*Guest post by Nicola Reynor
Wolves are etched in our imagination in truly fantastic and romantic colors. They play a prominent part in the fairytales and stories we have grown up listening to. Despite the presumed familiarity we have with their race, doubts, fears and misconceptions abound.
Wolfdogs are hybrids between wolves and dogs, and the more true they are to their wild ancestors, the more wild they will be. But wildness should not be mistaken for ferociousness. Wolfdogs also require committed veterinary care including vaccine shots and pest control.
Wolfdogs are not good watch or guard dogs because they have an inherent mistrust and a deep-rooted fear of human beings. This also makes it harder to tame them and socialize them.
If you are planning to buy a wolfdog pup and raise it as a family pet, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
It is important you find out all about the breed, but it is even more important you assess yourself and find out whether you are ready to meet all the commitments that wolfdog ownership will demand of you.
No Two Wolfdogs Are the Same
All dogs can trace their lineage to wolves. But, whereas the common household canine pet will have to go back a few hundreds of generations to discover its wolf forefather, a wolfdog has a wild wolf either as a parent or as a grandparent.
A high-content wolfdog will be more of a wolf and less of a dog whereas a low-content will have less traits of the wolf. A mid-content wolfdog will have both traits in more or less equal proportion. Based on the breed of dogs the wolves are bred with, each wolfdog will have its own unique characteristics, and special dog grooming requirements.
Wolfdogs exhibit pronounced behavioral qualities of the wild blood in them. Contrary to accepted images of growling and snarling pets, wolfdogs tend to be timid, shy and love to be in packs or groups. They are highly social pack animals and will view you as a part of the pack. They relish social life and it is important you help them develop a strong bond with you. But they prove to be dangerous when threatened or attacked.
Wolfdogs Are Hard to Train
Wolfdogs are a tough nut to crack for any seasoned dog-trainer. They do not respond well to harsh training methods. You will have to positively reinforce the lessons you teach them and most importantly establish that you are the pack-leader.
Wild animals are extremely loyal and committed to the pack-leader, and once you establish the relationship on a solid footing your wolfdog will be more responsive to your commands. You have to play the part of the alpha dog in the relationship, and do realize that he will challenge you aggressively if he finds you weak and lacking in control.
Domesticated dogs have an aim-to-please attitude, which wolfdogs completely lack. He will grow to recognize your commands and calls, but may very well choose to ignore them. He is by nature aloof, independent and stubborn, so you will have to really sweat hard to win his respect, attention and support.
Wolfdogs Need Extra Effort with Socialization
As stated earlier, wolfdogs are scared of strangers. You need to socialize a pup from a very early age onwards, to help him get rid of the fear and the mistrust, even though they will never go away completely.
You need to continue with your efforts well into adulthood and beyond. This is essential to keep your pet free from anxiety and stress in public places. Or even while on a walk in the park with you.
Wolfdogs Are Not Natural Guard Dogs
You have to continuously assert your authority because there is nothing that your wolfdog prefers more than a strong, loving and dependable pack-leader. But another off-shoot of this mentality is that he looks upon you as provider, nurturer and protector. So obviously he expects you to shield him and protect him as well.
Your wolf dog is not going to bark up a storm at the sight of an intruder in your property, or attack him on your command. He will most probably run and hide, expecting you to do the guarding part!
Wolfdogs Love to Run Away, at Any given Chance
Your wolfdog will not enjoy getting tied to a tree or being confined to a very limited space. He requires a fairly large, but strongly secured, space to run about and exercise in.
They are smart and are always on the lookout for a chance to script a perfect escape. Your wolfdog is an acclaimed escape artist. So you will have to put up fencing around your dog’s enclosure and also ensure no one sneaks in when you are away. A full-grown dog can easily jump over a 6-foot fence, so you will have to keep his outstanding athletic abilities in mind while doing the fencing.
Wolfdogs Can Get Destructive
Despite best training methods, wolfdogs do exhibit destructive behavior like chewing big holes in your couch and digging massive holes in the back yard. These behaviors get magnified when your pet is kept confined for a long time or when he is aggressive.
All canines are predators, including the domesticated family dogs. But this behavior is stronger in wolfdogs. Smaller pets or young children running around appear like weaker prey and your dog may pounce on them. Wolfdogs have a strong hunting urge and this can prove to be dangerous if you have small children in your family.
Wolfdogs are also not very fond of cleanliness. They love to roll around and get dirty in obnoxious-smelling substances, leaving you with tough cleaning duties.
So you need to be a hands-on owner all the time to keep your wolfdog out of trouble.
Wolfdogs Have Specialized Diet
Wolfdogs do not fare well when supplied the regular store-bought dog food. Your pet requires a high-protein diet and you need to supplement his extra dietary requirements to keep him healthy.
Fresh meat including beef, chicken, fish, venison and horsemeat will be good protein sources for your wolfdog. Ensure the meat is fresh or frozen, and give it as a separate feeding once a day, along with the regular diet.
Wolfdogs grow to be strongly attached and committed to the family they belong to. Often the bonds they develop with you are so strong that they pine away when abandoned or separated. So make the life-long commitment after careful consideration, you are bound to reap the rewards.