Quick Picks: Coyote Repellents & Deterrents
- Best Coyote Whistle: Fox 40 Sonik Blast. Two-pack of bright orange 120+ decibel whistles – one of the loudest whistles out there!
- Best LED Dog Collar: Blazin’ Safety LED Dog Collar. Keep your dog visible and scare off coyotes at night with this LED collar.
- Best Coyote Vest & Apparel: CoyoteVest. This spiked vest with colorful whiskers will keep coyotes away.
- Best Coyote Pepper Spray: SABRE Protector Pepper Spray. One of the most powerful pepper sprays on the market.
- Best Coyote Deterrent Light (To Carry On Walks): Tactical LED Flashlight. Sturdy, portable, 2-pack of travel flashlights for evening dog walks.
- Best Coyote Deterrent Light (For Yard): URPOWER Solar Lights. Can be easily installed along a fence-line perimeter and are motion activated (as well as solar-powered).
- Best Coyote Repellent Pee: Pee Mart Wolf Urine Granules. The smell of wolf pee has been used by many owners to keep coyotes at bay – these granules are easy to spread around your yard.
Most dog lovers probably have a soft spot for all canines – I know I do.
Coyotes, wolves, jackals, foxes and other wild canines look pretty similar to our domestic dogs and they exhibit a number of the same traits that make us love our pets so much.
But your opinion of wild canines in general (and coyotes specifically) can quickly change when they threaten your dog. Coyote attacks aren’t especially common, but they are a concern for many owners – especially those who have small dogs.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the chances of coyote attacks and give your pooch a better chance of surviving any encounters that do happen.
None are guaranteed to work; there is no technique or product that’ll completely eliminate the threats coyotes can present. But we’ll share some of the most effective tips, tricks, strategies, and tools you can use to help reduce the risk as much as possible.
But first, it’s important to learn the basics of coyote biology, ecology, and behavior, so we’ll start there.
Getting to Know the Coyote
Anytime you are trying to protect your dog from a threat, you need to learn as much as you can about it so that you can take the necessary steps to keep your pet safe. We’ll explain some of the basic facts about coyotes below to help.
Physical Traits of a Coyote
Generally speaking, coyotes (Canis latrans) resemble domestic canines. They don’t really look that dissimilar from the shepherd mixes you may see at your local dog park. In fact, many people have trouble distinguishing coyotes from dogs.
Coyotes are a bit smaller than most people suspect, thanks in large part to their fluffy coats. The average weight of a coyote is between 20 and 45 pounds or so, and they stand about 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder.
As a point of reference, German shepherds – one of the breeds most likely to be mistaken for coyotes — are usually in the 75- to 95-pound ballpark, and they stand about 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder.
Whippets, believe it or not, are actually a good size comparison for coyotes.
Whippets are a few inches shorter than the average coyote, and they look much smaller, given the differences in coat length, but their weight range is very similar (whippets usually weigh between 20 and 50 pounds).
Just note that coyotes vary in size a bit across their range.
Those living in the northeastern U.S. and adjacent portions of Canada are usually the largest (which may be a byproduct of interbreeding with wolves in the past), while those living in the south and west are generally smaller. That said, the largest coyote on record (a 75-pound male) was killed in Wyoming back in the ‘30s.
Coyotes can occur in almost every color imaginable, but they’re usually some combination of brown, grey, and white. Melanistic (black) individuals are also seen from time to time, primarily in the southeast.
To recognize a coyote, just look for the following traits:
- Pointy, erect ears
- Long and slender snout with a small nose pad
- Bushy, drooping tail, which often (but not always) features a black tip
- Narrow chest
Where Do Coyotes Live?
Historically, coyotes were only found in the wide-open habitats of the western U.S.
Wolves were the dominant predators across the country, and they helped to limit the coyote’s range. They’d not only compete with coyotes for food, they would even predate upon them from time to time.
But around the beginning of the 19th century, humans began altering habitats in significant ways and killing off the country’s wolves and coyotes. However, coyotes are much more difficult to eradicate (their population actually exploded – more on this later) than wolves, which allowed them to expand their range.
Fast forward to modern day, and coyotes have colonized most of North America.
They can be found living on farms, forests, and fields, as well as suburban neighborhoods, vacant lots, and industrial zones. They’ve been seen in Central Park, cruising around Beverly Hills, and they’ve even turned up riding subway systems.
Chances are, you’re never terribly far from a coyote. And the same thing goes for your pup.
What Do Coyotes Eat?
Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores, which is a fancy way of saying they eat whatever they can.
In natural habitats, they largely feed on bugs, rodents, birds, rabbits, and other small critters. They are also capable hunters who occasionally take down deer or livestock, but they generally prefer smaller prey.
Coyotes will also scavenge animal carcasses when the opportunity arises. They’ll also eat fruit, such as persimmons and blackberries, when they can.
However, in urban and suburban settings, coyotes often include additional foods in their diets.
Garbage is a very important food source for the coyotes in urban areas, but they’ll also nibble on pet food left outdoors. And, unfortunately, they will also prey on cats and small dogs from time to time.
Why Do Coyote Attacks Happen?
Coyote attacks on dogs and cats occur for several different reasons. Some attacks are predatory in nature (the coyote is trying to eat the dog it attacks), but others are related to territorial issues (the coyote sees the dog as a competitor).
To help understand the nature of and reasons for coyote attacks, the Urban Coyote Research Project reviewed 14 years of newspaper reports in and around the city of Chicago. The information gleaned from this review is quite helpful for dog owners (the researchers do, however, concede that this type of media-reported data is problematic in some ways).
A few of the takeaways from the research include:
- There were 70 attacks on dogs reported over the 14-year study period (there were 10 attacks on cats reported during the same period).
- Attacks are becoming more frequent. Two or fewer attacks were reported each year at the beginning of the study period, but that figure climbed to 6 to 14 for the final years.
- Attacks were most common during the late fall through early spring.
