I often walk my dog Holly around Humber Bay [Toronto] and it’s a hotspot for coyotes. While we are out on our walk around the park I meet people who will warn us that they have just seen a coyote on the other side of the park island, they just seen one walking across the ice or they will tell me their experience of bumping into a coyote while out walking their dog. We walk the neighbourhood quite frequently and we are just lucky that we have never encountered a coyote.

Being the owner of a small dog I am terrified of having a coyote encounter because if they get a hold of my dog the likelihood is that she won’t survive or if she does she will have life threatening injuries. Coyotes aren’t the only concern for small dog owners while out walking. We also need to take into consideration the possibility of an attack from a larger dog while at the dog park or out exploring trails. I’m sure most small dog owners have that underlying fear and panic that their fur baby wouldn’t be able to defend themselves if they found themselves in such a situatio.

This post immediately caught my attention on Facebook. Chloe was the victim of a vicious attack by another dog and survived and is now proudly wearing her coyote vest on her walks. After seeing this I wanted to learn more so I reached out to Paul at Coyote Vest to learn more.

An interview with Paul Mott, founder of the Coyote Vest.

Paul, can you tell us a bit more about the Coyote Vest and how you got started?

Sure, the purpose of the coyote vest as you described is to protect small dogs from many threats out there, starting with coyotes who are very dangerous for little dogs but then there’s also the aggressive dog at the dog park or the dog that jumps over the fence when you are trying to walk around the block. There’s a lot of scenarios where your little dog can be in danger.

And this actually happened to me several years ago where I was at the local dog park with my three small dogs and we just had a wonderful time at the dog park. As we were leaving I had two of the dogs in the car and the other one was 20 feet away from me in the parking lot. The coyote jumped the fence, got a hold of her and killed almost instantly took her away and I have never seen her since. You know that was very traumatic experience for me and I defintley replayed the situation out in my head a million times trying to think what I could have done differently. What could I have done and you know you might have these ideas of everything you can do in such a situation like throw a rock, maybe you have a gun or something crazy like that none of that would work, nothing because it happens too quickly, you get no warning it’s like a car accident, it just happens and it’s over. That’s when I realized this problem needs some kind of barrier that literally protects the dog and the obvious choice was Kevlar

We started working on a kevlar vest but we wanted it that nobody or any other dog would be able to penetrate this, they’re not going to be able to bite through it but then when that wasn’t enough. I wanted to make it that the attack wouldn’t even happen, so that’s when one realized well you know people have been using spiked collars on dogs forever, that’s it that’s a proven technique but a lot of dogs that get attacked they get bit on the back, they get bit in various places and I wanted to cover all of my dog, I wanted them to be completely protected with kevlar and spikes everywhere. And I thought you know this is really going to make a difference but I was also thinking that my dogs, this can’t impact their fun or happiness or their ability to go out and play so it has to be very comfortable and lightweight. I can’t get sick of laziness because it’s a pain in the butt to put on or whatever so it has to be really easy to put on and off so I’m trying to make all of these things happen so that we end up with the product we can get up every day and have the habit of using it because you know it will be used many days and it will never be required but on that day when you least expect it when the coyote comes out of the bush with no warning that’s when you really to have the coyote vest on and what it’s going to do it’s going to buy you some time to pick up rocks, scare or yell or do something to get the coyote to go away. He’s not just going to run in and kill your dog instantly like what happened to my dog Buffy.

This was what I would have wanted for my dogs and one thing led to another in terms of other people in the neighbourhood seeing it and then the local news station picked it up and it went on the Internet. We had to start a company and start making them and we’ve been at it for two years now. And we’re still trying to catch up, we can’t make them fast enough because everybody in the world has a similar concern, you have a little dog that you really really love, you don’t want anything to happen to them and I can tell you from experience you just lay in bed and cry for a week. It’s the most terrible thing you don’t want that to happen anybody else so we’re doing everything we can to make these vests as safe and as good as possible because we don’t want any dogs to get hurt and the wonderful thing isn’t that we’ve sold thousands of vests over the past couple of years but that it has been 100% effective, no pet has been injured and the customers really love the product and just as we had hoped you know the dogs enjoy wearing the vest . So far everyone just really really going well and we’re happy to be doing this not only for our dogs but for all the dogs in the world.

Can you tell us a bit more about the coats, the material they are manufactured from and the weight of the Coyote Vest?

We use a very special type of Kevlar in our original Coyote Vest that we had discovered was developed by the government for prison guards who sometimes get stabbed by inmates who’d fashioned a sharp knife out of a pen or something. So the government spent money developing a special kind of Kevlar that you can’t really stab, it’s stab resistant so we use that on our vests and we did a lot of testing to make sure that a canine tooth can’t really get through and in fact we had one of our local police dogs do some testing. We put the coyote vest on one of the bite sleeves that the dog can bite onto. The Malinois dog, which has a very powerful bite could not get through the material so we’re very safe. We feel very good about the material.

Now the spikes that we put everywhere, those are actually made out of a very hard plastic so that they’re not heavy, so the entire vest with 30 spikes on it only weighs a few ounces like five or six. It’s extremely light, there is no mental parts so it won’t rust, you can take it into the water. Then the last thing we put on the vest is something we call Coyote Whiskers and if you have seen any of the pictures of our dogs or our customers dogs you’ll see those very colourful sticks, little sticks on the back of the dog, we call those coyote whiskers.

