Some Thoughts: studying coyotes, individuality

A thought about studying animal life. I know it is the norm to interfere in an animal’s life to study it: to take the animal out of its environment, to handle it and mark it, to attach devices to it, to stick it in a cage or enclosure, to make it endure what we have in mind for it — basically to disrupt an animal’s life or interfere just because it is convenient for the study. Most of the time this is not necessary. When a coyote advocate suggested that we shoot colored paintballs at them so that we humans “could more easily identify each one” I became aware of how humans place their own desires and needs for convenience first, before that of the animal. Every single animal, when it is caught and handled by a human, is absolutely terrified for its life — no matter how short or humane the treatment might be called.

My point is that if we care for the animal, this should come first. It should come before our own needs, and it should come before our reputations in our fields of study. We do not need to disrupt or interfere in an animal’s life to learn about it. The animals can be studied, and probably to better effect, if they are just left alone, with their families, and in their territories. It is with their families and those they have bonded with that we can discover the richness of their emotional life and where the richness of interactive behavior can be found. Interfering disrupts every aspect of their lives and alters it, often absolutely.

I also think, unconventionally, that if you are particularly “into” an animal — seeing it with empathy and understanding — that it really knows this and develops a certain trust for you, so that it could very well be somewhat “into” you — allowing you a view what it might guard from others: this is a mutual respect relationship. Animals who reveal themselves to you, because they want to, will show you more about themselves than you could ever learn by simply watching them. Examples of this approach which I can think of include Jane Goodall and Farley Mowat, and there are others. I know this is considered totally inadequate and definitely contrary to scientific methods by many animal behaviorists, yet I’m seeing that more and more animal scientists are turning more and more in this direction. They now name the animals they work with instead of relying on numbers, and they recognize different individual personalities of each animal, and treat them with empathy.

Individual Personalities count as such a big factor when looking at behavior of any species. More and more people have been able to see this: just go to YouTube to see accounts of “individual” animals — individual personalities rather than what we have all learned as generalities. The problem with categorical descriptions is that people begin to actually SEE the categories instead of the truth. In human terms, this included blonds in the 60s, hippies in the 70s, blacks way back in history. The truth is that there is much more to an animal or human than a category or generalization; and generalizations that hold for a group are almost never entirely true for each individual.

Sharks and Coyotes: on being fed

I met Hervé with his young Rottweiler today in the park. He wanted to know if I had seen any coyotes — he has seen me photographing them. He wanted me to know that his dog had had two encounters with the coyotes recently, very peaceful ones. He said he had seen a coyote right in the open during the day, that the coyote had come up to his dog and sniffed its rear end, then departed. I asked him how his dog had acted around the coyote, and he told me that his dog was uninterested. This is a pattern I am finding. Seldom if ever do coyotes approach a dog who is right next to its owner. However, a couple of times I have seen a calm dog, which has been allowed to wander off a bit, actually greeted by a coyote which is nearby — usually with a brief sniffing before taking off. These dogs are calm and uninterested in coyotes, dogs who mind their own business and are not out to pursue the coyote.

It is the dogs that pursue and chase the coyotes which are the problem. Coyotes are even aware of the leashed dogs who lunge in their direction. The other day Hervé had heard a coyote barking loudly, while a woman yelled ineffectively for her dog to come: this was obviously an incident of a dog chasing a coyote. A coyote will defend itself when chased. Most often the coyote will react by barking, but there have been several instances of the coyote pursuing and nipping at a dog’s haunches to get it to move away from itself. This defensiveness is as close to aggression as the coyotes have ever gotten in our parks. We have very peaceful coyotes in our area.

We then talked about the group in the park who have been throwing stones at the coyotes and yelling at people who get close to them, claiming that habituation leads to aggression. He was very puzzled: “Why would habituation lead to aggression?” I told him that I had contacted one of our premier coyote behaviorists who said “It doesn’t, habituation does not lead to aggression.” Very few coyotes ever become aggressive at all. In an urban setting, coyotes are going to get accustomed to having people around — that is the nature of the situation. What does cause aggression is feeding. Feeding is at the root of all aggression and has to be absolutely avoided.

