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Keep Your Dog Safe From Coyotes

Author: Cathy Madson, MA, FDM, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Published: April 21, 2023

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protect your dog from coyotes

Coyote populations in urban and suburban areas are rising, and this can be quite scary when you take your dog out for a walk only to be confronted or followed by one. And where there's one, there are likely more!

Coyotes aren’t typically known to attack people and larger dogs, though it certainly does occur. Coyotes do routinely go after cats and smaller dogs.

In my local area of Seattle, there are daily sightings as well as regular reports of coyote attacks toward small dogs in their backyards or even when on leashed walks. Not to mention the number of outdoor cats attacked and killed by coyotes. I know that there are at least two to three different packs of coyotes in my neighborhood, as they live in the state park and in a few of the larger greenbelts in the area.

Coyotes truly can thrive anywhere, so just because you live in a busy city doesn't mean they aren't around. During a recent nighttime nature walk with the Preventive Vet team in an urban park, it was amazing to hear the sheer number of coyote howls, barks, and yips around us. Check out this short video to hear them:


As urban sprawl and residential building have encroached on coyotes' natural habitat, they have quickly acclimated to living in closer contact with people. While most of the time, coyotes will avoid direct interactions with people, with continued exposure, they are becoming bolder and less frightened. This is especially true if their food supply is low or during mating or whelping seasons.

We must learn to coexist with urban coyotes. Coyotes are an important part of the ecosystems they inhabit. They help to keep rodent populations in check and have an indirect role in helping to keep native bird populations flourishing. But when you start seeing them in your yard, on your street, or generally in your neighborhood — and definitely when you are followed by one on a walk — it does make one think about their presence just a little bit more!

Let's look at some ways to make sure your pet is protected from coyote attacks.

What to Do If You and Your Dog Are Followed By a Coyote

  • Do NOT turn your back to the coyote — do NOT run. Coyotes can run up to 40 mph over short distances. You won’t outrun them.

  • Put your dog on a leash, if they aren’t already. Keep the leash very short so your dog is right next to you. Do NOT turn your dog loose to go after the coyote.

  • If you have a small dog, pick them up and hold them.

  • Unzip your jacket and hold it wide open or raise your hands above your head and wave them, making yourself appear larger and scarier to the coyote.

  • Run towards them and make noise to scare or shoo them away — loudly yell “Go Away!”, shake your keys, clap, etc. Watch the video to see the "Go Away!" technique in action:


  • Throw rocks, branches, or anything else at your disposal toward the coyote to scare them away (don't aim directly at them though).

  • If you live in an area where you know coyotes frequent, carry a whistle or fill a soda can with some coins or small rocks. Wrap the entire thing in duct tape and then shake it to use as a noise-maker in the event you encounter a coyote. You can also get an airhorn that you can carry with you on your walks. (Trainer Note: If you use noise deterrents, be aware that it will also affect your dog and may be traumatic or cause future noise anxiety.)

  • Consider doing your walks and hikes with a can of citronella spray or a spray bottle with vinegar water in it. You can use either to deter a coyote that gets too close.

  • If you have a small dog, consider investing in a SpikeVest for protection against coyote bites (and even bird attacks or off-leash dog attacks). These vests can help protect a dog's neck and back in case of attack. Using the vest, however, does not mean that your dog should be outside unsupervised or off-leash in areas where coyotes may be.

    coyotevest spike vest for dogs

How to Decrease Your Chances of Running Into a Coyote

  • Walk your dog after sunrise and before sunset. Avoid walking during dawn and dusk, as this is when coyotes are most active.
  • Don’t let your dogs out in the yard without direct supervision, especially at dawn or dusk.
  • Ensure your dog has a reliable recall — for the times when they're off-leash in designated off-leash areas or in your own yard.
  • Walk your dog with other people and walk in well-trafficked areas.
  • Be aware of the times of the year when coyotes are typically more active and bold in your area. Typically prior to, during, and right after their mating season — between February to May.
  • Spay or neuter your dog or keep them on leash and under direct supervision. (Unless you want a “Coydog” — a cross between a coyote and a domestic dog — they can interbreed!)

coyote danger to pets

Other Dangers to Pets from Coyotes

Coyotes can carry and transmit certain infectious diseases that your dog or other pets can catch. These include distemper, hepatitis (liver inflammation), parvovirus, rabies, leptospirosis, and others.

