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When Wild Geese and Dogs Meet

Susan is an ethusiastic photographer, nature lover, and pug parent.

Dogs and Geese: Safety Tips

Dogs and Geese: Safety Tips

My Pugs vs. the Wild Canadian Geese

While I was going out to photograph a flock of Canadian geese that just came into the area, my dog Tess waited patiently in the truck with her sister Gracie. I had found a good spot to park along the pond that would give me a great view to photograph from and also allow the pugs to watch from the truck window. After 10 minutes of waiting for me to finish taking photographs, Tess poked her head up over the door panel and gave out a small woof letting me know it was a good time for her to get out and go do her business.

I made sure that the area was safe from other vehicles, harnessed Tess and Gracie, and proceeded to help them get down out of the truck. In less than 10 seconds, the quiet pond I had been photographing became boisterous with honking. I looked over my shoulder to see 15 Canadian Geese swimming as fast as they could towards Tess and Gracie. Neither dog had barked at the geese or attempted to take chase after the geese, but the geese were bent on getting to them.

Tess and Gracie ran to the backside of the parking lot, away from the water's edge, not even noticing the noise or the geese. They were determined on doing their business and following a scent that fascinated them. The geese began to quiet down and move away from the shore when they saw the dogs go farther away from the water.

I started to wonder why we were the recipients of all that commotion from the gaggle of geese. The dogs did not approach in an aggressive manner nor did they leap from the truck barking their fool heads off. The geese were fine while I was on the shore taking photographs, so what was it? Then it struck me—it was spring.

Spring on the Pond

Spring on the Pond

Geese Tend to Be Naturally Overprotective

In spring, we may be beginning to shake our bones awake and starting to adventure out, but these birds are finishing their migration. They are searching streams, lakes and ponds for a nice little island of mud and reeds on which to build their nest. Geese prefer to graze, so they swim the stream, lake or pond making sure that there is enough local food to feed the family. The gander (male goose) will protect his goose (female goose) from any harm and protect and defend their new home for the upcoming season.

I have heard tales from bird hunters about geese trying to drown dogs. I've come to find out that this is true. Canadian geese have an innate fear of foxes and wolves. They associate domestic dogs with their wild counterparts. There have been reports of Canadian geese and swans actually succeeding in drowning dogs. These types of birds will achieve this goal by luring the dog to deeper water then standing on the dog's back. Some will also hold out their wing to keep the dog's head down in the water.

Some people have reported seeing a gaggle of geese surround a dog and begin pecking at it while others try to get the dog under water so they can jump on top of it. Usually, the pet's owner can rush into the water to scare off the geese, but this is not always the case with swans. A cob (male swan) will protect his family and nest very aggressively. Cobs do not care if the potential threat is a human, dog, cat, duck, or even a goose.

Cob Chases Geese

Cob Chases Geese

Diffusing the Situation

Geese are quite skillful at reading body language. This is due to their superb eyesight. As the goose approaches where you and your dogs are, make firm eye contact. This will demonstrate that you are not an attainable target. This can deter the goose from further pursuing its attack.

Make sure to keep your shoulders square with the goose. Have the dogs right by your side and slowly back away from the goose. You want to remove yourself and your dogs from the nesting area. As soon as there is enough distance between the goose and you, the attack should stop due to the goose no longer seeing you as a direct threat.

Do not show that you may be submissive in your body language. Refrain yourself from hitting or striking out at the bird. Doing so can get attention from other geese including nesting females. The more geese that join in the defense of the area, the more trouble you will have in diffusing an already tense situation.

If, by chance, the goose tries to take flight in close proximity, cover your face and duck, but do not completely block your vision. Remember to move perpendicular to the bird's path in order to avoid the wings and feet.

Curious Tess

Curious Tess

Dog Safety Tips

While you are out enjoying a hike with your dog or dogs, remember to keep them leashed near lakes and ponds, especially during the nesting season. Most hiking trails that allow dogs also require them to be leashed at all times for everyone’s safety.

If you see that geese or swans are actively using the pond or lake, be aware of their activity. Chances are you will not encounter an incident with a goose or swan, but as the photo shows, Tess was still curious while waiting for her turn to enter the truck and the geese began their return to defend their nesting area.

© 2013 Susan McLeish

Comments

susancorgi on May 31, 2015:

Good information. However, the name of this species is Canada Geese, not Canadian Geese.

Joanne on April 15, 2014:

I enjoyed your aarticle. I live in an apartment complex where neighbors feed wild geese then I and my dogs are attacked while we walk. Who do we talk to about this and can we report them?

FaeSis on April 07, 2013:

Good to know. I have heard swans are very aggressive, but I had not heard they attacked dogs.

Susan McLeish (author) from Rindge, NH on April 07, 2013:

Thank you sgbrown. I have done gardening, actually weeding, for a few people that have a couple of geese in their pond. The geese tend to rest for a week or two and move one to a bigger pond or stream, but they are great to watch coming in for a landing.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on April 07, 2013:

Cute story! We have a couple of geese on our front pond lately. My yellow lab, Sadie, loves to chase them back into the water. It's like a game with her. I'm sure the geese don't want to confront her as she is a fairly big dog and there are only two of them. I enjoyed your hub, voting up and interesting. :)

Susan McLeish (author) from Rindge, NH on April 06, 2013:

Sounds like you have a busy neighborhood moonlake. My understanding is the fear comes from nest robbery and foxes or wolves preying on the young. Glad you could stop by!

moonlake from America on April 06, 2013:

I enjoyed your hub and your photos. I didn't know Canadian geese have a fear of foxes and wolves. We have all three in the field across from our house. The wolf comes into our yard and so do fox. The geese come close but have never seen them in the yard. Voted up and shared.

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