RELEVANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Although coyotes for the most part stick to the darker hours, it is not unusual to see one out during the daytime, on park trails, or on the streets. They like grassy fields where they can hunt, and they like woodsy areas where they can take refuge. At times they may pass through our backyards. These are within the range of normal coyote behavior. We might ask, “Don’t they know they should stay in a park and out of sight?” But how could they possibly know OUR boundaries? Remember that humans delineate their “boundaries” very differently from coyotes: we use physical and visual boundaries which have meaning for us, such as fences and streets, whereas coyotes use olfactory ones which they create by “marking” or “urinating” along their territory’s periphery. Most of the time when you see a coyote, it will be hunting in a field for gophers, or just passing through. Most of the time, when a coyote sees you, it will flee or keep far away. If a coyote is minding its own business, we try to leave them alone.
What attracts coyotes to many areas is food of any type. Coyotes are known as “opportunistic” eaters — they eat what is available. You will be inviting them into your yard if you leave out any kind of food, including pet food. They also eat small rodents such as raccoons and skunks or anything that looks like them. You will be contributing to the food chain if you leave your small pet outside and unattended. It is best to remove all attractants from your yard — this is passive medicine.
Shooing Off a Coyote In A Chance Encounter or From Your Yard
If a coyote comes within 30-50 feet of you, it will most likely be just an unexpected chance encounter, with both of you wanting to avoid each other. Coyotes are curious and may stop to observe. Most of the time yelling or stamping your foot, as you walk towards the coyote, is enough to make the coyote hurry away — this works most of the time with most coyotes. Tossing a small stone in the coyote’s direction — but not directly at it so as to injure it — will also cause the coyote to distance itself. Do remember that coyotes seldom if ever approach people: you are bigger and brighter than they are and they know this. It is only a chance encounter which might bring you closer than expected. Conflict with you is something they do not want to engage in. However, if you have a dog with you, the situation changes — coyotes and dogs generally don’t like each other because they are competitors for the territory.
SHOOING ‘EM OFF MORE FIRMLY
How to Shoo Off A Coyote More Firmly From Your Dog
There might come a time when you’ll want to shoo away a coyote immediately and unconditionally. If possible, you should always try walking away from an adversarial or potential adversarial situation — but don’t run as this might incite a chase. This should be your option of choice for many reasons, especially during pupping season or when there are pups around. It is best not to confront a coyote during these times because, like all parents, it will defend its young. However, you should shoo off a coyote if it is decisively approaching your dog, or if it has come into your yard where you have pets. The presence of the human alpha around any pet is important for keeping coyotes away from your pet.
My Preferred Method
One of the best ways to show a coyote that his proximity is not welcome is a multi-sensory one: take a folded newspaper and slam it aggressively, repeatedly and dramatically on your thigh as you walk decisively towards the coyote, locking your gaze on his, and yelling “Shoo! Off With You!”. The combination of the aggressively wide and big slapping movements, the loud slapping noise, your angry voice, the locked gaze, and walking decisively towards the coyote will show him 1) that you are directing this “attack” towards him and 2) you mean what you say. There is a caveat here: you MUST make the coyote move back substantially — in other words, you must “win”, otherwise the coyote could become resistant over time and he will think that you are just crying wolf. It may take a couple of repeats for a coyote to “get it”, but they do remember and will start fleeing upon seeing you. A periodic, but milder, reminder of your ferociousness will help maintain what you have taught. In any particular area, it will be the same coyotes which you encounter — they are strongly tied to their territories, and milder “reinforcement” might be needed occasionally in the future.
Technique Pointers for Firmly Shooing Off a Coyote Needs Practice & Repetition
Your “intervention” should be no-nonsense and appear confrontational. If you want the coyote to remember, you’re going to have to make the event memorable for him: throw a real conniption. Coyotes read body language. It’s all about bluffing — your bluff must be bigger than theirs. And it’s a mind set: you want to turn the tables from defense to offense mode. We all need to practice being adversarial/aggressive a little to become effective: it might help to watch someone do it to give you the swing of it. Knowledge and practice of this technique will give you confidence even if you never may have to use it.
Quick Summary For Shooing Off Coyotes
- DO NOT use during pupping season, March-August, when parent MUST defend their young.
- DO use if a coyote is decisively approaching your leashed larger dog.
- slap a newspaper on your thigh loudly and dramatically, being as OFFENSIVE as possible
- walk decisively towards the coyote
- fixing your gaze on the coyote’s eyes — so that he’ll know it’s no mistake but him you are targeting
- angrily raise your voice and shout “Scat!” “Shoo!” “Off With You!”
- If the coyote doesn’t move, don’t press it. Just calmly leave the area
- Always pick up a small dog and walk away calmly
[Downloadable and Printable version: Shooing Off A Coyote]