Siccing Your Dog On Coyotes Is NOT Cool


Some unleashed dogs, through the negligence of their owners, run off chasing coyotes. If your dog has a tendency to get excited and wants to chase coyotes, you need to keep your dog leashed or walk in a different area. The problem is the repeat offenders: it appears to always be the same few unrestrained dogs who go chasing after coyotes because their owners refuse to leash them when coyotes are around.  But even worse are the dog owners who blatantly prompt their dogs to go after coyotes: I’ve seen this innumerable times, and I’ve heard stories from others who have recounted their observations of this dog-owner behavior. This is not cool. It might be entertaining and fun for the dog owner, but it is not so for the coyotes, nor for other folks in the park who have watched this happen. In fact, it’s illegal to harass the wildlife in San Francisco. Another variation of this human behavior is to leash their dog and then proceed to approach the coyote as close as possible.

Coexistence involves respecting the wildlife and not interfering with it. It involves keeping your distance to begin with. It means leashing and walking on, away from the coyote whenever you see one. It means advising other walkers with dogs if a coyote is out and where it is so that they can take the proper preventative precautions — it’s important to prevent all interactions by keeping these species as far apart as possible. It means understanding that a coyote might approach your dog for territorial reasons or, if your dog is very small, it might even grab your dog. These contingencies are easily avoided by keeping vigilant, by keeping your distance, and by walking on, away from the coyote. Coexistence also means knowing how to shoo one away if there is an encounter which is uncomfortably close or if a coyote approaches your dog. See the YouTube video, “How To Shoo Off A Coyote.”

Please don’t allow your dog to go after coyotes, and please let others know that doing so is not cool. In fact, it hurts everyone in the park when the coyotes are taught by this treatment that they must remain suspicious of dogs even if they are out in the distance. They are territorial and NEED to defend their space — and they are more likely to do so when provoked. To prevent inciting this instinct, we need to keep away from them. It’s not hard to do: I see folks constantly doing their part to make coexistence work. So please let’s all help those not in-the-loop to come into the loop by letting them know good/safe practices and why keeping our distance and moving on is so important.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deb
    Feb 09, 2016 @ 19:43:09

    What about when the dog is defending its territory? We have a resident coyote pack near our new home – 35 acres in remote farmland in the foothills. My dog (and me) have howled in response to hearing the coyotes, but they have always remained at a distance.

    Today, however, I heard my dog barking (he rarely does) and went out to investigate. He was on the deck barking at the trees. Moments later I heard barking back. My presence must have emboldened my dog, because he then rushed the coyote, who was on the other side of the creek perhaps 100 meters from the house. My dog sent it packing, then returned, though I admit I was concerned about the coyote running back to the safety of the pack…

    What concerned me about this is that from what I have read, coyotes typically bark in defense, but this seemed to be more offensive. We have only lived here for just under a year, but my dog doesn’t leave the property and is very aware of his territory, so to speak. Why would a coyote suddenly start coming to the edge of my/my dog’s territory and barking at him in the middle of the day? This is also the first time I have noticed the coyotes anywhere near our property – it being winter the tracks in the fields only show deer, fox and smaller – no coyote trails.

    My other question, is that is this then a slightly different situation than siccing your dog on a coyote in the park? I would think it is appropriate for my dog to be escorting coyotes away from his territory, but if there is a better solution I would love to learn it. Tying up a farm dog is not really pragmatic, though if I am just being delusional I could restrict my dog’s unsupervised time outside.

    Thank you for your informative articles – they are by far the best information I have found on this topic!


    • yipps
      Feb 10, 2016 @ 04:10:08

      Hi Deb — Thank you for contacting me. I sent your inquiry on to a behaviorist whose opinion I seek now and then. This is her response:
      Coyotes are aware of minute changes in their environment and probably picked up on the scent and presence of your dog. Coyotes may bark when alarmed, but also when they are trying to establish spatial distances, called vocal-ranging. It’s also to attract attention. Not a good idea to howl at them – it may get them more curious about what is going on around your property. Best to keep your dog in when it appears the coyotes are around. If your dog has naturally marked his territory with urine, etc. the coyotes will pick up on that – however, it could very well be that your property is already marked as a part of the coyote’s home range, and your dog could be seen as the intruder, not the other way around. Your dog’s temperament will establish whether it will be a friendly encounter with coyotes or not. I would keep physical interactions from happening by restricting your dog’s unsupervised outdoor playtime. There are other animals out there that he can get into trouble with as well.

  2. Deb
    Mar 04, 2016 @ 04:49:47

    Thank you very much for the response! Yes, we’ve discovered that other animals can be trouble too, so far it’s skunks 2 – Scout 0.

    This was very informative, thank you! I had been thinking that howling back would be a good way of establishing our territory so that they know it’s taken and to stay out. But if it is more likely to draw them in that is the last thing I want!

    This was very helpful. Thanks again!


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