Many urban residents see coyotes or have interactions with coyotes while out walking their dog. Coyotes are rarely interested in humans, but add a dog to the mix and their interest is piqued. Larger dogs may be viewed as competition or threat, while smaller dogs may be viewed as potential prey.
Here are four basic rules for walking dogs in coyote territory:
- Keep your dog on a 6-foot leash. This length is long enough to let your dog have some freedom but not so long that you can’t easily control your dog should you need to, especially at a moment’s notice. Retractable leashes are of little help to a dog owner, since it is very difficult to reel your dog back in if they are pulling on a long line way ahead of you. Coyote encounters with dogs are most often a result of off lead dogs moving too close to coyotes or their pups. Leashes are required in all City of Dublin parks.
- Avoid areas known to have coyote activity, especially during breeding and pupping season. If there are signs posted or you’ve heard neighbors report coyotes sighted in a certain area, make the common-sense decision to avoid walking your dog in those areas. This is especially important during pupping season when mother and father coyotes will be more defensive of their den sites.
- Stick to trails and open paths, and avoid areas with thick brush. Going off trail, following game trails, or heading into areas where there is thick brush lining the path increases your chances of running into a coyote. Staying on trail in open areas gives you plenty of time to spot and react to a coyote.
- Avoid walking your dog at sunrise and sunset hours. Coyotes are naturally active during the day, though urban coyotes usually switch to nocturnal behavior. Either way, they are often active at twilight hours. If you’re walking your dog during sunrise or sunset, be aware that it increases your chances of an interaction with a coyote.
If you follow these simple rules, you’re way ahead of the game in enjoying a quiet walk with your dog with little chance of seeing, let alone interacting with a coyote.
If you do cross paths with a coyote, use the SMART Method:
- Stop – stop moving
- Make yourself big – wave arms and fists
- Announce – speak forcefully and loudly… “Go away! Get out!”
- Repeat – do this several times until the coyote is out of sight
- Tell – tell others in the area, report the encounter to Dublin Nature Education (614.410.4730), Police non-emergency line (614.889.1112), or SCRAM (614.763.0696)
If you would like to learn more, contact Nature Education Coordinator Barbara Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614.410.4730 with questions or to request an education session for your neighborhood or group.