Classic Defense Pose

This coyote was lying down, peacefully relaxing in a remote open space when it was eyed by a dog in the distance. It is one of the dogs that purposefully looks for coyotes to pursue them. The owner of the dog doesn’t feel that it is her job to leash her dog, even though this dog continually harasses coyotes. So the dog, upon seeing the coyote, came bounding over in hot pursuit. The coyote reacted with this defensive display message: “leave me alone”.  The dog ignored this, so the coyote turned tail and tried hiding, which didn’t work.

The first photograph shows the coyote scratching the ground and bouncing up and down as the dog approaches. Second, third and fourth photos show the coyote’s lips pulled back, teeth bared, ears down and back, arched back with fur standing on end, tail tucked under. This classic defense pose — the “halloween cat” pose — is supposed to make the coyote look ferocious in order to get the message across, but it doesn’t help with some of the dogs. When the coyote finally flees here, it slinks closer to the ground with shoulders hunched and hind quarters pulled in. Hiding only gained the coyote a few minutes. The dog ended up chasing the coyote a long distance before losing track of it.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. webmaster - SaveSutro
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 02:34:53

    It’s really sad how a few owners who don’t control their dogs around wildlife, children, or other dogs leave a poor impression of the entire group … and create an atmosphere favoring more restrictions.


  2. Gail
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 03:40:37

    Great shots. Educational, too, as some people would not recognize the posturing and possibly misinterpret as aggression. Isn’t there a leash law in that park? She’d probably be the first one to complain if her dog was bitten or otherwise injured in a confrontation. Ignorant people.


    • yipps
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 04:18:56

      Hi Gail –

      Yes, I want to make sure people know that this is all about messaging and that it is defensive, it is not about aggression. And yes, there is a leash law but no one cares too much about it. That being said, the vast majority of dog owners do keep control of their dogs and leash them when necessary. However, the few that most need to leash their dogs feel entitled not to do so.

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