Coyotes yipping: Coyote behavior

[For a more in-depth writeup and more examples, see Coyote Voicings]

I have made several recordings of coyotes yipping. These recordings are not the classical howls we all know about, rather they are of a very high pitched barking — it has a violin smoothness or purity of sound. The barking has intent, is very intense. Except when howling at sirens, every episode of barking that I have heard was the result of a coyote having been chased or intruded upon on some level by a dog. Howling and yipping which results from having been chased by a dog is easy to recognize because they are much more distressed sounding. A less obvious cause of the barking may be an antagonistic dog which simply came too close to the coyote, say within about 100 feet, without actually chasing it: it turns out that in most cases, the dog chased or intruded on the coyote in the past.

But also, I’m seeing that a coyote will feel intruded upon if specific dogs “eye” the coyote on its perch — possibly in an antagonistic way — something like giving the coyote “the evil eye”. In addition to the vocalized complaining and standing up for itself which I’ve seen when a dog actually chases it, the coyote’s barking at these intrusive dogs appears to be a statement to them of territoriality.

I used to think that the barking might be a warning to other coyotes in the family group, but I have now seen instances where this was definitely not the case. For example, a dominant coyote — the mother — was relaxing on a hilltop when one of her full-grown pups started a barking session not too far off — it had been disturbed by a dog. I immediately started watching for a change in the mother’s behavior, waiting for some type of reaction. There was none. This mother ignored the barking, even though I had previously seen her run to a pup’s defense when she saw a dog — a particular dog which she deemed dangerous — approach too close to one of the pups. In another case, I was on a hillside photographing one of these full-grown pups when I heard the mother barking in distress in the distance — it is a signature bark which I have come to recognize. The young coyote totally ignored the barking and continued its hunt!  Now, maybe there are barks and then other barks, but in these cases the barking was not an alarm signal to others.

I have heard that coyotes will howl or bark just for the pleasure of doing so, and I’m sure they do, but I have never heard them under these circumstances. Males have a lower tonal range — barely — but you can tell them apart from the females if you hear them within a short space of time. Coyote “songs” can go on for 20 minutes or longer. I call them “arias”. Here are several videos of them:

Several coyotes barking at the same time can often sound like many more than there really are. They “come in” at slightly different pitches creating dissonances that sound like many.

Coyotes have various other vocalizations. There is the classical howl, there is childlike complaining in high pitched tones, greetings can sound like puppy sounds because they are high pitched, there is grunting which sometimes precedes a barking episode — as if the coyote is trying to decide whether or not to go ahead with it. There are anger grunts and growls.

For a more in-depth writeup and more examples, see Coyote Voicings

46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leslie
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 06:53:51

    Thanks for the information. I live near a wash and see them walking in our neighborhood and also hear them howling. I was not sure why. I have a dog and some cats, I keep my cats inside, alot of the neighbors cats have been taken by these wild animals. Horrible . I love all animals but not ones that try to grab my babies,cats & dog. I am scared to walk in my neighborhood , fearing they may try to grab my dog, 20 pounds. They scar me. Take care.


    • yipps
      Oct 28, 2011 @ 13:14:05

      Hi Leslie —

      Thanks for your comments! Make sure to read the guidelines for coexistence: coyote coexistenece and behavior an update. All pets should be kept indoors unless you can be with them — and this means right next to them. I would try to find an area where there are no coyotes to walk my little dog. Small dogs and coyotes really don’t mix well, because your little dog is viewed less as a dog than as a rabbit or something else. If you walk your little dog in a coyote area, always do so on a very short-leash, keeping your dog right next to you. Your presence will keep coyotes away for the most part — coyotes do not want to tangle with humans. If your dog is leashed and next to you, it will be much harder for a daring coyote to try to separate the dog from you. And, you could also carry a small arsenal of pebbles: tossing these in a coyote’s direction (not at the coyote) forcefully will dissuade most coyotes from coming closer. Once the coyote learns that you mean business, he’s much less likely to keep coming back to separate your dog from you. However, you need to know that coyotes are instinctively drawn to active small life — that is how they survive in the wild. It is important to remember this and best to respect their natures. Avoiding a situation which might cause a problem in the first place is the best solution: if you can, try walking your dog somewhere else.

