Friday, 11 October 2013

Living with a coyote hybrid (Coydog)

First day running free at the dog park
It has only been a week short of two months since I adopted Tristan from the City of Calgary and his training is going very well: he knows all the basics -- to sit, stay, come and not to pull on the leash. He is also learning to better control his instinct to lunge after any small animal or bird in his vicinity. Squirrels and jackrabbits present the biggest challenge, together with anything (or anyone) who runs by, or away from him. Joggers are a common problem. It is always wise not to jog by any dog -- but jogging by a coyote or a coyote hybrid is especially wrong. Of course, most people do not recognize a coyote hybrid. Warning them as they approach is usually not possible as they all seem to be listening to music while they jog, so when Tristan jumps at them, I give a short tug on the leash at just the right moment which flips him around in mid-air. I find it is best to treat him as a coyote -- it is his dominant trait. As far as I can see, coyote philosophy is very simple -- if it is small, it is food. If it is large, then do not let it approach you. His likes and dislikes are different from domestic dogs: more than any other creature, he dislikes small yappy dogs; he is fairly tolerant of cats (actually, coyotes have a few cat-like traits themselves). With other dogs, and typical for many dogs, he feels at a disadvantage while on a leash and will warn them not to come close by raising his hackles and growling at them. He will also try to charge at them. This is almost totally show, although I never give him the chance, he would most likely just nip at them -- rather like the way a border collie would nip at the heels of a sheep. He also really likes fruit, especially watermelon, smashed grapes, and blueberries. He is fond of avocado too. His favorite food treat (and one of mine too) is wild Sockeye Salmon sashimi.

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.
Although I love owning and training a "Coydog", it is not a suitable pet for most people: you have to be "family leader" -- coyotes gather in small family groups -- not a pack. With an ordinary dog, you are told to let it sniff your hand at the first meeting. Tristan sees this behavior as submissive or fearful. He will usually give two short warning barks and then try to drive the person off if they do not become more assertive (it usually works). If he meets a friendly person that just just says hello to him and strokes him then he will try to greet them like another coyote -- by trying to lick their face. He views people as "potential family" unless they start to act hostile (as he sees it) by approaching him too purposefully or fast, or by staring him in the eyes. You also have to spend most of your time in his company. Not a pet for people who go to work each day -- the same is true for any active, working dog. You also have to understand that apart from the characteristics of the coyote and the dog variety it is crossed with, coydogs (and coyotes) each have their own personalities.

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
www.fullcirclewell.com
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







59 comments:

  1. Hey John!

    Great article! I recently rescued a coy dog about 4 months ago and I am in the middle of training him right now. How is your coy dog doing now since it is a year later? And I would love if you could share any other training tips with me. Feel free to email me rachel.rhame@gmail.com

    Thanks-
    Rachel

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  2. Thanks, Rachel, I'll email you tomorrow with details, tips and questions about his age/behavior etc.
    John

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  3. I think I may have a coydog. I adopted her two years ago. She Is a German Shepherd, but had sharp features similar to a coyote. I always wondered, but brushed it off, if she had coyote in her. Some if her behavior is cat-like and I often joked that she thinks she's a cat. She uses her nose to cover any bone she buries. I have heard that that is a wild canid trait. She is white, but has apricot sabling and mask. Her ears are not quite shepherd-like either. Some of the behaviors you mention above are so close to what I see in her. A holistic vet immediately said Coydog, upon a visit the other day. Pretty sure this is the case, but not sure how to take the news. She is my heart and soul, but I want to protect her now very carefully.

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    1. It sounds like you are doing the right things already!

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  4. Hello John.
    We adopted a dog from the humane society back in September and now believe her to be a german shepherd - coyote mix. We've done some research and her behavior fits and it explains all her "weirdness." Unfortunately, I am woefully ill equipped for raising a coydog and am having trouble researching how best to communicate our desires to her. Normal dog training tactics work in no regard. And when watching her I can tell she isn't trying to be disobedient we are just giving confusing signals.
    Could you possibly email me with some training pointers or helpful resources on the matter? My email is laurene135@gmail.com
    Thanks so much!

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    1. I'll write up a few tips and send them to you later today.

      Best,

      John

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    2. You all are so amazing! I feel at home with the love and understanding and care you are taking with your coydogs. Mine was/is a shepard mix. He is now with my aunt as he is getting older and cannot keep up with my active lifestyle. I trained bandit with both verbal and nonverbal commands...my aunt cannot speak at times and when she does, not loudly, so Bandit is the perfect companion for her. And as she lives alone, I know she will be safe. He has never ever attacked anyone, but I will tell you, when someone who is "off" approached my children, he would push the girls back and show his coyote size canines! I'm currently looking to adopt another hybrid, as I believe that our personalities fit well and I have a lot to offer...love being number one! After having had a coydog, I just cannot go back. I live in Washington state and to my knowledge, they are legal. If anyone has any adoption suggestions, I could sure use them! I saw a coydog today and got a bit too excited...she handled it fine, because I am dominant with everyone, but her owners were in my opinion, too timid for the handling and care she needs. I feel this call to be an advocate and voice for these beautiful creatures. Until a few days ago, I had no idea there were so many out there like my boy.

      Thank you,
      Julie

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    3. Hi Julie,

      I got your email, too and have just sent you a reply with a couple of ideas about you getting another coydog pup.

      Best,

      John

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  5. My puppy also yips and she dug a den and she also plays with her food also she dont like people coming up to us she growls and nips we think she is part coyote and another breed we rescued her off the streets of colorado and she some what loving to us but not other people.

