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

Dog Safety


Ben Team


K9 of Mine is reader-supported, which means we may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page. Here’s how it works.


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.

How to Protect Pets from Birds of Prey: The Basics

how to protect dog from hawks

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.

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 feeder

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.

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

scaring away hawks

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

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Premium Quality Bird Deterrent Reflective Scare Tape Ribbon 350 ft Long – Pest Control Dual-sided Repellent For Pigeons, Grackles, Woodpeckers, Geese, Herons, Blackbirds & More – Sturdy & Ultra Strong

briteNway Premium Quality Bird Deterrent Reflective Scare Tape

A reflective ribbon with a light-scattering, diamond pattern that scares birds away.

About: Nobody is entirely sure why, but reflective metal tape often frightens birds, with briteNway Premium Quality Bird Deterrent Reflective Scare Tape being one of the best options available. The 2-inch-wide tape comes in 350-foot rolls, giving you plenty of slack for strips around the yard.


  • Long strips can be hung on trees, awnings, or fences around the yard to deter birds, including hawks
  • Metal tapes are most likely frightening to birds because they reflect light and make bizarre sounds when they blow in the wind
  • Can be hooked, tied, or tacked in place
  • Made of non-toxic materials that won’t harm wildlife  


  • Scare tape is very easy to cut and install
  • Reasonably priced
  • Most people found it effective at scaring away small birds and several customers mentioned it frightened away hawks too  


  • A handful of customers reported it didn’t deter birds at all
  • Flapping metal strips probably aren’t the most attractive thing to put in your backyard

2. Bird Spikes

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

EcoGrowth Bird Spike for Bird Cat Squirrel, Fence Spike to Keep Pigeon Raccoon Away, Bird Spikes Security for Railing, Roof - 22 Pack (21.6 FT)

EcoGrowth Bird Spikes

Plastic spikes that deter birds from perching without risking harm or rusting over time.

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Bird-X (STS-10-R) STAINLESS STEEL SPIKES-10' Standard, 10 feet, Silver

Bird-X Standard Spikes

Stainless steel deterrent spikes situated on a flexible polycarbonate base for easy mounting.

About: Many companies manufacture bird spikes, but we wanted to focus on two different, quality options, including EcoGrowth Bird Spikes and Bird-X 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.


  • EcoGrowth Spikes are sold in packs of 22 featuring 11.8-inch strips of 4-inches plastic spikes
  • Bird-X Bird Spikes come in 1-foot sections that are 4.5 inches long and made of stainless steel
  • Plastic is best for long-term use without rusting, while metal is more uncomfortable for birds yet at risk of rusting
  • Offers an animal-safe, semi-permanent deterrent against perching birds like hawks


  • 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
  • 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
  • Last longer than some other options


  • A number of small bird species appear undeterred by spikes (some even built nests amid the spikes)
  • Can be unsightly

3. Scarecrow Owls

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Dalen Rotating Head Fake Owl Decoy to Scare Birds Away from Gardens, Rooftops, and Patios - Scarecrow Provides Chemical-Free Pest Control - Safe and Humane, 18' 360º Rotating Head

Gardeneer by Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow

A lifellike owl scarecrow with a moving head that helps deter hawks and other birds of prey.

About: Scarecrow owls are plastic replicas that are usually used to help discourage rodents and small birds from hanging out in your yard or garden with the Gardeneer By Dalen being one of the best on the market. They may also prove helpful for keeping birds of prey at bay.


  • Hand-painted for maximum realism
  • Rotating head moves when the wind blows, keeping up the lifelike charade
  • Owl stands about 18 inches tall
  • Can be mounted in a variety of ways on branches or fence posts


  • Scarecrow owls are affordable and easy to use
  • Can help frighten away some of the rats and mice in your yard, reducing a hawk’s prey source
  • Portable and durable


  • Scarecrow owls don’t always appear to frighten hawks away
  • Because hawks have good vision and are pretty perceptive, they may learn that these kinds of scarecrow owls are fake over time

4. Bird Balloons

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

De-Bird Balloon Bird Repellent,3-Pk Fast and Effective Solution to Pest Problems, Scare Eyes Balloon to Scare Birds Away from Pool and Garden Crops

De-Bird Balloon Bird Repellent

Bright coloring and reflective eyes help these inflattable devices repel hawks and other birds.

