What to do if You See a Coyote when Walking Your Dog
Updated: Jun 8, 2023
WAYS TO AVOID URBAN COYOTES ON WALKS
Adult urban coyotes are usually more active from January to March during the mating season and then from March to June after the pups are born, being most active between dawn and sunset. Adolescent coyotes are active during June to September because they are searching for a territory. But that doesn’t mean coyotes are not seen at other times or during other months. Coyotes are out and about at all hours of the day and night every single day because - surpirse - they have to eat every day.
Urban coyote population in Los Angeles is exploding. Their natural predators are wolves, bears, cougars, and alligators. None of those are generally found in urban areas. Read on to see how you can keep your children and your pets safe.
BEFORE YOUR WALK
It’s important to know where coyote dens (see Urban Coyote Behavior) are located so you can avoid them as well as be aware of their howls, barks, and poops which are rope-like and contain hair and bones. Since they may not eat their entire prey, you may see carcasses of dead animals and sometimes birds.
Urban coyotes generally hunt during dawn and dusk, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hunt during the day and night. Unfortunately, dawn and dusk is when we usually walk our dogs – before or after OUR breakfast and OUR dinner. Try not to walk during these times.
Avoid dense shrubbery, especially around vacant lots and houses whose yards are unkempt or overgrown.
Be aware of your surroundings, and look at your dog to see if he is sniffing the air and picking up on any unusual odors.
Coyotes are good at detecting patterns of behavior, so try not to use the same route at the same time every day.
Don’t walk at dawn or dusk.
Have your dog wear a “porcupine jacket,” which has barbs or needles on the back and neck so it’s difficult for coyotes to get a grip or bite your dog.
Make sure your dog cannot escape from his collar or harness.
Walk in a group with other people and/or dogs.
Walk in busy areas rather than secluded areas such as alleys.
When walking your dog, use a leash no longer than 6 feet so you can keep him close to you. Don’t use an extended leash. Don’t walk your dog if she is in heat, especially during coyote mating season.
IF YOU SEE A COYOTE ON YOUR WALK
Since coyotes are generally afraid of humans, OUR JOB IS TO AVOID THEM. They are more likely to just watch us than they are to attack. However, they are more aggressive if we and/or our dogs are near their den and pups. (See Urban Coyote Behavior).
NEVER TURN YOUR BACK, BACK AWAY SLOWLY, AND BE CAREFUL YOU DON’T FALL.
PICK UP YOUR DOG (and your child). Or if your dog is too large for you to pick up, do not let him go over and greet the coyote. While you may see only one coyote, there may be more lurking behind shrubs and they can attack as a pack.
Carry a shaker/penny can to make noise. A shaker/penny is an empty soda can with about 10 small rocks or pennies in it. Remember that your dog is also on the walk with you, and the noise may scare him as well. He may bolt and run away, so make sure you have a good grip in his leash.
DO NOT RUN away because you will trigger a chase instinct in coyotes. Stand your ground and look them in the eye unless they are standing still, which likely means their den is nearby and they are protecting their pups. Retreat by walking away backwards slowly.
Don’t offer them any food or treats.
If you’re wearing a jacket, take it off and swing it over your head like a helicopter.
Keep your eye on the coyote while you walk – don’t run – with your dog next to you toward a more active or trafficked area.
Look him in the eyes.
Stand tall. And raise your arms to appear taller.
Throw rocks or sticks towards him but not at him. It's illegal to haze a wild animal unless your life is in danger.
Wave your arms if one approaches you.
Shout at him in in a low, gruff tone – “Go away. Get out of here.” Don’t squeal because you will sound like prey. HOWEVER, if we all do this too often, they will become used to it and ignore us.
LINKS TO ALL BLOG POSTS IN THIS SERIES ON URBAN COYOTES
MY BOOKS AND TRAINING
If you like these posts on urban coyotes, please check out my other posts and books which are specifically on dogs and puppies. I have been a dog trainer/behavior consultant for 30 years, was the first trainer to be certified by 5 dog training organizations, and am an award-winning author of 10 books. I offer in-person private training in the Los Angeles area and Zoom training in the Los Angeles area as well as worldwide.
Puppy Potty Training – The Expert’s Guide to Easy Housetraining FAST2015 Gold Global eBook Award Winner
Doggie Dangers and Safety Tips – Preventing Accidents In and Around Your Home and Yard
Puppy Socialization – An Insider’s Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness
Puppy and Dog Potty Training
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Choosing a Breeder & Choosing a Dog
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Supplies, Pre-Puppy Prep & First Week Home
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Feeding, Care, Safety, Health & Grooming
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Obedience Training, Games & Play
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Potty Training & Behavior Issues