Many dogs will run away in their lifetime, and very few of those will be able to actually live in the wild for long. That’s because dogs are domesticated animals that find it hard to find food, mates, and shelter in the wild without humans.
But those dogs that do survive in the wild often learn how to do so quickly and are smart enough to make more friends than enemies. So, it’s very possible for dogs to encounter coyotes in the wild, but can they befriend the coyotes that they become part of the pack?
Can a Dog join a Coyote pack? Dogs can join a coyote packs indeed. Coyotes are usually not trusting of domestic dogs and consider them competition, but there are rare instances where Coyotes have welcomed dogs into their packs. Dogs can even mate with coyotes and produce offspring called “coydogs”.
The relationship between dogs and coyotes is a very interesting and complicated one. But yes, dogs can indeed join Coyote packs. It’s very rare, but it happens.
To understand why is it so rare for coyotes to trust dogs and what can and can’t dogs and coyotes do, let’s learn more about the fascinating relationship between modern dogs and the wild coyotes…
How Does a Coyote Pack Work?
A Coyote pack is basically a larger family of Coyote. A pack of coyote will have a dominant alpha male and and alpha female, and those are the two breeding members of the pack that can produce offspring. The pack will include the offspring of the pair (whether from this year or from years before).
A pack of coyotes can also contain individuals from other packs that have joined them. This is one of the main differences between wolves and Coyotes, as Wolves almost never accept members of other packs into their ranks. I’ve discussed this more at length in my post on can a dog join a wolf pack here which you should definitely check out.
The size of the coyote pack will depend on the amount of food available to sustain it. The pack tends to be smaller if it relies on a natural diet only but the size of the pack will grow larger if their diet is subsidized by humans. Humans can unintentionally subsidize the diet of coyotes by leaving food outside such as dog foods or open cans of trash.
The size of a Coyote’s territory will also depend on the food available to them. If the diet is subsidized by humans, the territory tends to be smaller than if the coyotes were on a natural diet only.
A pack of coyote will also have two territories; their overall territory and their home range. The home range is usually the smaller part of the territory that the coyotes and their offspring will live.
The territory is the area where they hunt and roam. Coyotes will protect both territories but they will protect their home range more fiercely and aggressively as they will be defending their pups, not just their food sources.
For coyotes with smaller territories, it’s not unheard of for their territory and home range to be the same.
How Do Coyotes See Dogs?
It’s important to understand that Coyotes see dogs as competition, not prey. However, it’s important to understand that just because coyotes see dogs as competition that they will not attack them. Coyotes will still attack dogs to protect their territory or to get food (such as if the dog is protecting your home and they can smell the food or see the chicken).
This is quite different to how wolves, the more dangerous predator of the three, sees dogs. Wolves can see dogs more as prey than competition, and they are much more likely to attack larger dogs than coyotes that tend to stick to attacking smaller animals and pets.
It’s also important to know that coyotes are opportunistic eaters. They will eat pretty much anything. Originally, a coyote’s diet consisted of smaller animals like insects, mice, and rabbits, but now their diets have expanded to include smaller mammals, birds, livestock, small pets, fruits, vegetables, and anything we leave in our trash that may be even closely edible. They will even try to eat shoes and bags if we leave them unattended.
Even though Coyotes do see dogs as competitors, they can build trust in dogs with time. In fact, instances of dogs playing with coyotes are not uncommon, although it remains something to be discouraged.
I still remember this viral post of a dog and coyote playing together;
What happens if a dog tries to join a Coyote pack?
A Coyote pack can accept a dog joining the pack if the dog can make the pack trust him from the first time they encounter each other. It is rare for coyotes to trust dogs but it is not unheard of, and it is even rarer for coyotes to accept dogs in their packs but there are recorded incidents of it.
It’s also important to note here that for a dog to join a coyote pack, the dog has to be forced to do it. This means that the dog will really need to be in the wild, with no way home, and no other way of surviving in the wild alone but in a pack, which is something even our domesticated dogs understand naturally.
It’s also important to note here that dogs and coyotes are very different in their way of life. Dogs have become very much depended on humans for food and shelter thanks to thousands of years of companionship, but this is not the case with Coyotes who are much more self-sufficient than dogs.
Like Coyotes, dogs are protective and territorial by nature, but this protective instincts in dogs extends much further beyond their own species. Dogs will protect their families including the humans, dogs, and other animals within this family, which is something that can’t be said about Coyotes.
Dogs are often aware that coyotes are a threat and will be wary of them. Even friendly dogs like Goldens and Labs can be wary of Coyotes. You can learn more about this in my posts on can a golden retriever attack coyotes here and my post on can a Labrador attack a coyote here. I also cover how to protect your dogs from coyotes in both articles, so make sure to check them out even if you have a dog from other breeds.
Can Coyotes be friendly with humans?
Coyotes can be friendly with humans if they have been trained since birth to trust humans through food conditioning and training, but wild coyotes are naturally wary of humans and you should never try to feed or approach a coyote.
Coyotes see humans as the largest predator there is. We are bigger than them and we seem to be much smarter and more capable than them. Coyotes can recognize the danger humans pose even without seeing our large weapons and our other ways of showing dominance and protecting our territory.
This leads us to another question, a more important one…
Can Coyotes Attack people?
