Bouncing Greeting

Jumping up high several times from the hind legs — or bouncing — is used by coyotes as a greeting for a few SELECT dogs. My dog and I were greeted this way on various occasions several years ago when we came across a coyote for a period of several months. There was no mistaking the friendly intent: “Hi there, I’m so glad to see you”. Could it have had a sexual component?

Since that time, I have come across another walker who reminded me of this behavior. The walker let me know that a coyote, not the same one that I used to see, had just seen him and his dog at not too great a distance and began this jumping. I asked him if the encounter was a surprise one that might have made the coyote defensive. The walker said absolutely not, he wanted to make it clear to me that it was a greeting, and that it actually occurred fairly regularly. It didn’t happen every time he came across this coyote, he said, but often enough so that he knew how to read it. I recalled my own experience when I had a dog, and I knew he was right.

The dogs involved in both of these cases were large males who never went after the coyote and pretty much ignored it. The only reaction these dogs had was a playful bark which made the coyote move back a little — this was probably the intent of the bark. There seemed to be a mutual respect for personal space and a mutual respect for “differences” that both types of canines were aware of and lived up to. The coyote, after the greeting, often followed for a few minutes or lay down to watch, carefully observing all the moves of the dog it had just greeted. Coyotes are able to read every detail of a dog’s character and intentions from its eye contacts, body movements and energy. From observing, the coyote can confirm for itself the friendly — or at least not unfriendly — nature of the dog and whether or not the coyote should expect any adverse behavior.

I have seen other dogs, those which have chased the coyote, approached in a totally different manner by a coyote. The approach was extremely brief, only a few seconds long, but it involved a kind of oneupmanship and testing from both the coyote and the dog: a sequence of short coming-in close and retreating. This is totally different from the behavior I have described as a bouncing greeting.

By the way, I have never seen a coyote greet another coyote in a bouncing manner. Coyotes greet each other by coming in close to each other, face to face, and they often caress — at least those within the same family. If a coyote does come up to a dog, it tends to do so towards the rear end of the dog.

I have not been able to get a still photo of this, but three years ago I did get a video, with my Canon point and shoot camera, of the “bounce” which I have put up on YouTube:

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Bryan R
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 13:18:53

    Wow. It almost looks like an agitated, a bit nervous, but still curious sort of action. Almost like it really wants to come check things out but it is holding itself back so it jumps to displace the energy.


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