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    1. I made a point of taking Tristan to crowded places and that has helped him get used to people more. Everyone says that when meeting a dog for the first time you should let it sniff your hand -- this does not work at all with Tristan and I warn people not to do that. He sees that as fearful or submissive behavior and when anyone does that he gives two warning barks and if the person continues to act submissive then his hackles rise and he lunges at them with teeth bared! I tell people to act as if they know him well and to just make a fuss over him. That has always worked and he seems to remember that person as a friend. Some wild species of dogs will attack and kill a member of their pack who shows fear (presumably as a fearful animal cannot be trusted). He also shows aggression to any dog who shows fear, but will play happily with a dog that does not. I only let him play with dogs that are big or that I think could could beat him in a fight. I keep him away from small dogs at all times as I worry that the other dog might show fear.

      I also keep him away from small children, although a small girl with her mother and even smaller brother asked if she could pet him. As she was showing confidence, I told her how to approach him and he responded very well to her (I was ready to pull his leash if he showed any aggression, but he was gentle with her). Her brother wanted to pat him too, but I could see that he was nervous and Tristan's hackles started to rise as he approached so I pulled him back and then told the mother all about him being a coydog and behaving differently from domestic dogs. Interestingly, women seem less fearful of him than men and he thus responds better to women.

      Nipping at people's legs is a border collie trait (they do that to sheep they are herding) -- could that be the other half of yours?

      Anyway, try to get her used to being around a lot of people, because if you avoid people, her habit will only get stronger. See if she responds badly to fear and submissiveness, but well to confidence. It sounds like she thinks of you as her family now.

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  6. Careful with grapes. http://m.petmd.com/dog/emergency/digestive/e_dg_grape_raisin_toxicity

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  7. Thanks, Eric! He would only eat one or two grapes at a time, and it never bothered him. but I'll stick with the watermelon and blueberries from now on. He does not have much fruit at all, except for watermelon (which he really loves).

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  8. We believe we have a shepherd/coyote mix that we are fostering in hopes to keep her. We are a family of four, children ages 5 and 10. We already have 3 40+lb dogs, cats and parrots. She is very interested in the birds and hunt mode is turned on when the cat runs. She was returned to our local shelter for being "too much dog." She was underfed and attention deprived. She has shown submissive behaviors in the few days we have had her. I don't think she has EVER been on a leash. She is too on alert to potty at night.

    I am really wanting this to work. Can you offer any advice?

    She looks like a fox in the face. She goes from normal play to rough play quickly but seems to respond to "ouch. that hurts. too rough." She likes to try and stare me down which makes me very uneasy. She will submit to the point of laying on her back and exposing herself. She seems great with my kids so far but my youngest who is 5 is hesitant and that makes me nervous. She hates squirrels. It seems she has never been leash trained and that is proving very difficult. Past adopters said she is an escape artist. Our fence is not all that high and I fear if taken off the leash she will bolt.

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  9. Hunting games seem to be the thing with coydogs, which is not surprising, and the herding or fetching behavior in their other half seems less developed but they will do that too, but with less enthusiasm.

    I noticed that Tristan bonded with me the most after I took him on a mouse hunt in a wild area near my home. I took him after he had eaten because he could get worms from eating a mouse. He hunted mice in exactly the same way as a wild coyote -- it is almost cat-like in the way they pounce and then play with their prey. He also rolled on the dead mice to get their scent on his fur.

    I had problems with him pulling on a leash, and I switched to a martingale which is a collar with a short length of "choker chain". Get one of those leashes that are very long and spring loaded so that you can make it short when needed. They have a lock on the handle so you can set the length as required. They love to track and smell everything and the extra leash length will make them very happy.

    A fence, no matter how high, is no problem for a wild coyote as they will dig their way under it, and the coydog might inherit the same behavior. Make a habit of having the whole family go for a walk with her, after hiking with Tristan and some friends, he now looks at those friends as family, even though I do not see them that often. This might help with your youngest, too, and she will easily move into the role of protector for the young child, especially in unfamiliar areas.

    When I was that age, one set of grandparents lived in the country and had a "smallholding", which in England is a small farm which just supports the family. Their largest dog (Lab/German Shepherd cross) was a typical farm dog, and they told me that it had killed several dogs and cats that strayed onto the land. On top of that, it was a male and very strong. It once dragged a cast iron bathtub they used as trough several feet when it saw a cat. When the dog was chewing a bone in a doorway, he would not let anyone go through the door. You just had to wait until he moved. Yet, a t 4-5 year old I would ride him! Once, I was out with the family picking mushrooms when I wandered off and got lost. The next thing I saw was Prince standing in front of me and growling with his head lowered. It scared me and I ran in the opposite direction. He kept that up until I found myself near my grandparent's house. He had herded me home. They told me that whenever I stayed there and the bedcovers were off me when I was asleep, he would pull them back over me again with his teeth. My grandparents later adopted another dog who had been badly mistreated (he had the impression of a clothes iron branded into his back!). Shortly afterward, meat would go missing from an unattended counter or table, and they thought that Paddy had taken it until my grandmother caught Prince taking some meat and giving it to the smaller dog.

    Tristan showed only little interest in birds or cats, but squirrels and jackrabbits brought out the hunter in him. As I have no other animals at home, I cannot say much about that subject.

    Tristan's favorite toy is one of those strong tug toys with three large knots to bite on. Playing with it mimics the dogs competitive fighting over food, and it is good to redirect wild behavior into something harmless. Whenever he gets too rough in play I say "No more" and stop. This soon gets learned as a command. Have your children pretend to be hurt when the playing gets too extreme and yelp or whine like an injured dog. in that way, she will tone down the playing abit and even if she gets a bit carried away once or twice, she might well not be so extreme as to actually do any harm.

