A Dog Chase Can Prime A Coyote’s Suspicions About Other Dogs

This morning, I observed a coyote’s “protective mode” kick-in and then linger-on for a while. I’ll try to explain what I mean.

A female coyote was out in a park before dawn, sticking to the park’s edges and hedges as she casually hunted. She just wanted to be left alone to hunt her fill of voles and gophers — critters which tunnel underground. A few runners, walkers and dogs passed by — some noticing her and vice-versa, and some not. When notice of each other was taken, it was taken in-stride by all: humans, dogs, and coyote.


Unleashed dog sees coyote and chases after it

Then a runner who in the past has thrown fits of defiance when asked to leash — “her dog wouldn’t chase coyotes,” she said — came running by with her unleashed dog leading the way. The dog saw the coyote and, of course, made a bee-line for it. The coyote dashed to get away but, as the dog continued its pursuit, the coyote turned around to face her pursuer. In the meantime, the coyote’s “other half” — the male of the pair, who had been resting in the bushes — saw the goings-on and came to the female’s defense. This male will protect his female. And the dog, of course, was now outnumbered and overwhelmed. When this happens, some dogs freeze, not knowing what to do, and it was no different this time. At this point, the runner ran in to retrieve her dog, leashed it, and then ran on, miffed.

Okay, you might think that the incident was over, that the woman runner may now reconsider leashing her dog when coyotes are out (which she has for the few days since) and that is a good thing. But the incident was not over. The coyotes now were “primed”: suspicious, and in “defensive-mode”. I’ve seen this behavior a number of times: where once their defensive-mode kicks in, usually due to being chased, their suspicions and readiness for another incident remains heightened for a while.

While “she” lolled over to an edge of the park and continued hunting for gophers, “he” lay down, claiming a little patch of ground, while keeping a protectively watchful eye on her, and at the same time, keeping a lookout for repeat treatment either from another dog, or maybe from the same dog.

No “suspects” presented themselves, so after not too long, he got up and trotted in her direction. High-pitched barking of a dog from behind a solid wooden fence now began — some dogs can sense the presence of coyotes, even without seeing them.  The male coyote, still suspicious and on-alert, checked out the fence separating him from the yappy dog. But all was secure, so the little dog could not be reached — just annoyingly heard. (This is where the male acquired his cobwebs which I wrote about in the last posting).


Two coyotes who have been “primed” into their protective mode, begin to follow a small dog

There was no threat to the coyotes here, so both coyotes then meandered up a path to leave the area, but a woman with her little Jack Russell now appeared coming towards them. I asked the woman to shorten her leash which she did and she moved off the path, taking a short-cut so as not to get any closer to the coyotes. As she did so, the coyotes themselves trotted away from her and then turned to watch. The coyotes watched her for a moment, and then one of the coyotes, the female this time, began following, and soon the male, too, followed. The woman turned to face the coyotes, which caused the coyotes to freeze and stop advancing. It was the perfect thing to do. But every time the woman then turned to move on, the coyotes continued to follow.

Fleeing from the possibility of a rock missile

Fleeing from the possibility of a rock missile

I suggested she lean down to pick up a rock, which she did — to hold on to “just in case”, she told me — and when she did this, the coyotes hurried off the path and away. They seemed to know this meant business.  Owner and dog then walk on out of the picture. Their moving away from the coyotes showed the coyotes that the owner and dog were not interested in them, which caused the coyotes to lose interest in her and her dog. The coyotes relaxed, spent some time grooming, and then climbed a rock to survey the area from a high vantage point. A runner passed, thrilled that he could see urban coyotes.

A third dog-walker whose dogs growled at the coyote. She walked them on, and away from the coyote.

A third dog-walker whose dogs growled at the coyote. She walked them on, and away from the coyote.

Then one last walker with two large dogs appeared from behind the rocks. One of the dogs saw the male coyote and vice-versa. The dog growled at the coyote who was several hundred feet away. This pricked the coyote’s interest in them — so the coyote headed in the dog’s direction, not getting close, but in clear view. Remember that his suspicion and defensiveness were still running high.  The woman leashed and walked on and away from them — she, too, did the right thing. Walking AWAY from coyotes is the best option always. After watching them walk away — walking away showed him that they were not interested in him — the male coyote turned and went in the opposite direction, until he came to a dense thicket into which he disappeared.

Please Don’t Feed The Coyotes!


[Situation report and photo by Nathan & Yvonne]

This coyote on Rodeo Beach has been wandering around trying to get food from people. Folks are blaming this behavior on the belief that the coyote has become used to people. But “getting used to people” — known as “habituation” — does not cause coyotes to approach people for food, or to approach people at all.  Coyotes actually are naturally wary of people and, habituated or not, will do their best to avoid us. What causes coyotes to approach people for food is the act of feeding them in the first place. It’s called food-conditioning. Feed them once, and they’ll start coming back for more.

“Habituation” and “food-conditioning” are totally different things. Coyotes in all urban centers get used to people and this is not necessarily a bad thing for people, pets or  coyotes. However, food-conditioning is what makes coyotes approach people and it causes problems. Such coyotes hang around in the wrong places. They could become belligerent in their demands for food. And if hand fed, they could end up biting the hand that feeds them.

