We are big coyote hunters in my family, one of the main reasons being because we love our dogs so much. Our dogs truly are family, joining us in every family picture and sleeping in our bed. They’re right by our side every minute possible, so I am always trying to go above and beyond to keep them safe.
One thing that has become more and more problematic, especially in highly populated areas, are coyotes. They are becoming more and more brazen since there are locations all over the country where hunting them are not an option. I often get people asking what they can do to keep their pets safe from coyotes if they’re not allowed to carry a gun or hunt them. Although this is not ideal, I understand places like this exist, so I’ve gathered some thoughts to help keep your fur babies safe.
Some people put bells on their dogs to keep coyotes away. Unfortunately, this can actually cause the opposite effect when coyotes learn that the sound of bell means there is a little pup nearby they can attack. With that said, I would skip the bell and try a few of these options first:
1. Always keep your dog on a leash. This is a great idea to not only protect your dogs from coyotes or predators, but also other dogs. You may have the best trained dog in the world but if something attacks him you want to be able to pull him toward you in an instant. A leash on a walk is my number one line of defense.
2. Do not walk close to thick brush or trees where coyotes can be waiting in cover. The more open an area, the lower your risk of getting ambushed by a coyote. Predators are excellent hunters and they wait and watch from cover. Avoiding close cover will give you more time to react and get your pup to safety.
3. Avoid taking pets out at night, or do so in well-lit areas, talk aloud throughout. Generally, most coyotes will avoid humans. If they hear vocies and smell a human, more than likely they will back off. Unfortunately, in some highly populated areas there are coyotes that have become incredibly brazen, believing they’re on the top of the food chain as their fear of people has diminished. However, most of the time just hearing your voice will keep them at bay.
4. Watch your pets reactions. If your pet gets tense, starts staring or barking for no apparent reason, beware. Many times little pets will get the bright idea to try and fight a coyote and act much tougher than they are. If you notice these signs, keep your dog close and move on.
5. Where legal, always carry while walking your dog. This is not only super helpful for predators, but as we’ve seen there are sick people out there as well who have tried stealing dogs. I understand this isn’t always and option, but if it is this is a great way to keep both you and your pups safe from all predators.
6. Report any coyotes lingering in your neighborhood or close encounters. Often, your Department of Natural Resources can perform a variety of varmint control methods to help lower the number of coyotes and make them more fearful of humans. This may not be broadcasted publicly, but if you and your neighbors call and complain enough, more than likely something will be done. You may or may not know about it, but hopefully they will act.
7. Backyard safety. Fences will help, however make sure coyotes can’t dig below fence or jump over your fence. Also avoid keeping anything nearby the fence that coyotes can use to jump halfway up and get over the top. We have a 6-foot fence in our backyard that has cement footers so nothing can dig under. I contemplated putting razor wire on top just to keep my dogs protected to ensure no coyote could enter, but eventually was talked out of this idea. Also, if you live in an area populated with golden eagles, be aware of places they could perch and watch your pets. A golden eagle is huge and could easily pick up a small dog without a single sign of where they went. The only real way to protect from this would be to put a net over the entire backyard. I also considered this option but eventually decided against—but not a bad idea in my opinion!
8. Take caution when tying your pet up outside. In general it’s not a good idea to tie up your dog to a stake or tree since they can become entangled or even injure themselves when left unsupervised. Even worse is that your pet doesn’t have the ability to get away from a predator, and becomes an easy target regardless of size. We use a wireless electric fence and collar system at our lodge when we don’t have a fence to keep the dogs close.
9. Give pets a quick escape. We have a doggie door, and my hopes would be that if somehow a coyote did get in our backyard our dogs know where to run to find safety. If the coyote decides to chase them into our home there will be big problems for the coyote. However, if you’re worried about other animals entering your home, certain models of doggie doors allow only your pet to enter by the use of a programmable collar.
These are simple things that you can do to try and prevent danger for a coyote strike, but the best thing is to always be aware of your surroundings. I take my pup Pork Chop all over the world on hunts and I’m constantly worried about what may be lurking nearby. I try to keep her on a leash as much as possible, but it can be difficult when walking through the woods. So if a leash isn’t practical, I at least try and keep an e-collar on her. That way if I see danger I can hit the vibrate button and she comes back to me immediately. I’ve had to do this for snakes, bears, coyotes and vehicles that we’ve unexpectedly run into in our travels. It’s always a tough balance to let your pup enjoy the outdoors but still stay safe. Hopefully these simple tips give easy advice to help ease your concerns.