    If tied up outside for long periods, supply her with a kennel as a den. Cootes like their dens and feel safe enough there to even leave their young unattended for a while (often mistaken by passers by as an abandoned pup, unfortunately).

    Part of the thing with such animals is to adopt some of their behaviors as a way of helping them do the same for you.

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    1. Thank you so much! I notice she likes to lay in areas that are "den like" in the house. She is NEVER tied up. We are hoping she will settle in and be able to be in the yard with us without a leash. We are doing face to face introductions this weekend with our other dogs. Thank you again!

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    2. You're welcome! As she is a female, it should go well.

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  10. We adopted a puppy just before Christmas (now 6 months old and spayed) who has some unusual behaviors. I grew up with dogs and I've never seen any of them act the way she does sometimes. She definitely wants to jump up and lick faces when she sees friends/family. She's something a picky eater (never heard of a picky dog before!) and she can get moody in the evening (don't go near her crate when she's having her after-dinner nap and everybody's happy). She loves to pounce around in tall grass and eat the bugs that fly out. We had a Wisdom Panel DNA test done. They identified 3 grandparents - White Swiss Shepherd, Chihuahua, Dachshund, but the 4th was a mystery - their best guess was that it might contain some or all of Chow, Argentine Dogo, Korean Jindo, Scottish Terrier, and St. Bernard. I had read that Chows and Spitzes (Jindo) are the most closely related domestic dogs to wolves. I suspect that they don't have coyotes in their AKC breed database, so I wondered if Grandparent X might be a coyote or coyote cross. Our pup looks like a fox - I had assumed that was from the shepherd, but now I'm wondering about that. Thanks for your blog post!

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    1. Even the best dna test can have a degree of error depending on how tricky certain combinations are to detect, or in the case of very close breeds, but it gets even more difficult with coyote dna because it can be so variable, region to region, and eastern coyotes also have mated with wolves. So in essence, any certainty would come from having very local coyote dna for comparison.

      There looks to be an interesting website here:

      http://wolf.nrdpfc.ca/index.php

      It is a wolf and coyote dna bank in Ontario, Canada. I took a quick look and it has some interesting information. I get the idea that this sort of study is in its infancy, still.

      Tristan can get downright grumpy at times. If he is mad at me for something he will just sit there growling at me until I remember that I had promised to play soon, or whatever it was. He has started to invent his own games and they are all based on hunting or keeping your food away from interlopers. I feel it is good to let them find their own expressions -- providing they are safe ones of course!

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  11. That looks like an interesting project at Trent. Thanks for the link. There is a "wildlife corridor" right behind our house, and I often see evidence of coyotes, and occasionally hear them, but I've only caught a couple of glimpses of them. They were quite noisy a couple of nights ago when the moon was full. My 30# pup growled in their general direction (they were probably a quarter mile away), and they didn't come any closer, so she considered that a win.

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    1. I wonder if coyotes would treat a coyote hybrid differently than they usually treat a dog. There are stories around here that coyotes will play with a dog to lure it away and then kill it, but perhaps its just a "rural" myth because coyotes are not very popular here.

      Tristan has a far greater interest in videos showing coyotes than those showing any other animal, even other dogs. The most extreme example was one of an injured coyote showing distress. Tristan became very upset. I think the body language must be inherited to a greater degree than learned. I imagine that all coyote hybrids have the mother being a domestic dog so no coyote behavior could be taught to a pup. Tristan's dog or coyote behaviour varies at different times, but the coyote comes out most at times of perceived danger or when seeing a squirrel or jackrabbit. He often looks up in the trees for squirrels.
      Today was funny, I think that he mistook a garden gnome for a jackrabbit keeping still as they do, because he made a sudden lunge for the garden gnome that just about pulled my arm from its socket, Perhaps he just does not like garden gnomes.

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  12. I rescued a pup 5 years ago that was found on the side of the road of an Indian reservation. My Boston Terrier was very good at nurturing the approx. 5 week old pup. Quirky behaviors were evident those first few days, licking my Boston's mouth after she ate, yips that sounded like a bird, and absolutely NO accidents in the house or her crate. At approx. 3 months the vet noticed oddities in her paws, and teeth. He suspected she was a hybrid. Her quirks became more evident, the prancing, her paw placement patterns as she walked, extreme dexterity with her teeth and paws. Behavior shifted to absolute fear of everything despite my efforts to socialize her.
    Thankfully with the help of an amazing trainer, she has made progress but I fully understand she is not a dog and cannot be treated as one. Everything is on her terms, no forcing anything or anyone on her. She is not comfortable around strange dogs, it is a long process to get her semi-use to them. People introductions are 100% on her terms.
    It is the most challenging thing I have ever done with a pet but worth all the effort. Her loyalty to me is solid, and she is the smartest animal I have owned. It is a day to day continuous progress of keeping her engaged, mentally and physically.
    Deb

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  13. Hi Deb,

    I can relate to what you say here, while each hybrid is also its own self and unique, they do share certain traits and their bonding is very strong -- but you have to meet them half way, or form some sort of mutual agreement. I told someone the other day: "I become a bit more coyote and he becomes a bit more human".

    Best,

    John.

