Coyote Splits, Lickety-split, Upon Seeing a Large Pack of Large Dogs Running Loose

Coyotes know that they don’t need to be afraid of everyone that comes to their parks — they simply keep their distance and continue whatever they were doing. If humans walk by in the distance with their leashed dogs, a coyote more often than not will continue its foraging, or may stop to observe as the dog and walker pass through. Distance is everyone’s friend, as is controlled calm.

However, danger is signaled to coyotes by individual or packs of unleashed dogs running about, as happened here. This coyote looked up from her peaceful foraging to see several large dogs running around wildly and exploring hither and thither, with no owner in sight initially. It was a signal for the coyote to head towards a safer area. Our coyotes are chased often by dogs. An individual dog which pursues them they can handle now and then even though they dislike it tremendously, but a large pack of large dogs is something they do not want to test.

The dogs did not see the coyote, but the walker did. He leashed up his seven charges as soon as he saw the coyote, and he walked on. The coyote sat, close to the bushes to where she could make a quick getaway if needed, but she didn’t need to. When the pack of dogs was out of sight, she simply lay down and took a nap!

leashing up the dog pack

leashing up the dog pack

Vigilance!

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Click on either of these images to read the rest of this extremely short (200 words) and to-the-point piece on the importance of vigilance if you have a dog in a coyote area.

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Note: The article, in its shortness, or possibly because of a misunderstanding by its author, is missing some important points. Most important, coyotes avoid humans, so if you don’t have a dog with you, just keep your distance to help yourself and the coyote not feel crowded or threatened. And, even if you have a dog with you, you would never challenge a coyote as described in this article unless it had come very close or was coming directly at your dog. Otherwise, leash and walk away, and always keep your distance. The point is to avoid any interaction and a confrontation always.

Pupping: Coyote Parents Are Worried, Concerned, and Suspicious of Dogs

The Behavior

Dad coyotes are out for a while in the mornings to perform “sentry duty”. With so many dogs in the parks, you can be sure Dads are concerned and worried about the areas where youngsters have been stashed to stay safe.

Most of the time, a dad will just lie and watch, sometimes with one eye shut, from a location with a broad view. He is not only watching, he is also making himself visible. Making himself visible during this time frame is a communication device for letting others know that he is there — the territory is taken. This is about territorial behavior — about protecting one’s turf.

During the time that he’s lying there, he may become uneasy over a particular dog he’s spotted in the distance. If this happens, he’ll sit up or stand to watch more keenly. This may be all he does before lying down again. However, being the good caregiver and guardian that he is, he may hurry after the dog and follow to assure himself that the dog is headed away from, and not towards, a pupping area — sort of “escorting” the dog away.

If the dog owner is not vigilant, the coyote could get close and might even deliver a messaging nip to the dog’s behind — cattle-dog fashion — to get the dog to hurry along. All dog owners should be aware of the possibility of this behavior. Remember that coyotes don’t allow other coyotes into their territories: If YOU were not there with your dog, the coyotes would be trying harder to let the dog feel unwelcome. This does not happen frequently, but I’ve seen it a number of times.

What To Do

What should a dog owner do? I’ve posted this before, but it needs to be emphasized. Remember that coyotes are not interested in tangling with humans — rather, they want to message the dog. First and foremost, if you see a coyote, always leash and continue moving away from it. You should keep your dog in sight at all times. Don’t let your dog lag far behind you where he’s out of your line of vision.

If you see a coyote following and getting too close, you need to stop and shoo it away. Simply turn around and glare at the coyote. Eyeball him eye-to-eye to let him know you mean business and that you are targeting him.  You can add emphasis by lunging or stepping towards the coyote. You want to move in his direction without getting close. One walker recently told me that she pointed at the coyote by extending her arm out far and pointing her finger at the coyote in a commanding sort of way as she stamped her foot and lunged at a coyote. By eyeing the coyote and pointing at it, there will be no mistake about who your message is for. Picking up a small stone and tossing it in the coyote’s direction is always effective. Either way, you are moving in his direction, or moving something in his direction, which is what causes him to move. Then turn around and walk on, but continue looking back. If he continues to follow, you should repeat this more emphatically — it may take several attempts before the coyote gets the message. Never run from a coyote.

