Protecting Yourself and your Dog from Coyotes
We live in an area where there are a lot of coyotes. I see them at least once a week and there are frequent stories about them chasing and/or killing small pets in the Los Angeles area. Because of this, I keep a close eye on my dogs and leashed in areas where they might be roaming. Even though the likelihood that they would be able to take down 85lb Jack is pretty slim, not taking the chance. We’ve had many run-ins with them over the years – most often with Tino since I always ran with him off-leash and unfortunately, he had a real love for chasing coyotes. His recall was pretty predictable, except when coyotes were involved.
Just over a year ago, I did an interview with a Park Ranger here in CA and gathered some tips and techniques for dealing with coyotes that I shared on Dogster. I thought it would be useful to revisit some of those tips here.
What activities or behaviors attract coyotes to urban areas?
Park Ranger: Coyotes persist in urban areas primarily off natural food sources, small mammals, rabbits and vegetation and fruits. However, they regularly take advantage of human garbage and other human-related food sources such as pet food and fruiting ornamental vegetation. If coyotes are regularly being sighted around your neighborhood, keep an eye out for what they may be eating. Are there trees fruiting, is someone feeding pets outdoors, are garbage cans overflowing or getting knocked over, are people leaving other food items where coyotes can get to it? If so, make sure those get removed and the coyote issue will likely go away. Animals that are being fed by people are more likely to become accustomed to people and show less fear which may lead to human coyote conflicts.
Is there a peak season when coyotes are more prevalent?
Park Ranger: There is a slight peak in human-coyote conflicts during pup rearing, which occurs in April, May, June, and July. However conflicts can occur during any time of year. For coyote sightings it varies. In cold areas that lose their vegetative cover, they are typically seen more during the winter, but here in southern California we typically get more visuals during July and August as the pups start getting older and moving around.
How can dog owners protect their pets?
Park Ranger: I recommend whenever you are dealing with pets to always behave as if coyotes are around, as they probably are. Coyotes are very adaptive and are using urban areas. It makes it important if you want to keep your animals safe to monitor your animals when they are outside, even inside fenced yards.
For dogs, we recommend keeping them on leash when you are walking them. For cats, we recommend keeping cats indoors, or if you need to let them out to keep them on leash or at least within your yard. To minimize the potential for an attack, ensure you keep items that coyotes view as food out of your yard. To not attract them to your neighborhood, ensure that you secure your garbage, pet food, bird feeders, compost piles, vegetable gardens, or any other place you may unintentionally be feeding coyotes.
If coyotes approach while walking a pet, it is best to yell at the coyote and pick your pet up prior to the coyote getting close, if possible. Be sure to act aggressive and let the coyote know you are the larger animal. Slowly back away with your pet while continuing to watch the coyote.