Goodwill Teasing!

There was almost no light, and there were tall grasses between the camera and the coyotes, so these photos are totally washed out and blurry. However, the behavior depicted in them is absolutely fabulous: I decided it was worth it to post them, so I enhanced them as best I could.

A little female yearling coyote “teases” her dad and then her brother by affectionately stretching herself on top of them, and either nuzzling their legs as in the case of her father, or nuzzling their ears, as in the case of her brother! Her behavior was good-willed fun. It was not meant to provoke any kind of reaction — it was simply a display of her affectionate teasing. It looks like this little gal has two BFFs!!

She had been out alone, whiling away the time until the daily family get-together/rendezvous time.

Then her brother appeared and he was absolutely ecstatic to see her. He seemed to “jump for joy” as she and their dad approached him: first he performed one bounce, then one squiggle sitting down, and finally a jump, squiggle and bounce all at the same time!

2014-06-17 (8)Then they all piled up together where there were the usual kisses/nose-touches and wiggly-squiggly movements which are a dead giveaway for the excitement and joy they were feeling.


After the general excitement of the initial encounter and greeting died down, the female youngster “hopped on Pop”. It was affectionate contact that they both soaked up. She then twisted her head down and around him and gave him little love nuzzles and bites on his legs. Wow!

The three then broke out into an intense play session: they chased each other wildly, they wrestled, they groomed each other — no photos because the movement in tall grasses with no light just shows blurs. These are all activities which regularly follow the initial rendezvous greetings after spending the day apart sleeping.

During the intensive play period, the female youngster jumped on her brother, as she had done to her dad earlier. Only this time she tugged at one of his ears and then the other, teasing him affectionately.

They played intensively some more and then ran off and out of sight. They would spend the night trekking!


photos 6-17pm

Territorial Messages, by Charles Wood

Dad came part way out to my dog Holtz and me to defecate. He scraped dirt unenthusiastically and walked away. His message said, in a word, “Mine.” He chose to walk towards us using an access road, that choice also showing his low interest level in us today. It wasn’t the direct route to us.

The second half of the video shows Dad a little later, a bit further away and closer to the fence bordering his field. His barks are a territorial message. I’ve rarely seen him barking out his claim to the field. Considering his lackluster performance earlier, I’m puzzled as to why he felt that he needed to vocalize. It didn’t last long and when done he walked away. No other coyote answered his barks. Perhaps his pack understood that Dad was not talking to them.

I then went to the bridge hoping for a pack reunion and giving Dad more space. Once there I didn’t see Dad or other coyotes. I packed to leave and saw a homeless man, Larry, coming towards me from the east part of the field. Arriving, he asked me if I had just seen “…that coyote run off?” I hadn’t. Dad had been watching me and I hadn’t seen him. Larry walking nearby was enough to push Dad back. Unenergetic today, but not a slacker, Dad had been on watch duty the whole time.

Rottweiler Harasses Coyotes

I have seen the kind of activity in this video too often. Our Animal Care and Control Department, ACC, points out that some individuals continue to allow their dogs, “off-leash in active coyote areas despite education, posters, flyers, signs and barriers all warning dog owners to abide by the law and keep their dogs on-leash, or, better yet, avoid the marked areas entirely.”  So a few irresponsible individuals are setting themselves up for unexpected coyote encounters by not following the simple rules. The only method to keep coyotes and dogs apart is to leash the dog in a coyote area. If you and your dog see a coyote, walk in the opposite direction, not towards it.

We are lucky to have an Animal Care and Control Department which is taking a proactive stance to protect both our native coyotes and companion pets. ACC has recently cordoned off areas and instituted temporary park closures — they have been forced into doing this because a few dog owners continue to be irresponsible towards their pets and our wildlife, putting both at risk.

People have asked about “relocating” our coyotes — this is not an option since another coyote would just fill the vacant niche left behind, and relocation is a death sentence for any moved coyote. Coyotes are here to stay and the community needs to learn how to peacefully coexist with them. Ninety-nine percent of everyone I speak to loves having coyotes — a bit of the wild — in our urban parks. It brings back something that they’ve been out of touch with for too long. Note that it is only a few individuals who are irresponsible. Please be a responsible pet guardian: leash your dog in a coyote area or visit parks which do not display coyote warning signs. We only have ten coyotes in the city — it doesn’t take a lot of effort to coexist with them.

Mister Tries, by Charles Wood

Mister Scrapes

My dog Holtz and I ran into Mister Wednesday while walking in my Los Angeles area coyotes’ field.  I was glad to see him ahead of us, he going down a path on which we were going up.

