5 Tips on Avoiding Coyotes When Walking Your Dog

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Early one morning, I was out for a jog with my dogs. Ear buds in, the dogs were off-leash, and we were making good time. I picked an isolated trail, where we were unlikely to encounter anyone else… I didn’t want to upset anyone with my off leash pack.

It was Belle who first cued me that something was off. Leaving my side, hackles up, tail straight out, she jumped towards the long grass barking and snarling. In one deft movement, I leashed the dogs and pulled out my ear buds – ninja mode activated! Checking for the source as to what set Belle off, I scanned the area, but couldn’t spot anything unusual.

A little freaked out, I took off down the trail at a slow jog, all the dogs on leash and my ear buds out. But Belle would not run! She kept looking over her shoulder and pulling me backwards. Over my shoulder, I saw a large German Shepard come out of the long grass and begin to trot after us.

As the dog came closer, I noticed it was not a German Shepard at all, but a coyote!

Wonder Pet Parent Powers, activated! I stopped, turned around, and started to shout. The coyote stood its ground for a few seconds, then slowly turned and trotted off into the long grass. My adrenaline was pumping, but I was in no mood to continue on my run. The only way I was running was back home.

As we headed back to the truck, I heard the coyote calling out. It followed us at about 100 meters, stopping periodically to emit a haunting yowl. All of a sudden, it was a coyote hangout – it wasn’t one coyote, but four! The entire pack followed us, keeping 100 meters behind us. I stopped to shout and yell every few minutes, and eventually made it to the truck. The coyotes didn’t seem bothered by my shouting, but at least they close the gap between us.

Learn by my mistakes – here’s how you avoid an encounter with a coyote while hiking with your dogs:

  1. Keep dogs on leash. Coyotes and dogs do not get along. Some dogs are braver than they are smart, and other dogs are neither! Keeping your dog on a leash, is your best way to keep them close to you, and away from the coyotes.
  2. Keep focused. That means no ear buds, and keep your phone in your pocket. Keep an eye out, coyotes can be hard to spot, but looking for movement in the long grass or shadows passing in the forest can give them away.
  3. Dusk and dawn are the times of day when coyotes are most active. Although they will hunt in the middle of the day or throughout the night. Avoiding wilderness walks during coyotes peak activity times means you are less likely to run into them.
  4. Common sense would dictate that well-travelled urban trails are less likely to host coyotes. Unfortunately, as we continue to encroach on their space, coyotes are becoming increasingly adapted to life next to people. No matter where your travels take you, remain alert.
  5. If a coyote is acting strangely or aggressively, contact your local Conversation Officer or Parks Service Department. If the experts know what’s going on, they can work to help keep other uses safe.

Have fun and be safe out there!