Breeding Season: Smells and Walking on Eggshells

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This is all about powerful enticing odors — exuding and absorbing them. Attendant behaviors include edginess and short tempers. Odors are left anywhere, but especially on existing odors, such as where a dog has urinated. Odors are absorbed by wallowing in them and sniffing them.

Behaviorally, there is a decisive tentativeness during this time of year as a male and female approach each other. When HE comes over to sniff her, his movements are slow and as inoffensive to her as possible. The minute she shows any signs of flinching, he stops dead-still and waits for her to finish her reaction. He reads every detail of her movements. He is totally accommodating and ever so careful not to annoy.

For her part, she likes his presence — after all, she is walking with him. But she has let him know that he better watch himself — she appears ready to react to any misstep on his part. She rolls in his urine and allows his closeness — if he is careful. They read each other well. She’s been testy recently and he is absolutely walking on eggshells because of it.

I’ve numbered and annotated the 32 slides to explain what is going on in each one.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeffrey Arnold
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 23:58:28

    I live in Los Angeles and lately I have been hearing what soounds like a large pack of coyotes, possibly with pups inn the large overgrown lot across the street. Every time my dog hears them yipping and yapping she runs to the bedroom, which overlooks the lot and gets very excited. Last night,my dog let out two big long howls which I had never heard her do at all before. What do you think was going on there? We see coyotes at night while walking, and she always gets excited but have never heard her howl before. Just curious and looking for answers.


    • yipps
      Mar 30, 2013 @ 04:46:01

      Hi Jeffrey —

      I’m not sure I have an answer for you. I would think your dog is picking up on whatever is going on and feels drawn to it? It’s an energetic and exciting sound: your dog may only be picking up on that, or she may be picking up more. I know coyotes have amazing communication ability between themselves. I wish humans were smart enough to figure out the communication of other species. I think it’s amusing that humans judge other species’ “intelligence” only by our own human standards, which mostly has to do with symbol manipulation. So, a chimp is taught, and can learn, a series of symbols, and can manipulate them for meaning. I would say the chimp is very intelligent for learning our system. But humans don’t seem to be smart enough to learn theirs!! Janet

    • Jeffrey Arnold
      Mar 30, 2013 @ 05:46:53

      Thanks Janet. I have had my dog for three years and never heard her howl until last night. We hear this pack almost nightly. One time we heard it and went outside to see if we could find out where they were. We came upon a group of about five very large coyotes. My dog was also exited at the site of them. When they saw us they each exited stage right and I let my dog smell where they had been. She was also excited by the smells. I think when she hears them she wants to go find them again but we haven’t done that again. Last night we were both at the window listening to them and out came two howls. At first I was surprised but then became curious. I hope to get more responses.

  2. Steven Kan
    Nov 15, 2022 @ 23:47:26

    Is this courting behavior? The smaller (female?) one has just buried some prey in my garden, 50′ off-camera to the left, just before they come on screen.

    The larger (male?) repeatedly puts his paw on the smaller one’s hindquarters.

    She returns for her buried prey 20 minutes after this clip finishes.

    Seems a little early for courting behavior, but maybe it’s year-round in Southern California.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Nov 16, 2022 @ 03:37:16

      Hi Steven — It’s a really nice video! Yes, it looks like a male and female. Well before courting, they’re forming and confirming their bonds. Remember that coyotes (mostly) form lifelong pair bonds. Here is another instance of that where I focus on the excluded pup, but really the same thing is going on as in your video — videoed only a few days ago: Let me know if this helps!! Janet

    • Steven Kan
      Nov 17, 2022 @ 19:02:40

      Hi Janet,

      This is the mated pair that raised 4 pups last season. You can see one nearly-adult pup in the background, at the top of this video:

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Nov 17, 2022 @ 19:14:44

      Nice! So these parents are now playing with each other — you might call it early courtship — confirming and solidifying their continuing partnership. Mating usually doesn’t occur until end of January/February here in San Francisco: climate is a factor in the timing of this. Thank you for sharing! Janet

    • thewaterbug
      Feb 14, 2023 @ 23:49:08

      I don’t speak Coyote, but this definitely looks like courting behavior:

      Looks like more pups coming this Spring!


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