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  14. We adopted a 5 month old puppy from a county shelter about 6 months ago because our female Mal needed a companion. At 5 months old our new puppy looked like he was a Mal mix. As he grew, we started to struggle with what he might be mixed with. His behavior was really sketchy, his bark is so high pitched and he wasn't acclimating to urban life quite right. I have been training dogs for over 20 years, and my husband is training our female Mal as his service animal, so we are extremely experienced dogs owners. Additionally, I have grown up in the desert, very familiar with coyote behavior patterns. So I started wondering. Unfortunately, I do live in a locale where owning a coydog is illegal. So I really would rather not know, but I would like to help this extremely wonderful addition to our family live a long full life with the family he has most definitely bonded to. I know this because we moved a few months ago, and with in 2 weeks of our move, while out on a walk, he got away from me, and ran straight home.

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  15. Tristan is "officially"a German Shepherd/Border Collie cross. I have had two border collies and one border collie cross and I saw no evidence of border collie behavior -- he had no herding games, just hunting games.. So when I first took him to to the vet for his shots, I explained what he is and what he was listed at at the city animal shelter, She then said that she would leave the official identity on his record. I got the impression, from her manner, that she was concerned about the city adopting a no coyote hybrid law (they apparently have one for wolf hybrids).

    I think you are starting with an ideal situation: having a dog in the home when a young coydog joins the family should work very well as the coydog will learn dog behaviors to replace his instinctive coyote behavior. Tristan has benefited from associating with dogs and now greets dogs in the way they expect to be greeted. Most surprising of all is that he now gets on with very small dogs. His best friend is a male Chihuahua!

    If you can find a use for one of his natural coyote behaviors, and encourage it, he will take that act very seriously and it will be another bonding experience. I live in an old building that has the sash-type windows you pull up to open and that has no bug screen. Whenever a fly comes in, Tristan is on it at once, and I help drive the fly toward him. Usually the fly goes back out the window, but sometimes he gets it. He looks at it as a job he is proud of. I really believe in channeling instinctive behaviors in a positive way rather than trying to suppress them.

    You should do just fine with your new family addition.

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  16. I have a rescue dog that is supposed to be Aussie/Queensland. He has the healer coloring, but his temperament and behavior is completely bizarre in terms of any dog behavior I have seen. He looks like a coyote, and has many traits pointing to the possibility of having coyote genes...he is approaching 2 years old and we just adore him. He digs massive holes. Steals random items from house and hides them outside, he nips and bites playfully (could be healer traits, but it's much more than what past healers have displayed) he HAS to lick my jawline before he is happy when I come home or even back into a room. He is very dominant and playful. His bark is piercing (also a stock dog trait). His interactions with his family group (two female dogs, a hound and an Aussie). Includes ear licking, and a lot of flea bites and back leg biting. He plays by pouncing and a lot of front feet action...I am very experienced with dogs and training, but I am adjusting my methods through trail and error...I got nipped in the face the other day for correcting one of the girls. It was a clear dominance signal. My auto response was to show dominance back by grabbing his muse and looking in the face and telling him mine! As in I'm the leader. I don't know if that was correct, but he spent the next hour rolling over and being very submissive...he tends to hold the muzzles of the girls in his mouth so I emulated that with my hand holding his muzzle....any tips or ideas is greatly appreciated, this is the best article I have seen so far.
    He does love the kitties, but if they run, it's on. Birds and mice and bunnies are clearly food, and his hunting pouncing digging is clearly a strong instinct. I wish I could post a photo :). Thanks so much!!

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    1. Thank you for that, not just the kind words but for your very thorough observations of his traits which is very useful to me, Also.It looks like you are doing all the right stuff as evidenced by his subsequent agreement.

      As Tristan is an "only dog", I see most of his coyote behaviour, now, when he is not in contact with dogs. After being rebuked once or twice by dogs at the park when he tried "coyote language" on them, he soon learned their signals. It looks as if yours is teaching your other dogs to be coyotes and he is the "family leader". like many things in life, it all makes sense once one sees it!

      I cannot post photos in the comments field (I just tried), but I can add them to the end of the post and would be happy to do that if yous like, providing that I can make them either "public domain" or for "non-profit use" I do not mind also providing a link to you for anyone who wants to use your photo commercially if you pick the "non-profit" option.
      I will give the message details in the caption. This offer is open to anyone, btw. Just send the picture and what you want in its caption to me john@writer2001.com

      Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

      Best,

      John

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  17. Hi John,

    I am looking for pup to be my companion at home and at work (on national forest trails) and have been trying to find a coydog. I love their intelligence, independence, and affection. I am also willing to put in the effort to train him or her well, and looking forward to the creativity it will take. However, it seems that the more I look for one, the more elusive they seem to be. Especially here in the US, where I live (in Washington State). Do you have any suggestions for where to look?

    Thanks,

    Lauren

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  18. Hi Lauren,

    Yes. Drive north from Bellingham on 539 which will become Hwy 13 after you cross the Canadian border. Take a right when you get to the Fraser Hwy and you will get to Aldergrove within 1 km.
    There you will find Wildside Coydogs who are breeders.

    http://www.coydog.ca/

    I can't reach their website right now ( they exceeded their bandwidth limit) Perhaps directory enquiries has a phone number? It would be best to call first anyway.

    You might need to bring a US flag to tie around its collar for the trip home though ;-)

    Best,

    John

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  19. Hi John
    Is there a DNA test that would tell me if my dog is a coy dog? He has similar traits as that in the artcle. The boarding kennel has a lot of problems with him an they feel that he's a coyote.

    He is a rescue dog, an I have had a very difficult time bonding with him. Very worried that he will end up biting some one. I'm not really sure what to do with him.

    Thanks

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    1. Hi,

      If dna studies have been done on wild coyotes where he comes from, then yes. If not, then no. You can contact Project Coyote:

      http://www.projectcoyote.org/index.html

      and they will be able to tell you about any studies in that area.