About: 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.


  • To frighten hawks and owls, suspend these from branches or fence posts where they may perch
  • Just inflate, add the eye markings, and attach them to the desired location
  • Most are waterproof and tear-resistant for ongoing use
  • Often offered in sets, giving you several balloons to strategically place around your yard


  • When they work, bird balloons offer a very quick, easy, and affordable way to frighten away unwanted birds
  • A few customers reported that they appeared effective at keeping raptors away
  • Can be brought with you as a portable deterrent


  • Bird balloons sometimes appear to have no effect at all on their intended target
  • May be frightening to skittish dogs

5. Hawk-Proof Netting

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

poultry metal fencing

YARDGARD 308474B Fence

A metal wire mesh that protects small dogs from threats from above, including hawks and owls.

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Nylon Mesh Anti Bird Netting [50 X 50] ft for Fruit Trees Used as Chicken Netting, Garden Netting, Plant Netting, Tree Protectors, Aviary Netting and Poultry Netting

Nylon Mesh Anti Bird Netting

A black nylon mesh barrier that protects from bird threats.

About: 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, with YARDGARD a great choice if you want metal wire, while Noa Store Netting is a good option for owners who’d prefer a textile-based net. 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.


  • Can be used atop your dog’s existing kennel for added protection against hawks
  • Also prevents other predators from accessing your pets, though some metal is much more effective than nylon in that respect
  • Offers coverage without blocking out the sun
  • Packaged in large, flexible rolls, allowing you to shape the material to your dog’s enclosure


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


  • Unless you build a small enclosure for your pet, you may find that wire or net enclosures are pretty expensive to construct
  • Hawk-proof netting or wire may ensnare an attacking hawk, requiring 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 three high-quality options on the market. We’ll discuss them below.

1. Raptor Shield  

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Raptor Shield Puncture Resistant Pet Vest for Small Dogs — Talon-Proof Protection Against Attacks by Coyotes, HawksBirds of Prey, Made in The USA, Four Sizes — Medium, 7-11.5 lbs, Chest 13.5 to 17'

Raptor Shield

A puncture-resistant polycarbonate vest with adjustable straps for a secure, comfortable fit.

About: 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.


  • Made of puncture-resistant polycarbonate
  • Attaches with two adjustable straps that secure with Velcro (one under your dog’s neck and one under the belly)
  • Available in 4 sizes for dogs ranging from 2 to 22 pounds
  • Made in the USA


  • Most pet parents report that dogs don’t seem to mind wearing it and can move comfortably
  • Adjustable straps allow for a comfortable fit
  • Velcro connection makes it easy to put on and remove


  • Velcro can snag longer hair
  • Pricing is high (though again, your dog’s safety is priceless)

2. CoyoteVest HawkShield  

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more


CoyoteVest HawkShield

A Kevlar covering that protects your pup’s core from hawk talons when used in conjuction with CoyoteVest.

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


  • Designed to tear free when gripped by a hawk, giving the bird something to swoop away with while allowing your dog to run to safety
  • Fit still allows for natural canine movement
  • Waterproof finish okay for use during rain or wet snow
  • Available in 4 sizes and 7 colors


  • Triple layer of Kevlar will likely stop a hawk’s talons
  • Break-away design is a clever concept
  • Easy to put on and take off


  • Must be used in conjunction with CoyoteShield
  • Entire CoyoteVest and HawkShield combo is somewhat pricey (though your dog’s safety is priceless!)

3. Hawk Star Pet Protection Vest

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

hawk proof vest for dogs

Hawk Star Pet Protection Vest

A reflective vest that confuses birds of prey during the day and repels owls at night with lighting.

About: The Hawk Star Pet Protection Vest is designed to work against a predatory bird’s strongest hunting tool: sight. Its reflective material confuses hunting birds, potentially scaring them off.


