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<p>Hi there,</p>
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<p>Looking for a few ideas.  We moved out to a fairly rural area about 9 months ago, onto some acreage.  Our property backs onto a ravine that extends fully into the wilderness...thus we get all sorts of fun visitors.</p>
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<p>I'm obviously concerned about the visits we've had thus far from black bears (Mama bears and cubs, big male bears, etc); Cougars we can't see - but we know they're in the area; Coyotes; Stray dogs.</p>
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<p>My son is a very precocious toddler - he'll be 3 in September.  As I'm pregnant, I'm having a harder time keeping up with him, and he just goes and goes.  I'll bend down to pick up something, and he's suddenly across the yard and behind a tree or a bush.  I have this fear (my husband says I'm irrational, but whatever) that one day there will be a bear/cougar/coyote - and my son will run, or squeal, or try to approach the animal.  From what I understand, a toddler's jerky movements and high pitched voices immediately scream 'easy prey' to animals...</p>
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<p>So - we've been trying to talk with him about animals.  Before we go outside we go through this litany of "what do you do if you see a bear? Do you run away? nooo...  Do you call for mommy and daddy... Yes!"  But, there's no way to know that any of this is sinking in.  (we do have a very alert dog who does a good job patrolling the property - so we're pretty covered for safety).</p>
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<p>What I'm looking for are ideas to further my son's education about the animals around us WITHOUT making him paranoid or have nightmares, or trigger a run-away/run-to-mommy episode.  Debating getting some puppets and doing puppet shows...  I can't seem to find any books that do anything other than make bears out to be cute friendly guys to share your berries with. :(</p>
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<p>So, suggestions? Ideas?</p>
 

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<p>I think the dog is your biggest help there. And probably he's too young to really act correctly in a bear encounter (where many well-informed adults run, despite knowing better).  Teach him to stick with the dog, and to stick within boundaries you're comfortable with on your land, maybe.</p>
 

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<p>I agree with the suggestion of teaching him to stay near the dog when outside.</p>
 

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<p>How about making a fenced yard?  I find I just cannot relax unless my toddler is contained.  For more awareness about wild animals try finding books at visitor centers.  </p>
<p>Ultimately kids raised in the wilderness will gain great skills, just from because of your day to day life.  But I don't think children understand fully not to wander into the wilderness (or run into traffic) until age 5 at least.</p>
 
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