  2. Kalo
    May 21, 2013 @ 19:22:05

    Help us, PLEASE!!!

    I live in Phoenix, AZ, and I walk my dog regularly!

    I do my best to educate our neighborhood, not leaving food, closing lids on garabage cans, and especially not feeding the coyotes.

    However, Coyotes now live amongst us in subrian neighborhoods.

    What can I do to proctect me and my 21 pound dog.

    I carry bear mace and I am now thinking about purchasing a Stun Baton just in case I had to use it.

    I don’t want to harm the coyote, but, lets face it they have gotten bolder and simply yellling, throwing rock etc. do not work!




    • yipps
      May 22, 2013 @ 00:37:26

      Hi Kalo —

      I’m wondering if this being the pupping season has anything to do with this behavior. If you are at all close to their dens, the coyotes might be keeping an eye on your dog for this reason. Could you try walking a different route? Be assured that coyotes will not approach you if you are walking alone. The issue is your dog. Your dog is tiny — picking him up if a coyote will keep him safe. I’m surprised that throwing rocks in their direction doesn’t make them move on. It normally takes a couple of tries before they get the message. Could you give me more details about what actually happens and what time of day and circumstances this coyotes are appearing so bold? Thanks, Janet

    • Kalo
      May 22, 2013 @ 02:16:11

      Hi Janet,

      I am not aware of any den around our neighborhood, however, there is a wash! That seperates the freeway and I believe they are jumping the wall to come over to the neighborhood.

      I have walked different routes, but, still I have to be careful! I currently carry Bear Mace, which I hope to NEVER have to use.

      Of course last week my neighbor (on his usual walk WITHOUT a dog) spotted two coyotes on two seperate days!

      I usually walk my dog at 5:30 a.m. because if I wait too much longer it gets so hot we can’t walk.

      I know they must be searching for food, and I just don’t want to have to encounter one as I am SCARED to death of them!!!

      I did encounter one, and he jumped out of a bush…This coyote just briefly stared and ran! THANK GOODNESS :)

      The other incident was that a friend and I were just about leaving our houses when one passed by and stopped and stared at us! My friend made loud noises and the coyote just stared at us, and didn’t appear to be shaken! As if he has gotten so used to us! My friend threw some rocks and it wasn’t fazed at all…

      I quickly picked up my dog and headed to my driveway! Thank goodness I wasn’t far at all.

      If I EVER encounter one again, just picking my dog up will be enough for them to not attack me or my dog?

      I’ve heard incidents were a coyote is so hungry and unafraid of humans that SOMETIMES, they will be so bold as to try to steal the dog from a humans arm or they attempt to attack!

      Are these stories, just lies!!! Being that I live in AZ, there was an incident where a gal was walking her dog and encountered a coyote and she picked her dog up and the coyote boldly followed her.

      The womans started yelling for help because after trying to scaring the coyote it too seem un shakened and kept following her until a neighbor heard her and helped her out.

      I don’t want to have to hurt any wildlife, but, I will tell you I wouldn’t hesitate to use my bear mace if a coyote wouldn’t back down! I am also thinking on getting a stun baton as well….

      Again, please know, I would NEVER want to be mean to any wildlife, but, if it means on protecting my dog, then I would have no choice!



    • yipps
      May 22, 2013 @ 05:00:10

      Hi Kalo —

      Please don’t be afraid of the coyotes. You are bigger and smarter then they are, and they know this. Just keep your distance if you can — it makes you and them feel safer. Coyotes do not approach people. If the coyote starts coming towards you (it will be the dog that attracts them), walk away and keep walking away. Only try shooing it off if it has come into your immediate space. You need to make the coyote move away from you: walk towards it with your eyes fixed on it and be angry about it. You could toss a pebble or scream at it. If you don’t make the coyote move.

