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A quick update on Lovec’s behavior and socialization

I’ve received a lot of questions about the behavior of the young Czech Wolfdog and how Lovec is maturing. So, here’s a short update for all of you!

First a quick recap.
When Lovec turned 27 weeks old (close to 7 months) and he reached the beginning stages of sexual maturity, his behavior changed a bit. He started to get frustrated when my attention shifted from him to someone else. When we got visitors at home, or if I stopped and talked with people during our walks, he would do pretty much anything to get my attention back. This child-like behavior lasted for about 4 or 5 weeks. He also got more “overly excited” when he met other people and dogs. He simply wanted to greet and play with anyone at any cost. While he could walk the leash perfectly, once he saw someone he wanted to greet, he would pull the leash and pretty much ignore any commands. At times he would also lay down or bite the leash at the end of a walk, as in a protest that we had to go inside again. This behavior lasted somewhat longer. But most of it disappeared when he got about 10 to 11 months old.
He’s still extremely social, curious and playful as I write this. However, after he turned 1 year old, it calmed down a lot. He still get very excited when he meet his friends (both dogs and humans) as well as new dogs and people, but the initial excitement settles very quickly. As for pulling, he only does it gently when approaching people or dogs that he knows well. Other than that, he walks the leash as a pro.

I’ve also noticed some recent changes in his behavior when he socialize and play with other dogs. When he was younger, he was very submissive to other dogs. He would pretty much lay down and let them do just about anything to him. He would immediately accept a lower position within the pack order – no matter if the other dogs were in fact a lot younger than him. However, in the last month (about when he got 1 year and 4 months old), I’ve noticed a change in the pack dynamics among the dogs he usually play with on a daily basis.

Example of Lovec showing a 6 month old German Sheperd pup that he is the leader of the pack.

Example of Lovec showing a 6 month old German Shepard pup that he is the leader of the pack. It’s only a gentle grip with no biting, simply downward pressure.

Most of these dogs are younger or only a few months older than Lovec. And now, during the initial greeting process, he will dominate them very gently for 10 or 15 seconds, then he will wander off as he usually does to check his surroundings (typical wolfdog behavior). And after that, he will watch the other dogs play and once in a while he will step in and correct the dogs who get too excited (or if a younger pup will try too hard to dominate an older pup/dog). He usually does this by putting his jaws against the other dog’s neck at push him or her down to the ground. He does not bite, he only push or wrestle them down on their back and then hold them for a few seconds. It’s very similar to how an older wolf correct younger wolves. And as soon as some dog wants to play with him, he will act submissive and let the other dogs do whatever they want to him.
He never shows any sign of aggression and he hardly ever grow tired of other dogs pestering him as they play.

And a few minutes later, Lovec let her do just about anything to him.

And a few minutes later, Lovec let her do just about anything to him.

This might sound as a small change to the uninitiated. However, this is the perfect example of a dog being a strong pack leader (the alpha). A strong pack leader will immediately show, without any aggression, who is boss and then take a step back and actually be somewhat passive. A good leader will step in when necessary and will actually be submissive during play, because he or she is secure in the role as alpha. It’s also evident when Lovec see something and runs off to investigate. When this happen, the other dogs will stop whatever they are doing and run after him. At times, the younger dogs will follow him for minutes on end before Lovec simply grows tired of it and gently put them down on their backs to regain his personal space.
With that being said, Lovec still respect dogs that are older than him, and he will acknowledge an older dog as a leader if the other dog is fit for the part. If the other dog is older and mentally strong, Lovec does not challenge him or her. However, if an older dog is insecure or mentally weak, Lovec will take the role as alpha. At times, this shift in pack dynamics and leadership is very subtle and easy to miss, as it can be settled by a quick stare down or by body language.

Watching all this happen and studying the dynamics and the body language of the pack is a lot of fun. Since we spend about 2 to 3 hours every day at the dog park, it’s very interesting to see all the small changes take place and see how the pack evolves. And also what happens when new dogs are introduced.

So yes, my little wolf is slowly maturing. Although still a teenager, he is on his way to adulthood.

 

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How to be a leader

7 months old Ludde trying to get Lovec to play.

7 months old Ludde trying to get Lovec to play.

This post will be somewhat short, yet important. It’s about something I see almost daily and it applies to all dog owners.

