Safety Around Coyotes; PLUS Behaviors to be aware of if you have a dog: Updated

This information was distributed at a health & safety fair here in the city:


  •  coyotes are a natural part of this environment 
  • seldom are they aggressive, but they will protect themselves and their territories
  • small dogs could be targeted as prey 
  •  an ounce of prevention works! Protect both your dog and coyotes 
  • first and foremost, always be VIGILANT and AWARE when dog-walking
  • when walking a dog, always walk away from a coyote: Just outright AVOID it.

1) Prevent close coyote encounters in the first place:

  • never feed a coyote or try to tame it
  • never walk towards a coyote – give them space
  • never let your dog chase or play with a coyote
  • leash your dog whenever you see or hear a coyote or know one is in the area and walk away from it
  • pick up small dogs and walk away from the coyote

2) Behaviors coyotes use to protect themselves when chased by a dog

  • charge-and-retreat sequence
  • a long barking episode, often rearing up on their hind legs
  • a nipping at the haunches, same as a cattle dog herding, to move the dog away
  • “escorting” or following you out of the park (rarely)

3) If this should happen, first and foremost, GET AWAY FROM THE COYOTE by tightening your leash and dragging your dog away with you. Walk, don’t run. The coyote’s sole intention is to move you away — so please just do it!  If you choose to scare it away, you could throw a stone in the coyote’s direction or yell angrily while clapping and stepping in the coyote’s direction (without getting close), or slapping a newspaper on your thigh (as demonstrated in the video How To Shoo Off A Coyote), but know that what’s safest is simple and plain unmitigated avoidance. So, mainly:

  • grab your dog when you can and leave the area walking

4) Two coyote behaviors to be aware of — usually between a coyote and a dog who know each other:

  • “Chase-Chase” Behavior: the coyote will be traveling in the same direction as a walker and his/her unleashed dog, and will come in close with a little “darting in”  and “retreat”. The dog will return the behavior. It is almost a “dare” or “oneupmanship” with no other intention than just this — it verges on play. Some dogs can handle this, some need to be leashed.
  • A mother coyote may come to the aid of one of her full-grown pups and the two will work as a team to vex a dog to get it to leave: one coyote will distract the dog, the other will come around to dart in from the other side.
  • In both cases, leashing the dog creates a barrier of sorts: it calms down the dog — and this can be seen by the coyote. But also it keeps the dog next to the owner which serves to deter the coyote from coming in. Coyotes do not care to tangle with humans.

*A compilation of more in-depth information and a video can be found at: “FIRST: Coyote Coexistence Guidelines and Safety Information.”

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”. “Blatant Visual Message for Newcomer Dog” on 2/8/10. “A short back-and-forth chase: oneupmanship verging on play” 2/4/10.

89 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 02:49:38

    We live on the edge of a forest. For the past month, there has been what sounds like a coyote pup that comes within 25 feet of our backyard every evening. He and my chihuahua-terrier mix have a conversation, and my dog is happy and excited. He’s gotten out a couple of times and comes back with the back of his coat “licked” – that’s the best way I know to explain it. Do coyotes “make friends” with dogs? Is this dangerous?


    • janet kessler
      Jun 27, 2010 @ 03:34:10

      Hi Julie —

      I’m glad to try to help. I observe and record the coyote behaviors I see in our San Francisco area parks. I’ve spent hundreds of hours watching them. However, I’m not an expert. My answer is from what I have personally seen AND heard. Most dogs chase coyotes. Dogs, indeed, have made friends with coyotes — coyotes are pretty choosy about who they pick as their “dog” friends — not all dogs are welcome. Your tiny dog must be a very special case, because I’ve only heard of larger dogs playing with coyotes. However, because coyotes are wild animals, you cannot predict with certainty what will come next. My advice to you is to keep your tiny dog away from the coyote — that is what I would do. Possibly nothing bad would happen. But you will be very upset if your little dog does not come back one day. Whatever you do, please do not feed the coyote. Feeding has been linked to them later becoming aggressive towards humans. If they become aggressive towards humans, they will be shot. Feeding is the most unkind thing you can do. We want to keep coyotes wild, and shy of humans. It is best for the coyote and it is best for humans. Hope this helps! Janet =====================

    • Bipasha
      Jan 20, 2016 @ 08:32:22

      I go out every morning at 7:00 AM to observe and photograph my neighborhood coyote. (S.F.) I think she is so beautiful and majestic.
      I leave my car door open because she comes close in proximity to me, and I get scared. She’s never shown aggression or hostility
      and she has a very sweet disposition, but she’s still a coyote.
      I’m wondering:
      Will another coyote join her for mating soon? How will he find her?
      I think she’s a juvenile.

    • yipps
      Jan 20, 2016 @ 12:17:57

      Hi Bipasha —

      Thank you for sharing your coyote experience and thank you for supporting our urban coyotes. The one thing I would strongly suggest is NOT allowing your coyote to get close to you. This is for the good of the coyote. The best way to support them is to keep them wild. You can imagine what someone who doesn’t like coyotes might think if a coyote approached them — and you are training the coyote to do this by allowing it to get close to you. The coyote could be reported as being “bold”, or even “aggressive” for getting close to someone. This will just promote more fear and more people may want to “get rid” of the coyotes. So please keep a substantial distance away from the coyotes. You’ll be doing your coyote, and all coyotes, a favor.

      In our area, coyotes mate in early February, after finding a permanent mate. They mate for life. If your coyote is a juvenile, it won’t look for a mate this year. Males usually start mating at about age 4. Females can reproduce at age 2.

      Please let me know if you have any more questions. Janet

    • jaz
      Apr 04, 2012 @ 07:51:34

      Comment from Jaz: “Coyotes will sometimes ‘play’ with a dog to lead it to its pack then attack it.”

      Reply from Janet at Yipps: Hi Jaz. Have you actually seen this happen? I never have. Generally, dogs should not be allowed to play with coyotes — coyotes are wild and protective of themselves and their territories: this is what drives a lot of their behavior. Keeping a dog leashed is one way of preventing this interaction. However, I have seen a coyote play (or attempt to play) for a few seconds with a dog. The coyote was a loner — there was no “pack” (which translates into “family”) for the coyote to lead the dog to. The coyote played with the dog because it was lonely. The coyote picked or or maybe two dogs to “befriend” in this way, out of many who walked in that area. It stayed away from the other dogs. The situation was very short lived. Everyone on that hill loved that coyote.

      It’s easy to pick up a rumor and spread it. Rather, it’s best to rely on your own observations. One of the rumors that went around in this area is that “eight coyotes surrounded my car and wouldn’t let me get out.” There are not eight coyotes that live in the area, and coyotes are rather shy of humans, so they wouldn’t do this. It’s as if someone had said that eight chihuahuas surrounded my car and wouldn’t let me get out. Would you believe this?

      Coyotes are often maligned. Their biggest crime, often, is simply to have been seen. And rumors about them grow and spread mercilessly. Janet

    • Jane
      Sep 25, 2012 @ 22:06:13

      I do know of a pack of coyotes sending one of their’s down a hill to attract a domestic dog The dog was taken up (by means of “playing”), to the pack and killed. It happened in Nicasio (West Marin).

    • yipps
      Sep 26, 2012 @ 06:09:08

      It’s an urban legend — a myth with no basis in reality. It’s a classic “Big Bad Wolf,” tale.

      Both dogs and coyotes go into “alert” mode when they see each other. Most often the dog will go chasing after the coyote and the coyote will retreat into the bushes where often other members of the family are hanging out. When they see a family member in trouble, threatened by the dog, they will come to the coyote’s aid. The dog may be bitten.

      By intruding on the coyotes, the dog is asking for trouble. Please don’t allow your dog to chase coyotes.

    • Bob
      Jun 18, 2017 @ 21:46:01

      We’ve lost dogs to coyotes in Northern Canada, during the winter. One coyote willl come close to the farm yard and one of the smaller dog chased it into the treeline and thats the last ever seen of those dogs. So it being a myth isnt true, it happens. For us its during winter that theres a problem

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 04, 2017 @ 17:02:17

      Hi Bob — This is not a “lure”. This is simply your dog chasing a coyote who then grabs the little dog: coyotes don’t distinguish between pets and other animals of prey. Please prevent this from happening again by not allowing your dog to go off chasing a coyote. A coyote is going to defend itself if it has to — and he/she is going to grab a small pet who makes itself available for the taking.

  2. Trackback: Coyote Careful | Save Mount Sutro Forest
  3. Sharon L Boyd
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 23:46:50

    I’m soon moving into a neighborhood next to walking/hiking trails where coyotes reside. What type of fencing or enclosure will provide safety for my 3 small dogs during the day when I’m not at home and at night?


