Pupping Season: What Behaviors to Expect If You Have A Dog, and What You Can Do

Coyote pupping season is in full swing, which is obvious from coyote behaviors I’m now observing in our parks. Since mating occurred through mid-February and, now that it is mid-March, dens are being selected and dug. In preparation for the big event, all coyotes, especially males, are vigilantly contributing their share to the process: they are safeguarding their family territories to help make them safe for pups. Where does this come from?

We all need to become aware of coyote behaviors so that we can know how to prevent issues. Coyotes don’t like canine intruders in their territories: they even don’t allow non-family coyotes in. All canines, be they wolves, dogs, foxes or coyotes, don’t really like each other and all will exclude the others, as well as members of their same species who are non-family members, from their territories. This is instinctive behavior. We can’t really change their instincts for survival, but we can learn about them and understand them, and modify our own behaviors, so that all of us — human, cat, dog, coyote — can coexist. The guidelines are few and simple.

What behaviors might you see at this time?

1) Coyotes want you and your dog to know they are around so that you’ll know that the area has been taken and is not up for grabs. One way of letting us know this is being more conspicuous around their denning sites and the adjacent surrounding areas. Increased visibility is a “message” to everyone and it’s a pretty basic way of letting us know they are around.

2) Coyotes also may actually approach dogs to get them to “move on” or “go away.” As you are walking along, a coyote could hurry in your dog’s direction and could even try to sneak up from behind in an attempt to give your dog a little nip or pinch on the hind quarters. Remember that they are approaching your dog, not you. They could try to do this when you aren’t looking at them, even if your dog is leashed. Their aim is not to maim, but to firmly “message” your dog to leave.  A small abrasion or scratch may result. You can prevent this.

What you need to do during this season is:

1) Be aware, alert and vigilant as you walk your dog during this pupping period. If you see a coyote, even if it’s out in the distance, make sure your dog is on a short leash and continue walking on and away from the coyote — you want to totally avoid an encounter. Nonetheless, the coyote, or coyotes, could hurry in your and your dog’s direction — they have a job to do which is instinctive: know what is happening and be prepared.

2) Your safest strategy always is to shorten your leash and walk away from the coyote, dragging the dog after you if you have to, and keep walking away. If you are feeling somewhat cornered or trapped by a coyote — just stop and face the coyote eyeball to eyeball — usually this is all you’ll have to do for the coyote to move on. If the coyote remains there, step in his direction and clap your hands or toss a small stone in his direction (not at him so as not to injure him). If the coyote moves, continue on your way, keeping an eye on him and without running. You may have to do this a second time with a little more energy. He’ll run off, and you, too, should walk on out of the area.

3) One caveat to these guidelines: During pupping season, a coyote defending a denning area will stand his/her ground — they should be allowed to do so. If a coyote displays this behavior, please just leave the area, walking away and not running.

[For more information on coexisting between people, pets and coyotes, see “Coyotes As Neighbors”, a one-stop video presentation, created by Janet Kessler based on her photo-documentation of coyotes in urban parks].

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon
    Mar 30, 2015 @ 17:27:27

    Thank you for this advise, but I must tell you I live in rural Downeast Maine and chances are coyotes are fair game for anyone with a gun! It breaks my heart, the reasons are legion… they run deer…they attack livestock etc. This cause and the hatred of wolves baffles me as an animal lover.


    • yipps
      Mar 30, 2015 @ 17:37:01

      Hi Sharon — Thank you for your comment. Whenever you have the opportunity, please spread understanding and compassion about these animals. Too many folks are sitting back and allowing those with guns to get away with their bloodlust. Most folks agree with us, but we have to do our utmost to be heard. As more people chime in, our voices will become louder — but as many folks as possible need to chime in for this to happen. Let people know what YOU believe, and be strong about it. Convince them of what is right. If you succeed, we gain another voice, and a little more volume. Thank you for supporting wolves and coyotes!

  2. Chico_the_Boston_Terrier
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 23:53:51

    Thank you for this! i never knew about the nip on the hind that they do. I also didn’t realize that they would get so close, I keep Chico leashed in Coyote areas and stay on the trail, and thought that that would be enough. Funny the amount of people that will give me a hard time about having him leashed in these places, and then I tell them about Coyotes, and snakes, etc, and its for my dog’s safety.