Coyotes can attack people and there are recorded incidents of coyotes attacking humans. Coyote attacks on people are extremely rare, are often provoked, and mostly happen in the Southwest, especially Southern California where Coyotes have lived in the suburbs for decades.
Coyote attack can be dangerous and even fatal, but they are so rare that you really should not worry about it that much even if you live in an area with Coyote sightings.
The problem with Coyotes and people is that people consider Coyotes a nuisance even if the animals do nothing. Yes, Coyotes can be a threat to pets and even children, but if you keep your home well-fenced, don’t leave food outside, keep your dogs on a leash at all times, and train your dogs to never give chase, you should be fine.
Statistically speaking, you are way more likely to be bitten by your own dog than a wild coyote. In fact, in Cook county, where the population of Coyotes is considerable and coyote sightings are normal, there have not been one single documented case of a Coyote bite while there are 2,000 to 3,000 reported dog bites each year (including some fatalities).
Before you come at me, no, I don’t mean coyotes are less of a risk than dogs, but I do mean that people make coyotes to be more of a threat than they actually are.
Can Humans have Coyotes as pets?
Yes, humans can have coyotes as pet, but only if the coyote has been trained since they were pups to trust humans through food conditioning. Coyotes are regulated as native wildlife so they are rare to find outside of zoological facilities but some individuals can get licensed to own coyotes for educational purposes. Coyotes are illegal to own without a license in most states.
Even though coyotes can be kept as pets, they don’t make for good pets at all. Coyotes are wild and wary of humans and will not be trusting of humans even if they have been conditioned since birth, they can still be dangerous. Coyotes are independent and predatory in nature and will make for the worst pets.
Can Dogs breed with Coyotes?
Dogs and Coyotes can breed and produce hybrid litters. The resulting offspring of a Coyote and dog breeding is the Coydog, but they are rare in nature because Coyotes are seasonal breeds while dogs are not. Coydogs can produce offspring themselves but they are less fertile than dogs and coyotes.
It makes sense for dogs and coyotes to be able to breed since they are genetically and physically very similar. Genetic surveys of wild coyotes, however, show that there is very little evidence of dogs in the genetic makeup of coyotes, which means that this interbreeding is very rarely a natural one.
What is the Dog Coyote Hybrid Like?
Coydogs have a mix of traits from both their dog and coyote parents. Coydogs are very smart, strong energetic, and agile animals. They can be very aggressive or shy. They are also very good hunters with quick reflexes and precise movements – all traits that they inherit from their Coyote parent.
It’s very difficult to predict the behavior of a coydog due to its genetic makeup. This makes coydogs very difficult pets to manage.
The behavior and temperament of a coydog can also depend on the breed of the dog parent.
For example, if the parent was a breed like Golden Retriever who is very friendly with humans, the coydog can be more trusting in humans than if the coydog’s dog parent was a husky, which is more independent than a golden.
In the end, the only real answer to how a coydog can behave is that it depends and is very difficult to predict accurately.
The Conclusion on Dogs and Coyotes
Dogs and coyotes may be similar in their physical features and genetics, but they are wildly different in their behaviors. Coyotes are wild predators that are fiercely independent and way of humans, while dogs are companions that have a deep connection with their human companions and will protect their larger families at all costs including the humans and other animals in this family.
Coyotes see dogs more as competition than pets, but they can still attack small and large dogs. Coyotes pose a threat to livestock and small pets and are considered a nuisance to suburban areas, but they are actually less of a threat than people think they are.
The way to limit Coyote attacks on people’s families and pets is by adjusting human behavior and not reducing the number of coyotes. You can easily protect your property, family, livestock, and pets from coyotes by following these simple steps;
- Surround your property with a fence that Coyotes can’t climb or jump over
- Never leave food or water outside – this includes dog food and cans of trash
- Teach your dogs to never chase and to stands by your side when you see a Coyote
- Always keep your dog on a leash, even in off-leash areas if there have been coyote sightings.
- Do not initiate any aggression with Coyotes
Will a big dog keep Coyotes away?
Big dogs will keep coyotes away. Big guard dogs like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Pit bulls can scare away coyotes but it’s important to teach your dog to never go off chasing a coyote because Coyotes may try to lure the dog away into an ambush. Coyotes often hunt in packs and can take down larger animals easily.
For the best chances at keeping coyotes away, check out my guide on the best dog breeds that can fight and kill Coyotes here.
Do barking dogs scare coyotes?
Barking dogs can scare coyotes away because Barking is an aggressive sign that Coyotes understand. A large dog barking loudly is a very good deterrent against coyotes but it’s important to teach your dog to never actually chase the coyote themselves.
Are Coyotes afraid of dogs?
Coyotes can be afraid of large dogs because they consider large dogs as competition and a dangerous threat, but Coyotes are also excellent hunters with superb and cunning hunting and fighting tactics that can help them take down larger animals when they are hunting in packs.
Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem – 2004 Author(s): Timm, Robert M.Baker, Rex O.Bennett, Joe R.Coolahan, Craig C.
Coyote Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada Lynsey A. White &Stanley D. Gehrt
Coyote Attacks on Humans, 1970-2015: Implications for Reducing the Risks – Rex O. Baker, California Polytechnic State UniversityFollow – Robert M. Timm, University of California – Agriculture & Natural Resources
Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources
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- Find my list of recommendations here.