      The issue is your small dog, which, indeed, you need to protect. Keep it leashed and close to you, and pick it up if you see a coyote. If the coyote is close enough, shoo it off. If it is far enough away, just walk away from it. Also, never run away from a coyote — just walk.

      If you haven’t seen my video, you might want to. There are two, Coyotes As Neighbors, What to Know and Do, and How To Shoo Off A Coyote. Please let me know if these are at all helpful. Looking forward to hearing back from you! Janet

    • Kalo
      May 22, 2013 @ 13:56:49

      Hi Janet!

      Thank you so much for your advise! Wow, lots of GREAT information!

      I guess it’s all about getting to know a coyotes behavior and you are doing a WONDERFUL job in advocating for coyotes and as well as educating the public!

      In reading your email and watching your wonderful video, I was LESS afraid on my morning walks with my dog!

      I have a better UNDERSTANDING on what should I ever encounter another coyote while on walk with my dog!

      I will be checking in more often on your webpage to learn more as well as watch more of your amazing videos on utube!

      One more thing, I will also send more people to your webpage and site!!! I also belong to a dog forum and I KNOW your information will make them feel more at ease!

      Thanks again!!!


    • yipps
      May 22, 2013 @ 15:19:41

      Thank you, Kalo, for your really nice reply! Yes, it’s all about education. Many people harbor fears about coyotes — knowing the facts helps dispel these. But it also helps to have a mindset which wants to learn and which doesn’t want to harm the coyotes. You have these. Thank YOU so much for making the effort to learn about them. And thank you, also, for helping to get the word out!

      Appreciatively, Janet

  3. Melissa Langlois
    Oct 28, 2013 @ 18:36:56

    Hello —

    Question: I live in Northern California in the foothills. This morning at 4 am I could hear the standard yipping down in the valley. It usually doesn’t last long, maybe a couple hours, but today it’s 11:30 and it’s still going. I’ve never heard it go on this long before. It sounds like just one coyote. It sounds like it’s saying Yea, yea, yea, then a long yip… then one long yip and short ones… Any idea? It sounds like it’s moving because the sound moves with it…


    • yipps
      Oct 28, 2013 @ 20:01:59

      Hi — Thank you for writing. I don’t know what is going on. I’ve heard howling which lasted over an hour, but never for seven hours. If it is one coyote, I’m wondering if it is distressed? I’m wondering if it’s being pursued, or if a mate is caught in a trap, or if a mate has died? Or maybe its trying to make contact with a coyote buddy who has disappeared? I’m just guessing. I’ll ask a knowledgeable friend about it and get back to you.

    • yipps
      Oct 29, 2013 @ 04:43:12

      Youngsters who have lost a parent could howl like this in hopes that the parent will return. I suppose it could also happen between two very bonded non-youngster coyotes. A friend thinks that it could be an animal that has been released in a new area. Animals that have been raised in wildlife rehabilitation centers, or those that were taken there because of an injury, are often released in areas that are nowhere near where they were found.

      Being released into a totally new area, the animal would feel totally lost and it would be calling for members of the family it belongs to, hoping one of them will respond. Of course, they are nowhere around. Coyotes released into areas that are not their own have a hard time surviving — there are too many obstacles to overcome. We’ve advised rehabilitation centers to always re-release a rehabilitated coyote back to where it was found.

      Hope this helps!


  4. Melissa Langlois
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 18:33:58

    Thanks Janet,
    I appreciate your finally did stop
    About an hour later and have not heard it since and
    hoping it is okay..I will bookmark your site as it’s
    very informative..thanks again!


  5. GC
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 02:32:50

    This time of year we often get groups of coyotes that seem to get into yipping contests. It sounds like groups of ten or more get all in one spot and they all yip fairly hysterically for 10 – 30 minutes (usually in the field across the street). What are they doing?


