Coyote Speaks Her Mind, An Update

I want to update the continuing story of the loner coyote I wrote about in: Coyote Speaks Her Mind to the Dog Who Chased Her Three Weeks Ago! The story through that posting evolved from a dog who repeatedly chased the coyote, to the coyote finally vocalizing her distress at being chased while remaining hidden in the bushes.

Soon thereafter, this coyote would follow that dog, which is now kept leashed, screaming out her anguish, now in plain view — no longer hidden in the bushes. For months this behavior continued, daily, and then the vocalizations stopped, but the following behavior still continued, always at a safe and great distance. 

One might ask, “Why would a little coyote follow a dog — even a large 100 pound dog — if she were fearful of the dog?  The answer appears to be that ‘following’ is used by coyotes both to escort out and to assure themselves that a threatening (or perceived as threatening) animal is leaving an area. It is a territorial behavior. Coyotes’ survival depends on their territoriality: they claim, and exclude other coyotes, from the land which will supply them with, and ensure them a supply of,  food and protection from competitors. The screaming, which incorporates deep raspy sounds, is a brave warning, more bluff than anything else, but also a release of the coyote’s distressed feelings. The coyote appears totally aware that the dog is tethered: she has fled like a bullet when the dog got loose and turned towards her.

The little coyote’s behavior towards that dog is continuing to evolve. Yesterday, after seeing the dog in the far distance, she simply ran the other way and disappeared from view over the crest of the hill before the dog had a chance to see her!

A few days ago, having seen the dog from a great distance, she ran off and hid rather than take a chance at being seen.

Crouching low the minute she saw the dog, in hopes of not being seen

And today, the little coyote didn’t notice the dog — the dog is walked daily in the park — until the dog already was close by. Her evasive strategy this time involved crouching down into the grasses and ducking so as not to be seen. She was not seen by the dog, but she was seen by the owner.  She remained in her crouched-down spot as the dog didn’t seem to notice her (the dog was leashed and couldn’t have moved towards the coyote even if she had wanted to). 

The coyote got up and watched them walk away and disappear over the horizon and then took after them, but remaining out of sight.  She spotted them at the crest of a hill where she sat and kept an eye on them from the distance until they left. This owner is doing as much as he can to avoid conflict by walking his dog on the leash and always walking away from the coyote. Fortunately, he is fascinated and amused by her behavior!

By the way, I have seen this same behavior in a number of females, and one male coyote — it’s not so unusual, so folks with dogs should be aware of it so they don’t freak out if it happens towards their dog. What to do? Simply shorten your leash and keep walking away from the coyote. Also, try to minimize visual communication between your dog and a coyote — the communication is most likely to be negative, so why even go there? Again, simply shorten your leash and walk on and away.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail
    Feb 20, 2018 @ 14:19:55

    Really enjoy this little saga and your efforts to encourage folks to “think like a coyote”. It would eliminate so much unfounded fear. Very educational. Thanks, Janet!


  2. toni kline
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 18:59:41

    Janet, it’s me, Toni, the early-morning runner. i haven’t seen Darktail in over a month. is she ok? i didn’t see you either, which really worried me. is she ok…and are you? thanks, Toni


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Mar 06, 2018 @ 23:59:11

      Hi Toni! Nice to hear from you! Darktail (!) is fine, but her habits have changed. She’s less interested in people, dogs and cars than she used to be. Yay!! Her hill-sessions have been reduced to only a very few minutes at a time, and they are pretty early — though probably not as early as you. That’s why you are missing her. I’ve taken on a few more distant hills, so I have to divide my time between them. Hugs, and keep up the running! Hope to run into you sometime soon. :)) Janet

  3. Toni
    Mar 08, 2018 @ 05:16:09

    thanks for the information. i feel much relieved,and, although i miss her running with me, it’s far better for her.
    your photos are amazing, by the way.
    how i love those critters. long may they prevail


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