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Raising coyote pup

Canines not listed on other forums: African Wild Dogs, Coyotes, Dingoes, Jackals, New Guinea Singing Dogs, Raccoon DOGS, ETC..

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Raising coyote pup

Postby Mathilda » Sun May 20, 2018 1:53 am

Hi y'all!

I'm new, but I posted a greeting in the "introductions" sub if anyone's curious. :mrgreen:

I'll ask my question and follow it up with the background, in case y'all have attention spans like mine. :lol: I'm looking for any tips and guidelines on raising a coyote pup, as I can find no helpful info on the internet about coyote pups. He's roughly 6 weeks old currently, and I've had him about 3 weeks. Specifically I'd like experiences/opinions regarding:

1. How if at all to socialize him - theoretically his window of socialization should be closed and yet I've successfully introduced him to several new people (I use the method of "sit on the floor next to me and play with his favorite toy and completely ignore him until he can't resist it any longer" - progress over a few sessions to "approach him for play without me"), but I don't know how long this will last.

2. Agressive/dominance behavior in coyote puppies vs typical play behavior. He's shown no overt aggression issues - but he's a baby, I know this stage doesn't last forever, and I'd like tips for positive interactions now to avoid encouraging establishing those behavior patterns, as well as how to deal with aggression if/when it shows up - I recognize as a wild canine matures, "testing the boundaries" (an optimistic euphemism) is natural behavior. I typically correct with an "eh-eh!" which at first scared the ever-loving poop outta him (so I toned it down :lol:), now he gets it means "stop what you're doing/carrying off), and he's been very good at learning most boundaries, and has excellent bite inhibition (now). I don't roll/pin, hit, etc - it's clear it'd be very easy to totally turn him off to people with rough correction. I do not however subscribe to the school that a canine should never experience any correction (I've had *many* people on other forums actually call me abusive and hurl slurs at me because I use an "eh-eh!" correction with my domestic dog.) :wall:

3. What boundaries should I be installing at this age? I often take prized chews/toys from the pup and return them (or if he's got something in appropriate simply take it away), put my hand in his food bowl or block him for a second, touch him everywhere, hold his paws (and clipped his nails.... dang baby coyotes have sharp nails!!!), finger his teeth, etc. No problems with any of this. He likes to be carried around, but doesn't like restraint when I'm sitting - he wants to wriggle away and play. I'm not sure how to tackle this issue without making him wary of being held. He's been great about bite inhibition but occasionally will put his teeth on me - I give a null reinforcement (withdraw hand and ignore) followed by a cessation of the play session, but it hasn't been very effective. Play is with toys only, btw - I don't use my hands for rough housing.

4. I'm unsure of the training and mental capacity of a coyote this young. Obviously it's different to dogs (and even wolves) and I don't want to expect too much from him, nor do I want to waste vital time as milestones fly by. I've done minimal short-session clicker training with him, but again am not sure what my expectations should be. Developmentally, I'm unsure of his capabilities.

5. There's 1 issue we'vre struggling with - he rolls himself over for belly rubs (he does an adorable clumsy sumersault), but when he decides he's had enough he'll growl or put his teeth on me (softly). Kind of like a moody cat, if you know what I mean. I've put belly rubs on hold as I'm unsure of how to handle this behavior. It's the closest he's come to "aggression".

6. I split his "out of crate" time between human only and human plus dog. My dog is shockingly maternal, including mothering baby goats and kittens, and he even once got into the bathroom when I had a tub full of ducklings and when I found him sometime later he was laying in the middle of them, gently flea-bitting/grooming them (his way of affection). Not one was harmed(?!?!). He's great with puppies and he'll discipline them as needed without hurting them. Can anyone see any potential issues here? The coyote will be about his size when full grown, but will have much more bite-power.