  • Shimmering, reflective material also improves canine visibility to cars and passersby in low-light conditions
  • Machine washable, though hand-washing is recommended to extend the vest’s lifespan
  • Included light can be set to flash, repelling owls at night
  • Available in 5 sizes, including long-fit options


  • Reflective nature is innovative
  • Acts as a deterrent during day or night (with light use)
  • Pup parents felt the sizing chart was accurate


  • Material isn’t as durable as some Kevlar vests
  • Some pet parents would prefer a second belly strap for a more secure fit

What to Do When a Hawk Attacks Your Dog

preventing hawk attacks

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.

Walking your small dog with other people or canines can also help repel birds of prey, as more people/dogs pose more of a threat, making your little dog less appealing.

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.

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

dog hawk attacks

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.

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 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?

hawk carrying capacity

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.   

Legal Issues With Attacking Hawks

legal issues with 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.

How Much Does It Cost to Treat a Dog After a Hawk Attack?

find help for vet bills

The cost of treating your dog after a bird of prey attack depends on the severity of the injuries.

A bird’s talons can inflict severe wounds, some of which may require stitches that cost a few hundred dollars. Your dog can also suffer from broken bones or internal injuries that cost upwards of $1000 to treat, especially if surgery or hospitalization is required. Your dog may also require prescribed medication like antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, though the costs of these are usually less than $50.

Remember: Your dog’s pet insurance may cover these costs.

Protecting Your Dog from Birds of Prey FAQ

Dealing with the threat of birds of prey is scary and confusing. We’ve wrangled up the most commonly asked questions to help.

How big of a dog can a hawk pick up?

Dogs weighing less than 3 pounds are at the most significant risk of being picked up by hawks, as the birds weigh about 3 pounds and can’t lift animals weighing more than they do. Eagles, on the other hand, weigh up to 15 pounds, leaving dogs weighing less at risk of being carried away.

Just remember that birds of prey may still attack dogs they can’t lift, causing severe harm or potentially death.

What scares a hawk away?

Hawks and other birds of prey usually are deterred by people or strange sights or sounds that can be perceived as dangerous. This includes reflective tape, scarecrow decoys (owl or human form), and balloons. Even having your small dog outdoors with larger dogs can help.

While deterrents help in some instances, they aren’t foolproof. Sometimes a particularly hungry bird will still pursue prey. This is why always monitoring your small dog outside is so critical.

Can a hawk pick up a 10-pound dog?

Since the birds weigh roughly 3 pounds themselves, hawks won’t be able to lift a 10-pound dog, but they still may seriously injure one trying. Their sharp talons can inflict a lot of damage.

However, some eagles weigh up to 15 pounds and can potentially lift and carry away a 10-pound canine.

Will a hawk try to get my dog?

If your dog is small enough and a hungry hawk or other predatory bird sees an opportunity, he may go after your pup.

This is especially true if the bird’s regular prey is low, such as during the winter. Hawks, owls, and eagles live worldwide, so no area (aside from Antarctica) is immune to this potential danger.

How can I protect my small dog from hawks?

Protecting your dog from hawks and other birds of prey starts by dissuading them from seeing your property as a hangout.

Tidy up your yard of debris that may attract bird prey like rodents or reptiles, and remove branches in trees that may make attractive perches. Eliminating bird feeders is another way to prevent large predatory birds from patrolling your yard. If you’d like to take it further, you can look into active deterrents like scare tape or bird balloons, though you must check with local laws to be sure they’re permitted.

Next, you want to always monitor your dog’s outdoor time. Don’t let him hang out outside alone. In most situations, your presence alone acts as a major deterrent against birds of prey and other predators.

That said, if food is scarce, a desperate hawk may take his chances.

To ensure your floof’s safety, only walk him on a leash or have him potty in a dog kennel with a solid roof that keeps predators out. Some owners deploy further protection with a hawk-proof dog vest like RaptorShield. These puncture-proof vests protect your dog from sharp talons.

Can I shoot a hawk attacking my dog?

We’re not attorneys, but it seems like something that may land you in hot water, legally speaking.

All hawks and owls are protected federally in the U.S. by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, while golden and bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

These laws bar you from killing or harming predatory birds around your property to prevent them from potentially attacking your dog, but it’s hard to say what would happen if you were defending your dog during an actual attack.

We’ve tried to ask US Fish & Wildlife, but have never received a response.

Can a hawk kill a dog?