Dogs are not on the historic coyote menu; they’re a resource that a small number of coyotes have learned to exploit. This is probably more likely to occur in places where their typical food sources are scarce, competition for food is high, or there are an unusually large number of small dogs present.
Territorial attacks are typically most common during the time period between April and August when adult coyotes are raising their young. That said, most attacks on dogs occur during the winter.
Coyote Attack Video: Don’t Worry, It Has a Happy Ending
It can often be helpful to see how a typical coyote attack on a small dog unfolds. But because coyote attacks are rarely captured on video, few people have the chance to do so.
However, a dog owner’s home security camera recently captured a coyote attacking a family pet and running off with it. As you can see, the entire event happens pretty quickly, and the coyote doesn’t have any trouble making off with the 13-pound Shih Tzu.
Viewer discretion is advised, as this video may be upsetting to some. It does have a happy ending, and the dog survives without suffering any serious injuries. However, she emits some pretty heart-breaking vocalizations and the whole thing is pretty tough to watch.
As explained in the video, the Shih Tzu’s invisible fence collar ended up shocking the ‘yote when it tried to cross the property line with the small dog. This caused the coyote to drop the dog, who was then able to escape.
This is obviously not how invisible fence collars are supposed to work, and we wouldn’t expect this to work in the vast majority of cases. If the coyote’s grip had been a little different, or its jaws had damaged the receiver, this story could have had a much different outcome.
However, it seems likely that some of the deterrent products we discuss below (particularly the CoyoteVest) would have protected these pups from the prowling predator.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Coyotes: Strategies, Tactics, and Techniques
Short of placing your pet in a permanent protective bubble, there are no completely effective methods for protecting your dog from coyotes. However, the following tactics will help you greatly reduce the chances of an attack on your pooch.
1. Keep Your Dog Leashed
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe during walks is to keep him close to your side.
Some coyotes are bold (or desperate) enough to attack a dog walking alongside his owner, but most would rather snatch a dog who is not accompanied by a big, bipedal predator.
A leash will help ensure your dog remains close, and it’ll also help prevent your dog from wandering off out of sight.
For that matter, it is simply a good idea to keep your dog on a leash anyway. I understand that many owners don’t feel the need to do so, but most states have leash laws that mandate their use, and you are putting your dog at risk anytime you let him run out of the front door untethered.
Dog-on-dog violence is much more common than coyote-on-dog violence, and unleashed domestic dogs represent a much more significant threat to your pooch than coyotes do.
2. Supervise Your Pup While Playing in the Backyard
In some cases, your pooch may not even be safe in your own backyard. Coyotes often hunt in residential areas, and many are skilled climbers, who can scale small or poorly built fences with ease (we will discuss coyote-proof fencing a little later).
So, don’t just open the back door and let your dog run outside when nature calls – go out in the back yard with him. Even if you spend the time checking out the latest K9ofMine.com article on your phone, your presence will help discourage (if not completely prevent) coyote attacks.
3. Limit Your After-Dark Walks
Coyotes are thought to be inherently diurnal (day-active) animals. However, because they are such flexible creatures, who can adapt to a variety of different challenges, many become crepuscular (active at dawn or dusk) or nocturnal when living around humans.
This means that it is wise to limit walks after dark as much as is possible. This isn’t always possible, especially for those owners living in the north during the winter. However, owners living in the south may be able to eliminate after-dark walks entirely during the summer, when the days are long.
I’m not terribly worried about coyotes bothering my 95-pound Rottie, but because of the way our daily schedule unfolds, she doesn’t need to go out after dark during the summer months. I usually take her out to pee a final time around 8:30 PM (dusk during the summer in Atlanta), and she doesn’t need to go again until the sun comes up the next morning.
Smaller and younger pups may not be able to wait this long between bathroom breaks, but my sidekick doesn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, I usually have to wake her up to go out in the morning – it isn’t as though she’s doing the pee-pee dance in the morning anxiously awaiting the chance to go outside.
4. Stick to Well-Lit Areas
If you do have to walk your pup after dark, do your best to stick to well-lit areas. Coyotes on the prowl will normally prefer to fly under the radar and creep in the shadows, so hug those light posts as best you can.
Places like tennis courts, parking lots, and well-lit parks are often pretty safe places to walk your pup after dark if you need to.
It’s also a good idea to turn your home’s exterior lights on before leaving, as this will help keep you and your pooch safe while entering and exiting the house.
5. Make Noise While You Walk
Like many other predators, coyotes are a bit skittish – they don’t take unnecessary chances, and they prefer to avoid potentially dangerous encounters whenever possible. This means that you may be able to discourage attacks by simply making a racket while you walk your dog.
You can do this in a number of ways. You can sing or talk to your dog while walking, you can place a bell around your dog’s neck, or you can simply jingle your keys as you walk. You could also play some music or spoken-word audio from your phone.
6. Try to Figure Out the Places Coyotes Frequent, and Walk Elsewhere
If you can, try to figure out some of the places your local coyotes like to hang out. This will help you avoid walking through their preferred hunting grounds and just keep more distance between them and your pooch.
This obviously isn’t always easy – coyotes are secretive critters. But, if you keep an eye out for their tracks and scat (more on this later) and note the places you hear them calling from, you can usually get a good idea of their movement patterns.
Coyote Deterrents: Products & Tools
The tips provided above will help you reduce the chances of coyote encounters, but some of the tools listed below can help you keep your canine even safer. Just remember that no single technique or product will keep your dog 100% safe, so it is often helpful to consider implementing several techniques or products.
Coyote Vests and Protective Garments
A company called CoyoteVest makes a number of garments that are designed to deter coyotes and make it more difficult for one to abscond with your pooch.
The company offers a few different types of coyote-deterring garments, but they all feature spikes or bristles. These projections should deter some attacks entirely and make it difficult for a coyote to get a grip on your dog if they do launch an attack.