    • yipps
      Jan 30, 2014 @ 05:06:45

      Hi GC —

      I hear coyotes yipping like this at all times of the year, often in response to a siren, but also to communicate with each other over a distance. Remember that only two or three coyotes can sound like many more than that. You might be hearing more right now because it is the season for finding mates? Interestingly, I’m hearing far fewer of these yipping sound sessions at this time of year than I was hearing only a few months ago.

  6. GC
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 16:49:35

    These events always happen at night. Usually after midnight so it is hard for me to tell the number – it just sounds like a bunch. I have never heard a siren or anything else to trigger the event. It is just a frenzy of continuous short sharp yips. Since it is night there isn’t much chance for us to observe what is causing the behavior.


  7. Maya
    Jun 18, 2015 @ 13:17:46

    I live in a ravine and see coyote every day, sometimes 2 or 3 Times a day. We hear it at night. Can I assume there is more than one as they are not solitary animals? Rumor is the den is under someones porch and that the coyote had babies. Is it possible that I am just seeing the dad and the mom is with the pups? Or can it just be one lonesome coyote? At night, it appears as there is more than one barking.
    Thanks for your help!


    • yipps
      Jun 18, 2015 @ 15:47:16

      Hi Maya —

      Thanks for writing. Your coyote could be a loner or it could be part of a family. A coyote who has recently dispersed (left) from his natal area would be living alone. However, most coyotes I’ve observed do live in families consisting of two parents, the offspring of this year, and a few offspring from previous years.

      One coyote howling or barking often sounds like more because they can create a variety of tones, so this is not an indicator of how many coyotes are around. The only way you will know if it is a family is if you actually see more than one coyote at any one time, OR if you hear the coyotes from two different locations. Dad is out and stands guard more than Mom, but Mom does not stay “home” with the pups: she also goes out to eat and to stand guard while Dad babysits, so you really can’t tell “who” in the family, if there indeed is a family, the one you’ve been seeing is.

      You said there’s a rumor that there’s a den under someone’s porch. This is not uncommon if there is not a whole lot of activity around that porch. You could try to find out where this rumor came from — follow it to it’s source — and then confirm for yourself if indeed there is a Mom with pups under a porch. I would love to hear what you find out!! Lots of luck, and keep me posted!


  8. Doreen
    Aug 15, 2015 @ 18:47:21

    Does a coyote vocalize after it’s made a kill? Coyote making sound of 2-3 short yips and then a (not very long) howl. Had been repeating this for about 10 minutes or so. Thanks


    • yipps
      Aug 15, 2015 @ 19:42:47

      Hi Doreen — Coyotes do not vocalize when they make a kill — that would be counterproductive since it would advertise the availability of their prey to other animals. Coyotes howl to communicate to each other, they respond to sirens, and they bark or growl to ward off dogs or other coyotes. Janet

  9. Anne Lewis-Strobell
    Jan 03, 2016 @ 15:51:33

    I love seeing coyotes in the neighborhood. In the mountains, they would walk with me. In the suburbs here, I see and hear them. I do keep my cat inside, for the sake of wild birds as well as safety for the cat. I always had big dogs. Guess if I had a small dog I’d either get a big dog to walk with it, or some kind of spray.they are not dangerous to humans, except if you are right on the den with mama coyote’s puppies inside. I still like making friends with coyotes.


  10. Veronica
    Jan 08, 2016 @ 16:57:36

    This website gives lots of information. Keep up the great work!


  11. Kathleen Tomes
    Jan 28, 2016 @ 04:58:38

    I have a 70lb.and a 120lb. Dog should I be afraid to let them out when they hear coyotes they are both female dogs


    • yipps
      Jan 28, 2016 @ 05:03:42

      Hi Kathleen — It’s important not to allow your dogs to interact with coyotes for both the dogs’ and the coyotes’ safety. If you hear coyotes in the distance, most dogs will ignore them. If the coyotes are very close by, I wouldn’t let them out — your dogs may seek out the coyotes and then there could be an interaction. How far away do you think the coyotes are?

