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Canid vs. canid: Insights into coyote–dog encounters from social media

December 10, 2018

While the relationship between coyotes (Canis latrans) and house cats (Felis catus) may be characterized as one between predators and their prey, coyote interactions with domestic dogs (C. lupus familiaris) appear to be more varied and may include behaviors associated with canid sociality. While encounters between coyotes and dogs are difficult to observe, we capitalized on publicly available video recordings of coyote-dog encounters to observe canid behaviors and examined 35 video clips downloaded from YouTube during fall 2014. We identified coyote-dog interactions that were playful, agonistic, or predatory; those that we could not clearly categorize were labeled as other/undetermined. We found that both species were recorded directing play to the other species, which led to mutual play bouts. We observed a similar number of agonistic encounters, which included dogs biting coyotes and coyotes biting dogs. The main difference in agonistic behavior was that coyotes usually showed defensive aggression while dogs did not show defensive aggression. We also observed coyotes ambushing and bite-shaking small dogs in 3 video clips, from which the dogs escaped, but we did not see predatory behavior of dogs towards coyotes. Dog size may be related to types of interactions. No small dogs were involved in agonistic interactions, and only 1 small dog was observed playing with a coyote. From these videos, we conclude that the relationship between coyotes and dogs cannot be simply described as predator-prey; indeed, much of it appears to be social behavior divided between playful and agonistic. Future work that aims to explain the proximate correlates of play and aggression would provide more information for managers who wish to educate humans to reduce wildlife-human-dog conflicts.

Publication Year 2018
Title Canid vs. canid: Insights into coyote–dog encounters from social media
DOI 10.26077/ab4z-t030
Authors Erin E. Boydston, Eric S. Abelson, Ari Kazanjian, Daniel T. Blumstein
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Human-Wildlife Interactions
Index ID 70201252
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center