Coyotes Reacting Differently To Different Dogs & People

Today, from a distance in the park, I heard joyful coyote greetings and howling in response to fire engine sirens, a not unusual occurrence in urban areas. However, by the time I got to the scene, the howling and high-pitched squeals of delight had turned into a low-key distressed barking session due to the appearance of one of the few hostile dogs & walkers who could be seen about 500 feet away. The coyotes kept looking in that direction. The hostility of this particular pair comes from the unleashed dog continually chasing coyotes, and the owner who, even at large distances, throws stones at them.

The barking stopped when the walker and dog, still in the distance, disappeared behind some trees onto another path. The coyotes relaxed and waited: they knew the normal route of this walker and dog would be in their direction. When the walker could be heard imminently approaching, both coyotes silently slithered further away and up a cliff  to behind a brushy area where they were partially hidden and less likely to be seen. After the walkers had passed on by, and after a few more walkers passed by, the coyotes, which had not been detected by any of them, slowly moved off and disappeared from view — they had waited there, watching and on alert, until all danger had passed.

While the coyotes had been relaxing before this dog and walker got close, another walker without a dog came by — she was thrilled to see the two resting coyotes. She told me that if I had not been there to point them out, she would have missed them because of their camouflage. The coyotes allowed us to admire them. Coyotes are very aware of individuals and dogs who frequent the park — they know what to expect from each individual dog and person and they act accordingly. Today these coyotes protectively increased the distance and hid themselves from a hostile dog and walker. If an antagonistic dog is not on a leash close to its owner, an alpha coyote could take the opportunity to repay previous antagonistic behavior towards itself, rushing close to the dog with a warning display. It is best to grab your dog and move on. Alpha coyotes have been known to nip the rears of dogs to make their message more forceful. Please beware that these are messages — it is the only method a coyote has of telling your dog not to get close or come after it.

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