  12. Kathleen Tomes
    Jan 28, 2016 @ 05:14:20

    It sounds like they are real close we live on 40 acres … they were in a distance at first and been getting closer and are very loud,how to I get rid of them


    • yipps
      Jan 28, 2016 @ 17:24:57

      Hi Kathleen —

      Coyotes are part of the environment — you can’t just “get rid of them” from a 40 acre homestead. However, you can discourage them from coming close to your house by not leaving food out and by cutting down some of the foliage around the house. You can also discourage them from denning close by if you are able to find where that denning location is, by simply walking around the area to show the coyotes you know about it. You could also build a “coyote-proof” fence around a small section of your acreage as a place the coyotes would not be able to enter. I can get you specifications about a fence if you want.

      Some folks believe that trapping or killing coyotes will solve the problem. It won’t. Science has shown us this. New coyotes will come to fill their vacant niches in no time. The resident coyotes who are there now, in fact, are keeping OTHER coyotes from coming in — this is how they regulate their population density. Please watch the presentation video, especially the end part,”Coyotes As Neighbors”. It can be found at the top of the CoyoteYipps home page. Please let me know if this helps at all. I can put you in touch with a Wildlife-Human Conflict Manager if you want. Janet

  13. Kathleen Tomes
    Jan 28, 2016 @ 05:20:00

    How can I get rid of coyotes they keep us up all night not to mention that my house dogs are barking to go out everytime they hear the coyotes


  14. Aceman
    Sep 19, 2016 @ 14:15:38

    We will in so cal foothills. Over the last few weeks we have had 3 to 4 coyotes hanging around the neighborhood. We have lived here for approximately 13 years and have never heard the yipping a yapping as much until lately. They are yelping for approximately 5 to 10 minutes sometimes up to ten times a night. Good luck getting any sleep. IAM wondering if this coyote pack are den mates. It is getting ridiculous as they are not hunting just making a ton of noise and hanging out on the hill tops. What is to best way to get this behavior stopped ??


    • yipps
      Sep 19, 2016 @ 17:48:55

      I’ve contacted a behavioral ecologist about this. She said that an uptick in yipping behavior may be due to a family moving through the area. Most likely, it will settle down in a week or so. If you wanted to do something proactive, you could take a very high-powered flashlight and shine it towards the hills. This is a first step. Coyotes tend not to like sudden changes, and the erratically moving lights may therefore encourage them to move elsewhere. If things haven’t calmed down in a week, please contact me again.

  15. Julie Albetski
    Mar 22, 2017 @ 20:26:58

    Hello…. I read above that yipping does not happen when they are hunting, but could it happen after a catch? Last night I was awoken by what sounded like a dozen coyotes yipping and howling. Today I went and looked for tracks and found what seems to be just one set of tracks, however, they were right next to a set or rabbit tracks.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Mar 25, 2017 @ 03:16:19

      Hi Julie — I nor anyone I know who has observed or studied coyotes over any length of time has ever observed *howling at a kill*. In fact, coyotes try to be fairly quiet about it in order not to attract other predators to the site who might want to take away the carcass and eat it themselves. It would be counterproductive for coyotes to do so.

  16. Julie Albetski
    Mar 22, 2017 @ 20:29:15

    Also, this was in Connecticut, other side of the country.


  17. KatieKate
    Feb 15, 2018 @ 15:34:22

    Julie, I also live in Connecticut. I just bought a house a few months ago and a few weeks ago I first heard the Coyote howls. My dogs didn’t know what to do. They were frightened. I was frightened because it was 2 am and we had just come back in from my puppy going potty. I had heard nothing again until last night and it sounded like hyenas. MUCH different than previously heard. We were all tucked safe in bed and had been for hours so I knew we were ok. But they sound so close, it’s scary. I was wondering if maybe maybe the frenzy I heard last night was after a catch. I haven’t had the nerve to go look for signs of anything. There is a stream in back of my house. I just hope they don’t bother to cross it (it’s rushing pretty hard these days with the warmer weather).


