Is There A Message in “Pooping”?

I noticed a couple of coyotes showing curiosity, at a distance, towards a dog walking along a path with its owner. The owner later told me that the coyotes had actually tried sniffing her dog’s end. This dog is one that is not interested in coyotes — the dog is not oblivious to coyotes, but does ignore them. By the time I had met up with this walker and her dog, the two young coyotes had moved ahead and now appeared on the path some distance in front of us. They had their eyes in our direction — they were watching the dog and they were obviously curious about its not reacting to them. The coyotes stood there, so the dog owner asked her dog to sit, to keep it from getting any closer to the coyotes. The dog did so immediately. So we all watched each other.

The closer coyote was especially curious and even headed our way a few paces. But its bravery waned as we all began to hear voices on the path from where we had come. But before running off, this coyote squatted down and pooped, right there in front of us, on the path, facing us and keeping its eyes on us! I have seen this exact same behavior before, but in this case there had been no dog with me. Was this a message? Coyote scat is often found right in the middle of paths. Was there meaning to this, to either the scat itself or the pooping process, or was it just that “when you have to go, you have to go”? Others have asked this same question.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Randy
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 22:52:33

    We live at the crest of a hill, with a paved, winding driveway that climbs a few hundred feet to reach the house. We are surrounded by orchards and cattle grazing land. Coyotes frequent the area at night. This week I found coyote scat right in the middle of the driveway at two different elevations. I don’t know if the coyotes are aware of our two dogs, who don’t venture outside of the barbed-wire-fenced homesite. But it was interesting that the coyotes seemed to “mark” the area on the path to the house.


    • yipps
      Apr 09, 2011 @ 02:40:23

      Hi Randy —

      Thank you for your input. Yes, the marking behavior is very interesting — right in the middle of pathways and roadways. The markings are a form of communication for the benefit of coyotes in and outside of the pack. A pack is always a “family” group. Of course, dogs are considered outsiders. But dogs protecting a homesite consider coyotes outsiders and will keep them out, as far as I know. I’ve only studied urban coyotes. In urban areas, dogs are almost always kept indoors, but they will bark if they hear a coyote outside — mostly in park areas. In the city, we advise people never to leave food out if they don’t want uninvited coyote guests!

  2. Starr Quirt
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 00:08:12

    I just had a similar experience. A coyote crosses the road at dawn in front of me. I could tell it had been frightened and was a little confused upon regaining composure from whatever spooked it. I knew she was about to cross back so I stopped to avoid hitting her. She ran up to my car and used it to hide behind as she looked left and right before crossing again. She made it to the first front yard with a good hedge but stopped middle of the front yard-a pretty busy street too. She promptly squatted and let out a simultaneous “yip-yip-hoo” and a big poop. She was looking right at me too. So her head was turned to view me. My instinct says she may have been interrupted before or was so scared she had to do it fast and saw her spot as a safe location due to my car and a hedge. Watching me to be wary. But the triumphant sounding yip-howl left me laughing. So weird I decided to share.


    • yipps
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 00:45:27

      Hi Starr —

      I loved your story! I am so glad you enjoyed your encounter — that you stopped to watch and tried to figure out what was going on with the little coyote! Thank you for sharing it here. Your positive attitude, and positive take on what happened will help others see them the way you and I do. We need more of these stories about positive encounters! Janet

  3. Charles Wood
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 20:09:21

    Hi Starr, Hi Janet. I have a couple pictures about this to share:

    Both coyotes in my pictures (the first the son, the second the father) took a position near my dogs and me to poop. This happened to me a lot, and in my situations they were always territorial messages. My coyotes always seemed able to produce poop in volume in such situations. That they could astounded me.

    I came to believe that it wasn’t that the coyote had to poop. Instead, came to believe that the coyote could poop and that it chose to poop in my dog’s and my view. A direct stare was always part of its theatrical poop display. I think on a gut level we do know generally what a coyote means to say to us when it drums up little shows like these. It’s hard to put a fine point on it though.

    I do notice that my dogs seem to save their poop for the walks, one more so than the other. He is really tuned in to the timing of the walk and also the when and where involved in pooping. It’s all in the timing I gather. Scanning for suitable places until the moment comes. As the moment arrives he dashes to the best scent around us and delivers. There is a mix of the voluntary and involuntary, of volition and compulsion. I think he wants to be at just the right place when the anticipated moment arrives. He scoots into position and hovers. He scrapes with his hind legs when done, ineffably satisfied.

    With a coyote they seem even more in control of their poop, that message laden, high value excreta. I get the impression that they can and do save it since to them, when combined with a stare, it is potentially part of a significant communication. My dog can anticipate that poop will come, can save it for the walk, can to some extent time it as to where on the walk. It’s an important event for him. I think with a coyote it is more refined as to its purpose, needs to be more refined as part of a messaging system. They as a consequence have more control over their bowels than does my dog.