      But first things first, as physical traits can vary depending on what mixture he is, a more reliable approach to start will be his behaviour. What problems is the boarding kennel having with him? The more details, the better I can advise.

      Best,

      John

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  20. Gabe is extremely prey driven. Can catch birds in flight, and will kill/eat rabbits, squirrels, frogs, etc. When people come over or while broading will cower an run from people. Acts like he will bite them, but has not. Does not like men. Very reactive when out of the house, I'm not able to walk him. Will lunge at other people or dogs that are walking by. He looks like coytota. I have been told by several people that he looks and acts like coyote.

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  21. You are going to have to do pretty well the opposite of what you have been doing. First get his trust, take him hunting, be encouraging when he hunts. As soon as you have some trust take him where there are lots of people, on buses, trains, in crowds, whatever. Use a martingale to control him when he lunges. That behaviour is display, he is trying to get people to stay away from him. All the same, keep him on a short leash when in crowds and a very long leash when in a wild area with no one around (they like the freedom to explore). It will be a lot of work, and require a good judgement. More men are afraid of coydogs than women. He will reinforce those fears. Any wild dog knows that one of their own who is afraid cannot be trusted, some species will kill such an animal. Remember to, wolfs are timid, coyotes are aggressive!

    Best,

    John.

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    1. I should add, that one of those leashes that is spring-loaded in a handle, and has a brake button on the handle is best, but they take a little getting used to.

      In essence, you must become a little more coyote and he will reciprocate by becoming a little more human.

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  22. I adopted MIA, a 1 year old dog from Guatemala 8 years ago. She never lived on the street and was found near death at about 6 weeks old and was taken in by a shelter run by an american woman and nursed back to health. She has some odd behaviors and has been a challenging dog. I call her 'the assassin' because she is a killing machine. She has killed 20+ gophers, pigeons in mid-air, a snake eating a gopher (she ate both), 2 rabbits, a couple squirrels, mice, rats, possum, and she also ran into the forest one day and came back with a deer leg in her mouth. She does the stalking 'high dive' wolf-like killing method where she leaps in the air and pounces. She doesn't like dogs, has STRONG prey drive and chases bikes, joggers, and anything that moves. Her DNA came back 1/2 german shepherd, but because of her behavior I think she is 1/2 coyote. She digs dens, and lunges at dogs/people. I've got her trained to not respond on leash and after 8 years she is finally manageable. It's the hardest thing I have every done in my life. I just sent away for the coyote DNA test but I think it won't be reliable because the coyotes they tested were north american and canadian..but I thought I would give it a shot. She lunged at a dog one day and broke 2 of my fingers too. We live in the city so we take a lot of day hikes outside the city. I love her but let me tell you....when she dies, I'm throwing a huge party and going to Tuscany for a month.

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    1. My compliments for your patience. She would not have lasted three months in most homes, let alone 8 years! It's also a good opportunity to say, again, that a coydog is not for most people and never for being a first dog. However, if you like a challenge...

      Best,

      John

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  23. I've been enjoying reading your article as well as all the conversation in the comments. I have a dog who I got from a foster home. She was born on a barn and was the only surviving member of her litter. I was told that she was a chihuahua mix, but she grew much bigger than anticipated and after receiving countless comments about how she looked like a coyote from people on the streets, and my family members when they met her, I became curious and started doing research about coydogs. I knew that she was quirky and was very smart, but most of her traits that I had attributed to those things match up to your descriptions of coyote behavior. She is extremely loyal. After only owning her for a few weeks, I took her camping as a puppy near a lake and even off leash she never left my side. She gets anxious and yips if I leave her sight, and her yips as well as this squealing sound she makes when she is excited are extremely high pitched. She frequently rolls onto her back to display submission in front of strangers or when she thinks she's in trouble. She's very sweet but she ha snapped at a few children and one small dog. I've also heard her howling along with an ambulance and she constantly hunts birds and snakes that she leaves outside the door. I like to walk her off leash but if something catches her eye she will chase it full speed and disregard all commands, which she is normally very responsive to. She was extremely easy to train and potty train, but she has a few behavior issues I would love help with. I was hoping to get firmer control to keep her from chasing things but I see now that this may be an instinct not possible to override. She also whines almost constantly when we are in the house, and it's never quite clear exactly what she wants. Often she whines to be let out, but she will keep it up consistently for long periods of time and it seems to be just for attention. It's just a soft high pitched cry that I usually only hear when animals are in pain but it's so constant. She additionally has jumped up onto the table to eat food when I'm not in the room on a few occasions, as she's a great jumper. I'm not sure exactly how to correct either of these so I would love tips! My email is marzapan14@yahoo.com

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    1. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the post, and I have learned a lot of things from the comments too!

      It sounds as if she has easily taken you to be a member of her family. Sometimes, coydogs can be difficult to train and their can be issues over authority. Instinct, though, is another matter. Domestic dogs have hundreds of generations interacting with humans, but coyotes have none. I have a few ideas about her specific issues and I will email you tomorrow with some suggestions. Perhaps you can let me know if they work and bit by bit we can smooth over a few of the rough edges! It sounds as if Tristan was more of a challenge, but he had a previous owner somewhere and you just never know what sort of prior life he had. Even domestic rescue dogs can come with baggage! It sounds like she really looks at you as family and that is a major win. All else should be easy -- I hope!