    • yipps
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 00:53:18

      Hi Sharon —

      I’m not an expert on fences, however, I have heard that coyotes can scale fences that are quite high. Still, in this urban area, I have seen cyclone-type fences over 6 feet high (I would have to check on exact height) which enclose dogs or chickens, and I have never seen or heard that coyotes got inside. In our urban area, I think everyone keeps their pets indoors at night and even during the day when they are not home. This is what we have been told to do by our Animal Care and Control Department, and it is especially true for small dogs. Your presence is the greatest deterrent whenever a pet is out in the open. Also, when you walk your dogs, you should make sure to restrain them — coyotes might not welcome the high activity level of three active little dogs. If they are kept restrained and close to you, you can prevent any coyotes from testing the situation right from the start. Janet

  4. Walter Ballin
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 06:48:52

    Janet, I enjoy your blog. These are beautiful animals. I now live in Chico, but San Francisco is my native city where I lived for most of my life. How did coyotes come to San Francisco? Some years ago, I never thought this could happen.


    • yipps
      Apr 11, 2012 @ 19:38:04

      Hi Walter — Glad you enjoy the blog! There are various theories about how they came and when. One is that a few have always been here. I have been told that a “ranger brought them in” by someone who knows the ranger who did this — he would not divulge the name. And, it has been proposed that coyotes came over Golden Gate bridge — their DNA matches that of the Marin coyotes, and not those from the South. A deer was videoed crossing the bridge, causing traffic to come to a standstill, and a couple of coyotes have been seen on the ends of the bridge, but no coyotes have actually been seen crossing the bridge. The official count of coyotes in San Francisco (not including the Presidio) is ten at the moment — not many. Janet

  5. Gail Eddy
    May 06, 2012 @ 01:40:08

    I care for and feed a small feral cat colony..We have supplied them with a feeding station and small shelters in a clearing near some woods. Today I had 8 cats feeding. One cat was sitting by my feet..I had my back to the woods. The cat growled..something I have never heard a cat do before. I turned around and saw a coyote, walking about 10 or 15 feet from the woods. He definitely could not miss seeing me or the cats. I walked to the edge of the feeding station because I had previously seen one of the cats there..alone. As I did that, the coyote turned and came closer to me. I knew I should make noise….and walk away, but I froze. I just looked at him. We were looking into each others eyes for at least 10 or 15 seconds. I don’t think I displayed fear..I was really just thinking how beautiful he was..He didn’t seem aggressive..he seemed to be waiting to see what I would do..Then he just turned and walked away. He never seemed to be interested in the cats..perhaps because I was there..Also..I was amazed that none of the cats tried to run.


  6. Alex Grossman
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 18:19:04

    Saw a coyote walking down Cityview Way toward Panorama Blvd this overcast morning (6-22-12) while walking my puppy at 6am. The coyote nosed through some trash spilling from a Recology can on Panorama and then headed south and into the fog shrouded woods across from my house. (These are the Eucalyptus woods that surround the large water tank behind Laguna Honda Hospital.) He didn’t seem fearful or interested in my pup which by now I had in my arms and was slowly walking back to my house. This encounter was both frightening and gloriously magical. I’ve been in the Midtown Terrace neighborhood for under a year and always felt it was a special place, seemingly removed from the usual urban craziness of SF. But had no idea there were coyotes!


  7. Annie
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 17:50:45

    I had a very close encounter with a coyote this morning, and am wondering what to do if ever I am in that kind of situation again. My dog is a yellow lab, golden retriever, and pitbull mix and is about the size as a coyote. I was playing fetch with her in a park that is essentially a grassy area next to woods and a river. Suddenly, she seemed to lose interest in her ball and started to sniff around the edge of the woods. I thought she was ready to “do her business” so I untied a plastic bag from her leash. When I looked up, I was surprised to see her interacting with a juvenile coyote! They sniffed each other and didn’t seem fearful or aggressive at all. They looked just like dogs meeting each other for the first time. I was worried about a mother coyote (I had heard stories of a den in this area) so I shouted and called my dog’s name. She came to my side and the coyote ran into the bushes. As we left the park, I saw that the coyote was following us at a distance, wagging its tail and “bowing down” as I have seen puppies do when they are being playful. I walked out of the park and crossed the busy street that borders it. Did I do the right thing?


    • yipps
      Aug 01, 2012 @ 18:38:04

      Hi Annie —

      Yes, you did exactly the right thing: you grabbed your dog, leashed it and moved on. That it followed you is normal coyote behavior — they are very curious. A juvenile coyote is harmless, but we need to teach them that it’s not okay to interact with pet dogs. And, as you mention, the mom or dad coyote might have considered your dog a threat and then there might have been a negative confrontation. You’ll help this coyote by always leashing your dog tightly and quickly walking away. Please do not ever interact or allow your dog to interact. If the coyote comes close toss a small stone in its direction (not at it) — do this aggressively to show you mean it! Please let me know if this happens again and how your handling it worked. Janet

  8. Steve
    May 17, 2013 @ 02:47:36

    I live in the country and have a Black and Tan coone hound every night about the same time he goes nuts barking and howling last night about 2 am I looked out the window to see what he was barking at and to my surprise I saw a large coyote . He didnt appear to be bothered by me yelling at my dog to quite down so I grabed a gun and headed out the back door when I reached my dog he was about 20 feet from my dog, I am a large person close to 300 pounds and he didn’t even seem to be bothered by my presence I yelled and he stood there I chambered a round into my 9 mm and it jamed when I looked up he had walked about 50 feet away then he turned and looked at me I could see his eyes I fired a shot wide of him and that’s the only thing that moved him away have you heard of this bold behavior in the past ?


    • yipps
      May 17, 2013 @ 12:36:17

      Hi Steve —

      Thank you for writing about your situation. Coyotes who live around people get used to seeing them and become less flighty. If the coyote has been fed, it’s been conditioned — taught — to approach. Pointing a gun at the coyote isn’t going to scare him off if he doesn’t know what a gun is.

      Better to toss a pebble in his direction angrily — not at him but towards him. He’ll be able to understand this and he’ll learn that you don’t want him around. Also, yelling at your dog is not the same as yelling at the coyote. You need to fix your gaze on the coyote as you yell viciously at him AND you need to approach him for him to know you are directing your actions towards him.

      Although the coyote might have looked big, they weigh only about 20-40 pounds. Most of their size comes from the fluff of their fur.

      Please let me know if he comes again. The loud noise from your gun may have scared him enough to avoid the same location, at least for a while.

  9. Steve
    May 17, 2013 @ 17:43:02

    Actually no it won’t we have a major coyote problem out here and it’s not the same as living in or near a town. Food sources are growing short for the coyote because of the over population issue we also have had coyotes that have some how bread with other canines and it makes them a little larger but they have become more and more agreasive and have raided (if that’s the right term) chicken coupes in the area. While I am sure u are correct that they are opertunistic when it comes to food they also Atleast around here have shown agreasive behavior when that food sources drys up. Even the sound of the gun didnt scare him enough to chase him clear out of the area as you could hear them cry if in the distance. About 300 yards out there are woods and I am sure that’s where there den is my fear is that as they overpopulated and food source gets less they will become more agreasive plus there have been a few cases where there have had to be put down because they were not acting the way they would usually overly aggressive and approaching farmers out in the field I was told that those few cases were because the animal was sick and that changed thier normal behavior. I would be interested to hear your thoughts


    • yipps
      May 18, 2013 @ 05:18:12

      Hi Steve —

      Could you please answer these two questions?
      1) Where in the US are you located
      2) Is the dog loose in the yard? – in a kennel? – tied up?

      Thanks, Steve. I look forward to hearing from you. Janet

  10. Willow
    Nov 24, 2014 @ 02:02:34

    We live on a farm in Canada. Northern Saskatchewan, to be more precise. Anyway we have a lab cross dog who seems to have befriended a coyote a couple of years ago. My husband and I have watched them as they touch noses, chase each other and romp around in general. We have even seen them resting in the field between play sessions. The coyote appears to be a loner now but there was two of them over a year ago. Not sure what happened to the other one. We also don’t know the sex of this coyote. Our dog is fixed. Is it common for coyotes and dogs to become friends?


    • yipps
      Nov 24, 2014 @ 03:31:32

      Hi Willow —

      Nice story! I don’t know how common it is, but lone coyotes indeed have — rarely — made friends with dogs. Not just with any dog: they pick and choose usually only one or two other dogs to play with, and these become their “extended family”. My thought is that your two coyotes could have been young siblings. As far as I have seen, when there is a family of coyotes, as opposed to lone coyotes, they usually do not befriend dogs — this would be much less common.

      Most dog/coyote interactions are actually not friendly — in urban areas I discourage interactions between dogs and coyotes.

