Carefully Investigating from a Safe Distance

This resting coyote — hidden from view — perked up when a dog and walker went by. A number of dogs had passed, so I don’t know why this one was of particular interest, but  the coyote felt that an investigation was called for. As I’ve noted before, the interest is often about “what are you doing and where are you going.” The coyote followed, ever so carefully, at a fairly long distance, keeping an eye on the dog and owner who walked in the vicinity of hedges where the coyote had been resting.  At several points, the coyote stopped to wait for the walkers to move way ahead, and then followed at a distance that just allowed it to keep the wakers in sight, yet not be seen. When the coyote stopped and stood still, it was almost undetectable. Then, when the dog and owner finally headed off for good, the coyote just sat down and watched them leave. The activity, from start to finish, lasted thirteen minutes, and the dog and walker never noticed the coyote.

I don’t know how this dog might have reacted had it seen the coyote.  Some dogs can smell coyotes from afar and know they are around, even if the coyote can’t be seen. Some dogs are either oblivious or don’t care, even when a coyote can be seen. And there are some dogs that show real respect for the needs of wildlife, leaving them alone and giving them their space on purpose.  But most dogs have no such comprehension and think coyotes are to be chased.  The chasing sets up a precedent which the coyotes then come to expect. Most often, the coyote will just flee. But it could stand up for itself by messaging its needs to be left alone or to leave its territory. This could entail charge-and-retreat sequences, or sometimes even nipping at a dog’s behind, cattle-dog fashion, to get it to leave. Keeping your dog close to you and leashed can prevent such incidents.

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