      Best,

      John

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  24. Hi John
    I was so happy to come across such a detailed description of your dog's behavior and your training.
    I have been looking for more information for months. I have had some training difficulties with my dog and his "unique" behavior. My dog Cassius exhibits very similar quirky behaviors as Tristan. Adjusting our training to his traits has been relatively successful but I still have questions and concerns. It was actually researching the different traits that Cassius has and our need to take a different approach that brought me to your blog.
    My email is brey@salud.unm.edu and I would love if you could email me and maybe I can tell you about Cassius and what we have done and what we still struggle with. It has been very difficult to find advice that has been successful and we are flying blind. I would really appreciate your input.
    Thank you for putting this out there,
    Brey

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    1. Hi Brey,

      Glad to be of some help. I'll send you an email from my main email address right away

      Best,

      John

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  25. You have provided such a wealth of useful info here, and I'm so happy for that.

    My Suki, now 8mos old, was left alone by the side of the road at just a few days old. Happily, she was matched with a newly-birthed mama in a rescue home, and was nursed and raised alongside her pups until 8wks, when I adopted her. Because of her orphan status, no one had any idea of her parentage and I assumed she was simply 'all dog'. But over the months, between various behaviors of hers and the frequency of other people saying she seems more fox- or coyote-like in her appearance (despite the 1/2 mast ears), I finally googled 'coydog images' and found a coydog who looks *exactly like my Suki. Then googling 'coydog characteristics', I found this site and now I'm really convinced that she is a coydog. Her baby-time being spent nursing in a dog family as well as around caring humans has certainly tempered her more coyote-like behaviors, but others remain and are really unmistakeable. In every story of a coydog posted here, I've seen Suki...and some of your training tips are things I've stumbled across by trial and error--so I'm glad to know I stumbled in the right direction with her! She is a happy, very loyal and very smart companion--and you have helped me understand her better, and how to proceed with her from here.

    thanks!

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    1. Thank you Hari, from myself and from everyone else who has contributed with their own experiences. I am also very pleased that you have been able to confirm that some of my tips have worked with other people in similar situations and also that you have let me know how you found the blog. Such feedback is valuable to me.

      Best,

      John

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    2. When I googled 'coydog characteristics', yours was first link that showed on the page :)

      One never knows if the first link on a google links list will really lead to what is sought in the search...but in this case, very much so.

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    3. Google sometimes strips keywords from page stat results. Previously, I learned that 'coydog behavior' also gets number one (together with 'the seal of alexander the great' which is my second most popular post. It's a bit of a chicken or the egg question-- Am I getting first place because it is popular or is it popular because it's in the first place? Then again, would it be either if it were not a Google blog and was on Wordpress instead?

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  26. Is there a DNA kit or something to test my possible coydog. She's 4 years old and has more border collie in her than anything. She likes to chase balls and play with other dogs because she sees them as family or friends. But she has coyote tendencies where she snarls and lunges at someone who is coming at her to fast. She mainly does it when their back is turned though but that might be a border collie thing. She "stalks and preys" on family and friends that come over to the house. Her apperence is what gives away coyote though. Her eyes are piercing and her ears don't flip over. She basically looks like a bat when her ears stand up. Her marking are of a tri tones border collie but her fur looks like coyote fur when you really look at it. She's honestly one of the best dogs I've ever had and she is so stinking smart. Possibly due to the border collie and probable coyote since both of those breeds are highly intelegent. She's too smart for her own good. But she's wonderful and sweet to me and a select few other people.

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      Unfortunately, the only way to get a dna test to confirm you have a coydog is if the region where she was born has been recording coyote dna. That would work if one of her parents (most likely the male) was a wild coyote. If she came from a coydog breeder (there was one in British Columbia, Canada, but I'm not sure if they are still in business) then a dna test would not tell anything unless the breeders kept track of dna. The problem is that as dogs and coyotes are both canines, there has to be records of the dna of the coyote. A domestic dog breed is common enough that there are strong similarities in the same breed regardless of what part of the country they were bred, but coyotes have very strong regional dna characteristics. for example many eastern coyotes in Canada have bred with wolves so they are really coywolves. If you have a local dog dna tester, you might ask them if they have any records of coydogs if you think it likely that she was bred locally. It would be longshot, though. She sure sounds like a coydog, they are often not just smart, but sneaky, too!

      Best,

      John

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  27. Hey I wanted to let you know grapes are poisness to dogs and raw salmon can kill them. Just a heads up as o had a dog that someone fed salmon and I had to spend a lot of money to save him. Good arrival though! I too have a German shepherd coyote and he is the most loyal intelligent creature I've encountered.

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    1. Hi Amanda,

      Someone mentioned the grapes thing so I stopped doing that! I only give him watermelon and Saskatoon berries now (although blueberries are an ingredient in his dry dog-food).

      With regard to raw salmon, what can kill dogs is also harmful to humans. All salmon sashimi must be from previously frozen salmon, not fresh. The freezing kills the harmful parasites. You can check with the store where you buy salmon but if you are any great distance from the ocean the chances are slim that any salmon you see for sale in a supermarket will be fresh. All Japanese restaurant salmon will be previously frozen. Commercial freezing is flash freezing at about minus 40 degrees though, a lot colder than your fridge!

      I certainly agree about the German shepherd coyote mix!

      Best,

      John

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  28. Oh, and I clocked my bandit at 27 mph. One of his/our favorite this to do, is let him chase my truck through our private property! He always stays behind and in one of my two side mirrors! I have pics and videos of him smiling the whole way!

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  29. Hi John,

    I have learned a lot through reading your post. I just adopted a German Shepherd/Coyote mix on this past Saturday. He is a rescue and had a rough couple of months. He is about six months old now. I have read many blogs and to be honest, some of the things that I have read are kind of scary. My dog is very sweet, and calm and likes people. We have another dog living with us and he lunged at him last night when the dog came over to me. My dog, Wylie, is only about 30 lbs right now.

