Friendly Coyote-Dog Contact

Recently I observed actual contact — friendly contact — between a young insatiably curious coyote and a dog in one of our parks. A fairly small unleashed dog headed to the bushes where a squirrel was jumping around. The coyote has had his eye on this particular squirrel and the bushes it lives in for a long time, so I’m sure the coyote claimed them as his own. I don’t know if the coyote approached the area initially for the squirrel, as the dog had, or if it was another instance of the coyote’s keen interest in particular dogs.

The coyote reached the dog — the dog owner was not within view. The dog neither ran off in fear, nor showed any antagonism whatsoever towards the coyote. Rather, the dog stood totally still with its ears back and allowed the coyote to sniff from behind. Coyotes approach animals always, if possible, from behind, where there are no teeth! When the dog turned it’s head to look at the coyote — facing the coyote — the coyote’s hackles went up high and it flinched in preparation to flee.  But the dog again looked away, so the coyote continued sniffing and investigating the not-unfriendly dog.

No tails were wagging, so it was not necessarily a “happy” moment. It was more of a “discovery” moment, with neither canine nor canid knowing what to expect from the other, yet each sensed something other than hostility or antagonism from the other. Each animal was allowing an unknown stranger — therefore possible danger — into its personal space. Neither animal was trusting nor overwhelmingly apprehensive, but their mutual hesitant behavior showed that they each had inklings of both. They touched one another briefly and then it was time to go. Both of these canines are full-grown youngsters, about 18 months of age. The coyote is a young male, the dog is a fixed female.

At this point the owner appeared and we discussed that leashing was a good idea in the area.  Since we don’t want to encourage interactions between pets and wildlife in an effort to keep the wildlife wild, we’re suggesting dogs always be kept away from coyotes: the greater the distance, the better: coexistence works best when minimum boundaries of 30-50 feet are maintained with people. These boundaries should be increased to minimum 100 feet when dogs are involved, at a minimum. Best policy is always to tighten your leash and walk the other way.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Frances Cleveland
    Dec 26, 2020 @ 18:37:54

    Dear Janet,

    I have a question about encounters one of my dogs has had with coyotes.

    I live in Littleton, CO, and our property is surrounded by open space. We have lived here for over 20 years. One of our male dogs, Otis, has had some “interesting” encounters with two coyotes that live in this area. I did not see the first one, but my husband described it as if they were playing. I question that observation. My husband was fixing some fencing when one coyote approached. My husband said they were play bowing and chasing each other. Otis followed the coyote, and when my husband felt it was too far, and went and retrieved Otis.

    In the second interaction, our dogs were out in the fields and the two resident coyotes showed up. Our dogs chased them, and then we went to retrieve them. When we got there, they were all running around in the tall grass. I called our dog Indie and put him in the Gator, but Otis was following them. What I saw: one coyote stay close with Otis; the other went farther off. I saw the coyote hunch its back and run at Otis, I guess one could mistake this for play bowing, but I felt it was more aggressive. And the two coyotes were making those sounds in video #1. It took us a while to get Otis; he kept following them. (I want to let you know that Otis is a very timid dog.)

    The third incident happened at night, Otis chased a rabbit from the barn area, and those two coyotes were in the field. Otis went up to our fence line and was barking at them. I had a flashlight shining on them, and I felt the coyotes were aggressive towards him. Otis stood his ground and would not leave. When I finally retrieved Otis, he was bleeding from his tail and had a bite mark, like scratches from their teeth on his butt area under his tale. The bites were not deep. My husband feels they were playing ruff with Otis.

    What is happening between all three of them?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: