Kitchener residents should have a look around their neighbourhood to see if anything could attract coyotes after a family's dog had an encounter with a wild animal Monday morning, officials say.

Jonathan Friesen took to Twitter after his family dog was bitten by a coyote on Monday morning near Victoria and Natchez. Friesen said they found their dog, a schnauzer named Marley, alive, but shaken up.

"Coyote has been in the yard multiple times," Friesen tweeted. He also asked the City of Kitchener to do something to curb the problem of coyotes in Kitchener neighbourhoods.

Later the same day, Friesen posted a video to Twitter showing a coyote standing on a walking trail in a different neighbourhood, near Cotton Grass St. and Fischer Hallman Rd., in the middle of the day.

Urban coyotes live in city's green spaces

But Josh Shea, a natural areas co-ordinator with the city, says residents need to understand the coyotes live in the city, too.

"In general, they live in our parks and our green spaces and our natural areas. The same animal wouldn't go in one day from living in the rural area to the urban area or to the cities. These are urban coyotes," Shea said in an interview with CBC News.

He said city staff receive four or five reports of coyote sightings a month.

They are more active in winter, which is their breeding time, he said. The milder weather is not a big factor in how often they are seen.

"Their level of activity increases because they're moving about through the city, animals who don't have a territory are looking for territory, ones that don't have a mate are looking for a mate," he said.

'Learn to co-exist'

What can people do to avoid coyotes? Shea said to start, they can look around their own properties and ensure food and garbage are not left outside. Even people who put out food for neighbourhood animals like cats and squirrels may be contributing to the problem.

Shea shied away from saying coyotes "attack" smaller animals, because he said that word instills fear when the wild animal is just doing what it needs to survive.

To keep small dogs and cats safe, he said pet owners need to be vigilant. If their backyard is not fenced in and they let their pet outside, they should go out with their animals, turn on a light, and make noise to scare away coyotes.

"We often get asked a lot about can we remove them, can we get rid of them. They're living in our city and they're going to be living in our city, so the best thing we can try and do is learn to co-exist, learn to understand and be as adaptable as possible," he said.