    I have seven nieces and nephews and was hoping to get some advice from you about introducing them to him. When new people come up to Wylie, he immediately lets them pet him. I am trying to do whatever it takes to keep him sweet showing no signs of aggression.

    He is still just a little guy. I rescued him and did not know he was part coyote until all of his paperwork was handed over to me. I didn't even know that it was possible for coyotes and domestic dogs to mate. I knew nothing about coyote mixes and now I'm just a little worried.

    Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated!

    Meg

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    1. Hi Meg,

      It sounds as if you are off to a good start: all coydogs can have different personalities but yours seems to require little adjustment so far. If you are to introduce him to your nieces and nephews and want o make sure that all will be well then instruct them before you visit with them: tell them that at first not to rush up to him and just ignore him and when you do visit have him on a leash and judge his reaction to them. If all is well then take him over to them so they can pet him. Sometimes, kids can be a little too excited and that might alarm him, so try to make sure that everyone (including the adults present) are calm and make the introductions calm and casual if all seems to be well.

      Keep us posted on the outcome! We can all learn from each other's experiences.

      Best,

      John

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  30. I just came across this blog post as I was surfing the internet to find information on coydog traits. My partner and I have a strong suspicion that our dog Koda is a coydog. His other breeds that we know of are german shepherd and red heeler. He was born on a reserve in northern California which makes me think that the possibility of him being cross bred with a coyote is not unlikely.

    Aside from his appearance (at 48lb he is roughly coyote size and has big pointed ears) It is his hunting habits that make us think he is coydog. He hunts for mice in the fields near our house and pounces out of the grass, he will catch one every now and then. Last week he spotted a rabbit and he started to yip many times while chasing; this is a behaviour we hadn't witnessed before, it was really neat to see! And man can he run fast! The rabbit only barely escaped because I got between him and the rabbit to give the rabbit a chance. We have spotted a moose with him and he will stand between us and moose to keep the moose from approaching.

    He has so many similar traits that you mentioned in your dog Tristan. He is friendly with people once he knows them but is very suspicious of strangers and will bark aggressively to anyone entering our house until he sees that they are friendly and non threatening. We walk him off leash and he generally ignores people but we also have to be mindful around joggers because he has jumped up and barked at them.

    He is very attached to us, especially myself, and will not leave our side when either of us are home. He gets walked off leash by our dog walker when we are at work and one afternoon he bolted from his walk (something must have startled him) and ran 15km all the way home. It was a miracle that he wasn't hit by a car along the highway and we were amazed that he found his way home from an area quite far from our house.

    One thing we would like to work on with him is his reaction to people entering our home. We have 2 roommates at our home and if they come in late, at the first sound of someone entering our house Koda goes crazy barking. He is very protective and territorial of our property. I know this is instinctual and maybe we wont ever be able to train him out of it, but if you have any advice from your experience with Tristan that would be great!

    Thanks for your blog post its so nice to read about dogs with similar traits to our boy

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    1. From everything you say, he sure sounds like a coydog.

      They are very likely to always be very protective of your home. Tristan, since I first got him, has known a friend of mine and is always pleased to see him and acts very friendly -- unless my friend comes over and then Tristan is barking at him as if he is a stranger. The other day, he caught sight of a neighbor he had not seen for several months and just about pulled me along in his effort to go over to greet her. She asked me if he did that to everyone and told her "No, not at all - he remembers you and wanted to say hi". I suppose that if someone visits often enough, you dog might get used to them being there, but just having him get used to them someplace else will probably not do it. With the roommates, it is possible that he will get used to them coming in late, but if you have gone to bed at that time, don't count on it. He probably feels he on "guard duty" at such times. Tristan never barks as I approach the house, even when the blinds are down and he can't see outside, but he does with everyone else.

      Tristan also barks at every land mammal he sees when I'm watching Netflix. He does not bark at whales and dolphins. As an experiment, I showed him a Youtube clip of Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" he barks at cartoon dogs, too. I think it is because they are also in his space, because he never initiates barking at dogs outside and will rarely even return a bark from a dog "defending" its house.

      I expect that your dog would be quite able to catch a rabbit, but not so much a jackrabbit (which are actually hares). I would see having wild rabbit without any chance of biting into buckshot as a distinct advantage! I had (farmed) rabbit pie for lunch today. Wild rabbit is much nicer.

      Best,

      John

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    2. very intresting thread .thank you so much for sharing .last year about this time well the first week of November a friend of mine was out spoting for dear when he saw what he thought was a deer from a distance then he relized it was a dog shepard mix .she was in very bsd shape about 4 months old weighing only 22 lbs.i of course agreed to take her in .our family named her Lyrics yes after the nerve pain medication lol my kids loved that name .we noticed how strange she acted from the begining she was never house traind we started her in a crate in a few weeks we was able to move her from the garage to the house .lyrica was such a sick puppy with a few nights at the vet some meds and hamburger a rice she got her health back .after getting her crate trained she got upset when we took the crate because she got to big so we had to buy a bed and put it in a coroner away from eveyone .we noticed how timid she was of everything every noise how she would put her head down and cower.we also have a terrier mix also a rescue and two cats.it took a long time to get lyrica to not to try and eat the cats .she plays fine with her buddy tucker the terrier mix but does nip at his back legs and cleans his ears often also noticed her licking his mouth.sometimes she does scare me when they play she gets annoyed when he starts barking then i have to seperate them.i have also been able to train lyrica to stay in the yard she listens very well and i also trainex her to watch tucker she walks him around the yard on a leash and will not let him leave tbe yard.lyrica loves people but will act out if she knows you are affraid of her she will bark and show her teeth i worry she may bit so i have to choose wisley what humans she meets.a friend of mine that hunts cyote said if he seen her in the woods he would shoot her not knowing it was my dog he feels she is a coydog i asked the vet but they have no idea said possible but she is deffintly shepard mix.it was nice to find this thread and see all the similiar behaviors .i have noticed so many lyrica also will hunt and eat anyhing running she has killed rabbits in the yard and birds she takes the moles from the cats and will eat them ,still working on breaking her from that but in all it has been a long year of training but just like any animal with lots of love they can be trained a be very loyal to there family my family fell in love with lyrica and has turned out to be a wonderful dog i wish anyone reading this the best if you think you may have a coy dog just remember patiance and love.

