When out in nature or on a walk with your dog, there’s a slight chance that you may come face-to-face with wildlife like coyotes or bears. While these creatures are very threatening, it is possible to scare them off by having your dog bark at them.
Barking dogs can scare away coyotes and bears quickly. However, this isn’t always the case, as some coyotes and bears are more aggressive than others. Also, the size and temperament of your dog influences how these animals will react.
In this article, I’ll discuss how and why a dog’s barking might cause potentially threatening animals to back down.
Are Coyotes and Bears Afraid of Barking Dogs?
Threatening animals like coyotes and bears may seem like they are not afraid of your average pet dog, but they are. Both types of predators despise loud or aggressive noises. Also, they will potentially run away from dogs who seem ready to fight.
Coyotes and bears are common predators notorious for getting into harmful scenarios with dogs in places like rural streets and hiking trails. But while they are ready to bare their teeth and stand their ground, they do not like the noise a dog makes when they bark.
The louder a dog gets, the higher the chance that the coyote or bear will turn around without further action.
Coyote Reactions to Barking
Coyotes and bears both have similar reactions to a dog’s bark. Yet, they also display some differences.
When a dog and coyote cross paths and the dog barks, it stresses the coyote due to their dislike of loud noises. Like other predators, coyotes have been found to use other senses like smell and hearing to perform essential behaviors such as hunting or tracking their pack.
When their sense of hearing is pierced by something loud or irritating, like a dog bark, it can cause extensive behavioral responses.
When a dog barks, not only do they terrify the coyote because of the volume of the barks themselves, but the dog also surprises the coyote in a way that activates its fight-or-flight response.
If a loud noise occurs around a coyote and they do not anticipate it coming, it can trigger a survival instinct in them to run far away from whatever is making the noise. To most coyotes, noise of any kind is an automatic threat to their well-being. This sense of fear leads them to either freeze or run away from the sound.
However, while coyotes likely will run away from the sound, this action does not eliminate the possibility that a coyote will instead rush toward the sound aggressively. In addition, many coyotes will hear the barking and perceive it as an opponent they want to defend themselves or their companions against.
A coyote may fight your barking dog by trying to bite or maim them somehow. If a dog is larger than or the same size as the coyote, it will engage in a contentious fight. Yet if your dog is much smaller, the coyote may try to hurt it by carrying it off or eating it as if they were hunting prey for its next meal.
In Austin, Texas where I live, there have been reports of coyotes attacking small dogs while being walked by their owners!
What about a bear’s response to a barking dog?
Bear Reactions to Barking
Like coyotes, bears are also scared of dogs barking and react in various ways. Although bears are typically two or sometimes three times the size of a regular dog, they still react fearfully to the sound of their bark.
Some bears will attempt to run away from the sound made by a dog because they perceive it to be another threatening animal. Some species, such as black bears, escape by running and climbing trees or other objects above the dog that’s barking.
Bear’s fear of dog barks also stems from the idea that a dog barking means a bear has entered unknown territory that is not theirs. A dog’s bark is an alert that signals to the bear that more harm may come if they do not leave immediately.
However, while it’s believed and often expected that bears will run away from a barking dog, some might also stand their ground and approach dogs for a fight. Some aggressive bear species, like grizzly bears, will not run and will attempt to fight the dog by standing up taller and swiping rapidly with their claws.
Also, bears of any species can be more hostile towards dogs if it is breeding or mating season. This heightened aggression results from the bears not wanting to let their young or mate get close to something that may hurt them.
Will Dogs Provoke Fights With Coyotes and Bears?
It’s possible that your dog may try to fight with a coyote or bear, even if you are trying your best to help your dog avoid that confrontation. Some barking dogs stay where they are, while others may run toward the very predator they need to avoid.
Many dogs fight as a defense mechanism for themselves or their territory. So it’s not abnormal for a dog to want to be protective, though attempted fights with these animals may be concerning.
If your dog does want to start a fight with a coyote or a bear, some indications may include the following:
- Pulling on a leash or attempting to run in the direction of the predator
- Barking excessively
- Head bobbing or going down in a “play stance” with the paws stretched forward and their tail in the air
- Raised fur along the back or tail
Not all dogs will attempt to fight these animals; some will simply run away or stay silent. However, some dogs may try to instigate something even if the animal is not near them.
My Labrador Retriever, Blanco, for example, does not bark at coyotes when we encounter them on the hiking trail; I wish this is what he would do! Instead, he takes off after a coyote, chasing the coyote away. This is the only time Blanco is aggressive toward another animal, and it is a repeated behavior. I’m not sure he would win in a fight, and I definitely don’t want to find out. Coyote chasing results in one of the rare times I need to use his eCollar now.
The Takeaway: Barking Will Scare Away Coyotes and Bears in Most Cases
Usually, barking will scare a coyote or bear away. However, this is not something that will happen in every case. So, it is best to expect the unexpected at all times.
Additionally, even if a barking dog scares a coyote or bear, the animal’s behavior can be unpredictable. In some cases, they may run, but in others, they will freeze or even move closer.
Barking Dog Scares Coyote on Video
Dog owners never know when their dog’s barking and other defensive actions will scare wild animals. For example, in the video below a little Yorkie barks and chases off a coyote that had become aggressive with it’s owner in a Toronto neighborhood!
Barking Dogs Scares Bear on Video
Not to be outdone by the little Yorkie scaring off a coyote with it’s high pitched barking, this brave dog barks and scares off a bear.
Coyotes and bears are both fearsome animals, yet, amazingly, they are often terrified of dogs and their barking. In most cases, a coyote or bear will back away from a barking dog. However, they may sometimes try to assert their dominance by fighting. Regardless, it is always best to be prepared for both scenarios when out with your dog.