Keep Away From Me/Trapped On A Path

This is a display used by coyotes to keep dogs away. I’ve only seen it used by dominant female coyotes. The display is performed when a dog has chased the coyote or come too close, possibly by accident. HOWEVER, in this particular case, it is the coyote who approached the unleashed dog which was sauntering down a trail. One of the coyote’s full-grown pups was following the dog, also sauntering along good-naturedly!! The coyote’s display is a message: it serves as a warning, most likely it includes a territorial warning, and it is a reminder to the dog not to intrude. Dogs which the coyote has become visually familiar with over time are the only ones I have ever seen approached in this manner by a coyote. In this case, the dog did not respond to the coyote but just walked on, so the coyote moved in a different direction. If you are going to walk in a coyote area with your dog, it is a good idea to carry a “shake-can”  — a six ounce aluminum juice can filled with 10-15 pennies with packaging tape over the opening. Shake it aggressively and vigorously.

A few days ago I was following a coyote on a path to see what might be in store for the day. There were two minor encounters with dogs. In the first, a woman and her small Vizlu appeared over the crest of a hill as the coyote was walking in their direction. Neither knew of the other and both were surprised. The dog, off-leash, ran after the coyote in a playful manner. The coyote could not turn around and run off because I was on the path in back of it. So the coyote ran up a grassy hill where the small dog followed it. The coyote immediately went into its “Halloween Cat Posture” as a warning for the dog to keep off. The woman yelled for her dog, but before the dog obeyed, the coyote had come up to the dog and attempted to nip its leg. We found no bite marks. If a coyote feels threatened, this is a possibility that everyone should be aware of. A dominant female will react this way, whereas betas in a coyote group would probably just flee.

The same thing happened again — a walker blindly coming upon a coyote on a path. This time the walker could not see the coyote because of tall grass growth and curves in the path. Again, I was following behind the coyote when the coyote came to a dead stop — so I knew someone was coming down the path in its direction.  I tried turning back and then getting off the path, but the walker’s dog already had whiff of the coyote and went after it — not viciously, but it went after it. The coyote put on its warning display. This time the woman was able to grab her dog quickly. She turned around and went the other way: this was exactly what she should have done. As she went the coyote began following her. I yelled out that the coyote was in back of her, that she should just keep moving away. She picked up a couple of stones which caused the coyote to flee off the path, and then she went on.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cynthia Tufts owner of dominant aussie
    Jan 29, 2017 @ 15:02:38

    Excellent article understanding posturing for coyotes,and certainly ones dog allows everyone to be safe,especially at breeding time

    Reply

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