Many people think they should “scare” coyotes whenever they see them to keep them fearful of people. This is not so. In fact, coyotes often get used to being scared off by people and learn to ignore the tactic. It’s a technique which should be used sparingly if at all. We counsel everyone, especially dog owners, to leash and walk the other way the minute they see a coyote. Keeping the distance between your dog and the coyote is your best insurance against incidents. Incidents really don’t happen all that often — proximity is what sets them off.

And please don’t feed coyotes. By doing so, you are creating the potential for injury to yourself, and the possibility of death for the coyote: “A fed coyote is a dead coyote”. People often want to “eliminate” coyotes who approach people or appear bold.

A Coyote Visited My Home! by Christina


Great blog! Recently caught a coyote on camera in the Aptos area very close to the house. We love coyotes but also have a cat we are concerned for. She’s sort of an outdoor cat, but we keep her in at night. Now she may have to be restricted to her catio while we’re away.

Our new outdoor game camera picked up the two images attached (one still; one movie) Thursday morning in the wee hours at our home in Aptos.  In the movie, he’s sniffing at our bedroom window.  We used to have a bird feeder attached to that window to entertain our cat but the feeder drew rats, not birds, and while that interested our cat it mostly just upset all of us.  (We kidded about it being a potential owl feeder as we have great horned owls in the oak trees nearby!)  I wonder if the coyote had caught rats here before and came for supper or if he heard us or saw the cat in the window.  We have a water basin in the back yard so when he turns to go around the house we think that may have been where he was headed.  This could explain why we haven’t seen the deer herd in our yard for the past week. They’ve probably distanced themselves from the coyote activity.

Note: Please read Melanie Piazza’s information on catios and how to keep your cat safe: Reversing the CATastrophe.

Coyote Afflicted with Mange in Danville, CA is Hit By A Car


Hey everyone, the rules of “don’t feed” are to discourage healthy coyotes from hanging around, but when a coyote, or any animal for that matter, obviously and badly needs help, we need to help it. The advice given to this neighborhood — to not leave out food or water — was thoughtless advice imposed from “rules” that have become too generalized.

Coyotes who are affected by mange, or anything that alters their appearance, are shunned by other coyotes and ousted from their social groups and their territories. Besides causing a very obvious change in the coyote’s appearance, mange also is extremely contagious. The mite causing the skin disease burrows deeply, causing excruciating itching. The coyote scratches so hard that bald spots result on his skin. The skin, then, cannot carry out its protective function. Slowly, all bodily functions become diminished.

The shunning of such an animal by other coyotes may serve to isolate the animal so that these other coyotes do not get infected by the mite. Shunned animals have to make it on their own now, in unfamiliar areas where they may not know the best food sources. So they become more visible not only because they look odd and have lost their camouflage, but also because they are now moving around in new, unfamiliar areas where survival is now that much more difficult. So mange causes both social and bodily issues for coyotes.

People could have helped this coyote both with food and with medications until the animal could be caught and helped more intensively. Instead they were instructed to stick to “rules” which did not fit “the case”. Let’s be humane towards our wild animals — here we could have helped abate the misery of an already suffering animal.


Westside Observer Publishes “Circling The Wagons Around Our Coyotes”

The Westside Observer has published a more concise version (1/3 the length) of the same article which I published here on Coyote Yipps on August 15th. If you didn’t want to read that because it might have been too long, this version is much shorter.


To read on, press here: http://www.westsideobserver.com/news/coyotes.html#sep16

Cindi’s Coyote Puppies in Pacifica, by Cindi


Here is a pic of the family …First time I saw all 4 puppies.

2016-07-28 (1)

This is a photo of one of the new coyote puppies. I took this last week on August 7th. .I was under the impression that there was just one puppy when in fact there are four!! I was happy I was able to get this shot with my zoom lens as puppies run and hide so quickly. He has his father’s beautiful almond shaped eyes!! He is about 3 months old..

[Note: Coyote pups in San Francisco are about this size now — they are about 4 months old]

My Coyotes In Pacifica, by Cindi

 2014-08-27 (1)
I live in Pacifica California. I have a coyote that has been behind my backyard for 6 years. There is a new family..mama and 4 pups..The male sits in the sun and I see him there for hours at a time..there is a eucalyptus grove behind me with lots of undergrowth. My large collie sits in our yard and thankfully this coyote is afraid.. I leave him alone but love watching puppies play..I take tons of photos..
2014-08-15 (1)
The male coyote is called “Mama” because for a year we thought he was a female. He has been on my hill for six years now. These photos are from two years ago, when we were redoing our yard and had NO fence. . .


My collie Kody and the mom and dad coyotes. I DO NOT leave Kody outside when coyotes are on the hill.
 2015-06-11 (1)
Question: Did you build the fence specifically because of the coyotes — to keep a barrier between coyotes and dog? No, we took down a 6 foot deer fence because we built a new step up patio so we could have a view of Montara Mountain. We just put a 42″ wrought iron fence so it would not obstruct the view!! As a matter of fact the puppy coyotes have been walking thru the slats and coming into my yard at different times of night! There is no food out there but one night two were playing on my artificial lawn!

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