Use simple protective measures to keep coyotes at bay

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jul 26, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Q: I’m very concerned about coyotes; the problem is worse than ever around here. I’m especially worried about my little Bichon Frise, who has no way to defend herself. Recently, there was a coyote attack nearby on a dog who didn’t survive. I don’t want this to happen to my dog. Any advice?

Q: Coyotes seem to be everywhere these days, even encroaching on urban areas. Do you have any tips to keeping pets safe?

A: When there are coyote sightings where you live, keep cats indoors and don’t allow dogs in the yard without adult supervision. While people are generally safe from coyotes, don’t allow young children in the yard without adult supervision — and never infants, even for a second.

You can protect your yard from coyotes. Some coyote-proof fences are about 8 feet tall and made of a material coyotes can’t climb, or at least 6 feet tall with a protective device on top, such as a coyote roller ( that pushes off any coyotes that try to scramble over. Adding PVC pipe or chicken wire to the top of your existing fence can prevent coyotes from getting the foothold they need to make it over. To prevent coyotes from digging under a fence, make sure it extends at least 12 inches underground.

Coyotes won’t be as motivated to enter our yards if we refuse to feed them and block their access to garbage. Tight-fitting, coyote-proof lids are available for trash cans.

Wolf urine (available at can deter coyotes. Just spray the substance on the fencing around your yard.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, hazing may be the best deterrent. Hollering at coyotes, throwing sticks in their direction and even chasing them screaming, “Go away!” can do the trick.

Most often, coyotes are solo hunters or travel with a mate, but sometimes they work in family groups, which can be intimidating. If you’re concerned about hiking with your dog, travel in a group of your own — friends with dogs.

Bottom line, coyotes are merely trying to survive and feed their young. Most attacks could and should be prevented by taking appropriate precautions.

Q: Jack, our Jack Russell terrier mix, has been terrifying the squirrels in our yard. I’m afraid he’ll catch and kill one. What can I do?

A: Your fear is well-founded. Jack Russells are hard-wired to do what they were bred for: hunting small furry things. Generally, they don’t distinguish rabbits from the squirrels we may not mind having in our yards, or between voles and the city rats we decidedly don’t want.

With their ability to climb trees, squirrels at least have a shot at escape, and may actually taunt their attackers from a safe perch. Should Jack catch a squirrel, the prey will do all it can survive, including biting your pet.

If you’re not in the yard with your dog, no amount of training will matter. I suggest you keep your dog on a long leash (purchase one triple the length of an ordinary 6-foot leash at a pet store or online) and only allow your dog in the yard with you and wearing that long leash. Also, play fetch with Jack so he’s focused on the game — not squirrels.

Q: Our cat has always been an indoor/outdoor pet. Lately, she’s started bringing dazed but living animals home. Last week, she dropped a mouse in the kitchen. The week before, it was a bird that was so startled it couldn’t fly away, and though we let it outside, it probably didn’t survive. Any advice?

A: Your cat is well fed, but hunting remains instinctive and it’s seemingly fun for many indoor/outdoor cats. Some experts suggest cats actually bring their catches home as “gifts” for us. In any case, I can’t tell you how to “train” your cat not to be a cat.

I don’t know your cat’s age, but older cats often appreciate living indoors only. Others will transition if you transform your home into a feline amusement park with lots of places to climb, new and interesting boxes to explore and rotating toys. One day, place a penny inside a milk carton; on another, offer catnip inside a shoe box; on a third, hide tidbits of tuna your cat can “hunt” for indoors.

As enriching as life may be outside, it’s simply not safe. Indoors-only cats don’t get hit by cars or chased by coyotes, stray dogs or other cats. Cats live longer indoors.

There are also ethical issues to consider. While bird protection groups exaggerate the number of songbirds killed by cats, this does occur. Also, cats allowed to wander outdoors may use neighbors’ gardens as their litter boxes. Their mere presence outside a window can wreak havoc among indoor cats.

My advice: Enrich the feline environment in your home and gradually keep your cat inside more and more, until ultimately she’s an inside-only pet.

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