NOTE, that if a coyote is close enough to engage with your dog, you’ll need to be ferocious in your shooing it off. Please see the demonstration in the “Coyotes As Neighbors” YouTube video (you can google this). It’s best never to let a coyote get this close in the first place.

Distressed Barking By Mother Coyote Due to Presence of Dogs

Parent coyotes are especially edgy at this time of year — it’s pupping season.

As this mother coyote foraged behind some low bushes, dog owners with their mostly leashed dogs walked by on a path about 100 feet away: they stopped and looked at her, though it might have been better if they had just walked on. None of the dogs approached her, though they might have communicated some kind of negativity through their facial expressions and body language. The coyote apparently didn’t like them looking at her, or she didn’t like their negative communication. OR, the dogs may simply have been too close for comfort.  I was concentrating on her, so I couldn’t see what the issue was.

Note that she begins her complaining with little grunts and heaves: it’s an emotional and distressed reaction.  As she initially grunts and heaves, she hasn’t decided to go all out with her barking. But soon, she lets loose. All the dog walkers “got it” once I explained to them what was going on: that this was an edgy mother and coyotes don’t like dogs around them. The walkers and their dogs moved on, and she soon quit her howling and then retreated into the bushes.

Her own mother, too, engaged in this exact same type of barking: it is a distressful bark and only occurs when these coyotes feel harassed or intruded upon by dogs. This type of barking is both a complaining — letting everyone know how she feels — and a communication of standing up for herself, though you can be sure that if a dog went after her, she would skedaddle quickly. The barking session shown here lasted only about three minutes, but I’ve listened to one that lasted well over 20 minutes.

Leapin’ Latrans

2015-02-23 at 17-42-53 Here’s a coyote — Canis Latrans — leaping through a wild mustard field in an urban park. He’s flying high above the three-foot tall flowers which are not only impeding his progress, but are also impeding his view. And what’s he so interested in seeing? An unleashed dog running erratically through the field in the distance! Coyotes are extremely curious critters — curiosity is a measure of their intelligence. “What was the dog doing, and where was it going?”

Please keep dogs leashed if you are in a coyote area of your urban park, especially now during pupping season! As soon as I informed the owner about coyote behaviors, he leashed his pet and was on his way. Leashing a pet not only keeps the pet away from coyotes, it also keeps them calmer. Coyotes sometimes react to the hyperactivity of some dogs. The coyote sat a safe distance away and watched them depart.

Wet Day Activities and Saving Something For A Rainy Day??

wet coyote

wet coyote

We’re being pummeled by rain — our fiercest storm in five years!  California has a desert climate, with normal yearly rain averaging only about 21 inches. Last year, in 2013, we received less than 4 inches of rain during the entire year. That is the same amount we are expecting just within these next few days. Streets are flooding, electricity is out, and there is water everywhere.

I waterproofed my camera and myself and headed out into the torrent. Very few folks were out visiting the parks where gophers were being pushed to the surface of their tunnels by all the water: coyotes were aware of these things. I watched this fella, in the driving rain, head straight for a gopher hole and go to work. The mound of fresh dirt around the gopher tunnel opening must have been a dead giveaway to a gopher’s location. He cocked his head back and forth only a few times before he zeroed in on the gopher’s exact location. Notice the coyote’s beautiful diving technique, then his furious digging which sent the wet mud flying in all directions.

He caught his gopher — looks like a huge two pounder — and gulped it down. He then marked the location — claiming, and advertising, his triumph.