The photographs show that Mister looked, scraped, evaluated and fled.  In contrast, Dad’s scraping display signals that next he will approach.

It took me some time to notice body language in the photographs that Holtz probably instinctively knows how to interpret.  The photographs show that Mister’s feet are pointed away from us before, during and after the scraping display.  In comparison, Dad stands on a perpendicular to us when he scrapes.  Dad’s perpendicular stance doesn’t suggest fight or flight.  Mister’s angled away stance suggests flight.  I wonder if a perpendicular stance creates more stress in the observer for being ambiguously not fight, not flight.  In any case, the perpendicular stance Dad uses shows his full length and a better view of his raised hackles, an awesome side view of a coyote’s power.

Mister fled.  Holtz and I continued along out of the field and Mister was nowhere to be seen.  (Dad would have visibly followed Holtz and me).  Near the exit, on the other side of a chain link fence, Dad appeared and began scraping, positioned on the perpendicular.  Not needing to see more, we left and so did Dad.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Easing Up A Little After Intense Barking

This is a continuation of the previous posting on “Distressed Barking”. It is part of that same 20 minute barking session. The barking became less “distressed” and less “insistent” as time wore on, probably because there was no “threat” anywhere in sight. Here there are more pauses, and more half-hearted huffs, puffs and grunts, although the coyote still throws its head up and far back for the high-pitched barking. The coyote is also sitting, which furthermore relaxes the impact of any warning message that the coyote might have wanted to impart.

At one point, the coyote takes a break — a totally unthreatened stance — to scratch itself. Hmmmm. But it got up to bark some more, more half-heartedly, before finally walking away to find a spot to lie down. A few more barks were in order, and then rest. I was going to add the last sequel: the coyote finally lying down — but I feel that would be overkill — or rather, overbark!!

Distressed Barking After Interference From A Dog

He could have been belting out the Star Spangled Banner, holding the notes perfectly — after all, it happened to be the fourth of July!

I started taking the video as an Irish Setter spotted a coyote trotting down a hill. It was a chance encounter — a mere momentary brush-by — but a surprise for both. The dog turned to go after the coyote, but stopped in an instant response to his owner’s “no”. Nonetheless, adrenalin was already flowing, and the “I’ll get you” look had already been exchanged between the canines, so the coyote ran to an out-of-reach spot and began its distressed and upset barking. The owner and dog left immediately, which made no impact on the coyote who kept barking away for about 20 minutes to an audience of no one. However, as the minutes ticked away, the intensity of the initial barking subsided — I’ve posted a second video of the next part of this same barking session — to be continued on the next posting.

REMINDER: It’s Pupping Season: If Needed, Flash An Umbrella!

It is coyote pupping season. We all need to remember to stay away from coyotes and their dens. Coyotes are feeling particularly edgy and protective of their space right now. When the pups are brought out of the dens, and when they begin to explore further afield, the coyote parents will defend a much wider area around the pups and they will do so more fiercely than usual. We need to give them plenty of girth so that they feel safe. After all, we are the ones who are intruding on their homes.

Coyotes will inevitably flee from human beings when there is a chance encounter on a trail. They may stop for a moment to look — they are curious — but they don’t care to tangle with humans and will move off — unless you get too close to a den area, in which case they may stand their ground. With dogs, there is always the potential for conflict. Coyotes always see dogs as potential threats — this increases many times over for a coyote when there are pups to look after. Leashing dogs in coyote areas, which both keeps the dog calmer and closer to you, is the single most effective way to avoid problems. But even a leashed dog, if he is active and displays antagonism towards a coyote it sees up ahead, can occasionally incite a negative coyote reaction.

If you have a dog, keep walking on, away from the coyote. Try not to stop and stare because this sets up an opportunity for the dog and coyote to communicate through body language and eye contact — it almost always involves mutual dislike. If the coyote feels threatened, he/she may stand his/her ground with a warning display which includes what I call the “Halloween Cat” display: arched back, hackles up, snarly face with teeth bared, head down, pacing or bouncing: this is a message — it is the only way a coyote can make you understand what its needs are. This, sometimes, can then erupt into a long distressed barking session. And ultimately, the coyote may try to herd the dog away by actually nipping at its butt. You need to move on — away from the coyote, but you may need to shoo the coyote off if it comes in too close.