Hervé gave me some insight into this. He told me about shark and grouper behavior when they are fed. This information seems quite relevant to our coyotes. He is a scuba diver. He told me that groups of people, usually on tours, actually feed the sharks — sometimes by hand — to attract them. The sharks have gotten used to this, and have come to expect it. But, then, when a different group of people come by that don’t feed the sharks — they don’t know that the sharks now expect to be fed — the sharks actually pursue these people for what they have come to expect, and they do so aggressively. Groupers are known to do the same thing. In this manner, feeding leads to aggression. This type of occurrence is common knowledge among scuba divers, he told me.

This might be exactly what occurs when coyotes are fed. This is the sequence that people have to know about. Never ever feed a coyote. Feeding coyotes is the root of all aggression towards humans.

Does Habituation Mean Eventual Aggression?

Most of us are thrilled to have coyotes return to our city parks, and we want to protect them in this environment that they have chosen.  Protecting them entails respecting their needs: especially, keeping them wild by absolutely never feeding them, and keeping our dogs from pursuing them — this being their primary irritant in the parks: both of these could lead to future problems. But also we need to allow them to live peacefully, so that they feel comfortable enough to stay. Our parks are one of the safest places for them to live — they will not find a safer place if they are harassed into moving on.

However, a few individuals in one park have taken it upon themselves to create fear in the coyotes by pursuing them with rocks or sticks — even when the coyotes are far away from these people. These same individuals have also been accosting those they’ve seen within a certain distance of the coyotes. Their reasoning is that they had heard that habituation leads to aggression.

We know that in urban parks, coyotes will get accustomed to people — it is the nature of the situation. I wrote to one of our renowned coyote behavior experts regarding coyote habituation and where it might lead. I asked this professor if habituation meant eventual aggression? How close is “too close”?  I have copied his responses here, in their entirety. I have not including his name since I did not ask his permission to do so, but maybe I will. His responses are in brown, which follow my questions:

*Is visibility the same as habituation? Not necessarily – there are individual differences that must be taken into account …

*Does habituation mean aggression? Not at all

*What is too close?  Depends on the individual coyote, time of year etc etc … I don’t see any measure being generalized to all coyotes … we need to remember that speaking about ‘the’ coyote is misleading because of individual differences …

*Will a coyote’s defensiveness against dogs lead to aggression? Depends on the coyote. . but defensiveness can be a factor among a number of different species….

*Is it okay to throw rocks at or around coyotes to create fear? Can’t answer this but hazing can work … I’m just not sure about throwing rocks … on the other hand it could make them mad and then there could be a problem

*How to encourage keeping dogs leashed around coyotes? Enforce penalties for not doing so .. enforcement is key …

*The idea of stress on the coyotes making them nervous? Depends on the individual .. there will be difference in tolerance for sure …

*I also have read that habituation is not what leads to aggression, that few coyotes ever become aggressive. Instead, the positive correlation, I’ve read, is between artificial feeding and aggression? Typically feeding can lead to aggression habituation … feeding is simply a no no and must never be done … it’s the root of all ‘problems’ …

Four Hours in the day of an Urban Coyote

What does a coyote do all day? It occurred to me that it would be enlightening to see how a coyote spends its day — the part of the day when people are in the park. So I decided to watch one for as long of a stretch as I could. I actually tried this several times, but the coyotes always vanished too soon to call it a day. But, finally I was able to get four hours of continual notes and photos on a coyote. I made a diary of this.The total territory covered by the coyote during these four hours was a mile, encompassing a peripheral trail that rejoins itself, which the coyote crossed back over several times.

Coyotes probably sleep from late morning until late afternoon, because I almost never see them during that time: so I am assuming that after the activity I recorded here, the coyote trotted off for a nap. In addition, there are the dawn, dusk and night hours which are more active for a coyote, with more social activity, hunting and probably playing.

My camera time-stamps my photos, so I was able to record everything solely with my camera! There is no “typical” day, I know. During other days, I have seen this coyote for shorter lengths of time during which there were long hunting sessions, lots of barking sessions, long resting sessions — 3 hours once in one location, following a walker, and so on. But I wanted to put one sequence together, and here it is:

6:00 am: I arrived in one of the city parks to find a coyote calmly resting on an incline. I walked up to a rare pre-dawn dog walker. We noticed two other coyotes close by, young ones, her grown offspring. These stayed together and did some digging. The dog stayed on the path with us. Then the dog moved off the path a bit, causing one of the youths to move further off, but the other one approached the dog, never coming right up to it — this coyote was cautiously interested in the dog. We could see we humans were keeping the coyote at bay: coyotes always keep their distance from people. The walker decided to walk on. Because of the movement, both young coyotes ran into the distance.

