Coyotes live in the wild throughout North America. Their haunting dawn or dusk yips are enough to quicken anyone’s pulse. But while our dogs often think their job is to protect us, are they a match for a coyote? Do coyotes attack dogs, and who would prevail? And most importantly, is there anything we can do to prevent and protect our furbabies?
Keep reading to learn what happens if a coyote attacks your dog and how to prevent it. We provide solutions and practical safety tips. Let’s dig in!
Are Coyotes Aggressive?
Coyotes are generally not considered aggressive towards humans. They’re shy and elusive animals that typically avoid human contact. However, like any wild animal, coyotes may display aggressive behavior if they feel threatened or cornered, especially when their young are involved.
They’re territorial animals. Coyotes can be aggressive towards dogs or other pets, particularly if they perceive them as a threat to their territory, den, or pups. While interactions between coyotes and dogs can vary depending on the circumstances, it’s important to be cautious and prevent potential conflicts.
Coyotes may attack dogs if they view them as competitors, especially in areas where their habitats overlap. They may exhibit aggressive behaviors such as growling, barking, or lunging if they feel their territory is being encroached upon. Small dogs, in particular, may be seen as potential prey.
Coyotes are canines, meaning they’re genetically related to wolves and dogs. Both coyotes and dogs are omnivorous, but coyotes are wild animals with a diet of birds, rodents, insects, etc. They also tend to hunt in a pack and work together. In addition, scientists think they’re not likely to be able to follow human commands. They also live in woodlands, mountains, deserts, or coastal regions. In contrast, dogs are less versatile and differ greatly in terms of their ability to be trained by humans.
Will Coyotes Attack Dogs?
Coyote attacks on dogs are not uncommon, particularly in areas where human development encroaches upon their habitats. They can view domestic dogs as territorial threats or potential prey, especially smaller breeds and when hunting in a pack that can outnumber a lone dog. However, the likelihood of a coyote attacking a dog is still relatively rare compared to the overall population of coyotes. But taking appropriate precautions can help minimize the risk to your dog.
Even though coyotes are wild animals, they sometimes show up in rural communities and urban neighborhoods. Particularly daring or desperate ones can even make their way into fenced suburban backyards, as you can see in the video story below.
We’ve also had encounters with them in campgrounds and hiking trails. This is a great reason to keep your dogs on leash and close by so you can help scare away threats. After all, we humans are sort of considered apex predators in the grand scheme of things.
Also keep in mind that coyotes are also more active during their breeding session, which typically occurs in late winter and early spring. During this time, they may exhibit more aggressive behavior to protect their young.
Coyotes tend to be wary of humans, but their behavior can be influenced by the level of human activity in their vicinity. Increased human presence, especially in areas with limited natural food sources, may push coyotes to be brazen in seeking alternative food like domestic pets.
Can a Dog Scare Off a Coyote?
A dog can potentially scare off a coyote, especially if it’s a larger and more assertive breed. Small dogs are less intimidating, although their bark may help keep a coyote away. We know plenty of little dogs who sound more vicious than some of the biggest dogs we’ve met.
Since coyotes often travel in packs, they may work together to try to lure away a lone dog. If this happens, it’s more difficult for the dog to scare off a pack.
Be aware that while dogs can potentially scare off coyotes, there’s still a risk of injury to the dog if a physical altercation occurs. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid direct confrontations and take preventive measures to reduce the chances of an encounter. Keep reading to find out how to keep coyotes away from dogs.
Fun Fact: Some dogs are more prone to protect than others. Check out our article about K9 Arlo to learn how certain breeds are trained to serve in law enforcement. We’re pretty sure that a coyote wouldn’t get near K9 Arlo.
What Happens When a Coyote Attacks a Dog?
When a coyote attacks a dog, the outcome will vary depending on the situation and the dog’s size and abilities. Overall, it can be a very distressing and dangerous situation.
In some cases, the dog may be able to fend off the coyote by fighting back or escaping. Larger dogs have a greater chance of defending themselves and getting away. In comparison, smaller dogs are much more vulnerable. But any dog can sustain serious injuries or death from an attack, especially if the coyote is part of a pack.
