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Urban Woodswalker

Ah...this is very scary Joy. I forget where you live...but know that coyote pups are born around this time, and both mamma and papa needs to be extra aggressive is finding food to feed the litter of babies, and defend territory from any intruders. Coyotes mate for life -long term studies have shown that males take an equal role in providing for pups, and defending the territory. There might be a variety of reasons why the coyote attacked.

A national study has been done ongoing for years in the Chicago region: http://urbancoyoteresearch.com/ where I live. We literally have a scientifically estimated 2000 plus coyotes in Chicago and the suburbs surrounding it.Coyotes live in downtown Chicago near the Art Institute, they are in back yards, and one can even see them in factory districts. there is much info on the web about living rationally, and peacefully with coyotes-- as they do serve a positive role in keeping down rodents,deer, and rabbit numbers. In a word...they are good for the environment.

Here was my first encounter while walking our little Jack Russel...shown in a series of 10 photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanwoodswalker/6230905454/

Scared me a lot...and I went on a obsessive education to teach myself how to stay safe and still enjoy the wildlife all around us. Coyotes are just living in this world...trying to exist just as we do. Yes, there are some "bad" coyotes" out there....they might have been tamed by people who feed them.

Also, never stare at a coyote...eye to eye contact is a threatening signal...and they either will back down...are respond with aggression if they are used to being around humans.

I would ask you to consider where you are walking your dog, and perhaps walk it elsewhere to avoid the coyote(s). Coyotes can work in packs, and though you might be able to fend one off, an attack by 2, or 3 will not end well, for you or the dog.

Depending on where you live in North America...the Eastern coyote DNA is showing Wolf ...the Wolf/coyote "eastern" coyote is bigger, and more aggressive. There is only one case on historical record of a human being killed by coyotes...in Nova Scotia...and the coyotes were found to be of this same hybrid mix that is showing up as far west as the middle of Canada, and the Eastern USA. All coyotes in this region now have wolf DNA -- they have been interbreeding.

I want to tell you, I have seen the coyotes as I walk my dog after the event I describe in the link above. I now walk constantly scanning my back, front and sides as I walk- on high alert. They are known to follow you- out of curiosity, or dominance. I make loud noise, talk to the dog, and when I see one on the path who does not want to let us pass, or follows us very sneaky like ...I do NOT back down. I make myself large...arms out, stand tall, and yell. I do not run, I don't shriek or scream. I do NOT retreat. I shorten the leash so the dog is hugging my body...and I take a loud bold step or 2 forward towards the coyote. I want it to know I am NOT EVER to be reckoned with.

So far it works. However, its sheer lunacy to walk the dog in these woods at dawn, or dusk...when the coyotes are sure to be out. The times during a sunny middle of the day encounters (there have several now over a 2 square mile range where I find a coyote at the very least watching us...especially Snoopy)... have been fascinating.

Pepper spray is great, a loud noise maker...like those air cans is good too. But, since your encounter was so close and bold...I would advise you to not walk your dog in that area.

You might want to get together with your neighbors, and make sure no one is putting out food for cats, or other pets. A friend of mine...has bird feeders all over her yard, feeds about 200 ducks each night, and puts out food for the deer, and the feral cats. She then wonders why she has coyotes in her yard? They have most likely eaten the one gray feral cat who just disappeared. Its people who are making coyotes bold and aggressive for the most part.

I hope this helps. I got lots more info if you even need it. Most coyotes live out lives avoiding humans...but there is always a bad apple so to speak...just like there are good humans, and bad ones. We tend to only hear about the bad coyotes eating people's cats or dogs...while hundreds of others live peacefully all around us. It sounds like you have a very bold desperate coyote out there. I wish you and your pet the very best. Oh, and be careful of letting your young children play outdoors in coyote land. One can never be too careful.


What a scary experience! I'm thankful to say that (knock on wood), I've only had very positive experiences with local wildlife here in Los Angeles. I even shared one such encounter with a hawk on my blog: http://www.goexplorenature.com/2012/11/urban-backyard-birding-coopers-hawk.html

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Thank you so much for the extremely helpful information--you are a walking encyclopedia for all things coyote--I had no idea! Also, the photos in the link are amazing. Glad you could snap those, and while avoiding danger.

As for my walking in a new area, this happened on our street--basically, it tore out of somebody's driveway (their house backs up to the woods). So I can't avoid my street when walking the dog, but I am definitely much more vigilant now. I totally get what you mean about walking while looking back and around you. The best defense is being alert and on-guard.

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

WOW. That photo (and the moment) is shocking and raw--the poor pigeon... But I know what you mean--it's all part of the circle of life! Thanks for sharing the link with me.

Urban Woodswalker

I forgot to add...a sealed metal can of pebbles, coins, or glass marbles make a great noisemaker also.

excellent account of young women and dog attacked near den territory:

Last but not least:
Coyote footage...(encouraging danger for the sake of video footage, but fascinating to watch)

Sheer stupidity to sit down on the ground to film a close coyote...it makes them unafraid and MORE dangerous:

More helpful info on living safely amongst coyotes:
"Living peaceably with urban coyotes....."

Urban Woodswalker

Oh...this is THE BEST site I HAVE EVER found, in all my dozens and dozens of hours of research-- I had temporarily lost the link-- tons and tons of info, videos, recordings, and photos from someone I respect.


The whole site is worth checking out.

Alex C Jones

We live right next to the city of Chicago. My wife has seen coyotes at least 3 times when walking the dog. I have seen only one, and it was because my wife pointed it out to me, and I saw only the back half of it as it disappeared into the shadows. OUr neighbor Linda says that she sees them almost every morning before 05:30 when walking her dog, Maybe they stay away from me when I walk the dog at night, because I am always talking to the dog. Also our dog looks like fox with a curled tail like a Husky's.

They say you should always scare them away, so I don't know what David Orr was thinking. He might have enjoyed that encounter but he might have reduced the coyote's fear of humans, and that is what everyone advises against.

So what you did was the right thing under the circumstances. Between you and Urban Woodswalker, there is more info than I have.

Feeding birds with bird food is okay, but her neighbor who puts out food for deer and feral cats!? I hope we don't have the same neighbor! There should be some kind of law against that!

I did not know about the Coyote-Wolf hybrids in the East. I guess the Chicago coyotes in my neighborhood are not so bad. I bet using a firecracker would shoo them away! But that would attract the police. Maybe a cap-gun or cap-bombs will do?


Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Be careful out there, Alex! I highly recommend carrying a little canister of pepper spray, which is available at outdoor or sporting goods stores like REI.

Alex C Jones

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There is an REI right next to where I work, so I will get two small cans of Pepper spray, 1 to go in the bag for the leash that I use when walking Molly, and one for the one Susan uses when walking. Then, Ill see about getting cap-bombs and firecrackers later. I just want to have a backup option. A firecracker should keep a coyote scared of humans. And if I never need them for coyotes, I should have them ready by the time the cougars/pumas/mountain lions start appearing.

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