6:35 I returned to watch the coyote still resting on the hill. She sat up and seemed to focus attention towards the other side of the park: maybe more walkers could be heard arriving at the park — or maybe she was keeping tabs on another offspring? I suggest this, because later on I saw another offspring in the area this coyote was watching.

At 6:41 one of the youths took off into the brush. The first coyote then got up and stretched, and walked up to the path I was on, but further ahead. The coyote followed the trail right up to where the second youth was still hanging out. These two coyotes had a fabulous face-to-face greeting — the warmth they displayed was extremely charming: they looked right at each other and nuzzled one another. The mother stretched her nose over that of the younger one. The mother then sat down for a few moments next to the young one, then stood up again as the youth trotted off down a trail. Had the mother signaled this one to do so?

6:48 The mother remained. She lifted her forelegs onto a rock to give herself elevation, and she watched the young one trot off. Now alone, she walked over to the other side of the rocks, sat, and looked over the entire area — scoping out the place. There was no activity to be seen.

At 6:54 she decided to move on, stopping to scratch herself on her back in two ways:  with her hind leg and by bending her head over her back to scratch with her teeth. Then she continues on. She has purpose in her gait. At 6:59 she climbs up an outcropping of rocks. Here the intensity of her attention is increased — you can see this by the look in her eye and by the way she turns her head and holds it still. She appeared to be scoping out the area — listening for and looking for something, which could have been more dogs and walkers arriving at the park.

7:00 She scurried down from the high rock after a couple of minutes, and, again, with a quickness and definite purpose in her gait, headed to a favorite knoll of hers where I have seen her often, arriving there in about 4 minutes. Here she first sat, looking around, but then settled into lying down with her head up. She observed the walkers below. There were only about 3 dogs and walkers, but she knows some of them by sight. I notice that her attention was pulled up the hill, so I look up there, and for a few brief moments, at 7:27, saw one of her pups. He returned to hide in the brush almost immediately. Did she come over here to keep an eye on him? Her attention then returned to the walkers for the next little while. She was totally relaxed. During this time I was able to talk to some walkers. We talked about the prevailing issues: that there are several coyotes, that they are peaceful, that dogs should be kept away from them, that all incidents have involved dogs, that a small group has been throwing rocks at them, that someone might be feeding them, and about my photographing them. The coyote adjusted her position several times, but stayed right here.

At 7:42, after about 40 minutes here, the coyote decided to move on. First, she stretched and yawned — she does this often after a rest. Then she wandered, rather casually and slowly, down, around and back to the area where she had shown affection to the other pup. She continued her meandering beyond this point, stopping occasionally to study movement in the ground — there are lots of gopher and vole holes in the area, but no real hunting took place. At 8:09 she heard and saw one of the dog walkers — a woman who throws rocks at the coyote. The coyote knows all walkers and dogs individually, and knows how to avoid being seen. So the coyote carefully slithered into the brush area where she remained fairly still until the woman passed, and then continued her slow easy walk up an incline. At this point, at 8:12, a man appeared on the trail which is off to one side, with a small unleashed dog. I let the man know that the coyote was out in case he might want to leash his dog. He thanked me, leashed up and continued his walk. He never even saw the coyote. The coyote had been absolutely still during my communication with the man, but then slowly continued her meanderings.

Between 8:16 to 8:21 the coyote stopesd to hunt: she saw movement on the ground which probably appeared more promising than before — either of a vole or gopher. She stoped and remained till and kept her attention on this place for a full 5 minutes. Occasionally she looked up and moved a little bit and cocked her head, but she remained poised to catch something. Nothing came of it this time. One morning I saw her catch three gophers, eat two of them and carry the 3rd one off — but not this day.

At 8:25 she reached the street, where a woman and her dog decided to avoid the coyote by going in another direction. A little boy and his dad noticed the coyote — no big deal for them — they told me they wanted to give the coyote plenty of space, so they make a wide circle and head into the park.

