Can a Coyote Vest Save Your Dog in a Coyote Attack?

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • CoyoteVests contain a mix of metallic spikes and brightly colored “whiskers,” which stick straight up and make the dog appear bigger than she really is
  • The vests may make a coyote think twice about attacking, or if they do, they may slow down the attack, giving you a chance to intervene and scare the coyote off
  • While the vests aren’t a guarantee that your dog will survive a coyote attack, they certainly can’t hurt — and a growing number of testimonies suggest they have saved numerous dogs to date
  • If you see a coyote, do not run from it. Instead, make as much noise as possible — shout, shake a can of rocks or blow an air horn (I keep a mini air horn on my patio for this purpose) — and wave your arms

Looking like something out of an ‘80s rock music video, coyote vests for dogs are popping up in backyards across the U.S. as owners seek out creative ways to keep their pets safe from these pervasive animals. The vests contain a mix of metallic spikes and brightly colored “whiskers,” which stick straight up and make the dog appear bigger than she really is.

The vests’ maker, CoyoteVest, is a California-based company started by a couple whose small dog was killed by a coyote.1 They make full vests as well as spiked collars, which are designed to protect a dog’s neck at the site where a coyote is most likely to grab it — its neck.

The vests are made out of bite-proof Kevlar, and there’s even an option for a coyote zapper, which has electrically conductive fabric along the length of the vest and allows you to shock the coyote via a remote, hopefully causing him to release your dog and retreat.

While the vests aren’t a guarantee that your dog will survive a coyote attack, they certainly can’t hurt — and a growing number of testimonies suggest they have saved numerous dogs to date. I have also seen these vests be used with small dogs at dog parks to prevent attacks from other dogs.

Do Coyote Vests Save Dogs?

Dog lovers concerned about coyotes in their area have shelled out approximately $100 to purchase a CoyoteVest — and for some it’s been an invaluable investment. After coyotes scaled her 6-foot fence and attacked her cat, Kae Warnock of Colorado bought the vests for her dogs. "They're goofy little outfits. I don't know if they work. They just make me feel better,” she told The Denver Channel.2

In Ohio, another dog owner saw a report about the vests on her local news station and purchased one for pet, a Japanese Chin and Jack Russell terrier mix. Not long after, a coyote approached her pet in a flash, but turned around and ran away — coming within inches of the CoyoteVest whiskers. “It was amazing; I couldn’t believe it,” the owner told Fox News.3

Again, the vests don’t provide full protection — the dog’s head and legs are still exposed, for instance. But they may make a coyote think twice about attacking, or if they do, they may slow down the attack, giving you a chance to intervene and scare the coyote off. According to the company’s website:4

“Its purpose is to help slow down or prevent a surprise attack and give you enough time to react before serious injury occurs. The CoyoteVest gives us peace of mind knowing that our dogs are not utterly defenseless.

While nothing can protect your dog completely the CoyoteVest offers multiple levels of protection that can help. The unusual appearance makes your dog look strange in the eyes of a predator and may cause them to hesitate before attacking. If they do attack a formidable array of shiny spikes defends the back and the neck — which is where most injuries occur — and the vest is made with stab-resistant Kevlar® that can withstand sharp canine teeth.”

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Coyote Attacks May Be on the Rise

In some areas of the U.S., coyote attacks on pets appear to be increasing. The Urban Coyote Research Project analyzed newspaper databases for articles on pet attacks in the Chicago metropolitan area and found that between 1990 and 2004, the number of attacks on pets increased from 0 to two attacks per year to six to 14 reported attacks per year.5

While smaller dogs were attacked more often, larger dogs, including Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers, were also victims. When large dogs were attacked, it was usually by two or more coyotes, typically alpha pairs. Most attacks also occurred during the winter months.

How to Protect Your Pet From Coyotes

Even if you’ve never seen coyotes in your vicinity, it’s possible they’re there. And if you’ve heard coyotes howling or heard reports that they’re in your area, assume they could approach your pet at any moment. A CoyoteVest is one strategy that may help, but it’s also important to keep your dog on a leash when hiking and avoid leaving your pet unattended outdoors, even in a fenced backyard.

While a fence may deter some coyotes, they can jump a fence if their motivation is strong enough. Do not feed coyotes and avoid attracting them to your backyard by leaving food outdoors. Also put out garbage the morning it’s due to be collected rather than the night before. Lighting your yard at night and picking up dog poop regularly will also help keep coyotes away.

If you see a coyote, do not run from it. Instead, make as much noise as possible — shout, shake a can of rocks or blow an air horn (I keep a mini air horn on my patio for this purpose) — and wave your arms. Hopefully, this will scare the coyote enough to make him run off, leaving your pet unharmed.