Health in the Wild

I spotted a raccoon a couple of hours after daylight had broken. That was my first indication that something might not be right. The raccoon spotted me and remained very still on its rock behind some wild mustard. I stayed very still. After a few minutes the raccoon began grooming itself: licking the fur on its arms, licking its hands, and scratching a little.  I could see that this animal was not healthy: it had lost one eye and the other seemed clouded over, the skin under the fur on the nape of the neck was red and infected, there was a large gaping open wound or infection on the upper chest area. In addition, the ears had been torn and there was a scar on the raccoon’s mouth. This animal obviously has had a hard life and now it has wounds from mishaps or from diseases which may or may not heal. I’m adding this posting to show that nature is not always kind or pretty.

I found this raccoon in an area of one of our parks where I have seen coyotes. The coyotes have always been very healthy looking — maybe this is because they are young. The raccoon, on the other hand, was quite large, which indicates to me that it was older. Animals in the wild live much shorter lives than the same animals in captivity: aging, wear and tear, disease, dealing with predators and dealing with a limited food supply take their toll.

We humans are also subject to the same mishaps and diseases as other creatures, but we have excellent health care to compensate. In fact, I think most of us now think it is our birthright to live to be quite old. We all expect to retain functionality and live out our lives until the ripe old age of 80+ or 90. This is not true of wild animals who may rely only on the strength of their own bodies to heal themselves. When a mishap or disease occurs in nature, there is a slimmer chance for survival.

Coyote noses get roughed up

Watching a coyote dive into a gopher hole nose first brought to mind photos I had taken which showed nose and even face injuries. These are not severe injuries, but you can see that the face and especially the snout of a coyote takes some abuse and roughing up. This makes sense, since the muzzle and mouth are a coyote’s primary tools: they manipulate and push with the muzzle, and do the same with their mouths. Their long snouts are meant to grab prey out of small openings, and if these snouts are pushed far enough into a hole, the eye area can get scraped up also.

Hunting and Hiding: Coyote behavior

This coyote was on to something, so I sat and watched. In fact, as I came upon the scene, there were two coyotes out, but one slithered off right away. This one must have been hungry. The “flying leap-nose-dive” is always the most exciting part of the hunt and I was able to see three of these fabulous springy leaps in a row. This coyote is a young one — under a year old. That may be why it took three leaps to disable its prey. I only caught the last and least of the jumps with my camera. The hunt and meal together lasted only four minutes. By the manner in which the coyote kept licking its chops when all was done, I could tell that it must have been a good catch.

After eating, the coyote more or less kept itself hidden from view. From its hiding places it kept an eye on me. If I had not seen the hunting beforehand, the coyote would have been difficult to spot — it stood so very  still “behind” cover. Within a short time it trotted off to the underbrush.

Coyotes Camouflaged or Well Hidden

I used to think coyotes were always well camouflaged, until I saw one stand out on a hill like a sore thumb: a coyote can be easily seen against a green background. But a lot of the time, coyotes blend into the background and this is why many people often don’t see them. Coyotes also know how to keep very still, and they are able to move in such an extremely stealthy manner that they often are hard to detect unless you are actually looking for one. Of course, as I have posted before, if the coyote is one who likes being out in the open, resting up on an open hilltop, it might be very easy to spot it. I’ve collected some photos showing coyotes blending into the scenery pretty nicely: their coloring, stillness and stealth are the important factors.

Enjoying the Rain

I enjoy walking in the rain: I like the quiet and the sense of peace as I walk. There is a sense of focus much closer to oneself and less “out there” than on clear days. If it is too cold my fingers get cold and go numb, but if it is too warm my raincoat retains the heat and doesn’t breathe. However, if the temperature is just right, the rain can be lots of fun to walk in — I allow myself to “let go” when I’m this comfortable: allow myself to get wet, fall in the grass, slide down an incline or whatever, and enjoy experiencing all there is to experience in a good rain without guarding myself against it for fear of eventual discomfort, especially if I’m going to be out a while.

During my walks in the rain, I usually expect to find no animals, but this is less so in the springtime. Birds are all over the place, and so are other animals, including, sometimes, a coyote. In spite of steady rain, a coyote at times can be seen out in the open resting in a favorite spot and getting wet — maybe it experiences the same comfort that I do when the temperature is right. It would have been easy for the coyote to find shelter under a tree, but it didn’t. I’ve waited for a coyote to get up and leave under these conditions, and was surprised that it stayed put — I watched it bask in the rain for a couple of hours. Apparently rain, at least one that isn’t a driving rain, does not interfere with a coyote’s life.

