Between May and July, most does give birth to one or two fawns. And like any mother, she has a strong instinct to protect her young from harm.
You may not see yourself as a threat. But from the doe’s point of view, you might be. Especially if you have a dog with you. She may turn toward you and stare directly at you. She may even take a few steps toward you, or follow you for a distance.
It can be unnerving. Is your safety at risk? Will the deer attack your dog? What should you do?
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do.
Understand the doe’s behaviour
- Even if you don’t see a fawn, chances are there are one or two hidden nearby. Just as we protect our children from a potential predator, the doe wants you and your dog far away from her babies.
Change your route
- Turn around and walk in the opposite direction, cross the street, or both. When the doe feels you’re a safe distance away, she’ll lose interest in you.
Be alert when walking your dog
- Always keep your dog on a leash.
- If you encounter a deer, immediately shorten the leash so that your dog is kept close to you on the far side of the deer. Stop it from barking if you can.
- Walk in the opposite direction away from the deer.
- Don’t let the leash go. To a deer, a dog is a predator. Letting the leash go will escalate the situation and could lead to your dog’s injury as the deer defends itself or its young.
- Always check your yard for deer before letting your dog out.
- A deer’s natural response to danger is to run. Always leave it an escape route.
- If a deer feels “cornered” or its babies are threatened by a dog, it may defensively flail out with its front legs or butt with its head.
- If this happens get control of your dog as quickly as possible and leave the scene.
And when driving, if you see a doe crossing the road, expect that two or more fawns could follow. Observe speed limits and slow down in areas where deer are known to cross.