You are the TOP DOG - Letting your wolf dog know you are the Alpha
By Edye Marin, Professional Wolf Hybrid Breeder
Your Wolf Hybrid Dog needs to know that you are the leader of its pack, thus giving it the proper perspective of its place and yours in the world.
You may find this list of rules helpful to ensure your dog understands your mutual places.
If you own a wolf hybrid, you should consider heeding these rules. Canines need to have a clear understanding of their place in the pack. A wolfdog lacking that insight will not be happy or fulfilled.
Some wolfdog behaviors might not be what they seem. For example separation anxiety may seem like your wolf dog is destructive when you leave the house. When in reality it is nervous being left home alone. Wolves are social animals which live in packs, thus they do not do well being left alone for extended periods of time.
- The primary way to communicate with your wolf dog that you are its pack leader is to take it for a walk. Now, don’t consider the typical walk most humans take with their dog, where the dog is actually taking the human for a walk. You are going on a pack walk where the wolf is made to heel beside or behind you. This is most important for all dogs, as in a canine's mind, the pack leader will always lead the way. A dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anytime it wishes, but when you allow it. The dog should be concentrating on following you - the human pack leader. This pack type walk should be done daily. Not only will this release built up energy, but it will satisfy the dog's instinct to migrate, which all dogs possess. Dog's who have excess energy bottled up inside them and who do not have their migration instinct met will develop various instability issues that most people mistake for being breed traits.
- All pack leaders eat first. When you give your wolfdog its food, eat a small snack first while it is watching, lay the snack near the wolf’s food so that it thinks you are eating out of its bowl. Remember, the leader always eats first. As it is eating push its face out of the food bowl and mix the food with your hand. That lets it know the food is yours but you are done and it can have the rest. It also leaves your scent on the food, making it yours.
- Don’t feed table scraps to the wolves during a meal, as tempting as it may be. If there are leftovers you want to give it, put them in its bowl when you are through eating and ready to leave the table. That way the alphas have eaten first and it eats last.
- Feedings must be at a scheduled time, as you determine when those in the pack eat.
- You should not let the dog go through any doorway first. The leader of the pack always goes first. If the dog does not stay behind the humans, the dog must be told to "stay" and given the command to "come" after all humans have passed through. If the dog is allowed to go first it is then in the place of pack leader.
- You should never go to the dog, it should always come to you.
- A basic obedience command such as “Sit” or “Come” should be given before pleasurable interaction with the dog. The children should give the dogs commands at least once a day and reward with a treat when the command is followed. This builds a child’s position as the pack leader as well. A simple “Sit” will do. No treat should be awarded if the dog does not follow the command. Show your dog it does not get anything for free. Its food, water, treats, even praise/love have to be earned by doing something. Even something as little as sit or come. Make sure the dog takes the treat from your hands gently. Do not ever allow the dog to snatch the treat from your hand.
- You should not lay on the floor to watch TV when the dog is around and no one should roll around the floor playing with the wolfdogs, as a human should never put himself in an equal or lesser height position than the wolf.
- You are the one who greets newcomers first, your wolf-hybrid is the last who gets attention (the pack leader is the one who greets newcomers and lets the rest know when it is safe to greet the newcomer)
- If your wolfdog is laying in your path, do not walk around the wolf, make it move.
- During the time you are establishing your higher pack position, no hugs should be given to the dog by you, as a dominant dog may consider this a challenge of power.
- If you establish eye contact with the wolfdog, the wolf must avert its gaze first. If the human averts first, the wolf will feel like it has a higher power position. Tell the children not to have staring contest with the wolf, as if they avert or blink first, it will only reinforce, in the wolfdog’s mind, that it is pack leader.
- Ideally, wolfdogs should not sleep in your bed. In the wolf world, the most comfortable place to sleep is reserved for the higher members of the pack. If a wolfdog is allowed to sleep on the bed, the dog must be invited up and not be allowed to push the humans out of their way. Making them sleep at the foot of the bed rather than, for example, on your pillow, is best. The wolf-hybrid should never be invited to get on the bed before the human.
- Wolfdogs must never be allowed to mouth or bite anyone at any time, including in play.
- Any attention given to the wolfdog, including petting should be given when the human decides attention is to be given (absolutely no petting when the wolf nudges or paws you or your hand. This would be letting the dog decide and reinforcing, in his mind, that he is higher on the scale than the human.)
- You, not the wolf, must start and finish all games of fetch or play with toys.
- Wolfdogs should not be allowed to lie on your furniture, except by invitation of the leader of the pack who always gets the most comfortable spot. Dogs belong on the floor. If you do decide to allow your dog on the furniture, you must be the one who decides when it is allowed up and you must be the one who decides when it is to get off, by inviting it up and telling it to get down.
- No tug-of-war, as this is a game of power and you may lose the game giving the wolf a reinforcement (in its mind) of pack leader (not all trainers agree on this).
- Wolves need to be taught a “Drop it” or release command. Any objects the wolfdog has in its possession should be able to be taken away by all humans.
- Wolves own no possessions, everything belongs to you. They are all on "loan" from the human family. You should be able to handle or remove any item at all times from the wolfdog with no problems from the animal. Even if you are taking a chicken bone out of the wolfdog's mouth.
- Wolfdogs should not be allowed to pull on the leash. When they do this they are leading the way and it is your job to lead the way and show that you are higher up in the pack order. (In the wild, the leader of the pack always leads the way; the pack leader leads the hunt.)
- When you put its food dish down, it must wait until you give the "OK" to eat. Place its food on the ground and tell it to wait. If it darts at the food, block it with your body. You can point at it and tell it, "No, Wait" They read each other’s energy by reading body language, and your dog can read yours. Yes, your dog can read your emotions. So stand tall and think "Big" and stay confident. Do not be nervous, your wolfdog will sense this and assume you are weak. It is this weakness that triggers a wolf to try and take over (for the good of the pack, the pack needs a strong leader). Give the wolf-hybrid a previously taught command before giving them their food. If a wolfdog does not follow the command (i.e. to sit), he does not eat. When he does respond to the command, you invite him to eat his food.
- Wolfdogs should never be left unsupervised with children or anyone who cannot maintain leadership over the dog. Sometimes family members also need to be trained.
- Last but certainly not least... when you are around your wolfdog avoid emotions such as fear, anxiety, harshness or nervousness. Your wolf can sense these emotions and will see you as weak. This will escalate your problem as your wolf feels an even stronger need to be your leader. Think Big and Powerful and be calm, assertive, and consistent. Remember, there is no hiding your emotions from your wolfdog. They can in a sense, read our minds, in reading our body language. Picture yourself, in your own mind as big, powerful and very sure of yourself. Pull your shoulders back and stand up straight. This is your number one resource when it comes to communicating with your wolfdog. Your wolf-hybrid will be happy and secure knowing he has a strong pack leader to care for him or her.
For more information, visit www.wolfhybridpuppies.com. You can reach Edye Marin at Wolf Hybrid Puppy Ranch at 530-990-2308 or firstname.lastname@example.org