  4. charlier64
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 17:38:55

    Yes, coyotes poop to mark territory, plain and simple. It is a message…a warning….this area is MINE.


    • yipps
      Jun 17, 2016 @ 17:53:20

      Hi Charlie — I think you misunderstood what was being said here. Scats do serve as messages, but *the act of pooping*, which is what this post refers to, is, in addition to the poop itself, a very clear message to anyone watching. Janet

  5. LivingWellwithJessica
    Jun 20, 2017 @ 20:28:30

    So is moving or removing the poop an option for sending a message back? Similarly to Randy I live on a hill with a winding road/drive to the home site. I’ve found scat in the middle of the drive at a couple of elevations coming closer to the homesite. When I walk my dog along the drive he tends to poop in similar areas but I’d like for the coyotes message that this is his to not stand. I suggested to my husband the he should go poop on it and mark this territory as ours but he wasn’t thrilled with that idea. I wouldn’t want to scoop it and bring it to our garbage closer to the house, but I really don’t want their message to stand as the final word on the matter.


  6. Gail
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 14:58:31

    Last night I smudged my house with sage because I have been having an issue with “spirits”. Full moon too. This morning I see that a coyote came up on my deck, which is only a couple of feet from room : bed where I was sleeping. It left its scat on top step of my deck. What does this mean?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Apr 30, 2018 @ 19:37:25

      Hi Gail —

      Please sleep with your bedroom door closed! I read about coyotes approaching some sleeping campers in tents and nibbling at their toes. They would, of course, feel safe doing so if you are asleep. It’s important not to offer them such opportunities.

      As for the scat on your deck, it could be a “message” letting you and your pets (?) know that he/she came by, and may possibly have been set off by a little bit of fear. The coyote was probably there just investigating: maybe there were food smells? Coyotes are extremely curious. However, if the coyote came up to the porch because of pet smells, you need to minimize opportunities for interactions by, not letting your pet out without your supervision. Hope this helps! Janet

  7. Ruth Little
    Aug 22, 2018 @ 15:33:05

    Hi. I found this site by Googling “Coyote Scat marking territory”. We moved to rural Northern Az a couple yr’s ago, so don’t live in your area, but found this info very helpful. We’ve found Coyote scat within 3-4 feet of our house twice over the past few days. We don’t have dogs, just 2 indoor cats. The 1st scat was almost against the house. The 2nd was this AM, a few feet away, in the driveway. I realized that it was exactly where 2 dogs had ran day before yesterday when our neighbor came over to meet someone to sell a vehicle on our property. (Neighbor lives more remote) Buyer’s dogs ran off right at that area where we found the scat. I’m wondering why the first scat may have been left? Any ideas?
    While we enjoy watching occasional coyotes in the 2 acres out back, along with pronghorn, huge owls & other raptors, Javelina, & our other furry & feathered neighbors, I’m not overly fond of the idea of the coyotes marking territory within 3 feet of our front door! We secure our trash inside the garage until we take it to the dump. We definitely respect the wildlife, never feed anything other than hummingbirds in the back (by the picture window-on the other side of the house from where the scat was). There are some nesting birds in our front porch? But they were there last year also & this never happened.
    Thanks for input!


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Aug 22, 2018 @ 20:56:49

      Hi Ruth —

      Thank you for writing. I would think that the scat left by your house is simply a message to other coyotes: this is how coyotes mark their territories and keep other coyotes out, or announce that he/she has been there. However, since the coyote may have seen your cats through a window or even smelled them, which might cause it to come around some more, please make sure not to allow the cats to roam free, even within a fenced-in yard area, unless you are there to supervise the cats and run off a coyote. Removing or containing all attractants, such as you did with your garbage was a good idea. Coyotes avoid people, so one would not be a personal danger to you, but if you want to scare it off, and if the coyote is close enough to you, you could use a strong spray from a hose. Otherwise, I would just leave it alone.

  8. Cindy Doyle
    May 14, 2019 @ 11:41:31

    The last three morning we have found scat on our deck right in front of the door. We have no animals nor do we go out on our deck at all. It is located at the back of the house with woods surrounding us. Why would they come up on the deck now to do there business. We have been here for 24 years ,had a dog and two cats over a year ago. This has never happened before.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      May 14, 2019 @ 13:32:45

      It could be that they are claiming the area or don’t like/want you there! And it could be because there is a den close by or an intruder coyote is on the prowl whom they are messaging to leave. If you just remove it, they’ll soon learn that the porch is in YOUR territory. If you want to make a firmer statement, you could collect and leave some of your own urine at the porches entrance. Here’s a fun story: “A Story About Marking“. Hope this helps! Janet

  9. renate
    Sep 10, 2021 @ 01:38:21

    I’ve read accounts by trappers of wolves and maybe coyotes who evade their traps and leave their poop.


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