As you retreat from an upset coyote, make sure that you walk away, don’t run. Running might incite the coyote to chase — it’s an instinctual reaction. An angry and loud voice, along with sharp noises or flailing one’s arms might hurry them on their way. Clapping ones’s hands, or shaking a small 4-ounce juice-size can with coins in it works. The newest idea that has been suggested is carrying a small fold-up umbrella with you if you walk in a coyote area and feel a need for added protection. Just flashing the umbrella open and closed a few times will startle a coyote off! I’ve never used this method, nor seen it used, but I can see how it would work.

NOTE: I’ve never had a negative encounter with a coyote. But I have watched other people have them. Every incident I have seen has been caused by a human with their dog who inadvertently or purposefully refused to respect a coyote’s space. I’m writing this to let everyone know that you can control a situation by becoming aware of known coyote behaviors which I’m hoping to show in this blog.

“Mom Intensifies”, by Charles Wood

Friday evening I watched from the river bank looking east.  I stood at the chain link fence that separates their field from the bike path that runs the length of their field.  With me was my dog, Holtz.  We watched a dirt road about 130 yards from us, a road often used by my coyotes.  I hoped to see youngsters.  Instead I had an encounter with Mom.

I watched for a while and saw no coyotes.  Suddenly Mom was at the chain link fence, confronting us.  Holtz slipped his leash.  He barked and chased Mom south along the fence.  I ran and retrieved him.  Mom returned to face us.

I have observed her for a little more than a year.  Upon seeing me last Sunday she was content to mark and perform a short mock charge, the first aggression she had shown towards us.  Friday evening her display was intense.

My past impressions of her were of a timid coyote.  Her display this evening differed little from the Dad’s aggression.  She didn’t vocalize where Dad often does.  The fur on her back was raised, yet not as extremely as Dad’s.  She urinated whereas Dad usually drops scat.  Like Dad, she scraped dirt repeatedly, prowled back and forth and included a yawn in her performance.  She then withdrew to watch us.  What she saw was Holtz and me retreat north.

It was too dark to see if she stayed put or followed.  I took the bike path under the east-west main street.  As I emerged on the north side a bicyclist called to me that I was being followed by a coyote.  She had gone under the bridge, though it was too dark there for me to see her.  I reached for my flashlight and found I had lost it.

This evening was the first time Mom was out of her field on the bike path.  The bicyclist kept me appraised of her position.  He soon said she was looking at him from the top of the southern embankment of the east-west street.  By the time I reached him she was gone, presumably back to her field.  I went to my car and left.

It is important to remember that my coyotes specifically direct their aggression towards my dog and me.  Many travel the bike path on foot or bicycle and never see my coyotes.  A few people visit their field and are not bothered by the coyotes.  In contrast, the coyotes recognize me as an individual who, with his dog, while frequenting their field, got too close to their pups.  Until that event, I was able to visit their field and rarely saw coyotes.  When I did see them, they saw me and avoided me.  Clearly I transgressed and am singled out for negative treatment.  Perhaps the value of my experience with them is as an example of how to not behave towards coyotes.  Don’t, as I have done, continually bother a wild animal with its young.  Doing so brings risks that are difficult to manage.  My primary motive was to photograph them.  To do so, I ignored the best advice and the best advice is that when you see a coyote, avoid it and let it avoid you.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

More Dominant Male/Father Coyote Behavior

Charles Wood has written more about his encounters with a coyote family which includes a dominant male as the father. Please click here to read what he has written in the comments section: Dominant Male/Father Coyote Behavior. These photos are copyrighted by Charles Wood and may be used only with his explicit permission. He has generously allowed me to use them on my blog.

“Papa discipline photos. I like that the pup’s eyes are open in the first one, and then boy does he close them fast! He looks like he initially thought a chin lick would disarm papa, but boy was he wrong about that! He stumbles around as he gets the idea he had better hit the ground. My guess is that the pup was being disciplined for getting away from the group. I had observed them earlier in another area, so papa knew I was around and of course could see me as I took the discipline pictures.”

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

A Dominant Coyote’s Awareness of Everything

I zeroed in on a dominant mother coyote’s awareness and staying in control of her territory today. The day began with the coyote walking towards a dog which was trotting down the path — with one of the coyote’s year-old pups sauntering along behind the dog as if they were out on a hike together! The dominant coyote gave her bouncing warning display — thereby communicating what she wanted to communicate — and then marched off with the pup following her. It was the same display as in my posting of:  Keep Away From Me.

