Young Pups Left Alone Hide From All Perceived Dangers

Coyote youngsters are often left alone as their parents go off hunting or trekking. What do they do when they are left alone? They like to explore, sticking to the areas immediately around where their parents have left them — a healthy wariness and fear keeps them put.

From a substantial distance, I’ve seen them pounce on things, pull on sticks, wander around and mostly WATCH what is going on in the distance while sitting very still. If they catch you eyeing them, they’ll hurry away and hide, but first they’ll sit still for a few moments to confirm for themselves that you are actually looking at them. They may move to behind some minimal covering from where they’ll watch for another few minutes, and then, they’ll bound out of sight altogether where they know they will be safer.

pup plays with Mom by pulling on her ear

pup plays with Mom by pulling on her ear

It’s always an exciting event when parents return. After all, parents are not just providers and protectors, they are also playmates. When a parent returns, some of the pups’ shy wariness is tossed aside, but not all of it. For instance, seeing a dog in the distance is a red flag which causes youngsters to run for cover, even if a parent is right there.

With a parent at their side, they are willing to banter and play in little patches of exposed areas between the bushes, even if someone is watching — and they are always aware of all eyes on them — as long as the parent is comfortable with this. Pups take their cues from their parents: one whisper or “look” from a parent indicating that things might not be safe sends youngsters lickety-split into hiding.

A New Wound


This new wound stands out, not only because it was not there yesterday, but because of its flaming blood-red coloring. This is a four-inch gash which, however, looks as though it has not ripped through the skin. My guess is that it was caused by some man-made item which the coyote encountered during a recent trek.

Living in the wild is not easy. Let’s not make it any harder for them. If you have pipes or anything sharp which could injure our wildlife, please try to remove these things from your yards. Our wild animals do not have the benefit of medicine which we and our domestic pets have. Let’s hope this heals quickly without getting infected.

“Lick Your Chops!”


A fellow recently told me that what was upsetting him and some of the other dog walkers in one of the parks, was that coyotes were ignoring their yelling and arm flinging — the coyotes were simply not responding to human efforts to get them to move: they just stood there and watched. I told this to my husband who laughed and said, “Tell him to lick his chops.”

Although tongue-in-cheek, it really is relevant. You can’t just throw a tantrum. You can’t just flail your arms and yell at a coyote who is trying to message a dog to keep away. Coyotes become habituated to this treatment by humans and, over time, will ignore it. After all, it isn’t something that actually hurts them.

Instead, you have to actually approach them. Do so by eyeballing them, eye-to-eye, so that they know you are targeting them, and do so menacingly as you yell “SCRAM” — you want them to know you are out to get them. It’s the *approaching* which matters the most and lets them know that you mean business — that you are not just bluffing. So go after them like you mean it, “licking your chops!”

There is ONE CAVEAT which you NEED to be aware of: A coyote will put its life at risk to protect pups and a den area. IF a coyote absolutely doesn’t move, it’s best for you to move on rather than provoke an incident. If the coyote does not respond to your charging at it, make sure your dog is leashed and walk away from the coyote and out of the area — do not run.

I’ve already pointed out that “harassing” a coyote by “making noise”, “flailing your arms” and “looking big” — is not a fail-safe technique to make them move out of your path. After a time, it does not work because coyotes get used to it — habituated to it — and think it’s just a very quirky human behavior. They know you mean nothing by it because there are no adverse consequences for them caused by your yelling or flailing your arms.

However, actually approaching forces them to move away from you, and doing so menacingly while making eye-contact is something they understand. Since they do not want you to get close — they will move. You could speed the process up by adding noise, such as clapping and yelling, or by tossing a small pebble towards the coyote (not at him so as to injure him). Again, this works unless there are pups around.

So, “lick your chops” and act as if you’re out to get them if you have a need to move a coyote away from your dog or out of your path. Please see the demo of this in “Coyotes As Neighbors”, a slide/video presentation on coexisting with urban coyotes.

[And take a look at a very informative and interesting comment to this post by Charles Wood by clicking “comments” under the date of the posting]

Coyote And Squirrel

No words are needed. This coyote’s eyes say it all! The coyote plopped down on the ground and for minutes on end kept a hungry eye on the squirrel who chattered and fussed and flailed its tail provokingly at the coyote. The squirrel had actually gotten away by the skin of its teeth when the coyote lunged at him just a moment before scampering up the tree, so the coyote must have been miffed, which explains his expression. In the end, the coyote got up and left, and the squirrel did too, but not until the coyote was way down the path!