Today, on my way home from the dog park, I met two women in their late 50’s. They were good friends and one of them had adopted a rescue dog a few months back. It was a mix of Jack Russell and Chihuahua. A small, protective and high energy dog. At first, the owner was hesitant to let her dog meet and greet my wolfdog Lovec. The owner explained that her dog had been attacked and bitten by a German Shepard in the past, and that he now was very aggressive towards ALL larger dogs.
I said that it would be just fine, and that her friend would just step back a little and give them some room to greet.
And sure enough, my Lovec approached cautiously from the side and smelled him very gently. Then he laid down, as he usually does to show that he’s friendly. Her Jack Chi smelled Lovec and then walked around a little and finally laid down about a feet away. The owner was amazed and said that this have never happened before. A few moments later, Lovec tried to initiate some play and the Jack Chi jumped back and started barking.
I told them that he simply was not comfortable enough just yet, and that he just told Lovec that he was too straight forward. That he invaded his space.
Then the owner’s friend took a couple of steps forward, and said that she was still nervous that the Jack Chi would snap and start to bite. And yes, that was exactly what happened next. But Lovec only sat up and took a few steps back, giving him his space and the situation calmed down.

Lovec at 1 year, 4 months and 2 weeks old.

Lovec at 1 year, 4 months and 2 weeks old.

So what just happened? Well, the reason I first told her friend to “give them some room”, was simply to get her out of the way. I could see that she was thinking of previous events, which made her nervous and afraid of what could happen. And dogs, like most animals, communicate by body language and energy. They can read you as an open book. And she would have transferred her nervousness and fear to the Jack Chi. While the owner was somewhat calm, giving the dogs more space and letting them approach each other more slowly and on their own terms defused the situation. And this is also the reason why the Jack Chi snapped once the owner’s friend stepped forward and showed her fear of what could happen. And at the same time, the owner got a bit frazzled and pulled the leash in a stiff and fearful way. The Jack Chi picked up on it and read the situation as dangerous. So he went into his protective mode again.
Luckily it only lasted for a few seconds, as both Lovec and I didn’t care or showed any emotions. I simply remained calm and watched while Lovec took a step back and stood next to me.
As I explained the situation, I told them that their dog was just fine. He was only in need of some socialization with other stable dogs. The problem were simply the tension and nervousness of the two ladies, which the Jack Chi picked up on and made him switch to an alerted protective state of mind. I invited them to the dog park for some socialization and hopefully they’ll stop by.

Now, the message of this story is simple. If something bad has happened to your dog in the past, you must let it go. Your dog will probably have no memory of it. But he or she will pick up on your energy. You are your dog’s leader. If you show fear in a situation, your dog will read the situation as dangerous and will probably act accordingly. That’s why you must always be in control, always be calm – but still be confident and in charge. You must show your dog what is right and what is wrong, but not through the wrong emotions, just through calmness and assertiveness. If it helps, picture yourself as a Karate or Kung Fu master, teaching his students simply by his presence and body language. And that kind of cool, calm assertiveness is exactly what a dog is looking for in a leader.
Be that leader!

 

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Feeding the wolf

Lovec on January 2, 2015.

Lovec on January 2, 2015.

I’ve received several questions lately about what to feed a wolf dog and what I do with Lovec considering his nice coat, lively eyes and muscular structure. The information in this blog post is applicable to pretty much every dog breed out there.

Well, before we begin, let’s set some facts straight. There’s a lot of misinformation about the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog out on the internetz. Wikipedia states that a female adult Czech wolfdog weighs about 20 kg (44 lbs) and a male weighs 26 kg (57 lbs). I have no idea what that author got that information from. As I write this, Lovec turned 11 months old a few days ago and he weighs about 36.5 kg (80.3 lbs). Let’s see his “weight development”:

4 months old: 16.7 kg (36.7 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
5 months old: 20.5 kg (45.1 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
6 months old: 24.1 kg (53.0 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
7 months old: 27.8 kg (61.2 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
8 months old: 31.1 kg (68.4 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
9 months old: 32.5 kg (71.5 lbs) – 2 feedings a day
10 months old: 34.8 kg (76.6 lbs) – 2 feedings a day
11 months old: 36,3 kg (79.9 lbs) – 2 feedings a day

