problems – As mentioned above, wolves and wolfdogs have very specific dietary needs. Real meat –
unprocessed and without preservative/chemicals [especially raw] - is very important, along with small amounts of
finely ground [raw or cooked] veggies, and cooked grains. Supplements are a vital
addition to a home-made diet. If you are going to feed commercial dry food, then high-quality kibble is a must,
like Acana. Choose one that is grain free, high in meat and does not contain preservatives, chemicals,
flavors, sugars, glutens, colors and especially by-products, meat meal, and digest. The
first two or three ingredients on the label should be meat, NOT meat by-products or digest.
Chemical additives compromise the immune system, make it difficult for proper digestion, and often lead to
cancer and other disease. Real meat is the most nutritious, frozen (real meat) second best, canned, the third
best, kibble last. Feeding a good nutritious diet will help prevent health problems and sensitivities in the
future. Consult various sources so that you can provide the very best natural and healthy diet for your
canine. Always give small amounts of raw meat when starting your dog on a raw meat diet. If your wolfdog
is sensitive to raw meat at first, cook it in a little water [not oil] until it is browned, adding some Braggs
Liquid Aminos for flavor and to replace lost minerals. The best diet for your canine is a homemade diet, as
opposed to a processed pet-food source. More on diet can be found in Turkey Recipe .
exercise – This is probably one of the most important aspects in living with wolfdogs. In the
beginning, until your new companion learns to trust and obey you, you want to keep him on a long leash. This
teaches him that you are now his leader, and to follow you. It also allows him some freedom to romp, jump, run and
play, while at the same time you have control to rein him in and train him to walk next to you. One-hour hikes
with your wolfdog twice daily is the optimum, but once a day [with frequent short walks between] will still make a
big difference in his behavior. Be careful not ot overexercise, especially on a hot day. It may feel great to you
in your tank top, but not to the dog running on hot pavement. Best to exercise your dog at the coolest times of the
day. Also, do not make the mistake of thinking that since you have a huge yard that he doesn’t need to get out on
hikes. They soon get bored with their enclosures, and need more stimulation. The more intelligent the animal, the more stimulation they need. A
bored dog will get into trouble, try to escape, or become destructive. A bored or lonely dog can get
depressed. An isolated dog often becomes unsociable and fearful and this can lead to aggression with other
dogs. Many dogs left for long hours in their yards are expected to relieve their bowels in their enclosure.
Typical wolfdogs do not want to soil their area and will hold their bowels for long periods of time. This is
very unhealthy and can lead to irritable bowel, colitis, constipation or diarrhea, and anxiety. Holding urine
for long periods of time [if dog is left indoors] can lead to bladder and kidney infections, and even cancer.
This is why we always recommend a few short walks during the day, as the need for frequent urination is common
if the dog is anxious. For a healthy Elimination System, dogs should be able to relieve themselves at least
every 3-4 hours maximum [more frequently if it is a young or new dog]. We will not adopt to those that leave
their dogs home indoors all day. NEVER chain or cable your dog as this causes him
to be more territorial, defensive, and this leads to aggressiveness. It also leaves him vulnerable
to other stray dogs and irate neighbors.
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW
RESCUE TO YOUR FAMILY - Always introduce a new addition to your own dogs on neutral territory, not in your
house or back yard. Your own dog may feel he has to guard or protect his territory thus the newcomer may be viewed
as a threat or a challenge. Go to a park or place where there is lots of space - grass and trees preferred. An
active or busy dog park is not advised as often there is a lot of excitement energy going on, which can trigger excited or
fearful behavior. If you have a small dog, young children, or more than one dog to introduce, always do this
in a calm, controlled manner. Have the newcomer meet his new friends one at a time, making sure they are very
comfortable and easy with each other before brining in the next one. It is also wise to put the first one back
in the house or yard before bringing out the next companion. Children included. One at a time. All
dogs should be on leash [unless you know your own dog would be less aggressive off leash]. Do not introduce
dogs face to face, but allow them to sniff at each other's rear ends first. It is natural, neutral, and
unthreatening. Do not allow children to put their faces in the new dog's face or attempt to hug the dog. Stand
with your child when they are meeting the new dog to let the dog know that you are protecting or "claiming"
the child as yours. Canines understand this body language.
