every year.
My advice to any and every one is that as soon as you step outside the threshold of your Household your and whatever is yours is in threat of what the wilderness has to throw at it even if it may be considered as “Your own backyard” Always watch your small animals.

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DONNA FREDERICK

Excellent article…..but TERRIFYING!!! My 8ld Maltese is my baby and i just bought a house with a huge yard where he loves running out to every morning to relieve himself. I stand at the door and I recently SAW 3-4 HAWKS & BUZZARDS PERCHED IN THE TREE, JUST 50 – 75 FT ABOVE, JUST WATCHING..WAITING.
Would it help if I sewed him a shiny silver doggie vest? I cant afford the vests you showed, (one looks dangerous for anyone to be near!) Or would a silver full body harness only attract those monster birds even more? I have a Daisy BB rifle (“You’ll shoot yer’ eye out!”) and was going to start blasting them, so Im glad you educated me to those laws..although Im not sure anyone who caught me would care. WHO wants VULTURES & HAWKS HANGING AROUND YOUR YARD, STARING DOWN AT YOU ALL DAY!!! ITS AWFUL. Please let me know what you think about the silver full body harness /vest. Thank you. Donna (& Auggie).

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Ben Team

Hey, Donna. So glad you liked the article.

I’m not sure whether a shiny dog vest would help protect Auggie or not. Unusual or novel stimuli does often cause predators to hesitate and look for a safer meal elsewhere. I don’t think it would increase the chances of an attack, either, so it may be worth trying.

You may want to try to identify the vultures in your backyard, as some present a greater danger to live animals than others. For example, turkey vultures (who are the most common vulture in many areas) typically subsist on dead or nearly dead prey. On the other hand, while black vultures exhibited similar feeding preferences throughout most of history, they are beginning to take more live prey in response to changing ecological conditions in the modern world.

The relative danger presented by turkey vultures is probably low, whereas black vultures are more likely to view little Auggie as potential food.

Best of luck!

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Adette Quintana

The Patented Hawk Star Vest works based on the science of bird’s eyesight. The raptor will not see the pet as prey. Thank you for this article! Great information for pet parents!!

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Laura Heldreth

For the third night in a row there has been an owl in our backyard hanging out in the grass. I’m pretty sure it is after my dog. I doubt it could carry her far as she weighs 12 lb., but it could hurt her. I need to get rid of it and it doesn’t seem scared of us. We have walked towards and gotten fairly close.
Would love a suggestion of how to get rid of it. Thanks!

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Ben Team

Hey, Laura. That’s a tough one. I doubt the owl is specifically targeting your dog, but it’s still wise to be careful.
You may want to reach out to your local extension service — they may be able to offer some further suggestions. In the meantime, I’d recommend supervising your dog when she goes outside (particularly at night), turning on as many exterior lights as you can, and looking into some of the protective garments discussed above.
Best of luck!

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Gail Gardner

Owls are becoming a bigger problem and probably other predators, both bird and mammal. This is because there is a disease killing rabbits which are a major food source for many of them.

A Great Horned Owl managed to find an empty spot in the fishing line grid over my ducks and landed in their pen. The pen is not far from an outside light similar to a street light. And there was flash tape around the pen, too.

Hunting near a light; coming that close to a house; ignoring potential danger from fishing line and flash tape — I don’t think they would typically choose to do any of that.

Then it sat right under the light and right near a swingset in the back yard to eat what it caught. I have to think it was unusually hungry to take those risks.

After adding fresh flash tape, a lot more fishing line, and 4 Nite Guard solar units that each have a red flashing “eye” light, the owl returned, but stayed on a tree probably 300 feet away for a really long time before deciding to leave.

So these solutions may not work for people with close neighbors, but the Nite Guard flash tape does keep birds away from my fruit trees and garden and small ground-based predators away.

And I’d say the only reason that owl left is the solar red lights flashing. (They charge all day and then flash all night.) Ask anyone with poultry for tips because the have even worse issues with predators including owls that dog and cat owners.

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Amy

I am the proud owner of two dogs, one boxer/pit mix, and one mini pin/chihuahua mix. I’m absolutely scared to death to let my little dog out to potty, there have been “4” attempts by a hawk over the last month, the latest attempt was the scariest one!! I would like to say that standing outside with my dog has not deterred this hawk at all! I was maybe 10 feet, if that, away from my dog when this hawk swooped down right in front of my face and made an attempt to grab my baby… My heart literally sank!! I started screaming and running towards my baby, only to scare the heck out of her, because she had no idea what was going on, causing her to run away from me as well 🙁 Now, every time I let my baby go outside, it is a stressful, nail biting, terrifying experience!!