The two primary garments offered by CoyoteVest are the original CoyoteVest and the SpikeVest. They both feature hard plastic spikes (which are removable), and they’re made with Kevlar (the same material used in bullet- and knife-proof vests).
The biggest difference between the two garments is the closures: The CoyoteVest uses snap buckles, while the SpikeVest uses Velcro straps.
The company also offers a variety of add-on accessories, such as HawkShield, which is designed to protect your pooch from predatory birds, and CoyoteWhiskers, which are long nylon bristles that make it even more difficult for a coyote to grab your pooch.
The bristles and spikes are multi-purpose. While they make it more difficult for an attacking coyote to latch onto your dog, they actually function primarily as a deterrent.
The colorful bristles make your pup:
- Look larger than he or she is
- Appear more formidable and threatening
Coyotes don’t usually go after anything that doesn’t seem like an easy target, so the odd-ness of your pup’s new threads may be enough to keep coyotes at bay.
Do Coyote Vests Work?
CoyoteVest is reasonably new to the market (the company was founded in 2015), so it’s not entirely clear how effective they will end up being. The manufacturer claims they have a perfect success record, but they don’t offer any third-party data verifying the claim.
When it comes to CoyoteVest reviews, owners who have used the CoyoteVest rave about it, with many offering their own stories of how the CoyoteVest deterred a would-be attacker.
They also offer the CoyoteZapper, which is an add-on shocking device, which you could activate if your pup was grabbed (although this seems a bit dangerous and un-necessary to be honest).
Lights can be very helpful for keeping your pooch safe while passing through coyote territory after dark.
A beam of light shouldn’t be considered a magic bullet, but it will help you see your surroundings better, which should make it harder for coyotes to sneak up on you. It may also provide some deterrent value if you shine it directly at a coyote (while you’re also waving your arms, screaming, and generally acting like a lunatic).
Our Top Pick? The Tactical LED Flashlight
The LETMY Tactical LED Flashlight is one of the best portable flashlight options on the market. It’s compact, easy to carry, incredibly bright, and it operates in 5 different ways – including as a strobe light.
It’s also affordable (it’s actually sold as a two-pack), water-resistant, and built like a tank so that you don’t have to worry that it’ll break if dropped.
You could also opt for a classic flashlight, like the Maglite 6-Cell Incandescent Flashlight. This flashlight is not only bright, it’s big too. In fact, it’s nearly 20 inches long and weighs more than 3 pounds. This means it may prove valuable if you end up in a tussle with a ‘yote and need to whack him upside the head.
LED Dog Collar Lights
Illuminated collars may help too. Skidding coyotes may take off when they see the odd light emitting from your pup’s collar. Even if they don’t scare off a coyote, they’ll help you keep a better eye on your pup after dark, which is incredibly important.
Additionally, if (heaven forbid) a coyote does snatch your pet, it’ll be much easier to follow and find him again if he’s wearing a light-up collar.
Our Top Pick? The Blazin’ Safety LED Collar
The Blazin’ Safety LED Dog Collar is a great choice, as it is not only bright, but it is available in several different colors and sizes, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s also rechargeable, via the included USB port.
- Save Your Dog's Life - Blazin light up dog collars offer an outstanding 1,000 feet of visibility so...
- USB Rechargeable - Your lighted dog collar runs up to 8 hours on a single charge so you can track...
- Durable and Waterproof - Blazin has designed your light up collar with quality nylon, durable enough...
- Assorted Colors and Sizes - There is a Blazin dog light up collar for every breed and personality....
If you prefer a harness to a collar, check out the noxgear LightHound. It’s a little pricey, but most owners who’ve tried it love it.
Coyote Whistle & Other Noise-Emitting Devices
Light isn’t the only thing that may help convince coyotes to keep their distance; loud sounds may scare off a yote too. Coyote whistles and similar sonic devices will also help you attract the attention of nearby bystanders, who may be able to help frighten off coyotes.
There are a number of different things you can use to make loud, frightening noises. Whistles are a great low-tech option, as they’re light, easy to carry, and they don’t need batteries.
Option 1: Fox40 Sonik Blast Whistle
The Fox 40 Sonik Blast produces 120+ decibels, making it one of the loudest pea-less whistles on the market (the pea is the little ball you can hear rattling around inside some whistles).
The whistle is made from super-durable ABS plastic, and it’s sold as a two-pack. Lanyards are included to make the whistle easy to drape around your neck.
Option 2: Air Horn
You could also opt for an air horn. Air horns rely on compressed air and a little megaphone to produce loud blasts of sound, which can often be heard up to 1 mile away. They are a little less convenient to carry than whistles, but many – like the Mini Eco Shoreline Air Horn – are very affordable.
- SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Make a loud and powerful sound when in emergency with the Shoreline Marine Air...
- AUDIBLE FROM 1 MILE: This boating air horn meets the US Coast Guard requirements for boats. You can...
- SMALL & PORTABLE: This air horn pump is small in size, making it the perfect to carry when hiking,...
- VARIETY OF SIZES: This air horn for boats is ideal for marine adventures, fire alarm, camping, and...
You could also pick up a hand-held personal alarm. These are usually designed to help protect people from criminals, but they’d likely work as well as (if not better than) whistles or air horns.
Option 3: Personal Alarm
The SLFORCE Personal Alarm Siren Song is one of the best-rated personal alarms on the market.
- YOUR FAMILY’S SAFETY IS OUR TOP PRIORITY – jogging early in the morning or late at night, having...
- AN ATTACKER'S WORST ENEMY IS ATTENTION - a simple and quick solution that requires no thinking!...
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It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and it comes with a keyring attachment (which you could probably hook to your dog’s leash) and hand strap.
To activate the siren, you just yank the hand strap and get ready for 130 decibels of ear-splitting sound.
We’ve talked about using pepper spray to repel attacking dogs before. While they’re not perfect tools, they are often effective at stopping charging dogs. They’d likely be similarly effective against coyotes.
You will, however, have to consider the fact that your dog may catch a little friendly fire if you have to use it.