The walker and dog continued their walk out of the area, the coyote pup disappeared, and I stayed to watch the dominant coyote perch high on a ledge where she kept a lookout on a place way across into the distance. After only about five minutes, the coyote leaped down and was off. I lost visual contact with her, but decided to head to the spot where she had been looking. Sure enough, that is where she had gone — she had followed her pups there, probably having seen them from the distance.

From here, she appeared to lead them all to another distant spot where they all stayed for a while. She kept an eye on the others who played and hunted. She did not participate, but sat down to watch. She watched the younger coyotes, and she watched a couple of dogs and walkers in the far distance. After about 15 minutes, she got up and began trotting back. She trotted in front of the other two — it was probably a signal to them —  and they followed her to yet another area. At this point she curled up on a rock while one of the younger coyotes hunted for a few minutes and then disappeared as the other had.

Within a short time she got up, stretched, caught a couple of voles, then headed up to a bluff where she spent the next hour. She watched a few dogs on a trail below. As the morning wore on, several walkers and their dogs walked in the direct vicinity of the bluff, but on the path below it. When this happened, she sat up, or stood, to get a better view over the rocks. At a certain point, she began very soft, barely audible to me, but continuous “grunts” — as if she were preparing to bark. She was reacting to dogs, however distant they were from her; dogs which bothered her on some level.

This continued for some time, so I left to take photos of other wildlife close by. I was only about 300 feet away when she began an intense barking session, so I immediately returned. I could see a dog and walker on the path, but I had not seen what about them had provoked the coyote. The coyote barked for close to 20 minutes, then hopped down off her ledge and headed out of the picture for me. I had been watching her for almost four hours: I suppose she was “making her rounds.”

The picture I got was of a dominant mother coyote’s being very in charge of her life and very purposeful in her behaviors. She warded off a possible dog threat (not really a threat, but she was doing her job), she monitored the area from a high perch and kept her eyes on her pups who were far, far off in the distance. She ran hopped down and ran the distance to join them and then led them to an area for further hunting and playing. When she was ready to return she did so in such a way as to cause the pups to follow. She curled up in another area, always keeping vigilant of what was happening around her as the pups finished their hunting and then disappeared. Then she went up to another high ledge where she again, this time without the encumbrance of her pups, monitored dog activity, grunted when she became distressed, and then went into a full mode barking session as a statement of her presence and possibly a claim to her territoriality in that area. Then she hopped down and disappeared into the underbrush!


A slight narrowing of the eyes is an instinctual, universal expression of anger across various species in the animal world. Today I noticed a coyote narrow its eyes a number of times. I was also able to take a photo of the eyes not-narrowed each time, so you can see the difference. The three photos on the first line show the narrowed eyes, the second line shows normal eyes. The other expression that a coyote uses when it feels displeasure is tightening of the lips so that the teeth show. This is not always meant as a communication, because in these cases sometimes it did not occur when another animal was close enough to have noticed. So it also is an expression of the coyote’s inner emotional state. The 7th photo shows this clearly. The 8th and 9th photos are of a coyote grunting in disapproval — actually preparing to bark. The barking did not begin in these instances.

When did these expressions occur? When dogs were coming towards the coyote, OR when the coyote saw dogs that have intruded upon it in the past! As you can see, our urban coyotes have strong feelings based on their own past experiences and on feeling themselves threatened. I have only seen this in dominant female coyotes.

The Issue of Coyote-Dog Habituation

Some people have been concerned about the possibility of coyote habituation to humans in our parks. Of course coyotes will become used to humans by the circumstance of us all being together in the parks.  However, with over 150 hours of watching time, I have to say that I have never seen a coyote approach a human — I have only seen coyotes flee as humans get nearer to them. My belief is that unhealthy habituation is caused by an interaction — an exchange. Coyotes are not interested in interacting with humans. The one circumstance which I have read “forces” an interaction between coyotes and humans is humans feeding them. It is against the law to feed wildlife. Feeding coyotes is the one factor which has been implicated in coyotes becoming aggressive towards humans. Please do not feed coyotes.

However, I’m sure everyone has noted that coyotes have become habituated to dogs in our parks — not in the same way they have to humans. With humans, coyotes guard their distance. This is not so with dogs. Coyotes have approached some of the dogs. It is only some dog owners who have had issues with the coyotes in our parks — and these have always been unleashed dogs.  If we keep our dogs leashed, that would help a lot. Nonetheless, we cannot prevent the visual contact and body language that inevitably go on between some dogs and coyotes as they watch each other from a distance over time — this is a communication, it is an “exchange”, it is an interaction. Dogs and coyotes, through regular visual contact with each other, do learn each other’s behaviors and they become “familiar” with one another. We’ve all heard that familiarity breeds contempt — well, maybe a little of this is going on with the coyotes and dogs? I’m trying to make sense of the behaviors I have seen so that we all may know how to deal with them. This is what I am seeing.