At this point I lost the coyote for a few minutes, but not for long. Within less than a minute, the coyote was dashing through the wooded area right by the street in pursuit of a dog. This coyote only chases dogs who have come after her. All became quiet at this point, in fact, it was always quiet except for the rustle of the shrubbery as the animals sped by. As far as I could tell, the dog returned to its owner, because shortly thereafter, at 8:36, I found the coyote headed in a different direction.

The coyote was on some steps, “scooting” — I speculate that she might have worms since I’ve seen her do this several times. A woman was walking her dogs on the path below. She noticed the coyote and walked on. The coyote took the woman’s same path but was not  pursuing, and their directions soon diverged. The coyote then suddenly acquired purpose and direction in her gait.

From 8:42 – 9:27 she arrived and remained at a place several hundred feet away from her favorite knoll. She sat and watched for a few moments, and then circled around to lie down. Everything was quiet at first. But then a man way in the distance below began throwing a ball up the hill for his dog, and the dog retrieved it. He finally was amazed to see the coyote and stopped his activity. The coyote remained totally at rest and relaxed, eyes half-closed. Another dog walker passed on a path way above, she told me her dog does not chase coyotes and it didn’t. Another woman walked her dog on the path below: when I let her know about the coyote right there, she thanks me and leashed up. Everything was very calm that morning.

By 9:28 the coyote was on the move again, this time again slowly meandering, up to a high area in the park through a thicket area. She ended up at the crest of some high cliffs where she found a puddle of water which she lapped up at 9:36. She stood up high here, taking in what was below, scoping out the area for about 4 minutes. She finally stretched and yawned, ever so slowly, before quickening her pace and heading through the thicket below again. She meandered casually in this area, probably looking for any movement that would suggest prey. This area is right next to a trail. At 9:43, as some hikers walked by, she sat still, absolutely quiet, and watched them. They did not see her at all. When they were gone, she got up, pooped, and continued her slow wandering. Then two more walkers and their dog went by as had the previous walkers. This time the coyote took their same path — they are headed in the same direction as the coyote had been going. Since their dog was not leashed, I let them know that the coyote was right in back of them. When they turned around, the coyote headed down a hill, but remained within our sight. It was a nice time to talk about how much we all like this peaceful coyote — peaceful unless chased. They departed.

By 9:46 the coyote was back at her favorite knoll, not totally resting, but sitting up this time. About 8 walkers with their dogs passed by below — about 100 feet from the coyote, few of whom saw the coyote.

At 9:58 a fairly large dog came up in the direction of the coyote, but not after her. She prepared for the dog — just in case — but the dog went on after its owner. For some reason she decided to check this dog out, so she followed them. However, she stopped the minute she saw several other people on the narrow path ahead. She turned back and then headed for an area which is not frequented by people, but then she stopped short. I noticed a large poodle in her path. So I let the owner know that the coyote was right here, could he please leash up to avoid trouble? He defiantly ignored me. So his dog wemt after the coyote, way up the hill, barking at her, as he yelled ineffectively at his dog. The coyote ran off, but then turned around with her defensive stance. She did not pursue the dog but stood her ground. The owner was finally able to grab his dog by the collar and drag it down to the main path. As he got down on this path he released his dog. One of the responsible walkers below yelled at him that he was an idiot for not leashing his dog after that incident.

At 10:00 The coyote disappeared into the direction she was headed and that was the last I saw of her this day.

In Summary, during these four hours, she spent about:

  • 50 minutes: watching her pups as she relaxed
  • 2 minutes: trotting towards her pup
  • 3 minutes:  warmly greeting her pup
  • 6 minutes: surveying the territory from a rise in the ground
  • 6 minutes: purposeful walking – seems like she had a destination in mind
  • one minute:  keenly surveying and scoping out the area from up high
  • 4 minutes:  purposeful walking – again, she seemed to have a location in mind
  • 40 minutes: relaxing on a knoll watching people and noticed another of her pups in the distance
  • 35 minutes: meandering, seemingly less purposeful than before  – included 2 instances of avoiding dogs by ducking into the brush at 8:09 & 8:12
  • 5 minutes:  hunting at one spot
  • 2 minutes: on the street sidewalk or right next to it
  • 1 minute: chasing a dog and I lost track of her, but I found her again
  • 6 minutes: purposeful walking
  • 46 minutes: basking in the sun on a knoll, although a few people saw her, most did not
  • 8 minutes: meanderings up to rocks;
  • 4 minutes: scoping and surveying from high above  – she lapped up water at 9:36 from a puddle
  • 3 minutes: meandering – at 9:43 hikers passed by and then she pooped
  • 12 minutes: at her favorite knoll, sitting up & watching more people who didn’t see her.
  • 1 minute: purposeful walking
  • 1 minute: chased by dog
  • By 10:00 she had left — that was the end of my notes for the day.