That’s no minor concern; pepper spray is serious stuff that can cause severe pain for the eyes, nose, and mouth. It can even burn your skin. But those consequences are undoubtedly preferable to an actual coyote attack.
You’ll just have to make the best decision you can on behalf of you and your pooch.
Our Pepper Spray Pick? SABRE
SABRE Maximum Strength Protector Pepper Spray is one of the most concentrated pepper spray products on the market, so it’s probably the best one to try.
- PERSONAL PROTECTION YOU CAN TRUST: SABRE, the creator of Protector, is the #1 pepper spray brand...
- HUMANE AND EFFECTIVE: Protector dog pepper sprays are all natural and contain 1.0%...
- GUARANTEED SABRE MAXIMUM STRENGTH FORMULA IN EVERY CANISTER: According to an independent study...
- PROTECTION AT A SAFE DISTANCE: Includes a Protector pepper spray canister...
In our article about dog repellent sprays, we actually note that SABRE might be a bit overkill for an aggressive dog, so it’s probably a solid choice for coyotes.
It also comes with a handy belt clip, it features a safety lock to prevent accidental discharges, and it has a 15-foot range.
How to Keep Coyotes Out of the Yard: Protect Your Property
There are almost certainly coyotes around your local park or dog park, but they’re probably not far from your back yard either. Coyotes frequently inhabit residential areas – even in relatively urban locations.
This means your pet may not even be safe in your own backyard. But there are a few things you can do that may make your property safer for your pet.
None of these tactics are guaranteed to work, and some are undoubtedly more likely to help than others. Nevertheless, they all deserve consideration.
Fence In Your Yard
Fences are one of the most effective ways to protect your pup while he’s enjoying some backyard time.
The problem is, coyotes are very skilled climbers, jumpers, and diggers, so you can’t just throw up some fencing in a haphazard manner and expect it to work. You need to select and install the fencing very carefully.
For starters, you’ll want to select an effective type of dog-proof fencing – a cute little picket fence isn’t going to cut it. Brick or cement fences (which are really walls, rather than fences) are likely the best options, and privacy fences are also good choices.
You just need to make sure the fence is at least 6-feet-tall (and 8-feet-tall would be even better) and extends below ground level for at least 18 inches.
Chain-link fencing can also be effective, but it’s easy for coyotes to climb. So, you’ll need to install coyote rollers or fence extensions to keep ‘yotes from climbing up and over the fence. You can also make your own coyote rollers, as demonstrated in the video below.
Keep Your Property Tidy & Clean
Yard clutter may attract coyotes for a variety of reasons. Large items like planter boxes and storage sheds provide places for coyotes to hide, while smaller stuff like old plant pots and kids’ toys serve as hiding places for mice, bugs, and other critters coyote like to eat.
Additionally, excessive clutter can also provide pathways where coyotes can travel without being seen. So, be sure to go through your yard and remove any unnecessary items or debris.
Eliminate Potential Food Sources
Coyotes probably aren’t initially drawn to residential properties because they want to eat pet dogs – it’s all of the other easy, high-value foods we offer them.
Some of the most common food sources homeowners inadvertently serve include:
- Pet Food
- Garden Vegetables
- Tree Fruits
- Bird Feeders
- Prey Animals
- Compost Piles
- Farm Animals
- Grills and Smokers
Install Coyote Deterrent Lights Around Your Property
Portable lights are helpful for walking around with your canine after dark, but stationary lights can make your entire property safer for your pet.
The best option is to install one or more security lights in your backyard.
Top Pick For Ultra-Bright Security Light: Brightech
The Brightech LightPRO LED Yard Light is one of the best options available. It’s not only energy-efficient, crazy bright, and affordable, it’s also easy to install. It even comes equipped with a built-in photocell, which automatically turns the light on when the sun goes down. This means you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to turn the light on at night.
Top Pick For Motion-Activated Fence Lights: URPOWER Solar Lights
If the Brightech Yard Light is a little more light than you need, you may find the URPOWER Solar Lights to be a better option. These lights are motion-activated, so they don’t stay on all the time. But, your dog – or more importantly a coyote – will easily trigger them. They come in packs of four, and they’re easy to install on fence lines, exterior walls, or dog runs.
Equip Motion-Activated Sprinklers
Motion-activated sprinklers are sometimes used to keep dogs, cats, squirrels, and other animals away from yards and gardens, and they may help deter coyotes too.
Obviously, a stream of water isn’t going to harm a coyote, but because they’re often relatively skittish animals, an unexpected soaking may cause them to turn tail and run off.
Top Pick For Motion-Activated Fence Lights: Orbit Yard Enforcer
The Orbit Yard Enforcer is a very effective garden security device / watering tool. It is easy to install, and it features an infrared “eye” that can distinguish between animals and things like trees blowing in the wind. While it’s primarily intended to scare off deer from chomping on your garden’s edibles, it might deter coyotes as well with a splash of water. Best of all, it’ll work during the day or night.
Dogs aren’t coyotes, but they’re close relatives, so it’s worth considering some of the lawn and garden products on the market that are designed to repel dogs.
Unfortunately, most of the repellents designed to keep your yard or garden dog-free don’t seem to be terribly effective. Some owners have found them helpful, but others reported that they appeared to attract dogs. Some even appear to damage plants and grasses.
Nevertheless, as long as you select one that is non-toxic, it may be worth trying – especially if you pick one made from predator urine. Coyotes typically avoid big predators, so, in theory, these may prove useful for keeping your yard yote-free.
Top Pick For Pee Deterrent: Pee Mart Wolf Urine
Pee Mart Wolf Urine Granules have been helpful for some homeowners. These granules are essentially pellets made from dehydrated wolf urine, so they should be safe to use around your dog, and they’re easy to spread around your yard. They also market a liquid version of the product, although customers didn’t rate the liquid version as highly as the granules.
You can also opt for bear pee if you think that may be more frightening to your local coyotes than wolf urine.
