Going on a hike with your best friend is a great outdoor activity for both of you. Fresh air, nature and … bears? I grew up in New Hampshire where bears are very common when out in the wilderness. And seeing them and other wild animals while outside for a walk is a normal occurrence.

Most of the time, they will not bother you. They will walk away and avoid you. But sometimes, they may feel provoked. Especially if you are walking your dog without a leash and your dog decided to go after it.

If your dog is well-trained and you still have control of it, here are some tips below:

If the bear has not seen you

Leave the immediate area, quietly and quickly, but never run—they will perceive you as prey. Did you know that a bear can run more than 30 mph? They can easily out-run, out-climb, and out-swim you.

If the bear has seen you

Try to keep your dog close and calm. Avoid any sudden movements and if the bear stays 15 feet or more away you should be able to turn and leave how you came. Always respect the bear and give it its space.

If the bear moves toward you

Most bears will back off if you wave your arms and make a lot of noise. Also, if you throw something on the ground away from you, the bear may be curious enough to investigate it. So if you have a camera or your phone, you can always replace it. But never throw food. You do not want to attempt to feed it or let it associate you with food.

Give the bear a way out

Never block any pathways the bear may want to use to escape. Give it plenty of room where it doesn’t have to get close to you.

If the bear charges

If it is a black bear, look it directly in the eye while standing tall. Yell at it and tell it to leave. Oh, and have your bear spray ready just in case. Word of warning … Never use this strategy with a grizzly bear, go straight for the bear spray instead.

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