  11. Patricia Ouellet
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 02:20:09

    We live in the country and at the edge of a wooded area. For the past two days a lone coyote has come up close to our house and sniffed around and did his business each day. He is very scruffy and was also eating snow. We have a very small dog and she is a fixed female. She also goes outside to do her business and now we are afraid to let her out on her own in case she encounters this bold lone coyote. We now put her on a lease and go out with her. Is it possible this coyote could have rabies or is sick?


    • yipps
      Dec 16, 2014 @ 03:38:33

      Hi Patricia —

      I don’t know if the coyote might be ill: that it is scruffy is not an indication of illness. The coyote could be coming around simply because he or she is lonely. I’ll be able to tell you much more if you can take some photos and send them. The important thing is that you should continue using your leash on your small dog. Coyotes and dogs can form friendships, but most of the time each has antipathy for the other.

  12. Willow
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 09:11:23

    Hi again! The coyote I told you about seemed to be gone for a week or so but is back. The friendship continues but is getting annoying :) I am glad my dog has a friend even tho I still think this is very strange but… they need to make a racket all night? Sometimes they take off for a bit then they are back barking and yipping right at the house till I get up and yell at them! I even turned the farmyard lights on at night and that didn’t work to deter it from coming here! Do you think it will eventually find a mate and leave? I understand you deal mostly with urban coyotes and where I live is very remote. Shooting is not an option! Rabies and distemper vaccines are up to date. Keeping my dog inside is not an option as he is a large farm dog and hates being kept in at night. Thanks for any insight you have on this as I am at a loss.


    • yipps
      Feb 16, 2015 @ 17:17:48

      Hi Willow — Could you please let me know if your dog is chained or if he’s running loose with the coyotes when you leave him out at night? What happens when you keep him indoors, and why is this not an option? Janet

  13. Willow
    Feb 17, 2015 @ 19:48:21

    Hi again! Chaining a dog where we are puts them at risk to other animals like moose. Our property is over 2000 acres so he can run around if he wants but he always sticks close to the farmyard. He hates being in the house at the best of times and prefers his heated doghouse. As I said, he is a large dog and will practically rip the door off. He is great at keeping the wildlife away and has for eight years! He killed a coyote a few years back so I cannot figure out why he is friends with this one. I really would prefer it gone tho. I would like to see if it can be relocated. Better to be safe than sorry.


    • yipps
      Feb 17, 2015 @ 20:13:37

      Hi Willow —

      You cannot relocate coyotes because they are tied to their territories. If you relocated it, it would probably die trying to return — either killed by a human who doesn’t want it around, of harassed by other coyotes who don’t want it passing through their territories.

      Your dog is big and has “taken care” of other coyotes, so he’s not in danger himself. It is his friendship which is what is attracting the other coyote. I normally suggest getting rid of attractants to discourage coyotes, but you can’t do that! If you really want him gone, let me know — I can consult with a colleague. Janet

  14. EllaDine
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 21:13:43

    i was walking my pup on a local college campus this morning in Portland, Oregon, near an area where I have previously spotted coyotes. We were walking by on the street (not entering into the area, specifically) when a coyote “popped out” literally five feet away from us. My pup surprisingly wasn’t reactive, though he usually is with domestic dogs, and I (mistakenly?) turned and began to retreat quickly. The coyote followed me, also quickly, for a rather long distance (two football fields). I admit, though a huge urban wildlife fan, I was terrified. My dog is 50 pounds–the coyote looked roughly the same, although I understand they rarely top 40. This coyote seemed completely and totally fearless. I can only assume this was territorial behavior? While I know to avoid the area altogether in the future, the encounter has left me shaken and wondering what might’ve happened if my dog refused to move (which he has sometimes done when hoping to “greet” a domesticated dog. Any insight would be welcome. To be more specific, I definitely felt “chased”–even though I know the the coyote could’ve easily “caught” me if desired. Thanks!


    • yipps
      Aug 29, 2015 @ 21:46:25

      Hi Ella —

      Coyote following behavior is normal behavior, and yes, it can be quite frightening if you don’t know about it and don’t know what to do. Coyotes will try to figure out “where you are going” and “what you are doing”. They are very territorial and patrol their areas for the possibility of any threat. If you keep walking away from the coyote, away from the area he considers his, he will eventually stop following. Just keep going.

      If you feel you want to do more, which I do not highly recommend, first of all leash your dog if he/she is not already leashed. Then FACE the coyote, looking at him eyeball to eyeball. This will stop him dead in his tracks. He will not approach if you are looking at him. Walk in his direction menacingly by either yelling or tossing a pebble in his direction (not at him so as to injure him) and MAKE him move back. Once you’ve made him move back continue on your walk with your eye on him. You may have to repeat this once or twice, and each time you should get more menacing. When the coyote gets the message that you are onto him and aren’t going to tolerate him tailing you, he’ll probably wander off.

      You need TOOLS to allow yourself to feel safe. The main tool, of course, is to keep your distance and keep your dog away from coyotes. But this kind of “suddenly popping up out of the bushes only a few feet away” can happen to anyone. Once a coyote is in your personal space — too close for comfort — you need to grab your dog as quickly as you can and walk away from it. IF the coyote comes at you, shoo it off fiercely: scream, yell, flail. If you haven’t already, you might take a look at the video at the top of this blog page. There are a couple of demonstrations in it that might help.

      Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have questions, or if I can help further! Janet

    • Gail Eddy
      Aug 30, 2015 @ 00:15:57

      I feed a small feral cat colony every morning, near a wooded area. We have
      set up a feeding station and some shelters. I was putting out some food for them,
      I was facing the shelf on the feeding station with my back to the woods. One of
      the ferals was sitting at my feet. She started growling.. I had never heard that
      sound from a cat before. I turned around and there was, I must say, a beautiful
      coyote, standing right there, two feet away from me. I was stunned..I didn’t move.
      We both just stared at each other. I felt frozen, I didn’t think I should move, I
      didn’t know what to do. At the same time, I was thinking, as I said, about how beautiful he was. We stood face to face for a few minutes. I got the feeling that
      neither one of us knew what to do, and were waiting for the other one to
      make the first move. The cat stayed by my feet..I glanced at her,
      and she was looking up at me..After a few minutes the coyote slowly turned and
      walked away. I’ll never forget this experience..and felt fortunate to have the
      opportunity to see this beautiful animal at such a close range.

    • yipps
      Aug 30, 2015 @ 01:49:05

      Thanks for sharing this, Gail! Great story! Janet

  15. EllaDine
    Aug 30, 2015 @ 00:56:16

    Thank you so much for the good tips. I did look at the video–extremely useful! My only follow-up question: if this happens in the future, and I do have my pup (who is always leashed), would facing the coyote directly intensify the possibility of an altercation between the two if the coyote is, in fact, displaying territorial behavior? I guess I have to stop thinking in terms of domestic dogs–where an eye to eye face off would be best avoided with a dog who feels already threatened…I sincerely hope it won’t ever happen again; though it is thrilling to see a coyote from a safe distance, the key is DISTANCE. :) Thanks again. This blog is a spectacular and much appreciated resource.


    • yipps
      Aug 30, 2015 @ 01:56:36

      Hi Ella —

      Yes, I’ve heard about not staring into the eyes of an aggressive dog. The protocol I’ve given you to use with coyotes has been working. Coyotes are wary of humans — we are bigger and smarter than they are. A dog walker described this technique to me and said he had used it very effectively, so I told folks about it and it always has worked — probably because it’s the language the coyotes themselves use. If you don’t feel at ease with this, please just keep walking away from the coyote.

    • yipps
      Aug 30, 2015 @ 23:29:17

      Hi Ella —

      I spoke with a colleague about your concerns. This procedure is good. HOWEVER, IF the coyote does not move back after several attempts of getting it to do so, then back away calmly without running, keeping your eye on the coyote. This could be an indication that there might be pups close by. It’s very likely that the coyote was simply attempting to “escort” you out of the area. Let me know if this helps! Janet

    • Charles Wood
      Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:32:57

      Hi Ella and Janet. Ella’s story is very familiar to me because I used to regularly intrude into a coyote family’s denning territory to take photographs over several years. Also, I would go with my dog who is about 60 pounds.

      I agree with everything Janet said. I wanted to add a couple thoughts. I think five feet is pretty close and very generally speaking I think that a coyote will choose how close to show itself depending on how concerned it is about exactly where you and your dog are. My guess, and it is just a guess, is that your coyote had a pup pretty close by. I could easily be wrong about that. Coyotes are all different so it is hard to generalize.

      As to what might have happened if your dog had refused to move: don’t go there. At first I would worry after similar encounters. But the worry got in the way of my understanding what the coyote behavior was all about. I didn’t have enough knowledge about how coyotes behave for my worry to produce anything useful.