Get A Big Dog or Two
It bears mentioning that there are several dog breeds who’ve been historically tasked with repelling predators. These large and extra-large dog breeds are usually used to guard livestock, but they’d likely perform equally well at protecting your backyard and other pets.
Just be sure to think through this idea carefully – you will be putting the dogs in harm’s way to an extent. That said, most large livestock guarding breeds like the Great Pyrenees and Kangal are capable of repelling wolves, bears, and other predators more formidable than a 40-pound coyote.
You’ll need to have guarding dogs trained, which is neither quick nor cheap, but it may be a viable option in some situations.
Don’t Deliberately Feed Coyotes
File this under “things that shouldn’t have to be said,” but you should never deliberately feed coyotes.
You may have the best intentions for doing so (such as keeping them full, so they don’t start viewing your pooch as prey), but by doing so, you’ll actually be teaching them that your property is a food source.
This will not only cause coyotes to start visiting your property more often, it’ll often cause them to stop fearing humans, thereby exacerbating the problem.
Small Dogs vs Large Dogs: Who Is at Risk from Coyote Attack?
According to the data assembled by the Urban Coyote Research Project, coyotes may attack dogs of all sizes.
However, attacks on small breeds are much more common than attacks on medium or large breeds. Additionally, and not surprisingly, attacks on small dogs were more likely to prove fatal than attacks on larger dogs.
Yorkies, poodles, Shih Tzus, and Jack Russels were among the breeds most likely to suffer an attack – they combine to represent 32% of the attacks in the study area.
These breeds probably don’t exhibit any atypical vulnerability to coyote attacks; the frequency of attacks probably reflects the fact that they’re all small breeds, who’re also very popular pets.
Other small breeds represented 36% of the attacks recorded, meaning that – in total – small breeds were the victims in 68% of attacks.
However, there were reports of large dogs being attacked. Five percent of the attacks involved boxers, while 7% of the attacks involved Labs. Other large and medium-sized breeds were involved in 9% of the recorded attacks.
It is likely that attacks on larger breeds were territorial in nature, but that’s difficult to know for sure.
How Common Are Coyote Attacks?
There is no central repository for nationwide coyote attack statistics on dogs (that we could find – if you’re aware of one, please let us know in the comments).
There are also a number of challenges with regards to assembling this kind of data. For example, many attacks go unreported, some people mistake dogs for coyotes, and the number of attacks differs from one area to the next.
However, to give you an idea of the risks, we crunched the numbers from the Chicago-based study referenced above.
There are approximately 1.2 million households in the city of Chicago (note that the study referenced above considered the entire Chicago metropolitan area, so our final results will overstate the risks slightly).
According to the formula provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, this means there are roughly 438,000 dogs in that area.
There were 70 attacks total reported over the study period, which means that the odds of your dog being attacked are roughly 1 in 6,257 over 14 years.
As a comparison, an estimated 1.2 million dogs are killed by cars each year in the U.S.
Basically, your chances of a coyote attack are pretty minimal. But of course your risk can very based on the type of dog you have and where you live.
What to Do If You See a Coyote While Walking Your Dog
We’ve talked about the various tools and techniques that may be helpful for repelling coyotes, but as mentioned earlier, none of these things are always effective. So, you’ll need to know what to do if you see a coyote while out walking your dog.
Hopefully, you’re keeping an eye out for coyotes while walking your dog, as this may give you the chance to spot the coyote before he spots you and your pup.
But whether the coyote has noticed you or not, you’ll want to do the same basic thing: Stop walking and slowly start to back away. Pick up your pooch if you can, but if that’s impossible, just be sure to keep your pooch close to your side.
Don’t turn your back to the coyote, just walk backward while maintaining strong eye contact. Hopefully, the coyote will realize he’s been spotted, so he’ll just slink back into the brush and look for an easier meal elsewhere. If the coyote starts to follow you, try to frighten it by raising your hands over your head, yelling at it, throwing rocks at it, or anything else you can think of.
What to Do If Your Dog is Attacked by a Coyote
If your dog ends up in a physical confrontation with a coyote, you’ll need to take immediate action. However, while you’ll obviously want to do everything you can to get your dog out of harm’s way, it is important to avoid putting yourself in danger too.
Begin by trying to scare away the coyote – they’re typically rather timid animals, who want nothing to do with a 100-pound-plus, bipedal predator. So, scream, yell, clap your hands, wave your jacket over your head, and do anything else you can to look big and scary.
If this fails to work, you may need to try to fend off the coyote with a big stick or throw rocks at him (just be careful not to hit your own dog!). You can also try using your personal alarm, air horn, or pepper spray to help drive off the attacking coyote.
If nothing else, try to attract the attention of other people in the area. Even if you aren’t able to scare off the coyote by yourself, a group of people is almost certain to frighten one away.
Once you and your dog have retreated to safety, you’ll want to take your pup to the vet. Any injuries he has incurred will need to be treated to prevent infections from developing, and your pup may also need booster shots to prevent him from contracting rabies or distemper.
Identifying Coyote Tracks and Scat
As mentioned earlier, coyotes are essentially everywhere – there aren’t many places in the continental U.S. that don’t have healthy coyote populations. In fact, because coyotes are so secretive, many people live amidst them without even realizing it.
That’s one of the reasons it is so important to learn to recognize the signs coyotes often leave behind. Many times, this is the only clue you’ll have that coyotes are in your area.
My own pooch and I frequent a park that’s nestled up against an industrial complex – it’s the ideal habitat for modern coyotes. There’s plenty of forested area, a few adjacent fields, and there are food sources (including rodents, berries, and trash) all over the place.
We come across coyote tracks and scat during virtually every walk, but I’ve never actually seen one of the animals – and we’ve walked hundreds of miles at that park over the years. We even do so around dawn and dusk, when we’re the only ones in the park.
Fortunately, coyote tracks and scat are pretty easy to recognize. So, check out the descriptions below, so you can keep an eye out while walking around with your own dog.
