WARNING: Two Reported Incidences of Coyotes in the WTWHA Common Area Attacking Dogs Walking with Homeowners


There have been two reported incidents so far of this happening on the Common Area below Glenridge Court, roughly between the Carrington development and Laurel Hill Road.  Please be alert when walking in this area, as well as other parts of the Common Area.  Fairfax Animal Control Police have been alerted and have provided the guidance shown below.  In the meantime, please be on alert.

WTWHA Maintenance Committee and Board of Directors

Information From Fairfax Animal Control

Coyotes are an established part of the wildlife community in Fairfax County, and in most cases do not come into conflict with people and pets. However, dogs are vulnerable to coyote confrontations, especially when unattended or running loose, and incidents may increase when coyotes are protecting a mate or pups. Conflicts between dogs and coyotes can happen any time of the year, but are more likely during the mating season (January-March) and when coyotes are caring for pups (March-August).  Coyotes are highly territorial and may view other larger canines as competition and a threat. Coyotes may also consider small, unattended pets including cats and small dogs as prey due to their similar size to natural prey.

These recent incidents reinforce the need for pet owners to be aware of potential safety risks and take precautions with pets around homes, and when walking their dogs in areas where the coyotes have been active. The best way to minimize risk to pets is never to leave them outside unattended. Pets left outside, even with fencing, remain at risk for predation and unnecessary conflict. Pets should be supervised when outdoors and dogs should be walked on a leash in accordance with the county’s leash law.  Cats should be kept indoors and not allowed to roam free since they are an easy target for coyotes. I have included additional guidance below to reduce the chance of coyote conflicts and safety tips if they are encountered.

  1. Keep your dog on a short leash (6-feet long or less). This length allows you to maintain control of your dog and makes coyotes aware of a person’s presence.
    Longer or retractable leashes allow greater distance between the dog and owner, and little time to react if a coyote encounter occurs.
  2. Be cautious when walking at night and during early evening and morning hours (dusk and dawn)
  3. Avoid areas known to have coyote activity, especially during breeding and pupping season. Alter your walking route to avoid potential conflict when walking your dog.
  4. Stay on trails and be extra careful when walking in wooded areas or areas with thick brush.
  5. Keep pets up to date on all vaccinations.
  6. Carry a noisemaker or walking stick to use as a scare device such as a whistle, small air horn, or “coyote rattler” (soda can filled with rocks, marbles, etc). 

If you encounter a coyote:

  1. Do not turn your back on the coyote and do not run. Running away can trigger a coyote’s prey drive and may cause it to chase you.
  2. Keep your dog under close control with the leash, next to you or behind you (away from the coyotes). If you have a small dog and its possible, pick it up.
  3. Do not let your dog approach, chase, or attempt to “play” with a coyote.
  4. Stand tall and assertive, maintain eye contact. Use hazing techniques (see below) or slowly and calmly walk away without turning your back on the coyote. Coyotes will sometimes follow you for a distance to escort you out of their territory, and turning your back may invite them to come in closer to hurry you on your way.
  5. Hazing can be used to scare coyotes away but caution should be used if there may be a den or pups nearby. Hazing can include using a noisemaker, yelling, stomping your feet, shaking a jacket, popping an umbrella, flashing a flashlight, tossing rocks or branches at the ground near the coyote and anything else that will frighten the coyote off. If a coyote is avoiding humans and pets and not creating conflict, do not seek out opportunities to haze or otherwise aggravate the animal.


If aggressive behavior is displayed or if there is physical contact between a coyote and a person or pet, please report it directly to the Animal Protection Police through the police non-emergency number at (703) 691-2131.  

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss this issue further.

More information on coyotes can be found at:

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources:  

Fairfax County Coyote Webpage:     

Fairfax County Coyote Awareness video:       

District Coyote Project:

Posted in Announcement.