She was relaxing 40+40+46+12 minutes=2.3 hours; surveying 6+1+4=10 min; purposeful walking 4+6+4+6+1= 21 min; meandering 35+8+3=46 min; other activities — greeting her pup, drinking water, being chased by dogs, chasing a dog, scratching  3+5+2+1+1=12 min

Ugly Human Activity Recently

Upsettingly, there has been ugly human activity in one of our parks which is affecting the coyote’s behavior: I saw this very clearly today.  It is the first time I have ever seen one of the coyotes so extremely nervous, edgy and jumpy. The coyote was agitated. It was looking around, particularly in back of itself, and it was flinching and jerking constantly, seemingly at imagined noises. This is so contrary to this one’s normal calm and relaxed self. I’ve become worried about it.

The new treatment that is being directed at coyotes is unnecessary and mean since the coyotes in this park are so peaceful — all of it is perpetrated by a small self righteous “clique” of about three people with a mission to make the coyotes afraid of people. This treatment includes throwing rocks in the direction of coyotes wherever they might be. I have heard about throwing stones to move a coyote away from yourself or from the path you are on. But this group of individuals is actually pursuing the coyotes anywhere they are, far from where the individual might be. One of these people, a man, ran off of his path about 50 feet up to where I was, on an entirely different trail, and started viciously heaving rocks towards a coyote which was 40 or so feet in front of me. The coyote had not been in his path or in his way. When I questioned him, he told me that the coyote had “looked at him”. I was absolutely bewildered.

Then, two days ago, I saw a large woman with a large stick, yelling at a coyote to “shoo, git, out-of-here”. This was nowhere near any of the paths. It was in an area where the coyotes should be allowed to be safe, where people seldom if ever go, towards the middle of a field by a thicket area — the woman had pursued the coyote into this area. This incident occurred as this coyote was barking after it had been chased by an unleashed dog. This “clique” thinks it needs to create fear in the coyote — they think the coyotes are becoming too fearless. They are trying to “manage” the coyotes and “manage” the park visitors without any authority to do so. If they want to prevent incidents with the coyotes, all they need to do is leash their dogs since all coyote incidents have been caused by dogs intruding on them.

The whole picture needs to be examined more thoroughly. Our coyotes are not aggressive, but might they become so as a result of the aggression that is being perpetrated against them?  Or, might they just leave the park? Our parks are one of the safest places for them in our city. Of course, if they go elsewhere they might be treated better — the problem is that coyotes who move into new territories risk being run off by coyotes which already reside there. Finding a new territory would be difficult, and in the meantime, their vacated spots in our park would be taken up by newcomer coyotes — this is how it works.

I have been asked “why don’t they just leave the coyotes alone?” We have been told that coyotes are a natural part of this environment: they belong here as much as we do. Most of us  just want to see the coyotes thrive and give sparkle to our urban parks. The only “incidents” we have ever had have involved unleashed dogs chasing the coyotes. If we need to “manage” the situation it would be to enforce the leash-law when the coyotes are visible. Please read postings on November 11th about “habituation” and on November 13th about “feeding”.

The Factor of Human Behavior: Really Seeing

While I was taking photos of a family of baby owls growing up, I heard a lot about wildlife. I want to share with others the kind of information that gets transferred sometimes. In one instance I mentioned to an observer that there were three baby owls. This observer, a woman, looked at me and said, “No, there is only one”. I tried pointing out that you could see at least two of them at any one time. This woman continued: “No, that is impossible since mother owls sacrifice all but one — only one is ever raised”. This was said with such a very commanding and definite voice, that I decided just to listen. I asked her how she might know this. Her response was that everyone knows this, it is written in books. I actually didn’t know how to handle this situation, except to just let it go. But I have discovered that this is actually not unusual on several fronts.

