If your social networks are anything like mine, you may notice that there has been a rapid increase of coyote reports in urban neighborhoods. Almost everyday in my community chat room, there is a new mention of a close encounter or worse, a dog being stalked or even attacked on a walk. While I took note of all these encounters, I assumed that the focus came from other nearby neighborhoods that were newer/closer to nature and whose homes had been built on what was essentially the coyotes homes.
Living in a 30 year old suburban community that is practically surrounded by a wall and is further enclosed from any nature by other walled in communities, major streets and two highways, I didn’t think much of it. Until I did.
Last week, I walked out my door to walk my dog and there was a coyote, in the middle of the day, walking down the sidewalk like it was no big thing. I immediately turned around and pulled my dog back and apologized for the fact that he would not be peeing today. I proceeded to call animal control and when they asked “well, is the coyote doing anything?” I knew I was on my own.
We waited a bit and then attempted our walk again, this time armed with a large umbrella (in case it started raining coyotes?) and prayers that Huggs’ large Bulldog head would make him too challenging of a snack. The entire walk, I felt like I was a soon to be victim in one of those bad horror movies where everyone watching is screaming at through their TV and yelling “what are you doing?!” “He’s out there- why would you unlock the door?!”
After bringing an umbrella to coyote fight, I realized I may not be equipped to handle what is an increasing problem in urban communities. So, I did some research on what you should actually do if you encounter a coyote on a dog walk.
What To Do If You Encounter a Coyote on a Dog Walk
1. Stand Your Ground
The Urban Coyote Project recommends making yourself tall and assertive looking. Do not move and do not turn your back.
While your first instinct (okay, my first instinct) is to run with arms flailing. This is a horrible idea. Do not do this. Running away will only instigate the coyote to chase you like prey.
Most coyotes will be afraid of humans, so use this to your advantage and look like the biggest, scariest human you can possibly be.
2. Pick Up Your Dog
If you can, pick up your dog or pull him close beside you to use your human-ness as a shield. The dog’s movement on the ground can again trigger the coyotes prey instincts and if you’re 6 ft away from your dog your scary human qualities may not be enough to ward off a hungry coyote.
3. Scare Off the Coyote for Good
Also called hazing, this process involved doing whatever you can to scare the coyote away and out of the neighborhood forever.
An important note: Hazing should not be done during breeding season – February through July. Coyotes may be defending their pups and territory and you will only make things worse by trying to scare them away.
Between the months of August and January however, the Urban Coyote Project recommends: yelling, stomping your feet, popping an umbrella (that one made me feel good), shaking your jacket, flashing lights, or even throwing rocks until the coyote is out of the area.
Your can also make noise makers, such as cans filled with pennies, or use small keychain items like an air horn or even pepper spray.
4. Call Animal Control
If you live in an area where coyotes just exist or come and go regularly without conflict, then you probably don’t need to report every coyote you see. But if a coyote seems overly aggressive or stalks you or your pets, do let someone know.
5. Tell Your Neighbors
If possible, let your neighbors know so they can take precautions. If a coyote is still at large, don’t go door to door, but engage the neighborhood phone tree or posting your neighborhood’s social network.
I can only assume that sign says, “No Coyotes, Please”
How to Avoid Coyotes On a Dog Walk
Sometimes you just walk outside and there is a coyote there to great you, but there are also precautions you can take to avoid running into them when walking with your dog.
1. Stay ON the Beaten Path
If you plan to walk amongst nature, stick to trails and paths that are heavily trafficked. The more open the path the better, so you can see any potential coyotes before it is too late.
2. Sunrise, Sunset
While “Sunrise, Sunset” is a beautiful song, it’s a horrible time to avoid coyotes. Coyotes love to come out as dusk settles in and they are often out and about in the early morning hours. If you are in a coyote prevalent area, make plans to walk your dog after these times if possible.
3. Avoid Golf Courses
While this may seem like odd advice, it’s 100% useful, I promise. If you live on or near a golf course, you may have already noticed that they tend to be littered with coyotes, specifically in the twilight hours (as mentioned above.) These coyotes are out looking for food, maybe working on their short game and doing whatever else it is coyotes do. Do not tempt these golfing coyotes with your dog. There are other, safer places to walk.
3. Keep your Dog on a Leash
While all areas have different laws related to leashes, if you know there are coyotes in your neighborhood, put your dog on a leash. This gives you full control should you run into a coyote, but also avoids your dog running into any coyotes without you nearby.
How to Keep Coyotes Away From Your Home
As coyotes come into urban areas more and more, there is a higher risk of them not just being in your neighborhood, but in your own yard. Aside from the obvious option of posting a “No Coyotes, Please” sign on your door, here are a few actual ways to avoid welcoming coyotes into your home/yard.
1. Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Alone
Coyotes can leap over extremely high fences and can also do this with prey in their mouth. If you have any size dog, but especially a smaller one, don’t leave them outside alone.
2. Keep the Yard Clean
Avoid putting dog food or keeping any trash in your yard. A good rule for avoiding any wildlife in your yard, don’t give them a reason to be there.
3. Scare Them Away
If a coyote has slipped through your avoidance techniques, make sure you scare them away so they do not return. Use the hazing techniques: loud noises, throw things, or spray them with your hose to establish the yard as your territory.
Author note: While I had a lot of fun writing this article and wanted to keep it enjoyable for you to read, remember that coyotes are serious business. If you and your dog ever encounter a coyote I hope this article will help you be better prepared than I was!
Have you ever had a coyote encounter with your dog? Tell us about it in the comments below.