If a dog and its owners walk by, the coyote might get up from its lying down position to a standing or sitting position. Otherwise, I’ve seen it stay curled up on the ground as it gets wetter and wetter.  However, they don’t like having the rain in their eyes — but this inconvenience isn’t bad enough to make them get up and leave. Of course, a driving rain might produce totally different behavior — I have only observed coyotes stay out in moderate rain. I saw a coyote only once in a driving rain, and that was only for a second. You can see the rain coming down in the photographs — hopefully this will be apparent on this blog.

Still Looking Up To Mom: Coyote Behavior

One early morning walker who was out early with her small dog had something interesting to say about her small dog’s behavior when the dog became aware of coyotes up ahead on a path. As the unleashed dog came over the crest of a hill along the path, it suddenly turned back and hugged against its owner’s legs. The owner said the dog was “asking to be leashed — asking for protection”!! When the woman herself reached the crest of the hill, she found out why. There were three coyotes. They were quite a distance away, but nevertheless, the little dog was nervous about them. The woman sat down, hugging her dog, and watched for a while and then she took a path which circled way around where the coyotes were. When I saw her again the coyotes had moved a bit, but they were still there.

The small leashed dog was actually trembling and began barking when it saw the coyotes again, yet at the same time, this dog was very curious about the coyotes, and vice-versa. I think with many dogs there is a “push-pull” interest about the coyotes. Coyotes appear so familiar to us all in many ways, yet at the same time they are sensed by the dogs as being so completely different from themselves. The woman took a quick photo and decided to walk on. That her dog had asked for protection — that he had asked to be leashed in the face of potential danger — was fascinating. Could this also have been meant as a message to the owner: “beware of what is ahead?” The same behavior had been described to me once before, but in this previous instance the dog had been a very large male Labrador.

While this woman was circling around I watched the coyotes. There were two young ones — they were very alert. But what was of primary interest was that they kept their attention on “mom” who was sitting up higher on a hill. The young coyotes moved around a little bit, but mostly they were still and strained their necks at times to keep their mother in view or to find her.

As a set of dog walkers went by in the distance, the mother went further up the hill where she was now hidden — she kept her eye on this dog group. I could not see her, but the young coyotes knew she was there and they kept their gaze on her. As the walkers and their dogs descended the hill I noticed that the mother coyote had come up behind them: she wanted to see them, but didn’t want them to see her! There must have been communication between the two young coyotes and their mother because the youngsters wandered slowly towards a brush area as they kept looking back at her — as if they were following her orders or getting her approval. After 25 minutes of continually returning their gaze to their mother, they finally slithered into the underbrush. These young coyotes are not quite a year old.

“The Sky Is Falling”: Coyote Behavior

A young coyote was out, calmly and nonchalantly sitting on a path this morning. The coyote watched a couple of people and their dogs. The dogs just looked at the coyote — their attention was on the coyote, but it wasn’t a riveted attention. They were just watching, seemingly with no need to go after the coyote. Both dogs had had previous encounters with a coyote, and the owners felt their dogs thought the encounters were not fun. We have all noticed in the last two weeks that the dogs in this park have ceased chasing the coyotes to the extent that they used to. These two walked on. Another walker and her dog walked by, as did a man without a dog — everyone comments with amazement on having coyotes in the city, and we exchange information on keeping it a safe situation.

I settled down to take some photos at my allotted 75 feet — I always hope to see some new behavior. I was crouched down when a man walked by on an adjacent path higher up the hill with his three dogs. I don’t know if the dogs saw the coyote or not, but the man did, and he didn’t like it, even though the coyote was over 150 feet away and minding its own business. The man walked on, but at the last moment — unprovoked — tossed a single stone at the coyote. The coyote did not see where the stone had come from, but the coyote was aware that something unexpectedly had hit it. The coyote was startled: it flinched and jumped aside. Then the coyote started looking up and around for where this missile had come from. The coyote made sudden jumps and leaps to the side, as if trying to avoid the same thing from happening again — the first one came out of nowhere, so might the next one do the same? It pursued this activity for about 5 minutes. It then headed into the bushes because more dogs and people were coming down the path. As it headed off, the coyote continued to be jumpy and to look around itself, still trying to figure out if the sky was falling!!

