Safety Around Coyotes; PLUS Behaviors To Be Aware Of If You Have A Dog

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 practice TOTAL AVOIDANCE ~

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 entire intention is to move you away — so do it!  For those who are so inclined, they may attempt scaring off the coyote by throwing a stone in the coyote’s direction or yelling angrily while clapping, or slapping a newspaper on your thigh, but mainly:

  • grab your dog when you can and leave the area, but don’t run which a coyote might read as an invitation to chase you

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.

55 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 on Bernal Hill in San Francisco play 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 two or three dogs to befriend, out of many who walked in that area. It stayed away from the other dogs. 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. It does not occur. We have heard these “stories,” from vertebrate management personnel – the same folks that state, once the coyotes eat all the cats in a neighborhood that they will start eating children. It’s a classic “Big Bad Wolf,” tale.

        What people have been seeing is this:

        1. Coyote comes down a hill to investigate another canid in the neighborhood. There are always one or two coyotes who are more curious than other members of the family.
        2. Dog is curious about the coyote, and follows it as it returns back into the hills.
        3. Dog encounters other family members that are threatened by the dog/intruder.
        4. Dog is attacked.

        People read way too much into animal behavior, and give animals qualities and motivations that are absent in their behaviors.

        This information comes from Mary Paglieri,
        Human-Animal Conflict Consultant
        Little Blue

  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. This is not such a far fetched theory, since a deer was videoed crossing the bridge, causing traffic to come to a standstill, and a couple of coyotes have been seen on the lower part of the bridge! The official count of coyotes in San Francisco (not including the Presidio) is ten — not many. Some of those I observe are in the Presidio, but those, apparently don’t count! 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 learn by throwing small stones in its direction (not at it) if it approaches you — do this aggressively to show you mean it! Please let me know if this happens again and how you are able to handle it. 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. I would assume that particular coyote has become habituated to people, possibly through feeding. 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 —

      Since all of my work has been with urban coyotes, I’m going to send your comment and question on to Mary Paglieri, a wildlife-human conflict manager. She’ll be able to answer you more thoroughly. To help her answer you, 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 made friends with dogs — and it’s not just 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.
      PS: I try to get across that most canine interactions are actually not on a friendly level — 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, I’ll consult with an animal behaviorist and get back to you. 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.

      What you need to do when you are followed is, 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 shoo it off fiercely. 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.


  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 never staring into the eyes of an aggressive dog. The protocol I’ve given you to use with coyotes has been working. Coyotes are very wary of humans and consider us the dominant species. 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. HOWEVER, I will pass this by an animal behavior specialist and will get back to you — may be a few days. Janet


      • 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. Cats often turn up after they’ve gone missing, so keep an eye open for him and keep an entryway open for him. If your cat disappeared for good, you’ll probably not know what the cause was — many people blame coyotes, though there is no evidence of this. If your cat’s disappearance was caused by a coyote, it might have been carried off or not — there’s no telling. It’s best to keep a lookout and insure that your cat, if he re-appears, can get back into the house. 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 seems to also confirm a “messaging” intention: The message is that the area is taken and that the coyote will be around. 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. That it locked gazes with you several times would confirm this.

      If at all possible, when you see coyotes, go in the other direction. If you must move the coyote, or if the coyote approaches within 30-50 feet of you, try shooing it off forcefully, as shown in the “Coyotes As Neighbors” video at the top of the Coyoteyipps home page. For a detailed written description of how to shoo off a coyote who comes too close, checkout this flyer: Shooing Off A Coyote: A Primer. Again, if it doesn’t move, it’s telling you something and it’s important not to force a confrontation. I’ll ask a friend Human-Wildlife Conflict Manager if she has any additional thoughts about this and send them to you if she does. Please let me know if what I’ve written here is helpful, or if you have further questions.



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

        Hi Kim —

        I heard back from Mary Paglieri, the Human-Wildlife Conflict Manager 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 through body language and nips.

      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:

      I was hoping to receive some feedback about this from an Animal Behaviorist/Ecologist. I’ll send along anything she sends me when she does.

      Please let me know if this is helpful! Janet


      • yipps
        Apr 28, 2016 @ 19:32:20

        Just as I pushed the button to reply to you, I received this added information from Mary Paglieri, the Animal Behaviorist/Ecologist.

        “Playful and peaceful interactions have been observed between coyotes and dogs. However, if there are pups around, your dog may be perceived as a threat, and an altercation may ensue. Walk your dog away from this area and do not let your dog roam free where the coyotes are. The coyotes are most likely passing through this area, so give it some time for them to leave. Make sure your dog is on a leash when walking with you, and if you are ever approached by coyotes while walking your dog, just calmly leave the area, don’t run  – do not be alarmed if they follow you for a while – that is normal behavior.

        Please read this post regarding the myth of coyotes “luring”  dogs – what may appear to people to be a certain thing is never what animals are intending!”

        Please let me know if there are any other specific questions in the days to come, and let me know what happens with the sightings, etc.  Janet

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

    Thank you, Janet and Mary!

    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


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