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Watching Dog Activity With Trepidation: Photo

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She stopped her low-key foraging on a hillside to keep a wary eye on some distant dogs that easily could have come after her, as many have. They didn’t, and she returned to her foraging activity. All in the day of a young urban coyote.

San Francisco: Habitat and Place

Someone recently asked me to post something about San Francisco as habitat and place — it was suggested that “context” would be of interest to people not living here. What a great idea! I’ve basically done this with a few telling photos which I’ve divided up into the subdivisions below, beginning with the Google map which you can zoom in on, then aerial photos, then downtown and then the neighborhoods, parks and coyotes.

In a nutshell, San Francisco is a 49-square-mile peninsula connected to land only in the south. It is known for its hills and for its flat dune areas. Human population officially is only about 800,000, but San Francisco serves a much wider area of about eight million people. Take a look! Because of being on the coast and having fog, the weather in San Francisco is very mild, with temperatures averaging in the 50-60-70s. However, we’ve had snow a couple of times that I remember, and I remember the day it got to 104 degrees — these extremes are RARE!

We have wonderful wildlife, as can be seen in the link here:

GOOGLE MAP shows the city with its green spaces and grid system as a whole

AERIAL VIEWS OF THE CITY below include, first, a view SE from the Presidio, near the Golden Gate Bride, and second, a look east and slightly north from the middle of Golden Gate Park. These show a high-rise downtown area in the NE corner of San Francisco, a very hilly central part of the city, and flat dunes in the western section, which includes Golden Gate Park and access to the ocean beaches.

Most folks think of the tall buildings of DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO, seen below, when they think of San Francisco

Most of SAN FRANCISCO NEIGHBORHOODS, such as the following, are interlaced with greenways and trees

SAN FRANCISCO PARKS, like those shown below, offer excellent habitat for coyotes. The nativists of the city are bent on removing this growth in favor of desert scrub, but the vast majority of San Franciscans love the existing growth that has become naturalized in the city, including the fabulous Eucalyptus, and they are battling to preserve it.

COYOTES are out and about — usually when humans are not or when humans are sparse. We have several dozen in the city. Although they shy away from people, they’ll give territorial messages to dogs, and small pets may look like any other prey to them: it’s best to keep your pets leashed when out walking them!

Dog Chases Coyote, Coyote Chases Back, Walkers Cheer For Coyote!

dog chases coyote

What first caught my attention on this foggy San Francisco morning was a dog running at ultra-high speed down an embankment. Then I heard someone yelling for his dog, with the tell-tale panicky tone which is always a dead-giveaway for what is going on. The dog was a young, small German Shepherd, maybe 70 pounds, while the coyote it was chasing was a small 30 pounder. The dog was persistent and fast, but the coyote was faster. They raced around a large field several times while onlookers froze, wishing the dog would stop.

dog and coyote face each other

The dog would not respond to his owner’s frantic calls. The coyote finally stopped and stood still, which left the dog in the lurch — what to do now? Each animal looked at the other: the coyote was assessing his pursuer. Coyotes can read a dog’s character and intentions visually. One look at the German Shepherd told the coyote that this animal was all bluff. But all bluff or not, the coyote did NOT like being chased. Now the tables were turned. The dog, seeing that the coyote seriously meant business, began running away — fast, lickety-split, with its tail tucked under. The sullen bystanders suddenly perked up and cheered for the coyote: “Yay, Coyote! Way to go!”

coyote chases back

At this point, the dog decided to take refuge next to its owner, and as it reached its owner, the coyote stopped and turned to go the other way. The coyote, who simply needed to message the dog to leave him alone, would not get any closer to the human owner. Most unleashed dogs, by the way, will chase a coyote the minute they see it. The owner gave the dog a thorough body-check for nips: there had been none — this time. Hopefully the dog was sorry and won’t do it again, but often it takes a good nip before some dogs learn to leave coyotes alone. Please remember that your safest recourse is always preventative. When you see a coyote, shorten your leash and walk on and away from the coyote.

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Coyote looks back as the owner examines his dog, and then trots away

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