Why Do Dogs Bark At Squirrels?


It’s the fall season and you are enjoying a peaceful walk in the park alongside your furry friend who is on a leash. Suddenly he pulls at the leash and jumps to bark at someone. You see a little squirrel hurriedly scampering to the nearest tree. Annoyed, you think, ‘why do dogs bark at squirrels?’

As the squirrel leaps from tree to tree, your dog barking at it is completely normal. Read on to find why your dog loves to bark at squirrels.

Why Do Dogs Bark At Squirrels? 


Let’s face it, although your pet dog is a good boy, he is a natural hunter. Because of this instinct, it is normal that dogs chase and bark at squirrels. The sight and sound of scurrying squirrels kick start the prey drive in your dog.

Dogs have a heightened sense of smell and sound and once they realize the presence of a squirrel, a prey, they get into the inevitable squirrel chase.

Some aggressive and anxious dogs show territorial behavior and that can lead them to bark excessively if another animal such as squirrels cross their territory. This is a matter of territory barking if you own a reactive dog.

It is also possible that your dog is alarm barking. Your dog may tend to produce alarm calls by barking at the sight of sudden movements, such as squirrels scurrying up a tree.

Some dog breeds like Australian Shepherd may have a higher prey drive. So, it is best to keep in mind the prey drive of your dog and although it cannot be stopped, it can be curbed.

Is Squirrel Poop Toxic To Dogs?

Yes, squirrel poop can be dangerous to dogs as it can lead to diseases such as leptospirosis. Squirrel poop is also a source of salmonella bacteria.

The contraction of such diseases can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, difficulty in breathing in your dog. If you notice such symptoms in your dear dog, contact a vet immediately.

These diseases can be prevented if you provide timely vaccination for your dog. It will also help if you do not let your dog near squirrels and other rodents since their poop and urine can cause various harmful diseases.

Also Read: Can Your Dog Eat Squirrel?

Can Dogs Get Sick From Squirrels?


Yes, there are chances your dog can get sick from squirrels. Various diseases can spread to your dog in various ways, by coming in contact with a squirrel or eating a squirrel.

1.    In Contact With Squirrel Poop or Urine

If your dog comes into contact with the urine or the poop of a squirrel, especially those of the ground squirrel, there are chances he might contract leptospirosis. In such cases, your dog will show symptoms such as fever, convulsions, and vomiting. If this happens, provide immediate medical care.

2.    In Contact With Live Squirrel

While in contact with a squirrel, there is a chance that your dog might get infected by the deer tick which transmits a certain type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease. To know more about the symptoms and treatment of Lyme disease, click here.

3.    In Contact With Dead Squirrel

Always keep an eye on your dog so that he does not feast on any dead squirrels. Squirrel carcasses that have been rotting for a while can make your dog very sick.

If the squirrel was killed with rodent poison, there are chances your dog might intake a small amount of poison too while eating the dead squirrel. This can make your dog fall ill.

4.    In Scratched Or Bitten By Squirrel

If a squirrel bites or scratches your dog, causing an open wound, provide immediate medical care as it can get infectious. However, the chances of the transfer of rabies to your dog are quite unlikely.

If you doubt your dog is showing strange behavior after coming in contact with a squirrel, immediately consult a doctor.

How To Get Squirrel Dog To Bark On Tree?

If your pup does not bark on trees or chase squirrels, it is only a matter of training before he is doing them.

There is one simple training method to help your dog bark at squirrels. Help your dog familiarise with the scent of a squirrel, with help of a squirrel tail or a live squirrel.

Nail the squirrel to a tree and let your dog find the scent. Reward him with treats and pats to positively reinforce this behavior. Increase the height of the tail position up the tree and without much delay, your dog will be barking at squirrels up the tree.

Proper training and positive reinforcements will go a long way to help your dog bark up a tree.

Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating A Squirrel?

Yes, your dog can contract various diseases from eating a squirrel. However, in most cases, if your dog kills and eats a squirrel, he should be fine. But sometimes, he can contract serious diseases.

If your dog has eaten a squirrel, dead or alive, there are chances he can get infected by parasitic infections such as roundworms or coccidiosis. Look for symptoms in your dog if you doubt he has eaten a squirrel. Provide medical care, if necessary.

If your dog has eaten the rotten carcass of a squirrel, there are chances he might have eaten a squirrel that died due to poisoning. In that case, your dog might fall sick due to the consumption of rodenticide.

If you doubt that your dog has contracted any disease after he ate a squirrel, dead or alive, contact a vet immediately.

My Dog Ate A Squirrel What Do I Do?


In most cases, your dog should be fine after eating a squirrel. However, if he starts showing strange behavior or unusual symptoms, contact a vet as soon as possible.

Also Read: Can Your Dog Eat Squid?

What Can Dogs Catch From Squirrels?

Your dog can get infected by a few diseases from the squirrel.