As a “norm” you feed a puppy three times a day. There’s no exact rule when to taper down the feedings. With Lovec, I simply noticed that he lost a bit of his appetite and interest in food when he got about 8 months old. So I simply reduced the number of feedings to two and he started eating with enthusiasm again. At about 10 months old, he yet again started to lose interest – and this time in his first morning meal – while he devoured his evening meal. So I simply reduced the size of his morning meal and added to his evening meal. Now when he’s closing in on his first one year birthday, he’s losing interest in the morning meal again. So, I’ll probably start serving him only one meal a day (in the evening) – as you do with adult dogs. He’s maturing very fast for a wolf dog. But you got to go with the instincts and the genetics.

Also, keeping strict feeding rituals are very important. As I’ve written before, a dog need to feel that he has worked for his food. If your dog hasn’t finished his meal within 10 minutes, simply put away the bowl. And before you serve, make your dog sit and wait. Put down the bowl and wait for half a minute or a minute before giving him a command that he’s allowed to eat. This exercise simply strengthens your position as provider of food. This is extremely important for the pack hierarchy of the household. Never let food sit around.

What to feed your wolfdog

Lovec on December 31, 2014. Water is important when playing at the dog park.

Lovec on December 31, 2014. Water is important when playing at the dog park.

Since the day I got Lovec I fed him a strict BARF-diet. Pretty much what the kennel Od Úhoště did before I got him. BARF stands for “Bone and Raw Food” or “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”, depending on who you ask. The BARF diet reflects what wolves eat in the wild. Wolves are primarily carnivores. They eat other animals and thereby consuming meat, organs, bones and even fur. They also eat the contents of their prey’s stomach and intestines, which contain pre-digested plants, seeds and sometimes vegetables. So, technically speaking, you could say that your wolfdog is an omnivore – meaning that he can eat meat, vegetables and fruits. The important thing is variety! If you only feed your wolfdog, or dog, one or two kind of foods (like an organ meat only or meat only diet) he will develop an imbalance that eventually will show up as skin problems, arthritis, eczema, kidney disease, heart disease, reduced eye sight or worse (cancer).

The bulk of your wolfdog’s diet should preferably be raw, meaty bones. Good examples are raw chicken backs and/or wings, lamb, beef, pork and marrow bones. If possible, a bone a day is a great way to keep your dogs nourished and their teeth clean. Generally, bones are readily available from your butcher and usually free of charge as the butcher has to pay to have them taken away. 
A small portion of most meals would ideally come from vegetables. Make sure that you put them through a food processor or juicer, since a dog’s digestive system cannot break down the cellulose wall of the vegetables or plants. Considering fruits, make sure that it’s over-ripe. By serving fruit raw and over-ripe, digestive upsets are avoided.
Other foods may include plain yogurt and raw eggs (with the shell, which provides calcium). And in small amounts, organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart) and seafood such as fatty fish, herring and sardines. To summarize, raw meaty bones and raw meats should make up approximately 50 to 75 % of the diet. Organ meats can account for 5 to 15 %, which roughly translates to feeding organ meats once a week. The rest may consist of raw veggies, fruits, rice/potatoes and the occasional yogurt and eggs.

Lovec at 8 months, posing with his MUSH BARF frozen mix.

Lovec at 8 months, posing with his MUSH BARF frozen mix.

You can also buy frozen ready-made BARF mixes. This is what I primarily give to Lovec. These mixes usually have minced meat blended with organ meats, bones, some vegetables and added omega-3 and vitamin D. I usually keep these as a base and then add in different BARF-foods as mentioned above. This ensure me that he get everything he needs.
A lot of dog owners are afraid to give raw meat to their dogs, which of course is ridiculous. Canines have a very low gastric acidity (about PH 2, which kills most bacteria) and a much shorter digestive tract than humans, so there is less chance for infections. In the wild, wolves do not contract salmonella or other infections from eating raw kill. The acidic environment will also turn bones into ”jelly”. Simply put, their digestive system is proof that mother nature intended dogs to eat raw meat and bones (scavenge dead animals etc.) However, if you’re truly concerned with parasites you can boil your meat first – it will lose some vitamins, but will be totally safe. Another option is to rinse the meat with hot water and human grade 30 % hydrogen peroxide before serving raw meat. The peroxide can be used full strength or diluted, but be sure to rinse well with water afterwards.
A dog fed a good diet should have firm stools at least twice a day. When I fed Lovec three times a day, he pooped three to four times a day. Loose stools are a sign of a bad diet.