      What actually did happen when my dog didn’t stay calm was that the coyote would back away a few yards. From farther away the coyote would stand its ground. If the coyote was upset enough it would start barking. I would leave and the coyote, if concerned enough, would follow to make sure I really was leaving. It felt at bit like being chased, but as you point out, it wasn’t really the same as being chased. What really helped me sort it all out was what you’re doing, where you know the coyote could have ‘caught’ you, but since it didn’t, you can be very confident that the coyote therefore didn’t want to ‘catch’ you. So for me my familiarity with coyotes increased when I would just concentrate what did happen and gain confidence from that such that I could let some of my unrealistic fears go.

  16. EllaDine
    Sep 03, 2015 @ 14:23:51

    To both Yipps and Charles,

    Thank you for the excellent insight. I have avoided that part of campus vigilantly, and to be honest, I am on fairly high alert. I now bring my whistle and my clicker, too, should another encounter happen. I truly think in retrospect that you’re right, we just got too close too many times, and as I have seen a pup before, I’m sure one was near. We really do frequent the area a lot. The whole thing has been a great learning experience–making me realize how easily I give in to irrational fear and also how to maintain more respectful distance! Thanks again.


  17. EllaDine
    Sep 03, 2015 @ 19:34:01


    Ok–that makes perfect sense. I wondered about that. Thank you!!


  18. Ineke
    Oct 12, 2015 @ 23:07:34

    My cat slipped out at night when I stepped out to check something, I didn’t know that he was outside and went back to bed. During the night I heard some scuffling noise that woke me up. My cat in the morning was gone. I did see a little area in the mulch where he may have slept. My question: If a coyote had snatched him would I have seen blood and fur? There was nothing. Would a coyote have carried him off and away from the front of the house. Thanks


    • yipps
      Oct 12, 2015 @ 23:50:00

      Hi Ineke —

      I’m sorry about the loss of your cat. Your cat may still show up, so keep watching for it. You may never know why your cat disappeared: some go off on their own and are adopted or go off to die alone, there are cars, dogs, and yes, coyotes. If coyotes are around, everyone likes to blame them, even though this isn’t known. And if a coyote did get the cat, there’s no telling if it would carry it off or leave it in view. Let’s hope for the best. Janet

  19. KJones
    Dec 02, 2015 @ 00:34:22

    I live near a very large wooded area 30 minutes west of Ocala Florida. We have spotted two large black coyotes that run the same path from the woods through my backyard into the neighborhood anywhere from dusk until 1am.
    They are as large as my neighbors husky. They keep their heads low to the ground , have yellow eyes and very large bushy tails. Many cats and small dogs continually go missing. Are these coyotes or coyo-wolfs?


    • yipps
      Dec 02, 2015 @ 03:34:17

      Hi there! Western coyotes don’t come in black. The Eastern coyote (often called a coywolf) is actually a hybrid of 60% coyote, 30% wolf and 10% dog. They come in what is called a “melanistic”, which is black — probably from the dog genes. So your coyotes, if indeed they are coyotes, would be the Eastern variety, often referred to as the “coywolf”. Here’s an interesting article about them: The wolf genes in them actually make them even more shy of people than our western coyotes! Hope this helps! Let me know if you have further questions. Janet

  20. Kim
    Jan 09, 2016 @ 06:29:55


    Today i went for a hike in griffith park los angeles and a coyote crossed my path it didn’t look very skiddish and as i got closer it went down hill over the side. I didn’t chase it but i went over the ledge to get a closer look as it was bigger and fluffier then most coyotes i’d seen. We locked eyes and i continued on the path downhill. I saw it again now above me on the side of the hill and it gained speed and approched the ledge close to me. I locked eyes with it again and took two steps forward (to show i wasn’t afraid) but keeping a safe distance. It demonstrated it’s agaileness with a hop down on the path and then off trail again. At this point I thought it must recognize me from before and is now interacting with me specifically. I continued down the path and now it is twilight. I don’t see the coyote anymore but i have a sneaky suspicion that it is following me still. At the end of the trail it opens into a wide space and i head towards the street lamps and out pops the coyote. I knew it. This is my first interaction like this. I don’t know if this is agressive behavior but it is certainly curious. What are your thoughts? From what i read and what it felt like was a chase-chase kind of play. It never snarled or got too close and didn’t look skiddish or nervous but the fact that it followed me out of the park makes me think that behavior could of turned aggressive if i were to continue testing those boundries. I was also wearing all white which made it very easy for the coyote to track me. Would love to hear your thoughts. I should also note that i didn’t make any noises to attract the coyote just eye contact and body language.


    • yipps
      Jan 09, 2016 @ 23:22:59

      Hi Kim —

      Thank you for writing. I’m assuming that you didn’t have a dog with you or you would have mentioned it. Is this correct? The coyote behavior you describe is usually directed at walkers with dogs, but sometimes it can happen when a dog is not there. My thought is that this coyote behavior has components of curiosity and evaluation. Coyotes are territorial, and you may have been walking close to an area he/she’s assessing for denning. Mating season is coming up so it’s the coyotes job to know “where you are going and what you are doing”.

      That the coyote “locked gazes” with you several times may just be the coyote’s trying to read your intensions. This would be my first thought. At the same time, the coyote may have been trying to convey ownership of the area and trying to dissuade you from moving in closer. It could have crossed in front of your path initially specifically to get your attention so that it could message you with its gaze/eye contact. I have seen this “trying to get your attention by crossing in front of your path” regularly.

      If at all possible, when you see coyotes, go in the other direction. If the coyote continues approaching you, continue moving away.If you choose to shoo it away, follow the guidelines as shown in this video: “Coyotes As Neighbors” video at the top of the Coyoteyipps home page. For a detailed written description about how to handle a coyote encounter, please see this UPDATED brochure: How To Handle A Coyote Encounter: A Primer. Again, if it doesn’t move, it’s important not to force a confrontation. Just go the other way.


    • yipps
      Jan 10, 2016 @ 00:02:38

      Hi Kim —

      I heard back from the behaviorist I mentioned in my reply to you. She says that you actually initiated the coyote’s interest in you by walking over and following the coyote. This was an intrusion. The coyote’s thinking would be, “someone is looking at me and I need to pay attention to it”. Suddenly you became an object of interest. The coyote began assessing you because you initiated the engagement. If you hadn’t followed it over the hill, it most likely would have walked on. Mary says that there is nothing for you to fear — the coyote isn’t going to come after you. I hope this helps you understand the coyote’s behavior. Please let me know if you have any questions! Janet

  21. Mark
    Apr 28, 2016 @ 02:59:16

    Hi — I’ve tried to read all of the comments here to see if my question had been answered, and I did not see it.
    I live on a farm in upstate NY (30 mins southeast of Albany), and we have a small lab/pit mix (unleashed, generally stays near us and the house), about 20lbs. Out back (approx 1/4mi from our house) we have a pond at the tip of a corridor that runs between two fields and connects to the woods. For the past month or two, my mother has spotted a coyote ‘playing’ with our dog – which has alarmed my parents. My father is convinced it’s trying to ‘lure’ the dog – that they essentially ‘scheme’ to build trust and then attack. (I did not witness it, but about 12 years ago, several coyotes surrounded our old dog and apparently tried to attack – they were allegedly exhibiting ‘playful’ behavior at first – thankfully, I think my parents scared them away) I told him I doubt this is so, and, based on what I’ve read here, I’m guessing that I’m right. I’m afraid he will hurt them if they do end up showing any aggression toward the dog, so I’m trying to educate myself.

    From our ‘lawn’, we can’t really see where the coyote comes from, due to terrain/trees blocking the view. Several times we’ve seen our dog appear from down the corridor, obviously having been ‘up’ to something (most likely playing w/ the coyotes?). Lately I’ve been walking out near the pond on my daily loop around our lawn area, and the dog hasn’t been following me out that way like usual (avoidance, it seems). Today, I was walking with my mother, sister and the dog, and we spotted the coyote down along the corridor. (The dog seemed to take notice and stuck with us – hard to tell if she was scared or uninterested.) It started coming toward us (fairly far away, maybe 1/8mi) but was then obscured by a hill – it seemed quite large – almost German Shepherd size, tawny colored. Long story short, we continued walking away and looped back around – when we came back around it was out near the pond. We all walked back to the house/barns and watched it sit out in another field (still approx 1/8mi or less away), watching us. It would walk away, then turn around and sit and watch us. Eventually it made its way across the field over to the fenced apple orchard (the gate was open). A few hours later, my mother saw it coming back with a woodchuck in its mouth (a job well done!). Some time after that, as I understand it, she saw another one out by the pond, darker in color. We rarely ever see them, especially that close to where we often walk.
    So my question is – should we be worried about our pets? (we also have two barn cats, who I’d like to think of as ‘streetwise’) Would the coyotes ‘scheme’ and build trust with the dog over time and then attack, or would it seem they’re just friendly? And would my dog’s recent (seeming) avoidance of that area be an indicator that something is wrong? I’m an adult, but small in stature – approx 4’11” and 93lbs. Do you think it’s safe for me to continue walking out back (I often go by myself)? I’m definitely afraid to walk down that corridor to where their pups may or may not be. I don’t want to be afraid, but I don’t want to be overly confident, either. Better safe than sorry!