Yes, hawks can kill or seriously injure a dog. The risk isn’t always in the dog being lifted and carried away, either, as many birds of prey attack and kill an animal in one place before eating.

Will a hawk attack a dog on a leash?

It isn’t likely, but if the leash is long or the hawk is hungry enough, it may take the risk of trying to grab your dog. Sticking to a leash that’s 6 feet or shorter in hawk hunting grounds like open fields is recommended. If you notice a hawk lingering nearby, make noise and wave your arms to further dissuade them.

A hawk or other predatory bird may swoop at you and your dog if you walk too close to its nest, too. Most of the time the bird won’t make significant contact with you or your dog, allowing you to safely leave the area together.

Do hawks attack dogs at night?

Not typically. Hawks and eagles hunt by sight, requiring daylight to get the job done effectively. That doesn’t mean your small dog is safe at night, however, as owls hunt at night. Larger owls like the great horned and great grey can pose a threat to smaller canines.


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!

Like it? Share it!

Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing 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.

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training tutorials, canine gear guides, and the latest doggy discounts.


Load Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Dana Avatar

    Are Flashing harnesses or collars a deterrent for raptor birds? do reflectors work? I was considering holographic tape for day time – any experiences with any of these methods?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Dana. You mean like these?
      I haven’t seen many people using those kinds of collars/harnesses, but they may make your dog look “weird” enough that birds will keep their distance.

      Various reflective materials (like the scare tape mentioned above) have worked for some owners, though I’ve never tried it myself (my gals are both far too big for hawks).

      Let us know how it goes!

  2. Dawn Mello Avatar
    Dawn Mello

    I saw a video where a hawk picked up a cat looking to be at least 10 lbs. Idiots filmed it instead of saving the cat. I have 3 small dogs and we are putting ropes across the dog pen with discs and old pie pans. There are at least 4 hawks that constantly fly over the dog pen. It’s annoying. I see hawks everywhere, I don’t see how they’re endangered anymore.

  3. Dan Avatar


    Thank you for putting this hawk/dog information almost all in one place. Having Chihuahua’s for 16 years it has only been the last 2 years the hawks became so aggressive I felt it necessary to search for answers on how to deter them.

    I am pleased to provide a successful update as the hawks are staying about 100 yards away and flying at a higher altitude. I am not sure which option is most productive as I have strategically placed Horned Owl decoys, reflective tape and holographic reflective pinwheels. My wife is looking for holographic reflective fabric to have vests and sweaters made for them as additional precaution.

    My house does not look like a circus entrance as I placed the pinwheels facing the sky as I want it to blind the magnified eyes of the predator while not annoying the human eye. I believe that’s been the most successful as they can’t focus on the decoy and I have noticed a change in their flight direction.

    These measures have not affected the other wild life as I still have the song birds, blue jays, robins and cardinals etc.

    Unfortunately the most social of North American raptors, these birds cooperate at nests and hunt together as a team. When hunting, a group of hawks surround their prey, flush it for another to catch, or take turns chasing it. The birds not only hunt together, but also nest in groups. A pair’s offspring will often hang around for up to three years.

    I am still watchful only to see the success of measures instead of making sure Bella and Mia are within my reach.

    Again thank you for putting this information on your site and I want readers and visitors to know the suggestions you offered are effective!

  4. Dan Avatar

    85 Years of uncontrollable growth, not including the Eagle’s Nest on former Bethlehem Steel fire watches,(1.5 miles away) the nest is as large as a sofa,luckily their diet is fish. The turkey buzzard (yes the two of them) eat road kill and do not circle my house and go after my dogs. Fair Enough its been getting worse the last couple years as I have lived here 64 years and never had been eyeballed in my hot tub or seen as many as I have been this year.

    Thanks for listening-

  5. Dan Avatar

    They are not vultures, as Lehigh University (South Mountain 3 miles from my residence ) changed it’s mascot from the”Engineers” to “Mountain Hawks” and proximity to Hawk Mountain a mountain ridge, part of the Blue Mountain Ridge in the Appalachian Mountain chain, located in central-eastern Pennsylvania near Reading and Allentown. The mountain was previously called North Mountain because it is across the Lehigh Valley from South Mountain. (

    In 1929, the Pennsylvania Game Commission offered hunters $5 for every goshawk shot during migrating season, as the birds were considered pests. In 1932, Richard Pough (a birder and photographer from Philadelphia) photographed hundreds of killed hawks and published these photos in Bird Lore, the predecessor to Audubon. In 1934, after decades of hawk and eagle slaughter on the ridge, Rosalie Edge unilaterally ended the annual shoot by buying the property, changing the name of the mountain to the present one, and turning it into a sanctuary.

