For dog owners, there’s never a shortage of things to worry about. But coyote attacks? Really?
Yeah, really. Stories of coyotes attacking dogs pop up with some regularity, often when there’s been a spate of attacks in an area, or when an attack involves something extraordinary or unusual. Most recently, The Huffington Post and other websites ran the story of a Rottweiler saving his Chihuahua/Dachshund pal from certain death in the jaws of a hungry coyote. Besides the Rottie’s heroism, the extraordinary thing about this attack is that there’s video:
For every story like this, you can bet there are many others that go unreported. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders that will go after anything that looks like easy pickings. That most certainly includes small dogs tied up on a leash outside.
Coyotes don’t only go after ankle-biters though. They also attack larger dogs, who they may see as rivals for territory or mates (the latter suspicion isn’t exactly unfounded, as dogs and coyotes sometimes do mate and produce offspring known as coydogs). When the fight is over territory, a mated pair of coyotes may double team the larger dog that they see as an interloper.
A recent analysis of coyote attacks in the Chicago Metro Area found that Shih Tzus, Yorkies, and Poodles were the top targets. Does that mean coyotes have a taste for foo foo dogs? Nah, it probably has more to do with the size of the breeds and their popularity.
Fortunately, coyotes rarely attack humans, and are generally very afraid of them (though this isn’t always true, especially if the coyote has grown acclimated to humans). If a coyote attacks your dog when you’re around, you can often scare it off by making loud noises or spraying it with a hose. Beware, though. In those rare cases when coyotes do attack people, it’s often when a pet is present.
Experts say the best way to deal with a coyote attack is to make sure it never happens in the first place. That means keeping your dog in a kennel or behind a tall fence, or watching your dog closely if it has to be out on a leash. Also, don’t leave dog food, trash, or other coyote magnets lying around outside.
Oh, and never feed a coyote. That’s just asking for trouble. If they get used to dining in your neighborhood, they may just decide that your beloved family pet should be next on the menu.