SUGGESTIONS: A tired dog is a well behaved dog! So just “walking” often will not even take the edge off
his energy level. Exercise, exercise, exercise! Note: Some very high-content wolfdogs may never be able to walk
on leash with you due to shyness and severe anxiety at being leashed. For this reason, you must afford
your wolfdog plenty of exercise and activity within his enclosure - daily! Also, most
mid- and high-content wolfdogs may never be able to accompany you on off-leash hikes, but may do well
on leash and enjoy long hikes and runs. Fortunately, some low-contents do behave well off leash, but only
after consistent, calm, assertive training to ensure recall. With the right knowledge and canine psychology, you
can often accomplish a decent recall in your new canine in a short time, but remember to keep a watchful eye out
for those “prey” distractions that can lead to injury. Remember, wolfdogs can be very focused and may not respond
to recall if something else has their attention. It is for this reason it is not advised to run them off leash in
an excited environment such as a dog park or busy neighborhood.
Tug o’ War and rough play is not
recommended with this breed. It can often trigger excitement aggression and dominant behaviors. It is always best to let them run, jump and socialize with other canines their size. Play fighting
should always be carefully monitored, and never allowed in the house or in close quarters where one of the
dogs might feel "cornered." I usually dissuade play fighting and encourage running,
hiking, and fun-filled walks to calm and manage their energy levels.
Young wolfdogs can make a
wonderful companion for the right person that has an energetic, outdoor lifestyle, but don’t forget those
wonderful, older woofers that are happy to go for walks and just be with you. They are often easier and better to
start off with if you have never had the pleasure of owning a wolfdog. Educate yourself on the ways of wolves and
wolfdogs before you decide to adopt one. Working with a Wolfdog Rescue Group is beneficial as most will help to
make a good match for you and your family. Decide if you have the patience and time to teach a new wolfdog to trust
and bond with you. The more time you spend with them, the quicker they will adjust to their new home. Leaving them
alone for many hours in a back yard will only make the transition take longer, and it will be more difficult for
you to attain the results you wish to have. Be sure that all members of your family, and anyone who will be caring
for your wolfdog, have been trained in how to handle this breed. Big hugs, leaning over the dog, or
putting a face in the dog’s face can often result in unwanted aggression. These postures are dominant
body language and challenge the dog to react [fight or flight]. Children must be supervised at all times and taught
to be calm and assertive, and to always pet under the chin and on chest. Remember, dogs "talk" with their teeth,
and a warning nip can lead to euthanization if one doesn't understand their language. Too many times the situation
could have been avoided with adult monitoring, proper guidance, rules and boundaries!
Develop a routine
so the new wolfdog can establish a comfort level with all the new changes. Feeding times [twice a day for medium
and large adult dogs] and walks should be at the same time every day for the first few
months. Routine helps dispel anxiety in the beginning as things become more familiar to him. Later
[months later] after the wolfdog is adjusted to your lifestyle, start changing your routine gradually. This
helps the dog to become more flexible, preventing upset if your routine changes unexpectedly.
When naming a new
rescue, we have a rule of thumb…. If the dog has had a negative association with his name or background,
we change his name … i.e. if he has been abused or neglected, often the person yelled at him using his name. If the
dog has had a loving family and was happy in his previous home, and he associates his name with positive energy, we
let him keep his name. It is who he is, and it may be the only familiar, comforting thing he gets to
Wolfdogs are affectionate,
intelligent, and communicative. They are calm yet can be very energetic. They need more of your time and energy
than the average domestic canine, but when we give them what they need, they return the love tenfold, settling in
nicely to become a member of your family. It sounds like a lot, and may not be for everyone, but the right person
can give a wolfdog a wonderful forever home, enjoying lots of hugs and kisses for a lifetime! These people give a
commitment to daily exercise, good food, and a structured lifestyle with gentle but firm
discipline. It definitely takes more work and dedication than owning a Labrador!