    Not vultures,Hungry Hawks from a sanctuary.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Fair enough, Dan. But seeing so many hawks you “lost count” typically means one is looking at circling vultures.
      At any rate, stay safe out there.

  6. Dan Avatar


    Do you think and or has anyone tried the decoy larger dog/wolf silhouette similar to what they are using near ponds to deter geese may also work ?


    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Eh, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try, but these kinds of silhouettes are generally most effective when viewed from the side, as geese would see them. Hawks, being higher off the ground, aren’t as likely to see the decoys the way you may hope.

      But let us know how it goes!

  7. Dan Avatar

    I live in a residential area and over the last couple of years the hawk population in zip codes 18015 and specifically 18055 have grown so large I am no longer able to enjoy time in my yard or allow my pets, Chihuahuas Bella 4.9 lbs and Mia 5.5 lbs alone outside for fear of being attacked again by one or more hawks.

    While on my back deck with Mia outside out of the corner of my eye one was diving as low as my car in my driveway, fortunately I was able to get Mia and the hawk went to my garage roof staring at me as I carried Mia and this is not the first time they began to circle and dive towards my pets however this was the closest one came.

    On March 6th there were so many hawks circling Dimmick Park, which is a mere block from my residence with so many more joining in from every direction, I lost count. We can no longer exercise our pets there.

    Yesterday outside my office window one was as low as my 6ft fence. I found that one perched in my neighbor’s tree. That’s not the first time. I am unable to let Bella ad Mia out unattended again.
    The most traumatic experience was last week while I was in the hot tub wearing a black cap when one hawk flying towards me slowed down over top of ME eyeballing me as if I was prey. Not a pleasant experience and fortunately my pets were inside.

    I have written a letter to the PA Game Commission asking “How will the hawk population be taken under control? Are there plans to introduce an effective predator(s) as its obvious the current population which is growing can’t survive and/or eliminated its food source and are searching residential areas to supplement their diet? This has become annoying and I’m not enjoying my quality of life because of it. The time is now to take control of the hawk population! “

    Thank you for posting “how-to-protect-your-dog-from-hawks” and putting it all in one place, as I have only been finding bits here and there and still searching for best location to place the “owl”. I ordered decoy great horned owls yesterday before reading this article and may add reflective tape to another area.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      We’re glad you found the article helpful, Dan, and we wish you the best of luck protecting your little waggers.

      I would note that some of the “hawks” you’re seeing sound like they’re actually vultures. Vultures can still pose a threat to small dogs, but they’re far less likely to hurt your pooch than red-tailed hawks.

      Stay safe out there!

  8. Jennifer Avatar

    We have a hawk that lives around our house. We see it frequently.
    It never really occurred to me that my dogs (a Chihuahua and a Yorkie) which weigh about 7 lbs each would be in any danger until one sunny afternoon last summer.
    My Chihuahua is really cold natured and loves to warm up by lounging in the sun. She was out sunning near the driveway while I was doing some yard work and suddenly I heard her yelp really loud and come running towards me. I looked up and I saw the hulk flying away. I thought it had just swooped down and scared her but then when she got to me and I picked her up, she was bleeding from her neck. Although the womb was superficial and not deep, thank God, I did have to end up taking her to the vet a few days later because an abscess developed where the injury was. But after a few doses of antibiotics, she was fine.
    So both of us now have a new appreciation for Hawks. We both look for them when we go outside and if either of us see one, she wouldn’t go out there even if I let her.
    So even if your pet is bigger than what you think a hawk may find appealing, take precaution because you never know. Anything could happen.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer! Sounds like it was pretty scary, but we’re glad your little doggos ended up alright.
      Stay safe out there!