“Monitoring”: Coyote Behavior

There is a coyote in one of the area parks that enjoys “monitoring” the dogs as they are walked — morning time is prime time for watching dogs for this coyote. After most of the dog walking activity calms down, the coyote usually heads into some underbrush or up onto a hill where it snoozes. One of the places from which the coyote keeps an eye on the dogs is way up on a rock ledge. The coyote is definitely not interested in people as shown by where its gaze is, and by where its attention is, and by how its movements are directed — except to keep a safe distance from them.

On a particularly foggy morning, I was out walking with a friend when we spotted this coyote on this high ledge. My friend has a very old and large, calm dog. We went to a place where our view would not be obstructed by branches. The coyote looked at us all, but particularly at the dog, from way up high, with not only height but also distance as a barrier. It is always exciting to see a coyote.

After some observing and some photos, my friend and her dog departed to continue their walk, but I continued to watch. The coyote’s attention turned towards a group of dogs and their walkers coming down a path. It was much too foggy to see very far, but the coyote’s attention and gaze was riveted on the group — I became part of the woodwork, apparently. The coyote stayed in its safe location, keenly watching the dog group until they had passed below and further on. When they were far enough past, the coyote scurried down to another rock ledge, a much lower one, from which it could continue to watch these same dogs until they exited the area. The coyote then remained resting on this rock for some time, until another dog spotted it and went after it. I had moved on at this point, but I was able to see the coyote whiz by as it evaded the dog. The coyote escaped the dog by dashing away and nimbly jumping up a rock cliff  to its original high ledge way above reach until the dog and its owner had walked out of sight.

I am writing this here again to emphasize that coyotes monitor dogs for their own safety — they have to know what dogs are around and which dogs might threaten them and pursue them. Coyotes have shown no interest in humans whatsoever except to keep their distance. Coyotes have never approached people in our parks, they have always fled when people get near them. The coyotes in our parks have not altered their behavior at all towards humans since they first appeared several years ago.

However, coyotes do keenly watch dogs whom they have visually gotten to know, and they defend themselves when necessary from unleashed dogs which have chased them. I’m wondering if our coyotes are becoming more bold with dogs because owners have allowed their dogs to interact with them on some level, including chasing them? This would be a kind of “habituation” to dogs? It is something to further look at.

A Coyote’s Appearance Changes Over Time

I’ve become aware that over time, a coyote’s appearance can change considerably. One of the coyotes which I have been following over time would have been absolutely unrecognizable to me from when I first encountered her, were it not for the fact that I’ve kept up with her — her behavior remains the same. I thought it might be interesting to post some photos to show the change.

This coyote went through a change of color from browner to more silver, her markings became more prominent, facial look filled out so that the ears and eyes don’t appear as prominent as before, she grew a winter coat in the fall which she will shed in the springtime — this makes her appear larger, she gained weight in the fall — could this be due to aging or is it cyclical?

Note that in photo #1, taken in June, she is very thin, and she actually had a “mane” on her neck from her shoulders up to her head. Over the next few months this was shed — it may be that she sheds this part of her coat last. The first three photos were taken in the summer. She had been cooped up in her den with newborn pups prior to these summer months — we know this because she was obviously lactating when she emerged, and her body fat had obviously been depleted. The last three photos were taken the following fall and winter — she gained weight and she had a winter coat. I think all the changes I have noted here are due to aging, the seasonal changes and to being a mother.

Fleeing from a Mountain Biker

I came across a young coyote sitting in a field, facing a small path. I sat down to watch for a few moments. Suddenly, and quietly, a biker on his large, very bright yellow mountain bike came up the winding dirt path. The bright colors of the biker and bike were in complete contrast to all the other outdoor colors that one would find in a natural setting: the bike clashed with the environment. The coyote immediately took off at a high speed run — really flying with both feet off the ground — into the distance, about 120 feet away. Here it stayed and watched until the biker had passed through. Interestingly, once the coyote was far enough away, it did not slither into the underbrush, but turned around to watch the biker. This may be because the coyote was aware that the biker was not pursuing it and probably had not even seen it. People very often do not notice a coyote, even one that is only a short distance in front of them — I think we humans have our minds on other things. When I spoke to the biker, he told me that he had not seen the coyote.

Another interesting thing about this particular incident is that shortly after the biker passed, who should appear on the scene but mom coyote. Had she been watching the entire time? When the young coyote saw her, it bounded up to her, and they both proceeded slowly across the field, looking for gophers until they disappeared from my view into a thicket area.