    • yipps
      Apr 28, 2016 @ 19:26:01

      Hi Mark —

      Thank your for your comment and for sharing your coyote experience.

      I don’t think coyotes build trust in order to later attack. Playfulness with a dog, if indeed that is what it is, may be a short phase in a young coyote’s life. Coyotes normally mate for life and have a territory from which they keep other coyotes out. Eventually they even drive their own youngsters out rather forcefully.

      I’m surmising — and this is totally an assumption on my part — that yours is a young coyote who may have played with your dog for a while, but the time came when a parent, or the coyote him/herself, decided it was time to exclude your dog from the his/her family. Coyotes will do this by “showing” your dog, through body language stances and even nips, that he/she was no longer welcome. If this is the case, what’s nice is that the animals worked it out themselves. Your dog will probably now stay away of his own accord. As much as possible, I would encourage you to keep the coyote wild and away from the dog.

      If your dog doesn’t stay away of his own accord, you should intervene to keep him away. Most dogs chase after coyotes and the coyotes don’t like it. Coyotes are known to nip larger dogs to message them to stay away, and they’ve killed smaller dogs, just as larger dogs have killed coyotes or smaller dogs. Dogs and coyotes can cause harm to each other.

      As for going down to a den, I would discourage you from doing so. You and your dog should stay far away from any den sites because coyotes protect these areas fiercely. Also, you need to respect their need to keep you away from their “sanctuary” — they don’t want you there.

      Coyotes do not approach people and won’t harm you unless they feel cornered or threatened by you. You will know if this happens because there may be some growling or body displays. Walk (don’t run) away from a coyote exhibiting this behavior. Mutual respect at a distance is what you want to achieve.

      A myth that still is circulating is that of coyotes luring dogs into an area where the “pack” will attack them. You might be interested in reading this post about that myth: Urban Coyote Myth: Coyotes Luring Dogs to Their Deaths.

      Please let me know if this is helpful! Janet

  22. Mark
    Apr 29, 2016 @ 17:56:40

    Thank you!

    Just to clarify, I don’t intend to seek out the den, or purposefully intrude on the coyote’s territory. The general area I’ve seen them emerging from is farther out than I usually go. I would like to be able to walk freely around our property, but based on what you wrote, I’ll err on the side of caution and avoid the area.
    As for our dog, the situation continues to puzzle me. Just yesterday, my mother said she saw the dog coming back from that area again. (We can’t really prevent her from going back there without keeping her caged all day – though we will do so if we see the coyotes out ). She’s not aggressive, and there don’t seem to be any issues or evidence of fighting. It’s just a puzzling change in her behavior – she goes out that way on her own, but seemingly avoids it on our daily walks together. I guess it’s just one of life’s mysteries!
    Last question: any estimate as to when it might be safe to go out (farther out to the woods, beyond my usual daily route) again?


    • yipps
      Apr 29, 2016 @ 23:31:00

      Hi Mark —

      The season is long. You’ll always want to avoid coyotes: youngsters will be “protected” by their parents until they leave, between one and two years of age. The dens themselves should be “done with” by August or September.

      Yes, your dog’s coyote interactions are indeed interesting, and indeed a mystery! Please keep us posted. And, if you decide to add photos to what you say, we’ll post as a regular posting. And please continue to send me any questions you have. Thanks, Mark! Janet

  23. hank
    Sep 19, 2016 @ 14:11:35

    Neighbor’s cat found killed last night — north Berkeley/Albany area near the public library. Someone had been putting up coyote caution flyers for the past four or five days, quoting the pet emergency hospital saying other cats have been killed locally by coyotes in the past few days.


    • yipps
      Sep 19, 2016 @ 17:56:24

      Hi Hank — I’m sorry about your neighbor’s cat. Coyotes have expanded their home ranges — the areas in which they hunt — due to the historic drought in this area. The coyotes will soon move on, but in the interim, small pets should never be left unattended. The same thing is going on here in San Francisco and it is due to the drought.

  24. Corrine
    Jan 18, 2017 @ 15:00:08

    I have a coyote experience that no one will believe. I have a malamute/husky/wolf mix and she is beautiful, so beautiful that during one of her heats a whole pack of coyotes showed up 3 times in one night to try and take her from me but I had her at a dogsitter so she wasn’t there to accept what my mother calls “the call of the wild.” They screamed and yipped and howled and stomped their feet right outside my window. I had never heard that many pitches and variations from just one animal before let alone a whole pack doing it.. When daylight finally hit me and a friend of mine went out to see if that had really happened and sure enough the whole side yard was covered in coyote paw prints and droppings. I was amazed I mean I knew(well assumed) she had a coyote boyfriend (I always knew when it was him cuz of his call for her. Very distinct and one of a kind) she spent 20 min (almost exactly) gone alone everynight then came back before midnight without fail.. but the whole pack came and was calling and trying to reunite her with them and multiple times in the same night… If you would like to hear more (and there is more) I will be more that happy to fill you in… Its was unbelievable. I love sharing it with anyone who will listen because it was so unique and like a beautiful choreographed symphony of tones levels pitches and notes that I will never forget.


    • yipps
      Jan 18, 2017 @ 17:18:07

      Hi Corrine —

      Very interesting! Yes, I would love to hear more of this story! From what I have seen, and read, coyotes mate for life. But the courtship which occurs prior to that monogamous union is what might be involved here. I’ll contact you via email. Janet

  25. Gail
    May 18, 2017 @ 03:17:08

    I have a 4 year old black and tan Australian Shepherd, about 65 lbs and very agile! He is neutered and good natured and barks at newcomers but isn’t aggressive. We live in San Diego near the coast on a Canyon with coyotes, bobcats, rabbits and quail with about 1 house per 1.5 acres and most yards aren’t fenced. For thirteen years I have watched coyotes and their pups wander through the back yard, usually with fleeting glimpses although one year all the pups came up to the windows and looked inside. Last year was different as I was a aware of a lone coyote, not quite a pup, and he let himself be seen. This spring I have seen another, or perhaps the same coyote, many times while my dog runs wildly back and forth in the small fenced (7′ high) part of the yard barking excitedly at the coyote who sits and stares. Usually when the coyote sees me it runs into the brush but recently it sat and looked at me for many seconds before trotting off. I was curious and thought maybe he and the coyote were becoming friends. Tonight was different – at dusk the coyote came up the to the chain link fence and ‘rushed’ him through the fence with teeth bared, tail down and a hunched posture while constantly pushing his nose at the fence. My dog was barking like crazy directly on the other side of the fence an inch away and when I saw this interaction I rushed out and ran full speed toward the fence which scared the coyote and it ran away. I think it is still hanging around but not in sight. I don’t know if I reacted too quickly out of concern and thwarted a budding friendship or did the right thing to maintain the fear of coyote toward humans. In thinking about it, I could have let it play out given there was a sturdy tall fence between the two. Of course I don’t know that this was the lone coyote. Usually there is a litter each year and this could have been the mother. I am wondering why the coyote approached my dog and behaved the way it did. What do you think?


    • yipps
      May 18, 2017 @ 19:30:41

      Hi Gail —

      Ultimately, both dog and coyote are safe from each other with the 7′ fence. So, the question is, “What’s going on?”

      Regarding YOU: The coyote watching you is not dangerous to you unless you actually provoke it by cornering it. The coyote has probably been watching you, without your being aware of it, for a long time — they are curious critters. They also become habituated to the presence of humans and, over time, become less flighty in our presence. Irregardless of their curiosity or habituation, they retain their wariness of humans and will not approach unless you were to entice them with food.

      Regarding your DOG: Generally dogs and coyotes do not like each other. This could be a different coyote, or the same loner coyote from before who finally has become fed up with the dog’s running back and forth and barking — or finally has a mate and is raising a litter. I’ve observed that coyotes don’t like hyperactivity — I think it stresses them and is perceived as a possible uncontrollable threat — especially during pupping season which is in full-swing right now: it’s very likely that there is a den close by. The coyote would be *messaging* her/his dislike for the dog or what the dog is doing, for your dog to *cool it* or even to *leave*.

