|First day running free at the dog park|
This week, I decided that his training had advanced to the point that I might let him run free at a dog park for the first time. Of course, this decision had some caveats -- I would not set him free if there were small dogs -- or small children in the park. So of course, as we arrive at the park I see a procession of a grandfather and grandmother; two very small children (toddlers) and four small yappy terriers! We stayed on the other side of the fence. Tristan voiced his displeasure with his usual bark that turns very quickly into a series of high-pitched coyote yips. As the procession came close to where we were standing, the grandfather said "He wants to play!" I explained that he is a coyote hybrid and not good with other dogs. I was tempted to say "Well, he sometimes likes to play with his food!" but I thought better of it. Eventually, they left the park, and as no one else was there, I took him off the leash and let him run. He came whenever I called him or whistled, and generally had a great time following the scent of the terriers that had just passed by, or by just running around or chasing after sticks I would throw.
After about half an hour, a young woman entered the park with a toddler in a stroller and a large, older, crossbreed dog -- it looked like a Black Lab/Husky cross. Tristan spotted them at once on the other side of the park and ran over to them at top speed (coyotes can reach 45 km per hour, and Tristan is not much slower). Being off the leash, Tristan did not threaten the other dog and they went through the usual sniffing rituals. Tristan decided that he wanted to play, but the older dog was less enthused and told Tristan as much by baring his teeth. I was happy to see Tristan act friendly toward the woman and her small son, and I went over to talk to her. Her dog was also a rescue dog and was six and a half years old. If Tristan got too close to the child, the older dog "told" him to back off with the use of body language only. The only difficulty in communication was that once Tristan tried to lick the side of the dog's face. Coyotes greet each other that way -- but dogs usually do not. The dog was confused and backed away. Generally, it was a good first meeting, but Tristan thought he had found a new friend in the other dog and kept running over to try and play. I would whistle and he would run back. After about the fourth time, I thought it was time to head back home. We had about a two kilometer walk back and Tristan had already just about worn himself out.
|Shadow camouflage? a "snack-sized" terrier|
passed this way not long ago.
Coyotes are much maligned and people's attitude toward them can affect their behavior. If the circumstances are right, I usually do not tell a person that Tristan is a coyote hybrid right away. I let them become friends first. Training a coyote hybrid is very different from training a dog. It is best not to use rewards -- coyotes are the most intelligent of the world's canines, once they see you only as a dispenser of treats as rewards, that is how they will treat you ever after. You actually should try to make them "family" and give them treats for no reason. You really want to avoid any battle of the wits, they will see this as an adversity situation. What is best is to reach a mutual agreement about things. As part of their "family" they will, like any dog, try to please you. If you let them know that they are doing good when their behavior is not perfect, then that same behavior will then improve -- they know that they were not doing their best and will then try to rectify the situation,. This is completely different from most dog behavior. Amazingly, they seem to understand sarcasm, and I have found that a most useful training tool.
There is still a long way to go, but Tristan's progress is very rapid. The terrier problem will likely be the most difficult hurdle -- perhaps he sees them as competition -- terriers and coyotes both specialize in hunting rodents. For now, though, any meetings will have a fence in the way!
June, 2015 update on how Tristan is doing!
New! All of the posts showing or referring to Tristan. Do you know that this post is more than three times more popular than the second most popular post (on the seal of Alexander the Great)? I think that this is as it should be: although Alexander the Great is important to some, far more people (quite correctly) have greater love and concerns about their dogs. Yesterday, Moonfire75 (September 20, 2015 comment) wished to show a photo of Bandit (nickname: Coyote). Why not? Let's make this a community! I noticed the sig on the email:
Full Circle Wellness
Massage, Reiki Master, Certified Equine Bodywork.
After writing for forty hours over three days, recently, and having written the equivalent of seven mystery novels in word-length on this blog in the course of just over two years (I am a very fast writer) I could use something like that. I often feel like an ache with a thin veneer of skin.
So if anyone would like to do this, too, and will agree to make such photos freely available for non profit use, I have created a Coydog community page and you can send up to four photos each year to john(at)writer2001.com (you know the symbol for (at)!) and I will post them there together with a link to your business or website (must be "family friendly", of course)
Make my life simpler! Maximum 1000 pixels, PNG format and name as in the first entry with coydog name with the number at the end: Bandit1 and so on. Soon, I will change the format having thumbnails in a table that can be enlarged with a click. The link to the community will be a footer on each new blog post (and this one). That should promote interest and traffic to your own pages
John's Coydog Community page
John's Coydog Community page