Coyotes may be Responsible. Rule out Involvement of Dogs

Question:
We raised two LGD puppies with sheep — neither of them showed aggression toward anything — not chickens, cats, sheep, nor people. Early today, we found a cat torn to shreds. There are three cats still lying in the sun purring and weaving. It sounds more like a coyote’s work, but I haven’t seen any (we do hear them). We can’t find evidence — blood, fur, skin on the dogs. We’re afraid to even let the kids go out.

Dr. Nichol:
This is a tragic situation that needs to be solved. Your LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) would be unlikely suspects. Rather than a herding type these dogs are bred specifically to protect sheep. And while there can be no guarantees with canine aggression their gentle roots go back a couple thousand years. Start by ruling out your dogs’ involvement.

Think back to the circumstances surrounding this cat’s death. Could food have triggered your LGDs’ aggression? Have these dogs ever hunted together? Assume nothing. Dogs who would never harm another animal can behave quite differently if caught up in the predatory arousal of others in their social group.

If you train a video camera on the spot where this attack occurred you can watch off-site using a webcam. Look for stiff postures around your cats, circling, glaring, or quiet approaches. These signals suggest predatory aggression, a behavior that may be more prone to occur in dogs who, as youngsters, were not socialized to cats.

Despite the presence of your LGDs I am seriously concerned about a coyote attack.  These cunning scavengers sometimes hunt as a group. They have the right to exist but there should be no free lunch. Foil their efforts to breach your fence by adding Coyote Rollers (www.coyoteroller.com). Coyotes are clever but you are smarter.
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Cat Behavior Class
Do your cats fight or bite? Do they believe your home is their bathroom? Are they de-upholstering your furniture? I’ll address any behaviors that damage your feline relationships in my seminar at the Animal Humane Adoption Center, 9132 Montgomery Blvd. NE on Monday February 10 from 6-9 PM. Cost: $40. Go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol or call 792-5131 to register. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help.