He then meandered across the field and within seconds found a second very large gopher. No triangulation, no pouncing, no digging was involved this time — the gopher was just there for the taking, right at the opening to its tunnel. The coyote picked it up, looked around carefully surveying the area, and then trotted across the field to a clump of bushes, eyeing me to make sure I wouldn’t come after his catch. He emerged from those bushes seconds later without the gopher, so he obviously left it there.

He spent the next little while criss-crossing the field searching for more gophers, shaking water out of his coat at various times, noticing and being noticed by a lone dog walker who had bravely ventured out, spooking at noises, warning an unleashed dog away, messaging displeasure at that dog and then lying down and then waiting for the dog to leave when the dog’s owner appeared, and just plain looking around.

the gopher had been left in a little hollow

the gopher had been left in a little hollow

He then headed out of the field for about 30 seconds, during which time I hurried to the clump of bushes and found the dead, soaking gopher where it had been carefully deposited in a little depression on the ground.

Maybe the coyote had headed out of the field to see if the coast was clear, because he came back, eyed me suspiciously since I was closer to the clump of bushes with the gopher, retrieved the dead gopher and then retraced his steps in the same direction out of the field.

I watched him carry it a substantial distance, stop and look around a couple of times. He was looking for a place to hide it, apparently, because he then trotted further, to a distant grassy area, looked around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, and buried it. Possibly he would retrieve it and eat it when gophers were harder to catch. We like saving things for a rainy day. Might he possibly be saving it for a dryer day?!

Coyotes Celebrate Coming Out Ahead: Intact and Uninjured, and Still In Charge of Their Territory

Here is a typical morning in an urban park where there are coyotes and where dogs run free. If you have a dog and know coyotes are out, or if you see a coyote, you need to leash up and move on. In this park, there is a particular team of dogs which chases and harasses these coyotes on an almost daily basis.

On this day, coyotes were out finishing their nighttime trekking. They picked one of their favorite knolls to hang out on. They often stay out to watch and keep an eye on the dogs which visit the park daily, but also they are there “to be seen” by these same dogs: they want these dogs to know that the territory is already claimed — their presence sends this message. It is a purposeful activity. They knew the route and the time that most dogs would walk by, and that time was coming up. They plopped themselves down high up on the incline a substantial distance from any trails and began grooming themselves.

Most dogs and their owners passed uneventfully, as usual: most folks in San Francisco are in awe of and love their urban coyotes in the parks: It makes the parks seem a little more “natural”, a little closer to the nature that humankind once knew, a little further removed from the city right next door. Both coyotes and dogs learn something about each other as they watch one another, and peace is maintained by the owners keeping their dogs away from them.

Unfortunately, there are antagonistic dogs who pursue, and owners who allow their dogs to pursue and harass coyotes. It is always the same dogs, and it is always the same owners who allow it, and it happens on a regular basis. It happened again today, as predictably as the dawn itself. Two dogs from the same family — therefore a “pack” working as a team together — came up the trail ahead of their owners and went searching for the coyotes, saw them and chased after them. The coyotes ran further up the steep incline which was difficult for the dogs. The coyotes stayed up high on the hill and watched. At one point, when the second dog appeared they came down a little, still keeping their safe distance away.

One of the dog owners, one who had no intention of ever leashing his dogs to control them, ran up the hill towards the coyotes and starting heaving rocks at them, snarling, “Darn coyotes, stop bothering my dogs!!”  The coyotes backed up a little preparing to flee, but the dog owner backed down the hill. Of course, it was the dogs and owner who were doing the harassing, not the other way around.

Eventually the recalcitrant dogs and disrespectful owners walked on. The coyotes watched them leave and then hung around to watch and just “be” for a short time, grooming themselves and probably communicating in ways we humans cannot understand: their distress, relief, joy, excitement, and fears, among other things, are communicated simply by the way they act — by their body language and facial expressions.

Then it was time to go. The coyotes ran towards each other, tails wagging, bodies bouncing and wiggling, and headed off. They were all intact, there were no injuries, the territory was still theirs. They seemed to celebrate all this as they left the area hugging next to each other as they went.

 

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