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Sweet, sweet summer time. For many dog owners in the Reno-Tahoe area, nothing sounds better than spending your nights hiking and your days basking in the sun on the sandy shores of the lake, dogs by your side. And while the Reno-Tahoe area is an incredibly dog-friendly community, adequate threats exist throughout. From bugs to mountain lions to snakes and other dogs, Dog Gone Amazing knows a thing or two pertaining to keeping your dog (and you) safe as you enjoy the summer.

Sierra Nevada Regional Wildlife

It’s no question that the Sierra Nevadas are one-of-a-kind beautiful, but they can also be, well, dangerous. Year after year, news reports of bears, mountain lions and other wildlife sightings can be found regularly. While we are lucky to live so close to the mountains, it’s important to understand the most common threats that could be lurking around the corner when you and your four-legged friends are on an evening hike or trekking down to your favorite beach spot.

Mountain lion encounters, while rare, are often terrifying. Statistics show that the likelihood of being attacked by a mountain lion is very low; however, in the event of an encounter, make sure your dog is close by your side. Making yourself appear to be large by holding branches, jackets and raising your hands above your head while avoiding to bend over and lower yourself to the ground is recommended by professionals to scare the lion away. Never turn your back on a mountain lion or try to run away with your dog.

Bear sightings are a common occurrence in the Tahoe area, increasingly more so over recent years. As with mountain lions, make sure that your dog is by your side. Many encounters show that bears are actually afraid of dogs, resulting in them running from the dog instead of the other way around. That being said, a bear’s curiosity combined with the curiosity of a dog can lead to unwanted interactions between the two.

Other Dogs

Commonly underestimated when out and about with your dog is the threat that other dogs pose toward you and yours. Dog vs. dog attacks are much more common than any wildlife attacks, and often much more lethal. The best way to control your dog around other dogs is to practice (and reward) attentiveness to you. One of the most helpful commands to teach your dog for outdoor escapades around other animals (dogs included) is the “place” command. Training your dog to go directly to an object and stay there after you say “place” can give other dogs a chance to pass without conflict. While not all dogs are innately aggressive when meeting others, curious behaviors can cause defensive reactions, which can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior.


Slithery and scaly, snakes are the most common wild threat to dogs in the Reno area. Contrary to popular belief, the threat of a snake attack is not limited to the great outdoors. Many snake attacks occur around the house, especially in backyards with brushy landscaping that might be home to snakes. Many snakes are harmless, but a snake bite can lead to infection if gone untreated. Most notably in the Great Basin is the threat of a rattlesnake bite, whose venom rapidly reaps lethal symptoms on dogs and humans. The best way to avoid contact with snakes and your dog is to train your dog to refrain from searching through unknown bushes and terrain. Also, be sure and join us for our Snake Education class on June 10th.

The outdoors can pose quite a threat to you and your dog, whether you are hiking through one of Tahoe’s many trails or simply enjoying your backyard. Staying alert and properly training your dog to stay by your side and obey your commands can help to keep your dog safe and out of harm’s way. Research outdoor areas before you venture into them, and make sure to always keep a first aid kit just in case.