Originally I was trying to think of some way to irritate a predator or a dog that was attacking by literally just poking them in the eye with little plastic sticks and occupying that space above the dog where a predator would have to come if they were attacking from above but I think the bigger benefit from those little plastic sticks is that they just make your dog look goofy, I mean obviously people will who see it are stricken by the appearance but if you imagine you’re a coyote and you know this is your territory, you understand all the opportunities where the bunnies are, aware of where the food is and all the things it’s about to choose from and now you see a dog wearing this thing that you don’t know what that is, you don’t understand, you don’t know if it’s safe or if it’s dangerous, you don’t know what to expect. And so in my mind and my calculus if I was a coyote I’m thinking well I’m just going to find an easier target because this is not worth the risk, you’re the danger you know if I’m a coyote I don’t want to get bitten, I don’t want to get injured, no one’s taking me to the vet and the slightest infection could cost me my life so a coyote is very interested in complete domination. They want to attack, kill with nothing coming back at them, no response from their victim. Well a dog wearing a coyote vest looks like he can respond and bite and I believe that has been the number one thing that has prevented coyotes from even trying to attack a dog wearing our vest and also birds of prey.

There are many of our customers and parts of the country who are concerned about large birds of prey. Birds are generally wary of anything that’s shiny or shimmery and they defintely do not like anything that pokes through their feathers and tuches their body. If they were to come down on a dog wearing the coyote whiskers all these nylon straws are going to be poking them and they’re just not going to like that at all and I think that’s another thing that’s really helping protect dogs, prevent the attack from even happening in the first place.

If I want to get a Coyote Vest for my Shih Tzu, how do I go about ordering it? Do I need to send her measurements or is there a standard coat based on size?

You can go to our website CoyoteVest.com where you can place an order and on there you will find that we have a sizing guide. We have three different sizes of the vest for a medium, small and an extra small and we actually have in the past made some large coyote vests. There are people who would like to have their large dogs wear a vest and we are currently out of stock on those right now but we intend to have them back in stock soon. Look at our sizing guide and you basically measure the back of your dog, they measure them around the neck and that will help you choose a size vest you want to get and then we have different colours, you can choose their favourite colour and the vest comes with spikes now so you’ll those but if you don’t like the spikes you can take them off, they are attached with velcro so it’s your choice and then if you want to have those colourful whiskers on the back of the vest you can choose whichever colour you like. We have fun colours like rainbow, fireworks, you can go with a solid blue or a solid yellow or whatever you like. We try to make the product safe but so many people are having fun with the product too.

Is there a version of the Coyote Vest that a cat can wear?

Well that’s a great question and the answer is yes. That’s in development right now and we’ve tried it out on some willing cats that we know in our families here so I really think it’s just a question of the cat. Some cats are going to be okay with it and some are not but we do have patterns and plans available, we should have them available for purchase in the next few months.

How do the dogs cope with the coyote vest on in the summer months?

The vest actually works very well in hot weather and I think the reason for that is because we tried to keep the chest area open and that’s where the dog radiates most of their heat. Their heart, lungs, their major organs are right down there at the bottom of their chest so the coyote vest doesn’t cover that so they can radiate a lot of heat from that area.

The Coyote vest only covers those areas of the dog that are most likely to be bitten during an attack, and you might ask well how do I know what those areas are? Well I’ve just looked at so many pictures, I’ve seen so many pictures of dogs that have been wounded or unfortunately killed from a coyote attacked and 95% of the time it’s in the neck area, and if it’s not there they’ll have additional wounds along the back and so we really just wanted to protect those areas that we know are the most likely bitten and the rest of the areas are still open so that the dog can be free to run and play and do anything like they normally would and they don’t get overheated from it, doesn’t overheat them and the best itself is waterproof so I take my dogs down the beach here in the summer time and they wear it right in the water and can swim and jump and there’s no problems with that.

We do have some customers who have been saying that they would like to have a vest that has even more protection around the bottom so we have a new type of vest available, a second type of coyote vest if you if you like to call it that that does have a wrap around the bottom of the dog, it uses a Velcro and it covers a little bit more around throat and around the chest area so it’s just a slightly different variation of the vest for those people who feel like they would rather have a little more protection down there, but the one thing I want to always stress to people is that this coyote vest, the main purpose of it is to stop a surprise attack, OK? It’s not that you can just throw your dog into a fighting arena and you can leave them there or abandon them in your backyard all day and think they’ll be fine and come home,  it’s not really for that at all, it doesn’t make your dog super human, it just buys you some time, you know when my dog was killed or when I’ve seen other dogs being attacked, it all happened so quickly that you didn’t have a chance to do anything, and with the coyote vest, you do have a chance to do something because the attacker can’t just come in and kill or maim instantly and so you have five, ten, fifteen seconds to say, hey something bad is about to happen and I’m going to step in and prevent it from happening, do something about it, so it just buys you a bit of time to intervene and that makes a difference between life and death, and in the case of my little dog Fluffy, if I’d have ten seconds to intervene with that coyote, she’d still be alive so.

How long will it take for me to receive a Coyote Vest if I order one today? (As of March 2018)

Well as you mentioned that earlier when we started we had this viral post a couple of weeks ago and that kind of put us behind the 8 ball a little bit so we’re about three weeks out right now on delivering for an order that was placed right now but our team is working seven days a week, hard and fast as we can and we are actually have another team that’s going to be starting up here in a month so that we can have a lot more production and we really don’t like it when people have to wait, we don’t want that either so we’re trying so hard to make sure every little furry friend had the coyote vest, as soon as possible.

The reviews of your product have been so positive!

I think our customers are very happy, we really strive to make a top quality product because we understand this is a life or death kind of deal and so we’re not going any corners at all it’s all top quality and our customers can see that we’re delivering quality product and they give us good reviews and they like it so that’s good.

Want to know more about the Coyote Vest? 

Well we have Facebook. Coyotevest.com, well we at Facebook.com/CoyoteVest, but we are also on Instagram if you want to see lots of wonderful pictures of our dogs and customers, check us out on Instagram/coyotevestco and lots of fun things to look at.