Humans often see very little of the wildlife around themselves. We often would prefer reading or hearing about something than actually making observations ourselves. I would say that 30% of walkers do not see the coyotes that are right out in the open on a hill, or on the path right in front of them. When you point it out, they are amazed that there are coyotes in a park in a big city. To a certain extent this actually reminds me of myself. I didn’t realize there were so many children around until I had some myself, at which point I started “seeing” them and playgrounds all over the place! The same with dogs: not until I had my own dogs did I truly “see” the quantity and types of pets that people owned — and also the off-leash parks and dog-runs. And, not until I wanted to “collect” some different species of bird photos did I actually see that there were more than robins, hummingbirds and pigeons. And that is how it seems to go.

Most people are not very aware of coyote behavior. The Internet dispenses some misconstrued information: speculations and theories that someone thinks maybe “could” hold. One observation seems to be grist for a generalized theory. This, added to the observed fact that coyotes are highly individualistic in their behavior — it is hard to generalize, just as with human behavior — their behavior is also very situation-oriented. People have told me that a coyote which loses its fear of humans will become aggressive — they have read this on the Internet. Since, by definition, urban coyotes are going to become habituated to humans, this would suggest that all urban coyotes will become aggressive. One needs to dig a little deeper, and look at sources. First of all very few coyotes or habituated coyotes ever become aggressive at all. Coyotes are not particularly aggressive animals, even though they will defend themselves from dogs — aggressive and defensive behavior have to be distinguished. More importantly, some have speculated that intentional feeding may be the most significant reason if and why some coyotes begin to exhibit aggression toward humans. How important is intentional feeding, as the root cause of coyote aggression toward humans? Chicago has not had aggressive coyotes, even though there are 2000 of them in the city, accustomed to humans and their activity. In southern California there have been aggressive coyotes — I have read that all the incidents there can be traced to feedings.

The question of human and coyote coexistence and habituation is an important one. Acceptable habituation should not mean that a coyote will feel comfortable wandering casually into areas where there is high human activity — such as a picnic — it should mean coyotes will feel okay seeing humans in the area. When coyotes engage in activity which we don’t fully comprehend, it is best to create a distance. I heard of an instance when a coyote approached the peripheral area of a day-camp and started barking. It is unlikely that it did so because it was habituated and felt comfortable doing so. Might its approach and distressed barking have been set off by the loud noise and high activity level of the campers? I know sirens have been known to cause coyote barking sessions. The coyote, which remained across the creek and never really entered the camp area, took off when the camp director approached with small stones which he tossed not at, but around the coyote. It is always best to keep your distance from wildlife, especially when you don’t understand what their activity is suggesting: Wildlife follows its own rules, and these rules are not the same as our own, nor are they always understandable to us.

I would challenge everyone who can to actually observe coyote behavior: there is a rich family life, hunting, curiosity, lots of intelligence, community. The ones I’ve observed are totally peaceful unless they are interfered with. Pupping season offers more territorial challenges, but we can respect that. Please also notice that they might display the same behavior that was dished out to them: if you aggressively throw stones at a coyote, then if he becomes cornered, might he feel he has to bite his way out of the corner, rather than be allowed to pass?

The harmful habituation that IS going on in our parks is that of coyotes to dogs. Since coyotes first arrived in our parks, people have allowed their dogs to chase and to otherwise interfere with coyotes. The problems might have been prevented by keeping our dogs leashed and close to us in these areas in the first place. But people refuse to leash their dogs. Coyotes have come to know the dogs which have gone after them. In addition, eye-contact, body language and activity level of the dogs communicate and convey what a coyote needs to know about which dogs are threatening to them on various levels. This is true even of leashed dogs. Some of the coyotes have developed behaviors towards dogs for self-protective reason. For instance, some coyotes in some of our parks “monitor” particular dogs — watching them from lookouts until they leave the park. I’ve seen a couple of dogs followed by the coyote — apparently the coyote was “escorting” them out of the park. Or, a coyote might engage in a strong warning display if a dog gets too close — a display that is meant as a message for a dog to “stay away” and to “note that I’m here and not to be messed with.” In some cases, the coyote has even approached certain dogs with this display. Coyotes often engage in long and distressed barking after being interfered with. This barking constitutes both complaining and, again, a statement of “I’m here and not to be messed with.”

Please note that these are a coyote’s defensive behaviors. If you understand them, you will better be able to deal with them. Please keep your dogs leashed in a coyote area and please read about coyote safety which I have posted at the top of this blog.