Coyotes are becoming increasingly common throughout North America, and have been implicated in attacks on both pets and people. While a single coyote is unlikely to attack a dog as big as a coonhound or foxhound for food, they will attack for territorial reasons, or to protect a recent kill, or to protect their young. They will also run a hound off carrion or a treed coon. And hounds and coyotes are close enough kin to interbreed, so a hound or coyote bitch in heat can provoke aggressive behavior between males of either species vying for her attention.
Coyote hunters often use foxhounds to trail coyotes, and sometimes use coonhounds as well. Some hounds will hunt coyotes instinctively, others fear them instinctively, but most coonhounds and foxhounds are afraid of coyotes only at night. One of my hounds isn’t the least bit afraid of coyotes and sings to them when he hears them at night to warn them off. My other hound will come running back to me if we are out coon hunting at night and he encounters a coyote--unless his larger, louder, and braver brother is there to protect him.
While most coonhounds and foxhounds can take an individual coyote if it comes to an out-and-out fight, coyotes usually travel in small packs, and can be quite crafty about luring a hound into a situation where it will be outnumbered. And, coyotes in some parts of the continent are considerably larger than others--the coyotes in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada are much bigger than those out west, with scientists claiming they have some wolf DNA in the mix.
Coon hunters frequently run into coyotes in the woods at night. The coyotes will sometimes come into coonhounds barking up a tree in order to steal their quarry, and can be quite aggressive about it. Coyotes are much bolder at night than during the day. At night, the best defense is light. If you have a flashlight, shine it right in the coyote's eyes. If you are at home, switch on all the lights in the yard if you hear coyotes yipping nearby.
My hounds wear collars with bright LED lights at night. Each dog has a different color light on. That tends to keep the coyotes at a distance, and helps passing cars see them too. The LEDs cost around $20 each and are available at hunting supply stores. They slip right on the dog's existing collar. Most have settings for continuous or flashing lights. I usually keep them on flashing because the batteries last longer that way.
Coyotes are much less brave during the day. If a coyote comes at you or your dog during the day, shout at it and throw the nearest large stick or rock toward it. In most cases, it will run off. If it doesn't run off, it is probably guarding its young (most common in early summer) or a large meal stashed nearby. Retreat slowly without looking away.
Coyotes usually travel in packs. They are smart enough to send out scouts. If you see one coyote, there are probably others nearby. Sometimes coyotes will lure a dog back to the pack and overwhelming force. Do NOT let your pet hound chase any coyote. Coyotes are tough!
Coyotes tend to live in underground burrows, usually with multiple entrances and exits. There will often be bones scattered about outside the burrow left over from previous meals. Coyote dung looks like that of a medium-size dog, but is usually packed with fur remnants, typically cottontail rabbits or other small mammals. I’ve found coyote dens on a college campus and other places surprisingly near frequent human activity. Be alert for signs of coyotes in the area where you are walking.
While coyotes generally view hounds as competitors or threats, be aware that much smaller dogs will be viewed as meals. If you also have small dogs in your home, make sure that they are indoors or well attended when outdoors if you have coyotes in your area. Even in urban areas, letting your small dog out for one last potty pass at night can be fatal, particularly if you live near one of the creek beds that coyotes use as nighttime highways.