    • Ligia
      Oct 26, 2016 @ 21:34:53

      That is so true. I always tell people about coyotes on our area. I understand most people like to let you know they are aware of coyotes, but their dogs walk without a leash. Many times it is the coyotes but we have bicyclists; and some dogs get scared and run away….also snakes…Not everyone listens at the moment, but maybe they do later when they get home.

  3. Phoebe The Rescue Pup
    Jun 06, 2015 @ 14:50:47

    Great article! I have a small pack of coyotes a block away,and your advice is exactly what I do when my dog & I see them around dusk on our walks. It never fails…eye contact,move calmly away. No “hazing” has ever been needed,the yotes get the message immediately. Smart and beautiful critters that I respect. And appreciate for keeping the little varmint population down!


  4. Ligia
    Oct 26, 2016 @ 21:36:00

    Lots of good information….thank you very much


  5. yipps
    Apr 18, 2017 @ 23:56:03

    Reblogged this on Coyote Yipps and commented:

    Reposting this from two years ago by popular demand!


  6. Debra Gagnon
    May 08, 2017 @ 19:50:50

    Yesterday I had my 3 brittanys running along side my atv in a local gravel pit and we stopped so dogs could go swimming. A coyote came up right beside me 20-30 yards away and started barking and howling at dogs and I. I hollered to my dogs to “kennel up” which they jumped in the back of atv and in my lap. As I was hollering at the coyotes and waving my hands at the coyotes another coyote came up and also chimed in by barking also. I saw movement near them so am assuming there were pups in the immediate area that they were protecting. Kind of nerving to say the least.


    • yipps
      May 08, 2017 @ 20:48:59

      Hi Debra — I’m sorry you had a harrowing experience, but, yes, it’s pupping season. You were being warned away from that area. There is unlikely to be another den in the vicinity since coyotes are territorial, so now that you know where the den is, simply avoid that area. Thank you for sharing your experience. Janet

  7. \Chris
    May 12, 2017 @ 01:49:39

    Does anyone know how long they keep the same den or do they leave it and the area once the pups are old enough?


    • yipps
      May 12, 2017 @ 04:29:22

      Hi Chris —

      Coyote dens are similar to bird nests and human cradles: they are for temporary use while the pups are extremely young and nursing. As the pups get older, they begin sleeping out in the open, in safe, secluded areas. Coyote parents often have several dens which they use, changing locations to protect the young from outside predators and from fleas that have accumulated. When pupping season comes around the next year, the same dens could be fixed up for re-use, or they may look for a new location. Coyotes are territorial, so they remain in the same area, the same territory, year after year unless there is a strong reason to leave, such as humans building on the land, a larger predator (wolf) moving in, scarce food, etc. Please let me know if this helps or if you have further questions! Janet

  8. Sarah Paulsen
    Jun 24, 2019 @ 14:49:45

    My dogs discovered a den on our property. Will mother move pups? Want to avoid anyone (coyote or dog) getting hurt. Will keep dogs in for the day and am hoping she moves on. Didn’t actually see pups, but coyote was defending area.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jun 24, 2019 @ 14:58:48

      Hi Sarah — The best would be for you to keep your dog away from that area. The mother coyote indeed CAN move, but moving is a dangerous endeavor, and the location she chose to have her pups — where your dog found the den — is actually the safest place around. It’s the safest from both dogs and hostile coyotes which include any coyotes outside of her own family: coyotes can be brutal towards one another.

      If keeping your dog away from the area is unacceptable to you, you can daily — several times a day — create a bit of intrusive commotion outside the den. Within a few days she would probably move. The younger the pups, the more difficult this will be for the mother.

      I would love to hear back on what you decide! Janet

  9. Marlena Perich
    Oct 03, 2019 @ 19:20:01

    I just have to say, the compassionate message behind your movement & this educational website is so moving to me. I have always adored these creatures. I got to meet a few as a wildlife rehabber in recent years in Ontario Canada. They have such incredible energy & intelligence. There are so many things I just learned reading through & watching your videos too, they are such complex beings, they deserve better understanding. Thank you for being a voice for them.<3


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