So coyotes have approached some of the unleashed dogs in our parks, not viciously, but in an almost “testing” manner — something between “testing”, “taunting”, and “play” — with a kind of “I’m playing, but I mean it” attitude — and this appears to happen with dogs which the coyote has come to know, mostly through visual observation on a regular basis or from a previous interaction of some sort, such as the dog’s having chased the coyote or approached it. There is an aspect of oneupmanship in the coyotes’ and the dogs’ behavior. The coyote actually ignores the human who is with the dog, unless the human sees the coyote soon enough to make an effort to shoo it off. Note, again, that these coyotes have never come towards a human who does not have a dog: the interest is in the dog. If you keep your dog right next to yourself and leashed, a coyote is unlikely to dart in.

The most common coyote behavior towards a dog which I’ve seen involves a short charge-and-retreat sequence which seems to say: “note that I’m here, keep away from me and my kin.” It is not vicious, but there is a display and bluff that can be intense. At its core is probably the issue of territoriality: that this is the coyote’s turf. After all, dogs come and go all day long, whereas a coyote is in the park all the time and depends on the park for its very survival: for food and shelter and raising its family. This behavior is not something that a coyote carries on and on with. Rather, I’ve seen a coyote engage one dog this way and then remove itself from the area. The dog is always one which happens to be in the coyote’s immediate vicinity at the time. This behavior does not happen often, but I have observed it a handful of times. The dog will often respond to the coyote so that the behavior ends up being a  short “chase-chase” sequence back and forth before it is over.

The blatant display described here, as I’ve seen it, is always carried out by a dominant breeding female coyote. A couple of times younger coyotes have tentatively approached a calm, uninterested dog — one which they have observed is unlikely to chase them — it is a friendly approach, purely out of curiosity. These younger coyotes don’t approach dogs in a “testing” sort of way and always back off immediately if shooed away.

Please note that we can prevent this kind of physical interaction by keeping our dogs leashed in the first place, and by loudly and blatantly shooing off a coyote which comes too close for our comfort. You will not be able to prevent the visual communication between the coyotes and dogs which actually sets the groundwork for this behavior — though the communication can be minimized by leashing. This is because dogs very often direct their attention to the extent that their leashes allow them to go, and coyotes have little need to communicate with a calmer dog. If we take our dogs to parks where there are coyotes, this sort of habituation is inevitable. What we can do is be aware of the behavior so that it is not unexpected when it occurs. If we are prepared, maybe even with a shake-can, a possible unhappy incident might be prevented.

If anyone has further insight and observations on this behavior, I would love to hear from you! As I said, these are my own observations of a behavior I’m trying to make sense of.

Encountering More Than One Coyote

The morning, which ended up in such a leisurely fashion, did not begin this way. I spotted this mother coyote early on as she headed up towards a rock. She stayed up there, moving between several high rocks, and eventually sprawled out on the highest one, but she definitely was keeping her eye on something on the trail below. Then, in a flash, she dashed off. I thought that was the end of my coyote viewing for the day. Within minutes the coyote began her distressed barking — she only does this when she has been chased or interfered with by a dog — it may be one of her ways of keeping dogs at bay, but it also shows that she is upset.

It turns out that she had seen a dog, a dog she has seen often, which got too close to one of her yearling pups — she had come to its aid. The pup was probably in absolutely no danger, but we have to see it from this mother’s point of view: after all, dogs have chased her plenty of times in the past. When she first appeared on the scene, the dog, which should have been leashed, chased her off — this is normal unleashed dog behavior. But she responded by returning and coming in pretty close. This is typical coyote behavior. It can only be prevented by leashing our dogs immediately when a coyote is spotted, and not allowing a “casual” encounter — you cannot predict what will happen with any animal, much less with a wild animal, and in this case there was more than one coyote — the mother and the yearling. Keeping your dog leashed and close to yourself will serve to deter a coyote from coming in closer as you move out of the immediate vicinity.

There is usually an alpha female somewhere around in any coyote group: she is the only one that breeds and she is the one that controls the group and is responsible for their safety. If we allow our dogs to approach or threaten — or even appear to threaten a coyote — the female may come in to help so that you might be dealing with more than one coyote. Coyotes work as a team when there is more than one of them, with one serving to distract while the other goes around to approach from the other side — this usually is more than most dogs can handle — dogs feel overwhelmed by this behavior. But the coyotes are trying to send a message as clearly as they can: “Leave!” and “Don’t mess with us.”  They will continue this behavior, coming back again and maybe again, until dog and owner move on out of the immediate vicinity where the dog had come too close to the yearling.