      I’ve observed instances of coyote/dog interactions with a fence in-between: it’s usually begun by a dog doing exactly what your dog does: bark and run back and forth. The coyote then charges towards the dog with what I call a *Halloween cat-like posture* as you describe. The dog could have been, on some level, taunting the coyote — whether intentionally or not — such as trying to entice the dog into play — and the coyote was responding. Both animals are aware of the fence which gave them each the security to act out pretty demonstrably.

      If you had let the dog and coyote work it out (after all, there is a fence there), probably they would have come to some *agreement* or solution on their own: i.e., the coyote may begin to avoid the area. It might be a good idea for you to note TIMES when you see the coyote out, and possibly put your dog inside during these times?

      Please let me know if any of this helps. Also, if you see any changes — such as it occurring more often, or not at all.

      Thanks, Gail!


  26. Corina
    May 24, 2017 @ 03:40:22

    I have been hiking for years and have seen a lot of coyotes. They are always shy. They always try to keep a distance with me and my dog. Today, me and my dog went hiking to a more secluded trail. All of a sudden I look behind me and there was this coyote following us. I faced him and walk towards him and he kept coming to me. I start yelling “NO” and grab a rock and he started to run with his tail between his legs like in a curb. He came back to us several times. I threw rocks in his direction. I am a little scare to go back. I love this animals. They are beautiful. I wonder if a whistle would work.


    • yipps
      May 24, 2017 @ 06:06:03

      Hi Corina — It’s pupping season, and you very well may have come too close to a denning area. Coyotes are very protective of their youngsters. Whenever you see a coyote, I would suggest that you tighten your leash and walk calmly away from it. You don’t need to challenge it or engage with it. Simply keep walking away from it, keeping an eye on it. IF it gets to close, as you are distancing yourself, that is the time to pick up a small stone, step in the coyote’s direction and angrily — really angrily — yell at the coyote as you toss the pebble in the coyote’s direction (not AT the coyote — you don’t want to injure it). I don’t think a whistle would work: coyotes get used to noises like whistles and soon ignore them. Please let me know if this helps! Janet

  27. adornlafemme
    Jun 29, 2017 @ 03:42:59

    Hi Janet,

    I have just moved to mount Washington east Los Angeles area up in the hills…I have a small 13 lb Boston terrier and I am scared to take her on walks because I’ve seen a large handful of them roaming the street I live on. I never would leave her outside unattended . Should I be scared to go on walks? Would a coyote snatch my dog from me if it was on a leash? What should I do to protect her and myself while on a walk? It is pitch black at night, so I am so frightened :( any info is helpful!


    • yipps
      Jun 29, 2017 @ 04:10:03

      Hi There!
      You can’t assume that a leash will serve as a coat of armor for your 13 pound pet. Unfortunately, yes, coyotes have snatched small dogs on a leash. In addition to the leash, you must be extremely vigilant and keep your eyes open all the time. IF you see a coyote, you need to pick up your dog and tuck it under your sweater or jacket and keep walking (never running) away from the coyote. You might practice this so that you can do it quickly. But in addition, if I were you, I would not walk such a small dog in the dark — that is really not a wise thing to do. Although coyotes are not nocturnal creatures, they tend to be most active during the darker hours which is when they hunt, so why take the chance? Can you walk your little dog when it’s light outside? The best times would be towards the middle of the day. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. Janet

  28. Debra
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 09:58:32

    Hi, as I read some of the comments I am concerned about some of the people who think a coyote would want to play with a dog. These are wild animals and will kill small dogs and eat them. We have many coyotes living in our neighborhood and they are aggressive. I tried to rescue a cat from a coyote and the coyote won. We have to chase them out of our yard at all hours of the day and two nights ago one was outside our fenced in yard growling. This past spring a dog was killed by a pair hunting across the street from us. At dusk and dawn we are with our 12 pound dog when she is the yard because they will jump a fence to get what they want. They are known to ambush your dog once they have it within reach of their pack. Yes, they are beautiful and we have to live with them but people, use your head. They are wild and they will kill. I live in a city where they are respected and protected but are told not to leave your little children outside alone when coyotes are around. Why would any one think that their dog is safe playing with a coyote.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Aug 13, 2017 @ 16:23:09

      Hi Debra — Thank you for your comment! Yes, coyotes can be dangerous to pets, and your stating it the way you have brings it home, I hope. Knowing this, it’s important to know that almost all incidents are preventable if you take the right precautions, and this is what we want to concentrate on. Follow the guidelines of always shortening your leash and walking away from a coyote, no matter how far or near it is — do not allow interactions between dogs and coyotes — and please don’t allow cats to roam free without supervision even in fenced yards. Thank you, Debra!!

  29. Brian
    Feb 04, 2018 @ 21:22:54

    What is the largest dog in pounds a coyote will attack for food? Would a coyote attack a border collie sized (just slightly smaller than coyote) dog for food?

    I live in urban Milwaukee Wisconsin very close to Lake Michigan where there are coyotes that have dens in bluffs and ravines. I have 2 dogs, one Border Collie size about 45 lbs and the other large maybe German Shepard size about 60 lbs. They are almost always off leash especially while being walked in Lake Park. Yesterday around noon a coyote came out of a wooded bluff type area and crossed the walking path right in front of us kind of loping. Another one came out about 30 feet behind it. The smaller of my two dogs was in front of me watching the first coyote as it went across a field toward a wooded ravine. The second approached my dog who had his back turned. The coyote had weird posture almost submissive like with it’s back curved and tail between it’s legs. It face looked like it was kind of snarling but not quite. It was within 10 feet of my dog. My dog seemed just a tad smaller in that comparison but it is winter here and I’m sure the coyote was in full coat. I yelled my dogs name at the top of my lungs and started moving toward him because I feared an attack was coming. My dog turned and headed toward me finally noticing the other coyote. I was screaming so my dog knew I meant business and kept coming toward me. The coyote veered off and loped after the first one who I now see is being chased by my bigger dog. That dog is less controllable than the other when chasing something like a rabbit or squirrel. The first coyote was just about to head into the ravine with my dog hot on it’s heals. I screamed at my other dog and amazingly he broke of the chase and returned to me. I’m wondering if an attack was averted with my smaller dog and the second coyote or if it was a territorial or curiosity thing. I’m asking to know if I need to be worried that he could be attacked in the future. I always assumed he was too big before yesterday. Thanks and great blog!!


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 04, 2018 @ 23:02:59

      Hi Brian —

      When your dogs are involved, you can easily become freaked out. It happened to me once. And I’ve seen this exact same scenario over and over and over again. My advice always is to leash dogs the minute you see a coyote. The reason is that dogs and coyotes don’t really like each other: they are on different planes, they have very different MOs.

      Most of your concerns have been written about in detail throughout this blog. I’ll try to address them briefly here:

      Coyotes regularly run across a path in front of either people or dogs. It seems to be a method of informing the dog/person that the coyote is there and that the territory has been claimed. It also may be done to test what the reaction will be. It’s a mild form of *messaging*. IF a coyote has done this, the safest thing is to leash and walk away from wherever the coyote has stopped. It’s no sweat to do so and keeps coyote happy and dog/coyote apart.

      The second coyote that appeared 30 feet behind you, will have been a family member of the first. He/she was taking the messaging further — making the message even clearer. The hairpin arched back, tail tucked, snarling and gaping, on it’s tip-toes is a warning to get away. Please remember that they have no other way to communicate with you, so they do it this way, which is very effective: it’s scary and most of the time the intruder moves away. That’s what the coyote wants, and again it’s no sweat to do so: leash your dog, shorten your leash and walk away quickly without running..

      Most dogs chase coyotes. If this happens, the coyote, or another coyote family member, may, again, try to *message* the dog, often through little charge-and-retreat sequences, and coming-in from behind of the dog (coyotes are too smart to head in where there are teeth). The coyote could nip the dog’s tail or haunches. Again, the coyote isn’t out to maul your dog. S/he’s out to tell the dog to get away from her/him or a particular area. What CAN happen to your dogs is that they could end up with nipped legs or leg tendons or nipped haunches. This is why you want to keep them (dog/coyotes) apart — the greater the distance, the safer for your dog and for the coyote.

      Your dogs are big enough so that a coyote would not carry one off. Very small dogs indeed could be picked up as prey — coyotes don’t discriminate between who is prey and who is not — there is no way they would know the difference — but this is not your concern. Yours is a territorial issue.

      Whenever walking your dog in a coyote area, please be vigilant and prepared for their sudden appearance. If I were you, I would walk/run in a different area. I hope this is possible.