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 15, 2018 @ 20:42:55

      Hi Katie — I will repeat what I just wrote above: I nor anyone I know who has observed or studied coyotes over any length of time has ever observed *howling at a kill*. In fact, coyotes try to be fairly quiet about it in order not to attract other predators to the site who might want to take away the carcass and eat it themselves. It would be counterproductive for coyotes to do so. That howling you hear is what they do when they get together, probably to announce/proclaim/reconfirm their ownership of the territory to any other coyotes in the distance.

  18. Sue
    Feb 17, 2018 @ 15:42:35

    Hello Janet. I tried to watch the video about “shooing off a coyote”. It is coming up as not available. We would really like to watch this video as we are surrounded by coyotes on all sides of our house.


  19. Sue
    Feb 17, 2018 @ 16:57:33

    I was clicking on to the video from above. Your reply to Kalo on May the 22nd 2013. Thank you for sending the other link so I could watch it.


  20. lesleylr
    May 22, 2018 @ 18:25:03

    Hi Yipps,

    Your site has been very helpful. Our indoor only cat got out four days ago. I’ve kept my hopes up as I have not seen or heard any coyotes until last night. I heard one or two coyotes yipping at 2AM. I flashed my maglite in their direction and they stopped after a few minutes. I went out at 6:30AM after seeing another coyote near our backyard. I went out to see if they had gotten my cat. No sign of blood or fur. I thought the coyotes might have been killing my cat but didnt hear any cat screams and thought why would they be yipping while eating? We are out looking everyday and checking all the scat for fur. Fingers crossed we find our Scottie.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      May 22, 2018 @ 22:26:06

      Hi Lesley — Actually, I have never seen coyotes yip when they eat or hunt — they actually remain silent during these activities. It may be the coyotes’ continued presence which is keeping your cat away. When they leave, your cat may turn up, so keep your eyes open for it. Janet

  21. Swarrennurse
    Nov 20, 2018 @ 18:49:47

    I live in Austin, TX. I see coyotes periodically, as I am just up the hill from a greenbelt. This morning, about 0530, they woke me up with loud pupping-sounding barks. It sounded like a puppy pile, very excited and yappy. What in the world was going on down there?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Nov 20, 2018 @ 23:05:22

      Hi Swarrennurse! Actually, those pupping-sounding yips and barks are ADULT coyote greetings. That’s what they sound like! Pups are born only in the springtime, so the youngest “pups” now are just about full-grown in size. Janet

  22. Swarrennurse
    Nov 21, 2018 @ 14:56:19

    Thank you.How interesting that the adults sound like pups. Still pretty cute to hear.The one I saw last week, close to the house, was not much smaller in stature than my 60-pound dog.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Nov 21, 2018 @ 17:14:00

      Hi Swarrennurse —

      Unless they are “coywolves” which are found only in the North Eastern part of the US (and actually have a 30% wolf component), coyotes weigh between 20 and 35 pounds at most. They LOOK much bigger at this time of year because of their very full winter coats which are over 3-inches long and fluffy. We tend to imagine them being German Shepherd size because they look a little like these dogs, but when you see one next to, say a Labrador, their much smaller size becomes obvious. Thought this would interest you! Janet

  23. Anita
    Oct 05, 2020 @ 02:51:15

    Live in NV high desert and see usually lone coyote, often in middle of day go through yard. The other night heard them, at least 2-4 and it was some barking but mostly yipping which was non-stop stop for two hours. Was wondering if it was proactive as I believe I had a cougar here about two weeks ago also


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Oct 05, 2020 @ 03:34:39

      Hi Anita — It’s really hard to tell what was going on since I wasn’t there. However, the yipping going on for two hours sounds like it was distressed vocalization — upset at being chased or seeing an intruder — more a reaction than proactive. I don’t believe the yipping was to scare off the cougar. Barking on its own is usually protective or defensive in nature. However, when coyotes yip, there are almost always barks interwoven. Hope this helps?? If you gather more information, please let me know. Janet

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