Ok, background. How I got the pup:
I'm a state wildlife rehabilitator. We're not allowed to rehab or possession wild canids for any purpose except immediate euthanasia. Someone - obviously unaware of this - brought me a coyote pup. He works clearing land (I think for home-sites) by machine and basically there was a den in/under a brush pile which he (unknowingly) "cleared" with the skidsteer. He found 7 dead pups and this one, I'm assuming the other were squashed or dragged to death. He brought the pup home, and appearently raised it on esbilac and cat food for almost 10 days before calling me (no idea why he chose to do this, and didn't either keep the puppy longer or immediately give it to a rehabilitator) and it was pretty darn healthy considering.

He's now twice the size, incredibly well behaved, and a sweetheart. I own several hundred acres of land and keeping him is a legal issue only. If found I'd lose my status as a rehabber but the fine is, I believe, like $50, but people around here generally don't care. Taking him anywhere is not only illegal but would be immediate death, so I'm going to have a go raising him. I've worked with coyotes in the past but they were older "animal ambassadors", or older, wild medical cases which were released or euthanized. My dog is also an Asian Dingo from Cambodia literally as primitive as a dog can be (but is, granted, a dog.) So I'm not totally clueless, however I thought I'd reach out to those with more experience.

Thanks y'all :)
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Re: Raising coyote pup

Postby Lara » Sun May 20, 2018 12:48 pm

Hello! I am very jealous of your dingo, he looks beautiful in your profile picture (:

You seem to be doing pretty much everything right, but I will try and answer your questions:

1. It sounds like you're doing pretty well with socializing him, I would just keep doing it as much as possible. If he decides to stop using your current method, another option is to have a short training session with the person you want him to meet, doing a few simple tricks and them having the other person and you alternate rewarding him ( if he seems okay with it).

2. With my fox, I generally used a vocal correction (like 'no'), a physical correction (light tap on the muzzle), and then an emotional correction (ignoring him, putting him back in his enclosure), all in that order. As I'm sure you know, you always want to start out with the lightest 'pressure' first, so the animal doesn't become desensitized to discipline.

3. The one boundary I think is super important in exotic/predatorial pets is that they cannot take food from you. I did this with by starting with a treat that my fox liked, but didn't go crazy over (sweet potato), putting it in my fist, and calling it over. Then I just let him sniff my hand, and if he used his teeth at all, I said 'no' and tapped him on the nose. If he stopped and sat, I immediately clicked and gave him the treat. I slowly worked up to treats like chicken, and I ended up never having a problem with him trying to get treats during training. You might never have a problem with food aggression, but it is a good thing to look out for as he gets older.

In terms of him not liking to be restrained, it might partially be because he's young. He will probably calm down as he gets older, but you can use treats and praise to teach him to stay next to you for now.

4. I haven't had a coyote, but I would guess he will be just as smart or even smarter than most dogs. In my opinion, you can attempt to train anything you want, as long as you do it in baby steps. Mental stimulation will make him much happier, just make sure your cues are clear and concise so he doesn't get frustrated.

5. I know a lot of people with foxes at least experience something similar to this, where they roll onto their back like they wants belly rubs, and then grab your hand and starts mouthing it while growling. It's mostly playful, and just a weird thing they do, but you might be able to get him to stop by consistently correcting him.

6. You'll probably just need to keep a close eye on him when they are together. Hormones might be a bit of an issue as he gets older, since it doesn't sound like you can get him fixed. However, playing with a well behaved dog like that will help teach him good behavior, so I wouldn't separate them unless you see any aggression.
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Re: Raising coyote pup

Postby TamanduaGirl » Sun May 20, 2018 5:12 pm

If you facebook he might be able to help since I heard he breed coyotes. But we do have some members who have had coyote experience so hopefully one sees this as well and you stick around to share what you learn