      I hope this helps. Thank you for the compliment on the blog! Janet

  30. christine
    Mar 16, 2018 @ 18:43:59

    hi , i live in a very rural Nebraska location and my house has wind break tree rows on 3 sides. about 400 feet from the house on 2 sides and maybe around 600 feet on the road side in front of our house. the other side is barn, corrals, wood windbreaks and fences. last summer I heard my little dog (I have 2 small 10# dogs) barking and when I ran out, there was a coyote in my yard, not 15 feet from the door. I hollered at him and he ran off. again last month I heard my little male screaming and I ran out and there the coyote was again in my yard. Its not uncommon to hear a pack of them howling and yipping across the road at night and I never pay much attention to them. but lately I have noticed one single coyote crossing the corrals and going into the windbreak behind the house. now I hear one yelping, followed by the pack yipping in reply. for the past month when I had taken the dogs out at night in the front of the house, I heard them yipping close to the house from the windbreaks, so then I put the dogs on leashes and went out with them. the dogs would smell the air and either growl or bark, depending on how close the coyotes are. that worried me so I started letting them out the back door because the house is L shaped and I have protection on 2 sides. that made matters worse. last week I let the dogs out and kept the leash with only about 10′ of run and the coyotes closed in on us, im guessing 20 feet away,, a pack yelping and howling !! even though I had a porch light on I couldn’t see them because of a large pine tree 20′ from us and the corral fences. I totally freaked out. this has happened twice. the dogs aare a mess, they are always smelling and checking for them even in the daylight, and even though I have a spotlight and scope the area around the yard, before I let them out at night, I cant see them but they are there. sooo, a few nights ago I heard them howling across the road and I opened the window and played a you tube video of a coyote pack howling and yipping. I played it off and on for about an hour. I also started turning on all the out building lights and house lights. so far so good. the dogs sometimes still smell something and get nervous but no coyotes closing in around us. my question is this……do you think after they heard the coyote pack calls I played they are staying away for good, thinking another pack has moved into their territory or what? I don’t want to put my guard down but if that works I will use it to keep them away from the house at night. I have also shot off rifles, but I don’t think that scares them at all. oh, and because of melting snow there is soft mud everywhere and I have found a lot of tracks , at close range, 20′ from the house, and even right outside the den window….I feel like I am being stalked….also, right before going out at night i would turn on the back porch light and spotlight the area. then I started thinking that might be signaling them that I was going out, so I am now turning on the light as soon as it is dark


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Mar 17, 2018 @ 14:49:23

      Hi Christine —

      What you say about the recording keeping the coyotes away is very interesting. Live howling would have this affect on other coyotes. However, I don’t think the coyotes will “stay away for good” because you played the recording a couple of times. I think you would have to continue to play your recording at regular intervals, and even then, eventually, I would not trust it as a permanent solution. Coyotes are great at figuring things out. They will end up *testing* what these “new coyotes” (the recordings) are about.

      I don’t think lights will dissuade coyotes for long. They are diurnal, after all, so lights do not bother them, and they get used to (habituated to) flashing lights eventually.

      And I think you may be misinterpreting some of the behavior you are a part of. “the coyotes closed in on us, I’m guessing 20 feet away, a pack yelping and howling!!”: The coyotes are not “closing in on you” if they are yelping: I’ve never heard coyotes yelp before or after an attack. They are probably just near by and facing you, which makes them sound louder.

      Note that a very few coyotes (2) can sound like they are many more, so you may be dealing only with a pair of them, or at least fewer than it sounds like. And right now is the beginning of pupping season, so if there is a den area close to you, the coyotes will be out more to let you know to stay away.

      I would do two things. I would keep up blaring the recordings at regular intervals, and please let me know how this goes. It would be an experiment. But also, try walking your dogs during the day when the coyotes are not out — there’s no reason to go out when you know they are out.

      If the coyotes come towards you, make sure to walk away from them and pick up your small dogs.

      Please let me know if this is helpful. Janet

  31. Susan LaQuay
    Jul 20, 2018 @ 06:34:11

    Hi! I live in Upstate NY outside of Syracuse. I live in a very populated area – a house every 100 feet or so along the streetline with maybe 200′ deep back yards.
    Tonight I was outside having a small fire in our outdoor fire pit with two other adults when a coyote trotted along the back property line, maybe 200 feet from us, and then up the side yard and across the neighbors yard. It was about 12:30 am. I had never seen a coyote in my area before, but have heard of them being spotted several blocks away towards some corn fields. Around 1 am, my son let my two small 20-pound dogs outside and I immediately grabbed them and put them on my lap, but my Shih Tzu was staring intently into the neighbors yard, which made me nervous so I carried them inside. About 1:30 am, I took both dogs out in my front yard to go pee before bed, which I do every night around that time off leash. Because I had seen the coyote, I leashed them this time and I’m so glad I did. Even though I looked outside before I stepped out, when I had been out for just a couple minutes and my dogs were at the end of my driveway with me, I looked up and saw the coyote standing in the middle of the road about 50 feet away just watching us silently. It was dark so could barely see it. I dragged both dogs up the front walk and shouted “Go!” at it, but it took two small steps towards me before stopping again. I got the dogs into the house and turned around and it just turned and trotted away. My questions…Was the coyote staking out my house when it saw us in the back yard even before the dogs came out? We weren’t cooking anything – just sitting around a fire. And then for it to reappear in the front yard when I took my dogs out a half hour later was disconcerting. Was it hanging around my house for that whole hour? Do you think it’ll come back because not it knows two small dogs live there? I’m a tiny woman, only 5 feet tall…is that why it didn’t get scared when I yelled at it? Sorry if these are dumb questions – it just freaked me out a bit.

    Your site is very informative and interesting!!


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jul 20, 2018 @ 18:37:24

      Hi Susan —

      Without having observed this coyote, it would be impossible for me to tell if it is a curious youngster who happened by a couple of times when you noticed it, or if it is checking out your small dogs as possible prey. The prey drive is instinctual, and your pooches are a size that they can handle. However, more than likely, this coyote has been in the area for some time and has been aware of your dogs’ schedule for a while. The important point is to not make your dogs easily available.

      Even though you are just 5 feet tall, know that you are much larger than a coyote — coyotes do not like dealing with larger critters if they don’t have to. And even though coyotes get used to humans, and over time they stop fleeing quickly from us or reacting to our yelling, the coyote will not approach you as a target. However, it could approach one of your pooches and you need to know how to protect them, mostly by simply removing them when the coyote appears.

      So, please, always be alert when you take your small dogs out, keep your eyes open for the coyote, and always use leashes. If you see the coyote, simply shorten those leashes and walk away from the coyote and into your house, keeping your eyes on the coyote — eye contact is often enough to keep a coyote from coming closer. In the unlikely event that the coyote gets too close, you could pick up the pups as you walk away from the coyote; you could also have a small stone in hand to toss at the coyote’s feet (not at the coyote so as to damage it), or even a pronged stick or tree branch to physically keep the coyote away. Question: might it be possible for you to alter your schedule to take the dogs out while it is still light outside? Although coyotes are active during daylight hours, they tend to be most active at dawn, dusk and nighttime.

      If you want to try something stronger than what I’ve suggested above, have your garden hose ready with the sprayer wound tight. If the coyote appears while you are out, turn that hose on it full-force — but only do so if the coyote is close, say within 25 to 50 feet.

      The reality is that coyotes inhabit most urban areas now. Trapping, killing, or getting rid of them doesn’t work because another coyote will soon take that one’s place. So the best solution is to simply show that coyote that he/she can’t get the dogs. Soon the coyote will pay less and less attention to them — but you should keep up your vigilance, always.

      Please let’s discuss more if you want. Your questions are NOT dumb AT ALL. Only by working through all your doubts will you feel secure enough to take your dogs out into the yard.


  32. Susan LaQuay
    Jul 20, 2018 @ 20:21:47

    THANK YOU so much for your quick reply! I definitely will keep more vigilant when outside and use leashes. And I won’t be taking them out at night unless necessary and not without a noise maker and a stick. I hope it was just a curious youngster, but there’s been a lot of construction around our area in the last year and I’m sure they’ve been driven out of their previously established areas. I will learn to live safely alongside them :) Thank you very much! You’ve been very helpful!