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Juliana

Hi! I work in rescue and foster small dogs. We were getting ready to take in a 7 pound JRT/Chi mix the owners couldn’t keep, and had let run loose on their property. The dog never left the property. The property was small and up the street from me. Well, the dog disappeared and the owners were being evicted, so they couldn’t stop and try to find him. I put up flyers all over with a reward and after 4 days got a call. A woman had found the dog walking near her house 1/2 a mile away. When we went to pick him up, he was in shock and had a hole in the scruff of his neck. We rushed him to the vet, and dropped him off to have any needed care done. The vet called and said it appeared he was picked up by a hawk and dropped. The talen caused the hole He had badly bruised ribs and was traumatized. He needed a few stitches and R & R, which he got plenty of. We decided to adopt him and we have had him 4 years now and he is doing good.
The reason I came to this site today is that I have 4 small dogs. 2 are elderly and 10 and 13 pounds. The other 2 are 5 and 8 and weigh 12 and 14 pounds. When they go outside, this one hawk hears them barking and coming flying and circles my 50′ x 100 ‘ fenced yard over and over. He flies so low that I think he is looking for the smallest/weakest one. Me being out there doesn’t really deter him. I can’t afford 4 vests, as most animal rescue people are broke from vet bills and donating to other rescuers that need help with vet bills.
I’m a wreck because this hawk seems very determined. Whether he is planning to grab one of the dogs or not, I’m pretty sure he would if one of the dogs was off alone sniffing the grass.
I just don’t know what to do. Thankyou.

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Meg Marrs

Hey Juliana – I’d say try some of the other tips in the article if vests aren’t an option for you – scare tape, fence spikes, bird balloons, etc. Good luck, it sounds like a stressful situation!

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Jamilee Chapman

Hi. My 14 pound Cairn Terrier “Remi” was just attacked last week. It was 9:00 pm and he was going potty before bed. We live in a woods and have a large fenced in yard. Never felt that our dogs were in any danger letting them outside before now. We believe our 90 pound lab saved Remi because our lab he was barking and growling (carrying on). When we went to the back door we found Remi hiding under a chair on the back porch. Remi’s back was sliced open from shoulder to shoulder and has 3 puncture wounds on his throat. He received 27 stitches to his back and several on his throat. He is doing well and is still healing. The vet said it was likely a great horned owl. I wish we had cameras so I would know exactly what happened. I am now afraid to let our dogs out in the yard. As a result, I now have to supervise them as they potty or play which is an inconvenience. I never thought a 14 pound dog would be in danger of an attack by a bird of prey. I am thankful my dog is going to survive. I am now researching what I can do to protect them. Thank you for your tips!

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Ben Team

Wow, Jamilee! That’s scary.
Glad your pooch is OK, and we’re delighted to hear that your Lab protected his little brother! Make sure to give him some extra treats for us!
Good luck protecting your four-footers moving forward.

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Vicki Simmons

Hi: do you think a big handmade homemade “scarecrow” may help scare away birds of prey from our backyard? I love feeding our small birds and squirrels but now I’ve seen some huge brown bird surveying my backyard. I hate to stop feeding my little animal friends but I certainly don’t want to invite their demise! I’m torn as to what to do.
Thanks for your input.

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Ben Team

Hi Vicki.
First of all, I misread “handmade” as “handsome” when reading your comment pre-coffee, which gave me a pretty good chuckle.

A scarecrow may work, but I don’t think I’d count on it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying though. Unfortunately, feeding the local songbirds and squirrels will almost always attract raptors (even if you never see them). I wouldn’t worry about the hawks picking off songbirds and rodents from time to time (that’s a completely natural phenomenon — hawks have to eat too). But, if you have a small pooch, you will have to weigh your choice to do so carefully.

Ultimately, if you don’t want to stop feeding the birds and squirrels, I’d recommend using some of the other strategies mentioned above, such as fitting your dog with a protective garment.

Best of luck! Let us know how the scarecrow works out.

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Betty

Red tail Hawks live in my pasture. When my little white dogs were puppies running through the pastures a red tail swooped about head level 5’ (for me) towards them. I feel sure without my presence one would have been dinner. The hawks stay in the trees now. I did hear an owl right across my fence last night. The hawks are very active today. Constantly calling. I don’t know if there’s any correlation there? I was looking on here to see how to deter the owl! My dogs only go out at night at bedtime then back in. Not a time I want to battle an owl ! Would a shiny Mylar balloon scare the owl off?

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Ben Team

Hey, Betty. It definitely sounds like your pooches are having to run a gauntlet of danger when nature calls. Glad you were there to frighten off the big birds!
A Mylar balloon may prove effective for the owl — it just depends on the individual bird.
Give it a try and let us know how it works!

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