Coyote tracks look relatively similar to dog tracks, aside from a few details.
Coyote tracks are normally about 2.5-inches long and 2-inches wide. Both the front and back paws make four-toed impressions, and you can normally see imprints made by their sharp claws (especially the two middle claws).
The foot pads of coyotes make vaguely triangular-shaped impressions, and the prints made by the rear paws are slightly smaller than those made by the front paws. Dog tracks, by comparison, are rarely as symmetrical as coyote prints, and the claws often make slightly blunter impressions.
Additionally, the negative space between the impressions on a coyote print form an “X,” while domestic dog prints rarely do.
This video is a great beginner’s guide on how to spot coyote vs wolf tracks!
Like their tracks, coyote scat looks relatively similar to dog poop, but there are a few differences.
Typically, coyote poops are about ½-inch in diameter, they have a spongy consistency, and they’re usually greyish in color. They’re often deposited in the middle of trails (dogs often poop on the sides of trails), and you may even see multiple poops in the same area.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the poop of a domestic dog and a coyote is to examine how homogeneous it is. Domestic dogs typically eat dog food, so their poop tends to look the same from one end to the other – it doesn’t look as though it is comprised of different things.
On the other hand, coyote poop will often have a variety of different things in it. You may see large amounts of rodent fur or bird feathers, or you may see bones or insect exoskeletons. Sometimes, you may also notice the presence of numerous seeds, which are left over from the fruit the coyotes have recently eaten.
You may also notice your dog taking a greater interest in coyote poop than typical dog poop. My own dog spends far more time sniffing coyote poop than the poop left behind by other dogs.
You can see a photo of some coyote poop we found during a recent walk below. Note the fur content, as well as the visible bone fragments.
Interestingly, there were some rabbit droppings underneath the coyote poop too. But unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me find them in the photo!
Rabbits — along with rats and squirrels — likely form a significant portion of the diet of the coyotes in this particular park.
One Final Point: Killing Coyotes Does NOT Help
Reasonable minds often differ when it comes to human-wildlife conflicts.
I’ve been an environmental educator my entire adult life, so you can imagine how I feel about wild critters. I certainly don’t want anyone’s pooch to be attacked by a coyote, but I also appreciate the value coyotes provide to natural ecosystems.
For that matter, I just think coyotes are neato.
However, I can understand how some people may believe that killing problematic coyotes (or all coyotes) would be a good idea. After all, while coyotes are typically shy animals who avoid humans, they can (rarely) lose their inherent fear of humans, which can lead to attacks on pets or people.
Don’t forget: Coyotes may not only inflict wounds with their teeth and claws, but they may also transmit dangerous diseases like rabies (however, coyotes are typically not the most significant rabies vectors in the U.S. – that distinction belongs to raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes in most places).
But none of that matters for one very simple reason: Killing coyotes doesn’t reduce their population. In fact, it often causes the population to increase.
This occurs for a number of reasons, but it basically boils down to this: Coyote populations typically exist in near harmony with their environment. Food supply, territory size, nearby competitors, and other factors keep their reproductive rate relatively low.
Yet when coyotes are killed, these relationships become disrupted.
The remaining coyotes rearrange their social structures, which often allows more animals to breed than would have before. Many of the coyotes also begin breeding at younger ages.
You can read more about the reasons killing coyotes often makes the problem worse here, but I’ll leave you with one final, very telling, point: Coyotes maintained small populations in the U.S. for thousands of years, but humans began killing them off en masse around 1850. Since then, the coyote population has tripled, and their range has expanded dramatically.
So, while it makes sense to take any steps you can to protect your pooch from coyotes, and exclude the wild canines from your property, it is not a good idea to kill them.
There are no two ways about it: If you have a small to medium-sized dog, you need to be aware of the potential dangers coyotes represent.
Attacks are still (statistically speaking) fairly rare, so you needn’t panic, but you should definitely do everything you can to keep your canine safe.
Have you ever had an encounter with a ‘yote? We’d love to hear about it (particularly if the story has a happy ending). We’d also be interested in hearing any strategies our readers have devised that have helped keep coyotes at bay.
Let us know in the comments below!
May 4, 2022
Hi, I’m in AZ. I quickly wanted to share a few stories since I’m kind of worked up at the moment haha! Hopefully venting will help me or others feel not so alone with this struggle.
So an hour ago about 1:50am, I was sitting on my front balcony with my cat sitting in front of me. We have a door on the front balcony but it was slightly open and out of nowhere my cat hissed and puffed up like a Halloween prop so I look up and see a massive coyote poking its head into my balcony trying to get to my cat. I immediately poop myself (no I’m kidding but I almost did.) I started screaming and ran at it, the coyote ran off and my highly intelligent cat decided to run in the same direction of the coyote. I kept my eyes on the coyote but lost my cat (hes fine), luckily my mom and sister came out and helped me shoo it away and find my cat.
I got into my car to make sure it was gone because theres some stray cats here that I’ve been caring for for years. Eventually I found it a few streets away hunting for other cats and boy, this coyote was FEARLESS. I noticed him because I was parked and saw it running straight at my car. I start honking and its as if it was deaf, he didn’t care at all, just went around my car like I was simply a nuisance. I lose him again (darn, theyre so good at being stealthy) then spot him chasing a cat. I’ll save you the time but after some more hazing it ran away and I didn’t see it come back. Now I’m sat at home without a voice and still shakey.
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across them in my ged community because I go on walks with my cat at night.
One time it was a smaller sized coyote or jackal, I spotted it and charged at it, it simply stared at me so I started to walk away and it followed me then tried to circle me. Again, mom and sister to the rescue thank god. This time my cat ran under a car.
The worst was when I was on a walk and saw a coyote chasing a kitten, I take off running after it and as soon as it heard me, it stopped, turned and came at me. I wave my arms around and it decided to walk away thankfully. Sadly, it ran in the direction of a small deaf cat I had been caring for. He picked her up then dropped her after we went after him but the damage was done. I wont go into detail but it was horrible and I miss her very much.