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    3. Thank you for sharing your story about Lyrica. Yes, the first year is always the hardest and patience and love is what it takes.

      Their apparent aggressiveness to people or creatures who show fear seems to be be really just show and even any actual nip, I think is likely to be non-damaging. But they can certainly put on a good show!

      When you do all the right things, the only problem that remains is not with the coydog, but with people you might meet who do not understand them. I often have to explain that Tristan has never bitten anyone and that his behavior toward anyone that shows fear, is more like distrust and he's essentially saying "Don't come too near me".

      Right now, I think his biggest problem is in NOT disciplining puppies who play with him and get too insistent or aggressive. He will just avoid them when he's had enough and doesn't do the usual dog thing of putting them in their place. It's probably because coyotes are not pack dogs but live in family groups so pack behavior is a bit of a stretch for them.

      But when you become part of their family you could not want for a better sort of dog: loyal and intelligent. It's very much worth a little effort at the start. Go easy on her for hunting, though. It's in their genes!

      I'm sure that Lyrica gets as much joy as she gives, so well done!

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  31. We just adopted a sweet coy dog and he looks to have a light colored Akita/or shiba inu in him. Maybe one parent was a shepherd yellow lab or retriever. Looks exactly like a long snouted coyote tailed cream and white shiba inu! My buddy had a German shepherd coydog he had coaxed from a coyote family with a black German shepherd mated with the coyote mom- BS that a domestic dog won't run with a coyote family! Just has to be right dog!
    So I was looking for a coydog as I had fallen in love with my friends. He was listed as a shepherd mix and is coy thru and thru! He digs dens and made a bed/bone hide hole in the gigantic aloe plant out front (totally learned diff bw that and cactus QUICK!)
    He is so SMART! He def responds to the encouragement even when he isn't doing his best and does better. He wants to go super crazy as we begin to play then he mellows out. They said he is over a year, but he seems like he just got kicked outta his dog family in November bf they picked him up. Less than a year, I think. Great with kids and other dogs so far (so far same gendered old, giant and puppy were cool!) He has wiggled outta his collar a couple times in public and let us get it back on him. We have had him 10 days and he knows his name, how to sit, waits for food dish, stays by us when we walk, Andy is already learning other assorted tricks and tasks. He even rode the BUS on the FIRST day we had him (I know we shouldn't have taken him, but he seemed really alert and keen on us getting him home and I swear his coy nature let him know we were being sneaky and he was thrilled to play along w new friends!)
    Still working with the nipping but he has never bitten and we are good at getting him a toy to replace our hands when he gets playful. We have a big yard and he doesn't jump the fence- we keep a good eye on him cause I know he could! He prolly grew up with city street dogs after leaving his coyote family cause he seems happy to be with us and not with all the other pups roaming about (he does wanna play, though!)
    I feel deeply blessed to have found this lil guy and I'd say we have already bonded quite deeply. He seems to read my mind. So amazing. He is really great with the 8 year old boy and his friends. He barks and play goes after dad when he is wrestling with his boy- very protective and sweet!
    We are keeping a close eye on all his behaviors and interactions- today some large pit bulls were in their yard not just behind big gate and he raised his hackles for the first time in a noticeable way (very spiky on shoulders and back end but nothing mid-back) as we walked by.
    Thanks for posting so much info! If you would like some pics or could help us figure out how old he is or what the other parent was, we would love it! I don't think I will ever want any other kind of dog after meeting my friends last year and having one of my own has sealed the deal ;)

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    1. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like you have real winner there! You can send me some pictures at john(at)writer2001.com (you know the correct form -- this way avoids the spam bots). I'll do what I can to identify the other half. Let me know if you would like his photos to appear on the Coydog community page, and if so, include a brief blurb about him (your choice whether to include any contact info).

      Best,

      John

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  32. Reading this has me reminiscing about my coydog who died years ago. He was simply the best animal companion ever. I can't call him a pet or dog because he was just more than that. We had a huge property in the country and he was allowed to run free and was never on a leash. My sister and I both had one from the same litter. We bottle fed them from birth because the mom died. Your blog reminds me of how smart they are. SO SMART!! Ours wouldn't even take a steak from a stranger unless we gave a head nod saying it was ok. They trusted nobody but our family. I would love to have another but think I would wait until I had a big enough property for plenty of run room. Ours were coyote/chow mix. Mine was reddish brown with green eyes and my sisters was black with a red tint in the sun and green eyes. Beautiful! I was actually thinking of them and started looking for pics of other coydogs because I've never seen other ones before. Thanks for posting about yours!

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    1. With the chow mixture, they would be especially a one-family coydog. while having a large property is ideal (providing it has no large predators like bears, cougar, or wolves nearby), even having an urban coydog is fine providing it can visit large dog-parks or run free along a riverbank and gets lots of exercise regularly. It is also important for a coydog to have lots of human company. They are not the sort of animal to leave at home while everyone is at work five days a week. Those great minds need exercise too!

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