Meal size and supplements

JB_20140710-typical_meal

Typical BARF meal when Lovec was 23 weeks old. (veggies not blended due to photographic reasons)

Honestly, I’ve never weighted or measured Lovec’s food. I go by feel and by observing his body, his energy level and his weight on the scale. As a pup he got three feedings a day. I used a small 0.5 liter (17 US oz) bowl and it was almost full for all three feedings. When I transitioned to two meals a day I started using a 1 liter (34 US oz) bowl and they’re about half-full. I did weigh the bowl for fun, and at 10 months old he got about 300 to 400 grams (11 to 14 ounces) in the morning and 600 to 700 grams (21 to 28 ounces) in the evening. So, about 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of food daily.

Now, remember that we walk for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning and evening and he run around and plays with other dogs for 1 to 2 hours at the dog park 5 to 7 times a week. On top of that, we play and sometimes take additional walks – so he’s very active (as he should be as a high energy dog). In other words, he need quality nourishment and a high calorie diet to boost his growth as well as providing energy for all his activities. And don’t forget that the larger your dog gets, the more food he will need to sustain that weight.

During the age of 3 to 6 months I gave Lovec the following supplements:

Calcium and phosphor supplement (2:1 ratio) daily (for bone health and development)
Glucosamine supplement (for bone, joints and cartilage health and development)
Omega-3, 2 grams/capsules daily (for coat, cell function and general health)
Vitamin D3, 1000 IU daily (cell function, growth, bone health, energy levels)
Vitamin K2, 10 mcg daily (synergistic with Vit D3, bone health)
Coconut Oil virgin, 5 grams daily (immune system, energy levels)
BCAA, 5 grams with each meal (increase protein quality, maximize anabolism)

As of now, I give Lovec the following supplements:

Calcium and phosphor (2:1) supplement 3 to 4 times a week
Omega-3, 2 grams/capsules daily
Vitamin D3, 1500 IU daily
Vitamin K2, 10 mcg daily
Coconut Oil, virgin, 5 grams daily
BCAA, 5 grams with evening meal

Lovec at 9 months old with his favorite kibble from DogsFirst.

Lovec at 9 months old with his favorite kibble from DogsFirst.

I should also mention that I NEVER gave Lovec kibbles (dry food) as a young pup. At 8 months old I introduced some organic, grain- and GMO free kibble. However, it’s still only a small part of his diet. It’s more as a filler and added as extra variety. I also make sure that the kibble is ISO 9001 certified (human grade). A good brand is DogsFirst (Finland). http://dogsfirst.fi/
And never give your dog cheap kibbles with grains or corn in it – or canned dog food with a high water content or shady ingredients. That is abuse! If you can’t afford a BARF diet and a high quality kibble, you – in all honesty – should not own a dog.

That’s pretty much it. My best advice is to really learn to observe your dog. How does he approach food? Does he finish his food without interruptions? When Lovec started to lose interest, he would rather follow me than finishing his meal. Look at his body structure. Is he muscular? Grab his skin and massage his body. To thin? To fat? Just adjust his feedings according to your findings. And I truly believe that a pup should have a small healthy layer of fat. A pup should never be skinny! Let your dog grow and mature to its full potential. If he is a bit on the heavy side once he reaches adulthood you can slim him down. But don’t do it while he’s still a pup! A skinny pup is starving and you will hinder his overall growth (bone structure, muscle mass and coat). So, to summarize: simply adjust the amount of food as you go – but never let a young dog get skinny.

Please remember that these are my opinions based on my experiences with dogs during a span of more than 30 years. It’s your right to disagree and I won’ be offended. If you have questions, please post them below.

Thank you for visiting and reading. See you soon!

 

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Living with a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppy Q&A

 

As I’ve been busy with my other projects (the one’s that actually put food on the table), this blog has been somewhat neglected. I’m sorry for that – it’s just life, you know… Anyhoooow… I recently received some good questions from HardRocker960 on YouTube and since they, in all truth, are quite many and somewhat complex, I decided to answer them here on the blog. So here we go.

NOTE: Lovec is 9 months old when I write this.