I have found dead cats around before and they were very obviously attacked by an animal.
I had the misfortune of finding my previous cat deceased as well. I still haven’t recovered from that loss.
Anyway, my point is, be very careful, some of them are quite brave. Keep your pets close to you. I don’t think I’ll be courageous enough to go on any other walks after 11pm. I had never experienced nature in that way before so it was very jarring. I feel bad because they need food, its unfortunate they are suffering the consequences of humanity taking over the planet.
May 4, 2022
Hey there, Bella.
You’re right — coyote encounters can be frightening, and some are braver than others.
Unfortunately, the feral cat population you mention is undoubtedly contributing to the coyote problem. So, while it sounds like you have quite a bit of affection for them, it’d probably be wise to avoid feeding them — that’ll only increase the odds of their numbers growing.
But just try to stay safe and keep a good eye on your feline friend(s)!
February 2, 2022
My Shih-Tzu was just attacked 2 nights ago by a coyote in the California desert. She is almost 16, mostly blind, and pretty deaf. Perfect target for a hungry coyote in mating season. We heard a yelp, ran outside and the coyote had already begun to retreat over our fence. There wasn’t a scratch on my dog, but her eyeball was bulging out. They had to sew her lids together and she lost full sight of that eye. I don’t understand how the coyote managed to get at her eye without a claw, bite, scratch or blood. I would love to get the best possible protection for this old girl, so we are gonna start with the Coyote Vest. Wish us luck!
February 3, 2022
Oh no, Rachel! We’re so sorry to hear about your pup’s encounter. Hopefully the Coyote Vest will help! Let us know how it works for your pupper.
January 24, 2022
Hi, I live in Suwanee GA in a sub-urban residential area that has a lot of small strips of sparse woodland (15 to 20 feet wide) working its way through and around houses in the neighborhood. Additionally across the four lane road from where our subdivision is there is a lot of woodland area. Recently they have started some new construction across the street, and the coyote activity in our neighborhood has increased dramatically. I have two small dogs, a papillon mix and another mix breed dog that is built a bit like a small dachshund. I think she might be a dachsund papillon mix. I often walk them later in the evening around 11pm just before I go to bed. I see coyotes from time to time, but they typically keep their distance. A few nights ago, probably the evening of 20Jan one of my dogs had stopped to poop, but I hadnt noticed as I was focusing my attention on the other dog. I felt the leash go tight, and turned around just in time to see a coyote stalking up behind him as he was pooping. The coyote was maybe 10 to 15 yards away. As soon as it saw me turn it froze in place. We stared at each other for a brief moment before I started a low whooping sound. Which didnt seem very effective at all, so then I just started yelling “Get outa here!” and stomping my feet, in a rather exaggerated walking in place fashion. That combo the coyote didn’t like too much, it retreated another 10 yards or so. It was still a little too close for my comfort so I continued to yell at it, and started waving my right arm around up in the air. The coyote retreated some more, and when I started marching towards it, yelling the whole time, it finally ran off. I got a phone call from one of my neighbors the next morning asking who or what I was yelling at. LOL. Happy Ending.
January 25, 2022
Glad your story had a happy ending, Ray!
Construction can certainly cause changes in local wildlife behavior, but as you found, coyotes are usually pretty timid around people — that’s why it is so key to accompany dogs (especially small ones) outside.
Thanks for sharing!
December 29, 2021
I heard coyotes in our neighborhood and have seen a lone one a couple of times. Very majestic! I have to walk my dog in the dark sometimes and got very worried about coyotes attacking, so I found this article. Glad I did cause now no coyote is getting near me or my dog! Thank you!
December 26, 2021
Our dog was attacked by a coyote in July in our backyard around 2:00 am but escaped on his own ran in the house by way of doggie door. Was injured but only slightly. Neighbors saw the coyote on our wall before I ran out. We have a block wall approximately 6ft high. Our gate on driveway a bit taller. Today at around 4:10 in daylight (Dec 26) our little dog was barking and when I went out back a coyote was on the top of the wall. Our dog did not go toward it until I moved toward it yelling. I scared the coyote away but I now will need to keep my doggy door blocked and come home at lunch each day to let them relieve themselves. I am so sad that they have lost their freedom because they love to go out and sun themselves. I am going to try wolf urine pellets on the wall but the wall wraps around maybe 250 ft (guess). If you discover anything else …I am going to clear out my bird feeder at the back of the yard tomorrow. Yes I have plenty of birds and squirrels, but a choice needs to be made. Thanks for your article.
December 29, 2021
We’re glad your pups escaped without serious injury, Yvonne.
Let us know how the wolf pellets work!
December 16, 2021
We live on a golf course in Banning, Ca. Coyote(s) will nap fifty feet away from the tee box while golfers are teeing off. During a recent rain storm it curled up in the middle of the fairway and napped for well over an hour, then came and napped in the corner of the sand trap until after dark. They frequently travel down the various fairways in relatively close proximity to golfers. We have three small dogs and have to be on constant alert because the coyotes are so casual about entering backyards. Brick wall is only two feet high. They are not nearly as secretive as you describe.
December 17, 2021
Hey there, Dolph.
High population densities and reduced food availability can make some coyotes less secretive (not to mention the fact that rabies is always a possibility). But coyotes are pretty secretive critters.
Think about it this way: While you may very well see one or two that don’t mind being observed by humans, there’s no telling how many others are lurking in the area, while keeping a low profile.
People are often astonished to find that coyotes have been living very close the their homes despite never having seen them.
Either way, just keep an eye out for your pooches’ sake!