Bad Food?

Today I was photographing this little coyote when I noticed what looked like “heaving” as if it were going to upchuck. Sure enough, I had my camera right on the little fellow when whatever the problem was came up and out. The coyote looked disgusted at what came up, it sat down to rest a minute and then wandered out of sight. I was alone now. This was my opportunity to see what had “come up”. I went over to the location, but decided that it really wasn’t my “thing” to analyze the stuff, so I took several photos instead.

Then, something interesting happened. AS I was taking the photos, who should I see coming purposefully towards me, but the mother coyote. She was headed directly towards me with an intent gaze. I decided to move off quickly — my immediate impression was that the upchucked stuff I had been looking at was not to be interfered with. I watched as the mother went right up to the spot I had left. She spent some time there sniffing it out intensely. She must have seen the little coyote spit it up. Otherwise could she have been drawn to the area in the first place by the smell? Was she trying to figure out why this piece of food was bad? Did it really smell bad? Don’t coyotes avoid bad food? After it had all been checked out to her satisfaction, she trotted off to a rock on which she curled up. I didn’t see her go back to the spit up area again.

I’ve noticed several dead rodents on the ground — maybe four in the last few days. They were all soggy, but entirely whole. One was a rat. Could these have drowned in the recent rains we’ve been having — someone told me this was not unusual. Or could one have been poisoned by humans? Coyotes, after all, eat carrion. I’m wondering if the coyote ate a dead rodent that was bad? No way to tell without analyzing the stuff, and I’m not up to that.

Like “Ferdinand”: Coyote behavior

When I see coyotes resting on hill slopes, I can’t help but think of the children’s story about Ferdinand the bull, who cared for nothing more than to sit peacefully in a field and smell the flowers. Be that as it may, Ferdinand was taken to the bullring to fight because he was seen as the most furious bull in Spain — his finders happened upon him right after he had been stung by a bee.

There is a lot that goes on in a coyote’s life, but I have found that predominantly they want to remain peaceful, be left alone, and live their lives. This is what we all would like for ourselves. The peacefulness can be seen in the photos I’ve taken, day after day, of one or another coyote that I’ve found on a hilltop somewhere: basking in the sun, napping, watching contentedly as the world goes by. Some coyotes engage in this type of activity for a couple of hours at a time. Although most coyotes do not lie around in the open during daylight hours, even if it is in the distance on a hill, some apparently do.

Of course, coyotes are more active than this. I have seen plenty of hunting, playing with other coyotes, walking home. These all are fairly calm activities. And then I saw a coyote yipping: this was totally different. The yipping is a very intense activity, and I have only seen it in the daytime after dogs have chased a coyote. I have since become aware that coyotes are much more alert and active when dogs are around. This is because dogs are their chief threat in the parks.

When dogs are around, the calm “resting” I had initially seen so often, became more of a “watchfulness and monitoring”.  Dogs walking or loping by with their owners produce little reaction from a coyote watching from a hill top. But I’ve noticed that small hyperactive dog types, or dogs running wild off-leash, or two dogs instigating a fight or something resembling a fight, will cause a coyote to sit up at attention: coyotes do not like commotion.

Coyotes feel intruded upon by dogs coming after them or chasing them. But coyotes are also alert to potential chasers — a coyote can read this by a dog’s activity level, body language and gaze. A relaxed coyote watching from a hilltop may sit straight up if it senses the possibility of a dog threat. A coyote might also react to this with a blatant antagonistic display: hackles up, scratching the ground, teeth displayed. This could be frightening to a dog owner who is not used to it. Keeping dogs leashed can prevent a problem.

And during pupping season — May through October — the coyote’s alertness increases many times over, especially for coyote mothers: they are no longer just looking out for themselves, but during this time frame they are also watching out for their den areas and the pups themselves.

A coyote assesses, monitors, patrols for its own security. I’ve now seen coyotes do this in the early morning until dogs and their walkers leave the park. Ahhh, we do this too. To maintain our peaceful existence, we have our patrol cars to keep an eye on things: it’s a precautionary measure. When threats or possible threats are gone, our coyotes like sitting up on their hill tops, smelling the flowers, like Ferdinand

Blatant Visual Message for Newcomer Dog

Today I entered one of the parks to see a young fellow with his dog standing on a path. There was a coyote in the distance in the field next to the path. The fellow was tossing stones to keep the coyote at a distance — he had no idea what coyotes were like. He told me he had just moved to the area from Florida — he had not seen a coyote here before. He leashed his dog and we both watched as the coyote sat in the distance watching. Finally the coyote decided to go: it got up and trotted down the trail and out of sight. It was a young coyote born last spring. The owner then unleashed his dog.