On 5, if it were me, I would just respect him and stop when he gives a warning that he's done. My fennec loved butt rubs as a kit but when his hormones started to kick in he would growl and gently put his teeth on me so I always stopped when he did. Now that he's older he will sometimes let me pet his rump without complaint but sometimes he still complains. I would want someone to stop groping me if I asked them too so why shouldn't be be allowed to? If I have to restrain him for something that's different as it needs to be done but that will always be different. If you need to get him to stand still for brushing or something unpleasant then you can try to teach him to accept that with the clicker training, but I see no reason to continue or correct when he is simply communicating with you in a safe way that he would like you to stop now.
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Re: Raising coyote pup

Postby Ash » Sun May 20, 2018 9:34 pm

In my limited experience with one coyote I got the chance to work with... I think they're like dogs on crack. Very hyper animals that use their mouths a LOT to communicate. The one I worked with loved to lunge at the face. She wasn't well-trained though, so it's important to start while your pup is young so he doesn't turn out like that one. Don't get me wrong, she was friendly and loved people--but she thought biting was perfectly acceptable since she wasn't taught it wasn't.

As Lara said, you seem to be doing a good job with him so far. Michael Frazier does have a lot of experience and can help you out. What you learn from him, we'd love to hear.

If you don't want to risk your rehabber license, maybe you can find a USDA-licensed facility to take him in? It's always risky keeping an illegal animal. I totally applaud you for not putting him down though. You've got a heart of gold. But a facility like that might be able to help take him off your hands for you.

Clicker training works wonders on any animal. Even my iguanas were trained with a clicker. So if lizards can be trained, I don't see why a coyote couldn't be. Clicker training works great on foxes.

As far as food aggression goes, sometimes that can't be trained out of animal and it may just be best to feed them alone separately.

I recommend an outdoor enclosure for your pup since once he gets older, he will probably get into and onto everything. I know of a coyote that jumps up on top of their owner's refrigerator, for example. So an enclosure with lots of platforms and ramps would work really well for a coyote.

Good luck. Please keep us informed. I would love to hear more about your experience with your little one.
I'm Fable and Ifrit's mommy. Also mommy to Carousel, Breeze, and a bunch of snakes, lizards, and spiders. Oh, and one amphibian!
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Re: Raising coyote pup

Postby sarajeku » Sat May 26, 2018 10:05 am

Hi there!
If you search the forum, you can find some of my experiences with Totem, a coyote I worked with at a sanctuary from the time he was a pup until he was a few years old.

Some things I learned while working with him- when they are getting too mouthy, letting out a high pitched squeal (and obviously stopping play) worked better than "eh eh" or doing anything you would for a dog of any kind (including primitive breeds).
The squeal tells them clearly that they were too rough with you, and lets them know playtime is over.

If you need to take something away, trade up. Give him something better to take what he has.
Hand feeding can help with the food aggression (although not always, and generally only with the person doing the hand feeding). Hold whatever you're feeding him while he is eating it to reassure him you aren't going to take it. Do it for every meal. Putting your hand in the food bowl doesn't reassure them that you aren't going to take it. While it is common to do with dogs, it will not do you any good with a coyote.

The belly rub thing: that's just his way of telling you he's done. If he is being gentle, he is just communicating with you. Coyotes use their mouths and bodies to communicate as much as they use their voice. You will learn to differentiate between his growls and other sounds (coy growls aren't all for aggression- that is how they communicate). You will know when he means business. They are really obvious in their body language. <-- video of totem

Coyotes are EXTREMELY smart. If you want to train him, go ahead! He'll probably think it is fun. The biggest problem you will have is they are stubborn. They don't care about pleasing you, they only care about what is in it for them, so find out what he is motivated by (food? toys? totem liked cookies) and go from there.
While working with a coyote, you are going to have to retrain yourself and put aside everything you think you know about training. I had to do the same thing. They are vastly different from dogs or wolves (I have a wolfdog). The learning curve is steep but the bond is worth it once you earn his trust.

Also, one thing that helps in teaching manners: having an older dog that already knows the ropes. The dog can teach your coyote what is and is not acceptable, especially with bite inhibition. You'll see a bloodhound in my video of Totem. She was a major help in that area.

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