How Do I Know If a Coyote Took My Dog?
To know if a coyote took your dog, there are signs to look for. First, see if you can find any coyote tracks in the dirt or ground covering. Also, look for signs of coyote feces. You may also spot blood stains or tufts of fur. In the terrible case that a coyote succeeded in attacking your dog, you may find part of the body or bones.
What Should You Do When Confronted by a Coyote?
When confronted by a coyote, yell and wave your arms. Or you can throw something at it or shake a noise maker. But it’s recommended not to run away from the animal or play the victim. Running may make you look like prey and lead it to chase you. If your dog is small, scoop it up so as not to risk them coming in contact with the coyote. If your dog is large, encourage it to continue to bark and growl to try to scare the coyote away.
If your dog is off-leash, attempt to recall it and regain control of it as soon as you spot the coyote. With any luck, you’ll spot the coyote before your dog does. If your dog senses the coyote, they may give chase. At this point, they may or may not be able to break away at the sound of your voice. However, continue to give the recall command to try to get them back to you.
You will have to decide whether to also give chase to recover your dog or to wait for them to return to you. This decision will have to factor in where you are, the time of day, and the size and prowess of your dog. You may have to help them out of a bind. However, you do not want to also put yourself in danger by getting closer to a den or the rest of the pack.
How Do You Keep Coyotes Away?
Since coyotes do attack dogs, implement prevention techniques if you live in an at-risk area. Start by keeping your dog safe with these methods.
Keep Dogs Inside at Night
Keep your dog inside at night. It’s more difficult for you to monitor your dog in the yard when it’s dark out. If your dog needs to pee or poop once the sun goes down, go outside with it. Turn on outdoor lights and stay close to your dog using a flashlight. If a coyote were to approach, you could scare it away with the light and by making noise.
Secure Pet Food and Trash Inside or In Locked Containers
Coyotes, like other wild animals, are often on the hunt for food. So, be sure not to give them easy access in order to keep them away from your house. Keep pet food and trash inside or securely locked in outdoor containers.
Install a Fence
You can also prevent coyote attacks by installing a fence for your dog to play outdoors. The fence should be six feet or taller and angled at the top to keep coyotes out. Coyotes can jump about eight feet. So, if you have a six-foot fence that’s angled at the top, the animal should hit the angle without going over.
Put Wind Chimes in Your Yard
Coyotes get spooked by loud noises. Putting wind chimes in your yard can help keep them away. Motion lights are also beneficial, as they don’t like sudden movements. The motion lights can also help alert you to any action in your yard at night.
Coyote Vests for Dogs
Some companies have designed coyote vests for dogs. We’ll admit, we’ve never used one and can’t recommend that they would save a dog from a coyote. But we think they’re worth checking out. You can find several online, including the CoyoteVest SpikeVest Dog Harness Vest.
Never Feed a Coyote
This may seem obvious but never feed a coyote. Don’t leave food out in your yard or in the woods or desert for coyotes. They’re wild animals who have a natural instinct to hunt and find their food. If you put food out for them, they may get in the habit of coming near your house.
Suggested Reading: Keeping your outdoor cat safe from coyotes is also important, as felines tend to have a broader territory than dogs.
Can Coyotes and Dogs Mix?
A coyote dog mix, or coydog, is possible. The hybrids have been raised in captivity. But documented genetic surveys of wild coyotes and dog mixes are rare. It’s likely because coyotes are seasonal breeders, whereas dogs breed anytime. Also, coydog females have a different estrus cycle than coyotes. And coydogs likely have lower fertility than domestic dogs or coyotes.
If you have a coyote hanging around your home where you have an unspayed female dog in heat, there may be a chance of some hormonal things going on. However, the coyote is most likely scavenging and looking for an opportunity at food rather than courting your dog. Err on the side of caution, and don’t let your dog out to free roam either way.
Protect Your Pup From Coyotes
Use preventative measures to protect your dog from a coyote attack. The chances of encountering a coyote may be rare, depending on where you live. But if you live in an area with coyotes or other wild animals, be sure to keep your furry family members safe.
Have you encountered a coyote with your dog? If so, share your story in the comments below.
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