The dogs, too, may feel they need to defend “their pack”, which includes all dogs or individuals in their party. Each side — dogs and coyotes — want to feel they have “won” by making the other leave. In this incident today, once the coyotes left for the first time, the dogs thought they had “taken care of the matter”, but the coyotes returned to continue vexing the dogs and owner until they left. Only we humans can prevent these interactions from happening by leashing our dogs. It is a canine-canine thing which needs our intervention if we all want to coexist together: humans, dogs, and recently returned wildlife.

The best policy is to leash up and move on. Please read about coyote safety and how you can shoo a coyote off if you encounter one at a close enough range to make you uncomfortable: Coyote Safety published on November 3, 2009.

Blatant Visual Message for Newcomer Dog

Today I entered one of the parks to see a young fellow with his dog standing on a path. There was a coyote in the distance in the field next to the path. The fellow was tossing stones to keep the coyote at a distance — he had no idea what coyotes were like. He told me he had just moved to the area from Florida — he had not seen a coyote here before. He leashed his dog and we both watched as the coyote sat in the distance watching. Finally the coyote decided to go: it got up and trotted down the trail and out of sight. It was a young coyote born last spring. The owner then unleashed his dog.

I walked with the fellow down the path the coyote had taken and told him a few things about the coyotes, such as that they were not aggressive but will defend themselves, and that it is best to keep dogs leashed and next to us. As we rounded a bend, I looked up to see the mother coyote watching from a rock ledge high above us. The mother is still protective of her offspring and was keeping an eye on the new dog as a precaution, making sure it wasn’t about to chase her or the other coyote. More than likely she had seen the dog staring at the young coyote a few minutes before. Often when a leashed dog sits quietly beside its owner looking at a coyote that is not too far off, the coyote itself will become curious and just sit, trying to figure out what the stillness is about: the dog’s eyes may be communicating one thing, yet the leashed dog is just sitting there.

This dog stayed with us only a moment before rushing off towards the coyote up on the ledge. The dog couldn’t get up to the rock ledge, but it got close and it barked at the coyote. Coyotes do not like to be pursued.

The coyote hunched over with her hackles up: her message is meant to be blatant and clear for those who might not want to take her seriously — she was trying to let the newcomers know that she wanted to be left alone, she did not want to be pursued. The coyote then came down from the rock ledge, towards the dog, which caused the dog to come directly to its owner. The dog clearly got the message. At this point the owner leashed his dog — this calmed the dog and kept it next to us. If the owner had not been able to grab his dog, this could have ended with a firmer statement by the coyote: a nip. But it ended here, and the coyote then climbed up on a rock not too far away.

The display we saw of this mother coyote is pictured above: hackles up, teeth bared and back bent – it is the exact same display a cat gives to warn another animal off. It is meant to look frightening which makes it very effective, and all animals understand it. But it is not aggression, rather it is a strong defensive message.

The younger coyote then appeared and joined its mother on the rock from which they watched us, to make sure the infraction was not repeated. We watched them. Fortunately the fellow was very positive and excited about the coyote. This was a great introduction for him — he knows what to expect from this coyote, and he knows how to keep his dog from chasing the coyote so the coyote won’t come back after his dog. When the fellow and his dog decided to go, the mother coyote followed them. Although the younger one followed its mother’s departure with its gaze, it went in another direction.

I suppose the mother coyote made sure that the newcomers were headed out of the park — she does this sometimes when she has been chased.

Young coyotes will almost always flee from a dog threat. But the mother — the mother is always the alpha leader of a family group — often will turn back to make sure a threat is stopped in its tracks, thus letting the chaser know that she does not want to put up with this. Please take note of the display above: it is a message. It is a very clear message to read, imparted for self protective reasons. Keeping our dogs leashed will keep your dog away from the coyotes and will help us all co-exist peacefully in our parks.

Please read postings on December 12th: “Dog Reactions to Seeing a Coyote”, November 4th:“Some Reactions to Dogs”, November 17th: “ANOTHER Reaction to Dogs”, and December 1: “Significance of a Seemingly Unprovoked Challenge”.  “A short back-and-forth chase: oneupmanship verging on play” 2/4/10. “Coyote Safety” of 11/3/2009.