I walked with the fellow down the path the coyote had taken and told him a few things about the coyotes, such as that they were not aggressive but will defend themselves, and that it is best to keep dogs leashed and next to us. As we rounded a bend, I looked up to see the mother coyote watching from a rock ledge high above us. The mother is still protective of her offspring and was keeping an eye on the new dog as a precaution, making sure it wasn’t about to chase her or the other coyote. More than likely she had seen the dog staring at the young coyote a few minutes before. Often when a leashed dog sits quietly beside its owner looking at a coyote that is not too far off, the coyote itself will become curious and just sit, trying to figure out what the stillness is about: the dog’s eyes may be communicating one thing, yet the leashed dog is just sitting there.

This dog stayed with us only a moment before rushing off towards the coyote up on the ledge. The dog couldn’t get up to the rock ledge, but it got close and it barked at the coyote. Coyotes do not like to be pursued.

The coyote hunched over with her hackles up: her message is meant to be blatant and clear for those who might not want to take her seriously — she was trying to let the newcomers know that she wanted to be left alone, she did not want to be pursued. The coyote then came down from the rock ledge, towards the dog, which caused the dog to come directly to its owner. The dog clearly got the message. At this point the owner leashed his dog — this calmed the dog and kept it next to us. If the owner had not been able to grab his dog, this could have ended with a firmer statement by the coyote: a nip. But it ended here, and the coyote then climbed up on a rock not too far away.

The display we saw of this mother coyote is pictured above: hackles up, teeth bared and back bent – it is the exact same display a cat gives to warn another animal off. It is meant to look frightening which makes it very effective, and all animals understand it. But it is not aggression, rather it is a strong defensive message.

The younger coyote then appeared and joined its mother on the rock from which they watched us, to make sure the infraction was not repeated. We watched them. Fortunately the fellow was very positive and excited about the coyote. This was a great introduction for him — he knows what to expect from this coyote, and he knows how to keep his dog from chasing the coyote so the coyote won’t come back after his dog. When the fellow and his dog decided to go, the mother coyote followed them. Although the younger one followed its mother’s departure with its gaze, it went in another direction.

I suppose the mother coyote made sure that the newcomers were headed out of the park — she does this sometimes when she has been chased.

Young coyotes will almost always flee from a dog threat. But the mother — the mother is always the alpha leader of a family group — often will turn back to make sure a threat is stopped in its tracks, thus letting the chaser know that she does not want to put up with this. Please take note of the display above: it is a message. It is a very clear message to read, imparted for self protective reasons. Keeping our dogs leashed will keep your dog away from the coyotes and will help us all co-exist peacefully in our parks.

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”.  “A short back-and-forth chase: oneupmanship verging on play” 2/4/10. “Coyote Safety” of 11/3/2009.

Morning Rest with One Eye Open

Here is a typical coyote morning for a coyote who likes to stay out in the open. For the most part, coyotes retreat under cover once dawn has broken. But some, including this one, enjoy the open. Mornings can be a time of rest after some pre-dawn hunting, but if resting takes place in the open, one eye has to be kept open!

So, I came upon this coyote watching a group of dogs and walkers go by — they were on a path far below as the coyote watched from a perch high above them. I do not know if the walkers saw the coyote. As dogs and walkers moved out of sight, the coyote disappeared from its perch, and then soon reappeared on another hill on the other side of the path, where it could see the dogs and walkers exit the area. Once the group was out of sight, the coyote felt safe enough to settle down for a couple hours of rest, as seen here in the photos.

Occasionally this coyote eyed dog walkers in the very far distance — you can see this by where the coyote is looking — it was a calm observation because of the distance. But when two large dogs in the mid-distance began growling and running at each other — they seemed preparing for a fight — this coyote sat right up at full attention and watched intently until the altercation settled down. Coyotes don’t like commotion, I’ve noticed. When the dogs left the area, the coyote resumed its rest before shaking itself out and heading over for one last lookout from a rock. Then the coyote was gone. Few people, if any, noticed the coyote and not one dog was aware of it way up on the hill.

