Wolves, wolf-dogs and dogs: a universal language?!

I have to be honest – once you have a wolf-dog or wolf hybrid you will not go back to wanting any other breed of dog (in my case I do because of the courses that I teach) and you will find yourself wanting to add to your group of wolf dogs rather quickly.

Just like all dogs, a wolf-dog or hybrid follow the same set of principles to communicate; they respond to their environment and to you. Based on this a dog will make a decision about their survival and whether they should listen to you or to themselves. If their environment is safe and you are calm then the dog will behave in the same way. However, we can quickly change a dog’s behaviour and, therefore, it will change its emotion to that of fear, stress or frustration simply by being in the wrong environment, not being calm or pushing the dog too far past its limits. How quickly a dog will change its emotional state and behaviour will depend on its natural character, age, any trauma it has received, structure of family group (both other dogs and human) and diet. Environment and how we are is also critical in working with a dog and its behaviour. This pattern is true for all dogs, but unlike most dogs, many wolf dogs can be more sensitive to their surroundings and quick to respond as a result. Hence, a wolf-dog can be much less forgiving in listening to a human induced response if a behavioural issue arises, particularly so if that wolf dog sees the human as making poor decisions for that animal’s survival. Learning how a wolf dog sees its world, how it communicates within it and what it expects from us is vital if you want a mutual relationship of respect and trust between you and your wolf-dog.

For any dog, trauma (ANY experience that has created a bad and negative outcome for a dog) can severely impact a dog’s behavioural response to certain situations. The response a dog shows to a trauma depends on a number of factors but, from what I have observed, if a dog has suffered a serious trauma that results in showing little or no trust, many of them show characteristics to that of a wolf (i.e. they revert back to making their own decisions about how to prioritise their survival). From my experience, wolf-dogs can be more susceptible to trauma and the behaviour this results in than other domestic dogs.

Something that may appear trivial can cause a wolf-dog to question our ability and therefore the wolf-dog will begin to make its own decisions as it sees fit; the wolf dog is then seen to be being aggressive, dominant, disobedient, destructive, un-trainable.

I am experienced with wolf-dogs and wolf hybrids and understand their needs and the questions they ask of us. I have helped many people that have had issues with their wolf-dogs and I come recommended by professional bodies that are either wolf dog breeders or use this breed to educate people about conservation.

Surprisingly for many people, there are few primitive dog breeds. Most dog breeds were produced throughout the 1800s, which makes them relatively young in evolutionary terms. Arguably, wolf-dogs would fall in to the category of primitive dog given the wolf that has been put back in to this breed (albeit a few generations ago). This makes them more reactive, alert and responsive to changes in their environment and those that they live with. What you consider to be suitable for your average domestic dog may not necessarily be appropriate for your wolf dog.

Wolf-dogs need trust, guidance and respect; the only way that one of these incredible and sensitive animals will then naturally respond to you. Through these teachings you will see the dangers and problems with using “aids” such as squirting water in the face, holding the muzzle or pinning the animal. I do not recommend any of these methods on any dog including wolf dogs. By all means, you can apply force on to your dog and it will respond accordingly, but your dog is then listening to you out of fear and uncertainty (as would a child that suffers the same hand through force) rather than out of respect and trust and will not view you as a stable, balanced and calm (and, therefore trusted) family member; do you really want your dog to be in this mind set for 15-17 years, or possibly longer? I know what I would prefer and that is an animal that shows me as much respect as I show it. In return, the dog receives direction from me but understands that my decisions will not put him/her in danger or give them need to question me.

Owning a variety of dog breeds, I will be the first to tell you that any dog makes a rewarding, loyal individual but when you have a wolf-dog, every positive interaction is earned and you have to work for this every time. As such, before you get a wolf-dog, or if you already have one, I advise you to attend one of my specialist wolf-dog courses. This course is designed as a separate course and allows you the opportunity to bring your wolf-dog(s) with you. As such, places are limited to a maximum of four people, unless agreed otherwise.

Day 1. How to understand your wolf-dog.

Here we will explore how to identify the character of your wolf-dog and what this will tell you about his/her limitations and needs. You will receive a full understanding of how to identify the different characters, how they work and the issues each character will have. You will also learn about food, scent and natural protection through adrenalin and how this plays an important part in understanding your wolf-dog’s character.

Day 2. How to speak with your wolf-dog.

Here you will learn how to communicate with your wolf-dog by acting as a role model for your dog’s development, giving boundaries and guidelines by using natural communication that your wolf dog will understand and trust. You will learn how adding to your current group can change dynamics and what to consider if you are considering another wolf-dog. Scenarios will be put in place so that you have a full understanding of how your wolf-dog behaves and how you can identify its behaviour. You will understand how to interact with your wolf-dog given different situations and how to respond when s/he shows times of stress, anxiety, restlessness, fear or excitement.

Day 3. How to work with your wolf-dog.

You will learn about the different stages that your dog should naturally be guided through as it matures and develops as well as what type of interaction you should be showing your wolf-dog. You will understand how to observe your dog’s behaviour and recognise when and how to work with your wolf-dog so that you can remain in control whilst giving calm, trust and respect.

The wolf is neither man’s competitor nor his enemy. He is a fellow creature, with whom the earth must be sharedDavid Mech