  9. sarah Avatar

    i am constantly at arms with hawks after my 8 lb dog . she looks like a rabbit . i have videos of them stalking her. i also had a few come in arms length. i live in the suburbs . theres a lot of development and i know thats an issue. i never leave let her go 6 ‘ away from me . its hard when she has the zoomies. other than our fenced in back yard i am always on high alert. i have a bullhorn app on my phone and she wont wear any clothing plus its hot where i live. any suggestions. i want her to play outside.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Sarah.
      Have you tried any of the hawk deterrents discussed above, like the balloons, decoys, or scare tape? If those haven’t worked and you can’t get her to wear any clothing, you may just need to consider installing netting above a portion of the yard.
      Let us know how it goes!

  10. David From NYC Avatar
    David From NYC

    I have a small fenced-in yard in NYC. It’s about 25 x 25 feet and has a large tree that provides almost complete shade in the summer. But… twice I have found a pigeon carcass on my patio table. And today I could see the hawk on a branch with some feathers on his talons. Any suggestions on how to protect a 12 pound dog?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      It definitely sounds like you’ve got some resident hawks, David.
      As for tips, just check out the article — we’ve provided tons.
      Best of luck!

  11. Debbie Wilburn Avatar
    Debbie Wilburn

    Well written article. Research based, through and organized. You have an interesting and entertaining writing style. Thank you for sharing your professional recommendations in protecting dogs.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Thanks for the kind words, Debbie. We’re glad you liked it!

  12. Teri Avatar

    2 days ago I let my 2 teacup chihuahuas put to do their business around sunset. I noticed a hawk shaped shadow moving in a circular motion around them and quickly yelled at them to come inside. This morning I went to let them out and there was a hawk perched in the tree watching the yard. I’m scared to them outside. The game warden told me there have been multiple reports of hawks attacking chickens etc in my area.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Definitely be careful, Teri, and try some of the tips from the article.
      Best of luck!

  13. William Avatar

    We’ve had 3 small barn cats (kittens) to totally disappear over night (on different nights) so we believe we have an owl problem. We’ve lost 14 of our hens and two we found the remains, the other 12 no trace. So once again, could be owl or in this case, a hawk.

    We have 2 small miniature dachshunds and we do NOT let them outside unsupervised. If there was an attack by hawk, eagle or owl we will defend our dogs with lethal force. Will deal with the legal matter later but our first priority to protect our pets.

    We will be implementing some of theses methods and devices you recommended. I added several things to my Amazon cart.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Glad you found the article helpful, William.
      Just one quick note: Don’t forget to consider coyotes when trying to figure out which predator is causing the problem. Coyotes will eat cats and chickens too.
      We have an article about coyote deterrents you may want to check out.

      Best of luck!

  14. Adette Avatar

    Check out The Hawk Star Pet Protection Vest. It protects small dogs from birds of prey based on the science of bird vision.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      We looked at that one before, Adette. I honestly can’t remember why we didn’t include it, but I’ll give it another look.

  15. Joe Avatar

    My wife and I took our chweenie, Carl, to the park to play fetch. It was late and the sun was going down but I wasnt thinking about Owl dinner times. Carl was running back to me with the ball when a bird with a 5 foot wingspan flew over my shoulder and hovered over Carl. I ran up not even really knowing what it was but started shouting at it. Luckily Carl is quite spry and ran around it barking. I got close enough that I was readying to grab it and, I dunno maybe punt it? At the last second it changed direction and flew off. I swear the whole scene happened in slow motion and now remains in my memory as permanent nightmare fuel. Once I realized it was an owl I realized how lucky we got and now I am an overbearing helicopter dog-dad that looks to the sky every time we take Carl for a walk. No more dusk park trips until I outfit carl with one of those apocalyptic Mad Max vests. If it came down to it again, I don’t care what the law says, if it gave me the chance I would squeeze the life out of that owl and mount it on the hood of my truck. Sorry that got dark.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Joe.
      That definitely sounds like a scary encounter! Try one of the vests and let us know how it works!

