Have you ever noticed your dog chasing a squirrel up a tree, only for the squirrel to chirp or throw sticks at your dog?
The squirrel seems to be doing a little more than just scurrying for its life, but do squirrels tease dogs?
Squirrels do, in fact, tease dogs. Once they have fled to somewhere they can’t be reached by a dog, they’ll make noise, throw things, or even tease your dog by running back down the tree just out of reach of the dog.
Why Do Squirrels Tease Dogs
Why would a creature so small tease a much larger predator? There are several reasons why a squirrel would tease a dog, most of them are the same reason why children would tease each other.
The biggest reason squirrels tease dogs is for fun.
Squirrels are naturally curious animals, and they love to explore anything new. When a squirrel sees a dog, it thinks something new has entered its territory.
When the squirrel sees the dog chasing after it, the squirrel is excited at this newfound “toy” to play with.
The closer the dog gets to catching or cornering it, the more fun the squirrel has.
When the dog gives up on catching the squirrel, this is when the “game” ends.
The squirrel doesn’t want to be clung to by a dog, so it’ll head up a tree or into a hole in a tree. Once at its safe place, it will taunt the dog by making noise or by throwing sticks and pine cones at it.
Protecting Their Territory
Another reason why squirrels may tease dogs is to defend their territory.
If a dog is chasing after a squirrel in the back yard, the squirrel will probably think that your dog is trying to take over its territory, since they’re intruding in the squirrel’s outdoor space.
Your dog may also be threatening another one of the squirrels or other small animals living in that area.
When they realize that their turf is being threatened, squirrels will sometimes tease the dog to try and drive it away.
To Protect Themselves
The third reason squirrels tease dogs is because they’re just trying to get away.
If a squirrel is being chased by a dog, it will try to find the closest tree. It’ll scurry up that tree as quickly as possible before any harm can come to it.
Once at the top of the tree, the last thing the squirrel wants to do is be caught by its new “enemy.” So, it might start throwing sticks and nuts at your dog to try and drive him off so chase after him. This allows enough time for it to escape safely.
Since dogs cannot climb trees, they have no way of catching up with their prey once they’ve reached a safe spot in one of them.
The dogs usually give up before too long and go back home.
Is It Safe To Let Dogs Chase Squirrels
Letting your dog run into your backyard after a squirrel might seem dangerous, but is it? The answer depends on whose safety you’re inquiring about.
Squirrels are small prey animals. They are quick creatures, but they don’t have enough bodily defense mechanisms, like a porcupine’s quills or a skunk’s spray, to keep predators away.
If you let a dog chase after a squirrel, chances are the squirrel will make it to the safety of a tree, or a fence where a dog can’t reach, unharmed.
If the squirrel can’t make it to safety, your dog might catch the squirrel. Even a very passive dog has killer hunting instincts, and your dog might kill the squirrel.
Even by accident, your dog has a powerful jaw that could harm a squirrel.
Chasing squirrels is a pretty safe hobby for a dog. They aren’t the ones being chased, and getting to safety isn’t life or death for them.
There are some injuries your dog can get from chasing after squirrels.
- cuts from running through thorny bushes
- head bumps from not stopping in time and running head-first into a tree
Squirrels don’t have enough strength to through a stick, acorn, or pinecone with enough force to hurt your dog.
How To Stop Dogs From Being Teased By Squirrels
If you don’t want squirrels to tease your dog, there are some things you can do to keep your dog away from squirrels.
Offer an Alternate Toy – If your dog loves chasing small animals (squirrels included), offer them toys they can chase instead. Tennis balls are a common favorite amongst dogs.
Keep The Dog Inside – Keeping your dog inside will stop them from chasing after any small animals, including squirrels.
Keeping a Dog On-Leash – Keeping a leash on your dog is another way to stop them from chasing after squirrels. There are different types of leashes you can put your dog onto; ones that you hold onto, ones you stake into the ground, and even ones on tracks so your dog has a wider run of the backyard.
Build A Fence – If you have a big backyard, consider building a fence to keep your dog on one side of the yard and small animals like squirrels on the other. That way, they can’t reach each other.
If you do these things, you can stop leaving your dog to chase after squirrels and play in a safe environment.
There you have it, everything you need to know about why squirrels tease dogs, the dangers it may pose, and how to stop it.
Hopefully, this information will help keep your canine friend from going crazy the next time a pesky squirrel comes around.
If all else fails, just let your dog bark up the wrong tree and enjoy the chirping and acorn shower the squirrel is going to start.