If your dog has come in contact with the poop and/or the urine of a squirrel, there are chances he might contract leptospirosis. If he shows symptoms such as fever, vomiting, or convulsions, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

There is no evidence that your dog will contract rabies from a squirrel, however, he might get infected by the deer tick which can cause Lyme disease in your dog.

If your dog shows unusual symptoms and if you doubt he has had contact with squirrels, immediately call for medical attention.

Why Are Dogs Obsessed With Squirrels?

Chasing squirrels just depict the instinctive prey drive of your dog. The scents of squirrels excite them. Upon the sight of a squirrel, the dog naturally sets out to ‘hunt squirrels’.

Small dog breeds, such as the Terrier, have a stronger prey drive and they are likely to cause chaos by ‘hunting squirrels’

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Barking At Squirrels?


As a dog owner, if you are frustrated by the excessive barking of your dog when he sees squirrels, worry not. There are ways to control, if not completely stop, your dog from barking at squirrels.

1.    Distract Your Dog

Distracting your dog is a foolproof way to get him to stop barking at squirrels. Try feeding your dog with a treat or playing a game of catch while you are outside. He will be too busy to notice squirrels and go chasing after them.

2.    Keep Your Dog Calm And Use A Leash

Keep your dog calm. When they start barking at a squirrel, place them on a leash and allow him to go closer to the squirrel. Talk to your pet dog calmly and ultimately when your dog quietens, give the good boy a treat!

3.    Use Positive Reinforcements

Shock collars are not a clever solution to your dog’s incessant barking problem. It will only agitate your dog further because it works by inflicting pain. 

Distract your dog calmly and reward him with positive reinforcements to help control your dog’s barking when he sees a squirrel. Give them treats when they’ve done a great job. Good'N'Fun Triple Flavored Rawhide Kabobs is highly recommended by dog owners!

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Is It Normal For A Dog To Kill A Squirrel?

Yes, it is normal for your dog to kill a squirrel. Dogs are natural hunters and domestication did not change that.

Your dog can have a high prey drive that can lead to him killing squirrels, other small animals, and rodents. This cannot be stopped but it can be controlled.

Are Squirrels Faster Than Dogs?

In most cases, your furry friend is faster than a squirrel. Dogs can outrun a squirrel and catch the squirrel. On average, the speed of a dog is 50 km/hour while for a squirrel, it is 24 km/hr.

But, there can always be exceptions.

Do Squirrels Recognize Humans?


Yes, squirrels are surprisingly good at recognizing humans. They have an excellent memory and are very good at recognizing humans, especially the ones they see as food sources.

Squirrels can be trained to come closer to humans for food when food is offered constantly. However, do keep a safe distance because squirrels are unpredictable rodents.

What Does It Mean When A Squirrel Stares At You?

There are several reasons why a squirrel might stare at you.

1.    Determine If You Are A Threat

One of the main reasons why a squirrel might stare at you is to determine whether you are a threat or not. They do this especially if they are new to the particular surrounding. To a squirrel, you could be a potential predator.

2.    Squirrels Are Curious

Squirrels are also curious little animals. They might be staring at you because they are curious and they may even approach you to study you.

3.    Hunger

Another reason squirrels could be staring at you is because of hunger. If they see you as a source of food that provides them with food at a particular time and place, and they don’t get the food, they might stare at you in hopes to get food.

4.    Napping

Also, there are chances the squirrel is not staring at you. It might be just napping. Yes, squirrels sleep with their eyes open.

Can Squirrels Learn Their Name?

Squirrels, especially gray squirrels, can learn their names and respond to them well. You should call your squirrel by its name every time you interact so that they can be accustomed to it.

Some squirrels such as the fox squirrels and gray squirrels are kept as pets and can be trained easily. Tree squirrels and red squirrels on the other hand are wild animals and you should be careful around them.

How Do You Get A Squirrel To Trust You?


It takes a lot of time and patience to get a squirrel to trust you. When a squirrel enters your backyard, make a noise. For example, a clicking noise with your mouth will do.

Once you catch its attention, throw some food closer to the squirrel. Make the sound and feed it every time it comes. Squirrels are clever animals and they will soon associate the sound with a signal that it is about to be fed by you.

Decrease the distance between you and the squirrel slowly. Slowly,  but surely, the squirrel will build its trust and come closer to you. Soon enough, the squirrel will be accepting food from your hand directly.

Make sure you are careful while doing this. Squirrels are quick animals and sometimes you can get bitten by them. Consult a doctor if you get bitten by a squirrel.

Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Bark At Squirrels?

Next time your dog barks at a squirrel and you wonder ‘why do dogs bark at squirrels?’, remember that dogs are still natural predators. Their prey drive will lead them to bark and chase squirrels and other small animals.

If your dog’s barking down causes a loud noise, he can be calmed through proper dog training.

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