  33. Amy
    Aug 25, 2018 @ 11:27:31

    I live in South Florida, with a small strip of trees/foliage behind the house, then a canal. I saw a coyote maybe four years ago outside my fenced yard and people do report seeing them in my town. Yesterday I noticed my 30+ pound, 8 month whippet puppy standing in the middle of my yard barking his fierce bark (as opposed to his play bark). I walked outside to check out what was going on and saw a large coyote standing right next to my back fence. He turned and went into the foliage as I walked towards the back of my yard. My question is why didn’t he run off from my dog’s barking?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 13:26:22

      Hi Amy —

      Coyotes will run from humans, but not so from dogs. Dogs and coyotes tend to be antagonistic towards each other because of territorial issues, whether they are in a fenced yard, on a leash, or running free. Often coyotes and dogs vie with each other from opposite sides of a fence in a sort of oneupmanship manner. When you are there, you can shoo the coyote away — you are much bigger and smarter than the coyote and they know it, so they will avoid you, but not the dog. So please don’t let your pup run free, even if it is in a fenced yard, unless you are there to supervise it, OR, make sure you have a coyote-proof fence. You can find specifications for this at Please let me know if you have any questions about this! Janet

  34. Joanne Pros
    May 16, 2020 @ 14:40:42

    My dog(Golden retriever) seems to have befriended our lone coyote in the field where I walk him. Is that possible? First encounter, my dog chased the coyote who snarled and growled and my dog came running back. I keep him on leash if I see coyote before my dog does. This morning he surprised us and of course my dog chased him again. My dog and the coyote both seem to be used to each other now, having interacted a half a dozen times and both stop the chase and just stare at each other and the coyote almost acts playful toward my dog.Today however, when he/she saw me capture the dog, the coyote started howling, yipping and reared up once on rear legs. Then it watched us leave the area and stalked up for a bit. There has been no physical contact and the coyote seems used to my dog now. It is interesting but freaks me out every time! Sometime we go a week between sightings and I get comfortable and then coyote is back again. I realize I should always have my dog on leash but it sucks because this is the only area I can let him off a bit to run.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      May 16, 2020 @ 16:37:55

      Hi Joanne —

      Thanks for reaching out to me. Your dog may think of the coyote as a “friend”, but that coyote does not think the same way about your dog. The area “belongs” to the coyote. They don’t allow other (other than family) coyotes in their areas and will drive those away. They do the same to dogs, but they are intimidated more by the dogs who have humans with them. The “playfulness” is more of a “testing” routine than play. The howling and rearing up on hind legs is distressed behavior — they do this when dogs have chased them or intruded on their space. My suggestion is that you try walking your dog more towards midday if you go to that area. If the coyote is still around defending its space at that time, I suggest a different route. A long brisk walk will do as much in the way of exercise for the dog as running — same as with humans. Hope this helps. If you need clarifications or have more questions, please send them my way! Janet

  35. JG
    Nov 06, 2020 @ 20:22:54

    Hi there:

    We live in San Francisco in a part of town that is having increased coyote sightings. Our property is large and has a good deal of old growth; we are in a neighborhood with a strict HOA that does not simply allow the removal or thinning of foliage. We also have a 9 month old who loves hanging out in the back yard.

    You can imagine my distress to have picked up a pack of coyotes helping themselves to our yard, clearly in ‘hunting formation’ when you watch how they operate on our security cameras. One comes into the yard, checks it out, then the other two rapidly enter the yard…and off they go.

    Neighbors have reported seeing coyotes in the middle of the day who approach without hesitation and who seem not to be easily hazed.

    Do you have any ideas about what we might do here? We cannot thin out the yard and remove the foliage, nor can we add fencing – both are against the rules of our association. The city has taken a position that removing them or culling them will do more harm than good, but that is cold comfort to us and my eventual move will have to be to remove the animals myself if they continue to intrude.

    Thanks again for any guidance!


  36. Cj Wood
    Aug 19, 2021 @ 15:42:38

    When coyotes are in our area, My Dogs nose goes straight up in the air as soon as He steps out onto the porch. He doesn’t other going any farther.


  37. Christine
    Sep 23, 2022 @ 14:23:03

    Hi Janet. I had a rather unnerving experience this morning during my morning hikes. I hike at a local conservation area before work every day; there’s also another female runner who runs at the same time as well as an elderly man with his dog. We tend to look out for each other. I try to protect myself as there’s coyotes within the area. I wear an extremely bright UV headlamp that is blinding, have a whistle, use a walking stick, deliberately make loud noises, and have my cell phone at the ready. Usually, the coyotes keep their distance but this morning, a coyote ran towards me on the walking path – the headlamp did not scare him off – I yelled at him, raised the walking stick towards him and that is when he ran away from me. I continued to make loud noises and backed away from the direction he ran in. I’m glad I successfully hazed him but it was still unnerving as it goes against all the research I read about coyotes. Why would a coyote run towards a blinding headlamp, especially while I’m making noises? Did I startle him? Would they have pups in September? I don’t want to stop going there as I’ve been hiking daily for years. Should I report the encounter to the conservation authority?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Sep 23, 2022 @ 18:58:30

      Hi Christine — I’m sorry you’ve had a frightening negative experience with a coyote. It doesn’t sound at all like normal coyote behavior. I wonder if the super-bright headlight disoriented him/her, the same way it has coyotes on streets when cars approach them. Another possibility is that the coyote was running in your direction without actually being headed towards you. Pups are born in April — they would be about five months old right now and still very much under the protection of their parents: so that coyote could have been trying to head you away from where you were going if pups were around, especially if that headlight was producing a booming amount of light. I can’t give you an exact answer because I wasn’t there, but I can suggest these possibilities for you think about. Hopefully it won’t happen again, but if it does, it seems like what you did worked well. Please let me know if this is helpful. Janet

  38. Hannah
    Dec 14, 2022 @ 07:05:51

    Hi there, my name is Hannah and I live on about one acre of land in Southern California. Approximately around 10:15pm I happened upon a young coyote. I was grabbing something from our corral shed, when all of the sudden I look down at my feet and the coyote’s head is just propped up looking at me. I immediately back away and at that point was about 4 feet from it. Its eyes were wide open staring, but it would not move at all. I watched it periodically for about 45 mins. It didn’t even lift its head up. I’m wondering what to do? I’m also wondering if that’s a sign that it’s injured or dying? Or is it just claiming that spot in the shed?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 14, 2022 @ 07:35:28

      Hi Hannah —

      A healthy young coyote, unless somehow trapped in there, would flee and not let you get anywhere as close as you say you got. . . . . unless s/he’s very used to people who feed him/her. It could indeed be an injured coyote, maybe biding his time, waiting for an injured leg to heal. I don’t think he would have allowed you to be so close if he were protecting a food source — say a nest of rats. So I would assume some kind of illness. Could you check in the morning — if he’s gone, your issue is solved. If he’s still there and ill, we may need to call in some help: but please let me know tomorrow morning. Janet

    • Hannah
      Dec 14, 2022 @ 16:25:50

      Hi Janet, thank you so much for your response. The coyote was there this morning with a clear hurt leg. He still was not moving. At approximately 8:20 this morning he hobbled away out of our gate. He is probably in some discomfort and knew that we had checked on him again.

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 14, 2022 @ 17:07:52

      Hi Hannah —

      Thank you for getting back to me. If he’s mobile, you don’t need to do anything except leave him alone and allow him plenty space. It may take a number of weeks to heal. He’s not going to bother you. But keep the toddler away from him as a precaution. If you are able to track his progress, I would love to hear about it. :)) Janet

  39. Hannah
    Dec 14, 2022 @ 07:10:56

    I also live with a young family. They have a 2 year old son, is that a cause for concern? We want to ensure that everyone is safe.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Dec 14, 2022 @ 07:47:43

      The child should ALWAYS be supervised closely, especially out-of-doors, for all sorts of reasons, not just because of coyotes. Focusing in on coyotes: Coyotes seem to become emboldened around the smaller size and the erratic behavior of children. Please read this posting of mine so you can become aware of this rare, but potential possibility: Having said this, the coyote could just be hanging out in a safe spot until s/he heals. I think your best course of action is to check on her/him in the morning. Would you please update me in the morning? Janet

  40. Jodi
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 18:30:00

    I have a Sheltie and for the last several weeks he’s not wanted to go out to pee etc. Sometimes he’ll go out if we go with him and he doesn’t like to leave the porch. A neighbor just recently told us that he’s spotted some rather large coyotes (we live out in the country, there’s a farm field behind out fence in the backyard) hanging around. We have one of the few fenced yards on our road. At any rate our little guy seems to be afraid to go outside, I’m guessing even if he didn’t see them he can smell them. Any suggestions on how we can get him comfortable with going out in the backyard again? He’s so stressed it’s making him sick and he was never like this before.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 16, 2023 @ 19:04:48

      Hi Jodi —

      Yes, dogs can smell coyotes. Your Sheltie is letting you know that it’s not safe out there. Shelties are small dogs. If you stay with him the whole time he may become comfortable out there. I would not leave him out there alone without being with him. The fence won’t necessarily work to keep a coyote out unless it’s been coyote proofed: 6′ high with rollers at the top, and one foot below the soil to keep them from digging under, with no ledges to jump up on. l know this might not be what you want to hear, but you need to hear it. It’s the small, lone dog that a coyote might try to grab — not because he’s your pet, but because he’s the same as any other prey of that size. :( Janet

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