This behavior is so predictable, it has become a script. A dog is out with its owner for a walk. The owner spots a young coyote and is thrilled to see it, so stops to observe. The dog does not see anything. I mention to the owner that she might want to leash her dog if there is any possibility that dog might chase the coyote. “Oh no, my dog never chases dogs or coyotes.” I mention that dogs see coyotes more as squirrels than as dogs. I am ignored. The dog eventually sees the coyote, goes into his threatening stance and then goes after the coyote. The young coyote runs away.
The problem is that in one of our parks, the mother coyote is watching. In this case, from over 1000 feet away, the mother coyote had observed this dog and saw what was happening. The minute the dog threatened her pup, she dashed full speed to her pup’s defense. Her pup is 18 months old and full-sized, nonetheless, he is still her pup. She reached the dog and pursued him at a galloping speed. The dog’s owner had yelled repeatedly for the dog to come — but when a dog’s adrenalin is up, it never does come.
The dog ignored its owner until the coyote came full speed towards him with anger in her face. Then, when fear finally hit him, he came running towards his owner who grabbed him. At this point the mother coyote stopped her chase. The mother coyote’s job had been successful: she had kept the dog off of her pup. The dog could have been nipped in the haunches, but it did not happen this time. The owner grabbed the dog and leashed it, repeating out loud “Why didn’t I leash my dog.” The owner then retreated to a distant path and watched. The coyotes stopped all further activity and stood frozen, watching for any further intrusion from the dog. Not for ten minutes did the dog and walker depart, and not until then did the coyotes move into a more relaxed mode.