  16. Lucille caldera Avatar
    Lucille caldera

    I feed some ekreds and a blue herring on my property, just recently I see a hawk hanging on my fence…there are lots of cats around Im not going to feed the blue herring and other birds, do you think that will deter him from coming on my property…I’m scared for my large 13 yr old dog who is sick.. can you tell me what I can do? Thanks in advance

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Lucille. Not sure I understand correctly, but the cats are definitely not going to frighten away a large hawk — hawks eat cats from time to time.
      The best strategy would be to remain vigilant and supervise your dog when outdoors. You may also want to try one of the protective vests discussed above.
      Best of luck!

  17. Audrey Avatar

    This morning my husband let our girl (a 5 lb Chihuahua) out to do her business, I was in our bedroom when I heard her yipping in pain. I ran outside to see a huge red tail hawk attacking her. I ran to her and it got off of her but only went a few feet away, like it wasn’t done yet. When my husband came running up it finally flew off but perched it a near by tree and kept a watch on my dog. She has a few puncture wounds, seems to be very sore and is an absolute nervous wreck. Taking her to the vet first thing in the morning to get her checked for other injuries. We have never had any trouble letting her out before but from now on I guarantee she won’t ever be let out alone again. We are also planning to purchase a special vest for her to wear while outside.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      That’s really frightening, Audrey! We’re glad you were able to scare the bird away, and we hope your little four-footer gets the treatment she needs at the vet.
      Best of luck moving forward — let us know how the vest works!

  18. Romy Avatar

    I knew there had been hawks around my neighborhood and would scan and look at the trees before I let my Chihuahua out. Yesterday morning, as I let the dogs out (one was a larger 30 lb dog) I noticed a shadow go over my yard. I bolted out into the yard and stood near my Chi and looked for they hawk. I saw it about 50 yards away perched in a tree on the other side of my house looking down at us. I stood over the dog and let her do her business while keeping my eye on the hawk. Then it happened! He swooped out of the tree and was headed right for us! I had a choice to grab the chi (although sometimes she bolts away when I go to pick her up, so that didn’t seem like a good choice at that point) so I waved my arms and yelled at loudly as I could and about 15 feet over our heads, the hawk decided to abort mission and flew back up. I picked up the chi, she saw the hawk and ran to me thank goodness! Then we both watched as the hawk made 4 circles above. I’m certain that hawk was eyeing her missed meal! Not today Hawk!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Wowzers, Romy! That certainly sounds scary, but we’re glad your pooch wasn’t injured.
      Thanks for sharing!

  19. JudyBelle Avatar

    Let my two small dogs out tonight to do their duty. They were attacked by a large owl. I was near and yelled at it. I waited a few minutes and took them to the other side and they were again attacked. A third time the owl flew into the screen on the porch in another attempt.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Yikes, JudyBelle! That sounds terrifying!
      Given the quick succession of attacks, it makes me wonder if you have a nesting pair in the area.
      It’s a bit early in the season for that, but I’d be inclined to scan the nearby trees with a good pair of binoculars.
      Best of luck!

  20. Mary Avatar

    I have a 16lb Pekingese. This year on 2 separate occasions, a hawk (red tail I believe), has come out of no where very quickly, circled and started to get lower and closer to my dog in our yard. I am always with him even though the yard is fenced and I reacted quickly. So now I am afraid to have the dog out in our yard. Looking for options

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Yikes! That sounds scary, Mary.
      Just try to pick the solution above that sounds like the best fit for your dog and situation. But the Hawk Shield and Raptor Shield are both good options.
      Best of luck!

  21. Sandy Avatar

    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.

  22. Paul Beddows Avatar
    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.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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.

  23. Lynn Ranew Avatar
    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.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

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

  24. S Krellin Avatar
    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.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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!

  25. Paul Beddows Avatar
    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

  26. Liz M Avatar
    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.

  27. Karen Avatar

    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.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

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

  28. Adam Avatar

    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.


    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).

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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!

  30. Adette Quintana Avatar

    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!!

  31. Laura Heldreth Avatar
    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!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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!

    2. Gail Gardner Avatar
      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.

  32. Amy Avatar

    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!!

  33. Juliana Avatar

    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.

    1. Meg Marrs Avatar

      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!

  34. Jamilee Chapman Avatar
    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!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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.

  35. Vicki Simmons Avatar

    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.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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.

  36. Betty Avatar

    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?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      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!

Also Worth Your Time