September 24, 2021
Been working with GSD for 50 years. Live in hills outside Los Angeles with 20 acres behind my yard. Have always had coyotes, racoons, skunks, occasional mountain lions and bobcats. However, this year, have a pack of about 7 that have taken up residence behind my fence. My yard has an 8 foot chainlink fence. My neighbor behind me has 6 foot board fence with 16″ space between fences. Access open along his house and his neighbor on his side. Last 4 weeks, 3 young coyotes, 8 to 12 months old have started sleeping in field behind. However, 3 days ago, on got between my fence and the board fence in space about 16″ wide, created a nesting depression. No problem, just scare them away. Yesterday big change. My wife caught one in this area on the border neighbors wall. When she hollared, it ran into the chain link/board fence area. I came out to see when the coyote ran to the back part, climbed the fence (8 feet) and attempted to jump INTO my yard. I scared it back then it climbed again in the corner and crossed through a razor wire topper to get away. My other neighbor sez that 6 to 8 have been working the fence/wall area for month. I never expected on to “climb” an 8′ fence.
September 24, 2021
Wow! That sounds like quite the coyote, Dudley.
Thanks for sharing!
September 12, 2020
It is mid morning and I just caught a coyote digging under the fence between the front yard and the back. He was half way through when I chased him away. He was after my three small dogs. Does wolf urine help to repel coyotes?
September 14, 2020
Wolf urine may help keep the coyotes away, and there’s little harm in trying (most are pretty affordable).
Let us know how it works out!
July 10, 2020
Great article. We have a 9 pound Yorkshire Terrier and in a few weeks we are moving to an area that backs up to a forest preserve. I fearfully anticipate we will be dealing with coyotes in that area so I am doing everything I can to educate myself and protect my pup. Articles like this are a great help so Thank you!
July 6, 2020
This is just excellent! Coyotes much more visible; I live rurally, in relative isolation so don’t think pandemic has brought out.
May 28, 2020
There seems to be a pack of coyote around my house. They woop and cry and howl in the night as a pack, sounds like 6-8 of them. They walk right thru my yard mid-to-late mornings, and in evening. At first they stayed 150-180ft away. Now they come 30ft from the deck! (Which is where my not-very-tall dogrun is). Having 2 small dogs under 10#, I actually keep a loaded 22rifle at the back door and have shot at the coyote in my yard (I live out in the country). I make lots of noise when letting my pups outside, and now I go out With my pups, rifle in arm. These coyote seem to be getting more comfortable around homes, people, pets. It saddens me to notice a great decrease in wild turkey, rabbits, fox, fawns around my yard last couple years – which I attribute to the obvious increase in coyote presence.
March 15, 2020
My dog and I had a run in with a coyote last Saturday. My dog is an 11 year old cairn terrier; about 20 pounds. We walked from home, to a ravine type park that’s close by. Admittedly, I don’t leash him; he’s very well behaved and generally stays close by me. It was about 2:30 pm, and we hadn’t even got into the trails yet when we saw a coyote off in the forest edge. We’ve been walking at this park for many years and have never seen a coyote in this trail before. On this particular day, my dog ran in after him/her. I almost immediately heard my dog yelping and crying, but couldn’t see them. I instinctually began running towards the sounds of my dog. I got into the forest edge; it was a very wild section of the park, no trails, and a steep decline. I kept going, yelling just my dogs name, repeatedly. I got caught up in the blackberry bushes a few times, and fell a couple times as well, but kept going and kept yelling. Then, I saw the coyote run off to the left of me, and he/she wasn’t carrying anything. I didn’t hear my dog anymore, but I kept yelling his name and ran in the direction I saw the coyote coming from. I was afraid of what I would find, but somehow, miraculously, my dog was all of sudden standing right by me. I looked him over right them and there; he looked relatively okay, with more than a few cuts/scrapes on his underbelly. When we finally climbed out of the ravine (after finding my phone and my hat, that I lost on the way down) and got back home. I took a better look at him, and he had a deep puncture/bite on his lip/cheek area. I got him into the vet about an hour later, where he was given antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. He’s extremely lucky and I’m so very thankful.
March 16, 2020
Wow, Jo! We’re so glad your story had a happy ending.
Thanks for sharing, and please start leashing your pooch when going for walks!
January 4, 2020
Just had another “close encounter” this morning walking my 3 small dogs. Coyote was about 50 yards ahead in the green belt then went down the street in front of my house. We packed up tight (on leases) and moved ahead slowly. The coyote passed on the opposite side of the (narrow) residential street and went on his way. Good looking animal! My Cheweenie was scared, my Chorkie was ready to kick it’s ass and my poodle mix had no clue what was going on. Never had one in the walled back yard but there are rabbits out front. Thanks for the excellent information in the article – always helps to “know the enemy!”
December 8, 2019
Great article, thanks for sharing. We have exactly that unusual situation in the Denver suburbs. Due to construction disrupting habitat, we have one or more packs that has become aggressive and is actively hunting dogs in the neighborhoods. They live in the mulch behind my house. We have had multiple attacks on dogs in the past month including a couple on dogs who were on leash with owners present. We are working with local authorities on solutions but I am curious as to your thoughts on what we can do. My own two dogs were killed a week ago and we have other dogs in the household that we need to keep safe. Really appreciate any advice you can provide – thanks much.
December 8, 2019
Ugh…they live in the GULCH not the mulch. They are not voles. Thank you autocorrect. 🙂
December 5, 2019
We live in a community where our lots are defined by 6’ block walls. Coyotes still climb these walls and often walk along the top in search of prey. We are considering using spike strips on the wall to deter this behavior. Your thoughts?
December 5, 2019
That may work.
I’d make sure to pick humane ones that will discourage, but not hurt the ‘yotes paws (it’s not their fault they’re hungry), and double-check to make sure you won’t be breaking any local wildlife laws.
Let us know how it works out!
November 5, 2019
Great article on urban coyotes. Thank you so much. I’ve been coping with coyote proximity for several years. I have 3 small dogs and it’s very hard to walk them at once and also be aware of the surroundings. I’ve had 2 close encounters with singles but very fearful of an approach by more than one….
Thanks for some good ideas. Very much appreciated!