Coyotes can also be a source of mange (mites), fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and other parasites that they can pass along to your pets. Your dog doesn't even need to come into direct contact with a coyote to pick up these nasty bugs, which is why it's so important to protect your dog year-round with parasite preventatives.

How to Keep Coyotes Out of Your Yard

  • NEVER intentionally feed a coyote.
    Beware of coyotes sign
  • Don’t keep pet food outside.
  • Clean your grill after use, or store it inside your garage or shed when not in use.
  • Securely cover your trash and recycling cans. If possible and practical, put your trash out the morning of pick-up rather than the evening before.
  • Don’t add meat, bones, etc., to your compost pile. Ensure your compost bin is tightly and securely covered.
  • Pick up your dog's feces promptly, as the smell can attract coyotes.
  • If you have fruit trees, pick low-hanging or throw away fallen or rotten fruit. Coyotes are very opportunistic feeders.
  • Keep cats indoors. Always indoors is safest, but at minimum, keep your cat inside between dusk and dawn (when coyotes tend to be most active).
  • Don't leave dogs tied up outside, especially small dogs. But really, any dog of any size, when tied up, is no match for a coyote and is enticing to them.
  • Don’t become indifferent. If you see a coyote in your yard or neighborhood, ALWAYS haze (deter) them away.
  • Be extra vigilant if you or any of your neighbors keep backyard chickens, as the coyotes will be attracted both to the chickens and to the chicken feed. (And to the rodents that will also be attracted to the chickens and their feed! Get tips on how to keep rodents away the pet-safe and coyote-safe way.)
  • You can buy and install rollers to the top of your yard fences to help keep coyotes* and other animals out, as well as your dogs and (possibly) cats in. Or you can even make yourself some DIY fence-top rollers.
    Be aware that rollers are less likely to keep coyotes out of your yard if your fence is less than 6 feet tall, as coyotes can easily jump those heights.

urban coyotes

Additional Coyote Resources

  • Coyote Biology
  • Coyote Hazing – Guidelines for Discouraging Neighborhood Coyotes (HSUS)
  • Coyote Smarts – Raising public awareness of coyotes and promoting effective strategies for keeping pets, families, and communities safe
  • Project Coyote – Promoting coexistence between people and wildlife
  • If you've lost an outdoor cat, here's an article with some resources that will hopefully help get them back home safe

Have you seen coyotes in your neighborhood? Have you ever had a pet injured or stalked by a coyote? Have you yourself ever been followed by or encountered a coyote? Please share your story and any coyote tips in the comments section below.

About the author

Profile picture for Cathy Madson

Cathy Madson, MA, FDM, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

As Preventive Vet's dog behavior expert and lead trainer at Pupstanding Academy, Cathy focuses on helping humans and their pets build a strong relationship based on trust, clear communication, and the use of positive reinforcement and force-free methods. With over 13 years of experience, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs on a wide variety of training and behavior issues. Beyond her one-on-one consultations through Pupstanding Academy, she also teaches group dog training classes at Seattle Humane. Her specialties include dog aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, and puppy socialization.

Cathy is a certified Family Dog Mediator, and certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, holding both the CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA designations. Cathy is a Fear Free Certified Certified Professional, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Pet Professional Guild, and the Dog Writer's Association of America. She has also completed the Aggression in Dogs Master Course.

When she's not geeking out about dogs, you can find her reading, hiking with her two Cardigan Welsh Corgis, or paddleboarding.