A “short back-and-forth chase”: oneupmanship verging on play

Coyotes invariably shy away from humans. They have no interest in us. The closest I’ve seen a coyote come to a human is when one approached a person’s unleashed dog, either out of curiosity or for a short back-and-forth chase interaction. Coyotes are similar to dogs and have an interest in dogs, but it is best to keep our dogs and coyotes apart.

Keeping our dogs leashed and next to ourselves is always the best insurance for keeping coyotes away. A leashed dog is calmer and less likely to pose either a visual or physical threat to a coyote, or be available for the chase-chase behavior. Also, with a dog leashed and next to you, if a coyote were to approach you, you would have only the coyote to think about, rather than having to think about how to grab your dog. You can shoo a coyote away by making loud noises, flailing your arms, and looking directly and defiantly at the coyote.

The most obvious threat to a coyote is when an unleashed dog chases it. A dog might think this is fun, a game. But a coyote may not. A younger or beta coyote might just run off if chased — most do not want to confront a dog. But an alpha pack leader — these are the breeding females, the mothers — often will defend herself, often coming back after the dog that went after her. She may not only be defending herself physically, but also she may be defending the challenge to her alpha status.

Several individuals have told me that a coyote has “played” with their dog. In 2005 we read about dogs playing with a lone coyote on Bernal Hill in San Francisco. Apparently the coyote chose only certain dogs to play with: they ran together and even wrestled. Everyone seems to be in agreement as to what was going on. I wasn’t there, but I read about it.

On the other hand, someone else told me that their dog, too, has played with a coyote — this was in a totally different area where we know there was a mother and her offspring. The dog owner told me the coyote would weave in and out of hidden tunnels in the brush along a path, “teasing” his dog to get it to “play”.  But this supposed “playing” occurred in March and April, which is pupping season — the dens are prepared and secured against danger and pups are born. Knowing what I do about where this “playing” took place — it is more likely about a female alpha coyote leading the dog away from an area she felt very protective of.

A number of times I have seen short back-and-forth chases between an off-leash dog and a coyote, lasting only a few seconds, only with large dogs which the coyote knows. I’ve come to see that these are not “true chases” but rather a kind of bantering, or maybe taunting, with the intention by each that the other should “go”, “no, you go” — it is an interaction which is not really aggressive and is not meant to harm, even though the coyote has its hackles up and lips pulled back — it is more about messaging. Usually it is the coyote who ends up finally running off because the dog owner is close by. And usually it occurs when the dog and coyote happen upon each other by pure chance — maybe both were headed in the same direction at the same time at dusk, or each rounded a bend to find the other.

In a similar vein, today I followed a coyote around a hill where, up ahead, it saw a lone, large dog with no one around. It was an area in which the coyote had been resting only ten minutes earlier. The dog’s yard is right by a park — the dog was actually in the park itself and not in the dog’s yard. Coyote pups were heard in the area last year, often at night, which may or may not be relevant. The coyote approached the dog with its hackles raised. The dog just stood there. So the coyote then bared its teeth: these are the coyote’s attendant behaviors in the “short back-and-forth chase” interaction — the intent is oneupmanship and messaging. This caused the dog to run off. The coyote then chased after it into its yard which was only a few feet away, and finally waited a few moments to be sure the dog had gone.

I contacted the owner to hear her thoughts about this interaction — I’m trying to understand coyote behavior, so that we may all benefit. She also had seen the event. She told me that her large Afghan dog is a five-year-old female. She saw the Afghan run into the yard and then chase the coyote out. The owner’s opinion was that this “short back-and-forth chase” was a form of interaction verging on play and that it was done for the interaction, that it was totally harmless. There is no real “friendship” between the dog and the coyote, she said, but these two have interacted in the past, loping together in a nearby field, or engaging in this short back-and-forth chasing. It was the owner’s opinion that coyotes sometimes get lonely and seek this kind of non-aggressive interaction akin to play which lasts only a minute, although it might appear to be more “serious” than it really is to someone seeing it for the first time.

Letting one’s dog wander alone in a park where there are coyotes is probably not a good idea. This is especially so if your dog is small and very active. It is the small, hyperactive types of dogs which seem to provoke a stronger instinctual reactive response in coyotes.  A human at the scene can prevent a coyote from approaching the dog in the first place.

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. “Coyote Safety” of 11/3/2009.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: