If you’re a dog lover who is also a nature lovers, learning how to avoid a coyote attack while hiking with your dog is the only way to combine both passions without risk. The beautiful Cascade Mountains where I like to hike with my dog are home to roaming coyotes. At times, we even see them in our built up areas as urban sprawl slowly pushes wildlife among humans. Having heard of numerous coyote attacks in my area, I came up with a routine for avoiding a coyote attack and stopping it if it starts.
Don’t Expect the Coyote to Fear Humans
Though a coyote is only the size of a German Sheppard and in many ways resembles a dog, don’t expect a feral coyote to be deterred by your presence. I have had several starring contests with wild coyotes that approached me and my dog while hiking. Coyotes are becoming used to seeing humans and associate humans with the presence of food. To avoid a coyote attack while hiking with your dog, you must not show fear nor startle the coyote into thinking that it must attack to survive. Stand still, keep your eyes on the coyote, and once it shows signs of wishing to retreat, slowly chase him away. Keep your dog behind you the whole time.
Make Deterring Noises
A coyote will not come investigating if you make enough noise to be a deterrent. I first heard this advice from survival expert, Bear Grylls, in relation to bears in Alaska. If you are hiking with another human, speak loudly so your voices carry. To avoid a coyote attack while hiking with your dog along, call out, “Yo Bear” or whatever cry you fancy, to create a deterring noise that will keep a coyote away. Repeat the cry every minute or so.
Pay Attention to Coyote Feces
As you hike with your dog pay attention to feces that you come across. If it has fur in it, it is likely not the poop of another hiking dog but of a coyote who hunts for his keep. When you see coyote feces in your path, know that at least one coyote hunts in this area, which might lead to a coyote attack on your dog.
Be Vigilant and Evaluate the Landscape
To avoid a coyote attack on your dog, be aware of the surrounding landscape. If your trail is flanked by open space or sharp downhill inclines, a coyote will be unable to sneak up on you. Keep your eyes open and survey your surrounding both front, sides and back.
Keep A Leash Handy
If you are hiking with your dog in a dense forest and come across coyote feces or remains of small dead animals, avoid a coyote attack by keeping your dog near you on a leash. Use the tips mentioned above, and keep your dog on a leash until the landscape becomes more open.
Carry Mace with You
Mace offers an excellent weapon against coyote attack if it is used wisely. Hold the mace in your hand the whole time you are hiking with your dog. To avoid a coyote attack when the animal charges toward you, spray the mace in its direction when it reaches the recommended distance for your specific mace bottle. Be sure which direction the wind is blowing from. If you are spraying mace against the wind in a coyote attack, the wind will blow the gas back in your direction. Spray low to catch the animal and diminish the effect on you if gas is blown your way. (You can buy mace online from sporting goods stroes.)
Finally, Don’t Panic
How you react to seeing a coyote will affect your dog’s behavior. If you call him in a panicking or violent voice, your dog will realize that there is great danger in the coyote opposite, and he will exhibit signs of violence himself, such as barking, growling or charging forward. Your dog has no idea of the ferocity of a coyote attack and will be poorly matched. To get your dog to stay behind you, make sure he is trained to respect your authority. Otherwise, keep him on a leash when you take your dog hiking in nature.
Coyote attacks are quick and ruthless. Coyotes grab the top side of the neck, then shake their pray to break the neck. Because of the quick fierceness of a coyote attack you must respond quickly. (To read more about the principals involved in defending your dog from attack, read this article.)