Type the word “coyote” in Google, then click the “news” tab. Most of the results will show heartbreaking stories of coyotes attacking – and killing – domestic dogs. These canines are taking suburban areas by storm, and are adept at invading backyards and attacking small dogs. Though coyotes mostly travel alone or in pairs, they can form loosely knit groups of three to eight.
If there are numerous coyote sightings in your locality, proactive safety measures and learning how to deal with one if confronted should be learned. They rarely act aggressive toward humans, but remember, a pair of adult coyotes can easily overpower a medium-sized dog!
Be Wary of Letting Your Dog “Do its Business”
Recently, two dogs were killed by coyotes in several incidents while they went out and did their business. One was a small Chihuahua, and the other involved a 75lb Golden Retriever. Even if you have a six-foot fence surrounding your property, coyotes can easily jump over them and attack your dog. Before letting your pet out, always ensure that there are no potential killers lurking in the shadows. Stand guard and carry a deterrent if you have to.
Never Let Your Pet Interact with One
If you see a lone coyote seemingly playing with Fido, it’s likely luring it into a deathtrap: its pack is likely waiting to ambush him just beyond the tree line. Never make the mistake of assuming this behavior as “simple play.” Though people dismiss this behavior as a folk tale, there are numerous stories and videos that prove such instances.
Avoid Off-Leash Walks
If coyotes are around, be sure to keep your pet on a tight leash during walks. As a precaution, avoid walking with your dog during evenings since coyotes usually wander and hunt at night. If your dog isn’t properly trained to follow commands, he might end up panicking or charging towards the pack of predators. It won’t end well: there’s a story of a seasoned police dog, a Belgian Malinois named Brody, charged at a pack of three coyotes, engaged in a fight, and later succumbed to his injuries.
Never Leave Food outside Your Home
Dog food and bowls of water in your porch and yard are like coyote magnets. Food waste materials should also be disposed of properly, since urban coyotes have learned to scavenge for food in dumpsters and trash cans.
Carry Deterrents and A Stick When Going Out with Your Dog
Before setting out for a walk, you may want to carry coyote deterrents like pepper spray, squirt guns, or whistles. Carrying a stick won’t hurt as well.
Learn how to Haze
The above mentioned materials are used for hazing, which in this case, are methods which use deterrents to drive an animal away. This can instill fear in coyotes and make them avoid human contact in the future. Here are some easy hazing methods:
- Yelling, screaming, and making as much noise as possible. In short, act crazy and threatening at the same time.
- Blow a whistle as hard as you can, or use an air horn. Animals are easily deterred by loud noises.
- Throw projectiles, like rocks, stones, or water balloons toward the coyotes.
- When they get too close for comfort, use the pepper spray.
Though it’s recommended to chase after the coyote and continually haze it, this isn’t an option if you have a dog around. In such situations, immediately go indoors.
Stay Up-to-date with Vaccines
Since coyotes are like dogs (they can interbreed with both domestic dogs and wolves) they are also carriers and transmitters of dangerous diseases such as canine distemper and rabies. Be sure to consult your veterinarian and have your dog vaccinated immediately.
Cases of coyote attacks in humans are rare, but it’s helpful to take the rabies vaccine. Remember, the rabies virus is extremely deadly and only a handful of people survive after being afflicted.
Do Not Run from Coyotes
On rare occasions, a coyote won’t back off and may act aggressive, especially if you’re taking a walk with your Pekingese and Pomeranian. Proper hazing is enough to make them run with their tails between their legs. However, it is noteworthy to NOT turn your back to them since it will encourage their predatory instincts and make them go on the offensive. Stand your ground and never turn your back, no matter how long it takes.
Call Your Local Animal Control Office
If there are coyotes who are acting fearless toward humans or are exhibiting rabid and unpredictable behavior, make a call to the proper officials. It is concerning if certain ones in your community are acting unafraid around humans.
Lastly, Do Not Initiate Conflict
Let’s say you’re walking with your Labrador one afternoon, and you spot a coyote enjoying the shade and blissfully looking into the sunset.
He spots you, gets up, looks at your direction, obviously aware that you’re around. As you and your dog move forward, he walks away into the tree line. In cases like these, your best option is to leave it alone. Unless the coyote shows intent to approach and/or attack, do not haze or chase it. Coyotes are animals whose lives should be respected.
Mikhail Blacer is a copywriter and an owner of a Japanese spitz named Trek and an entitled, lazy cat called Kabatron. He loves video games, law novels, animals, and is a regular in shelters and animal hospitals. Strike up a conversation with him on Twitter @mikhailblaze.