 

Q: So far, what has your experience been?

I got you now dastardly towel.

I got you now dastardly towel.

A: Well… there’s a reason why many choose a female Czechoslovakian Wolfdog over a male. Once the male wolfdog reaches sexual maturity, they go through a lot of different and challenging phases. Although both sexes has a stormy adolescence, females are more controllable than males. So you do need a lot of patience and you need to have a firm hand and set-up rules and rituals from the very beginning (and never, ever waver from them!)
With that being said, the occasional struggles are worth it many times over. He only challenges me when he’s frustrated. This usually happens when we are out for a walk and we pass another dog and that owner doesn’t want to stop and greet us. Lovec will pull the leash, and when he understands that he won’t be able to greet and play with the other dog, he can take out his frustration by biting the leash or nipping at my clothes. It’s kind of understandable and it’s easily corrected by eye-contact and a sharp “no” – but it can be annoying as well (if it’s raining and you’re tired – but that’s also the times when you need to show character and remind yourself that he’s still a puppy).
As with all dog breeds, it’s a lot of work and a lot of time to invest on a daily basis. It’s also a lot of fun and very rewarding. I’ll try to weave my experiences into the rest of my answers to build you a better picture of how it is to live with and raise a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.

 

Q: How obedient is Lovec?

If the stuff is for me, that goes for the parcel as well.

If the stuff is for me, that goes for the parcel as well.

A: Since he’s a Wolfdog and still a puppy, there are some factors that influences his obedience. The main factor is his level of excitement or frustration. As a young puppy he was very obedient, pretty much since he always stayed close to me and he was more curious about his surroundings than he was interested in interacting. This changed once he reached sexual maturity and he discovered various scents from other dogs, animals and prey (as his hunting instincts started to kick in). So, since a couple of months back he always listens and obey if you interact with him before he reached a certain threshold of excitement. Eye contact and body language are key. If you show him that you disapprove of his behavior he stops and actually look somewhat shamed or embarrassed (he has a rich body language).
However, if he picks up a scent and his hunting instincts goes haywire, you need to distract or tell him “no” before it escalates. If he reaches a certain level of immersion you need to pull him in and get eye contact to calm him down. This is also true when he meets bitches in heat and he picks up their scent (that drive most male dogs nuts).

 

Q: Would you see him being a good hunting dog?

A: He probably would be. However, at this stage when he’s still a puppy, I want to suppress his hunting and prey instincts. If not, he can become hostile towards smaller animals (and small dogs and cats) as he will see them as prey. So right now, I let him track and explore all kind of different scents, but I do not let him hunt or chase. I let him watch and interact when appropriate. That’s it for now.

 

Q: Is he nice to guests?

A: Being a puppy, he is still a bit too excited when meeting guests. He wants to greet and play. So as a guest you need to follow the same ritual you always should follow when meeting a new dog. No eye contact and simply ignore him until he has smelled you and respected your space and calmed down from the initial excitement. After that, you can pet and play. He’s never violent, but if he gets excited he does nip and he can stand on his hind legs to reach up to you. That however, is a natural way for all dogs to greet us as they want to reach our eye-level and mouth (smaller dogs jump to try to accomplish the same thing). However, if a dog jumps when you do not want him to and for no apparent reason, it’s usually due to lack of physical exercise and/or mental stimulation. They’re simply bursting with energy and wants to play. This kind of jumping is something that you can train them to avoid, but that’s a small article in itself. So, yes. He is nice to guests.
Also, keep in mind that the level of excitement is somewhat tied to the dog’s level of energy. If you know you’ll have guests over and you want to suppress some of the excitement, you should exercise your dog beforehand – and even better, do some mentally challenging training. That drains their energy really fast.

 

Q: How much exercise do you give him?

This is my couch, nao? Plz?

This is my couch, nao? Plz?

A: This somewhat depends on the weather. We’re outside moving about three to four times a day and never for less than a total of 1.5 hours (when he was younger, we went out 5 to 6 times a day). In average, it’s about 2 to 2.5 hours a day. During that time we walk the leash, we do some tracking, we do some kind of agility training and we interact with other people, dogs and animals (if available). I try to visit the nearby dog park at least 5 to 6 times a week (for an average of 1.5 hours at a time). He’s very good and playful with other dogs – small as well as large of all ages. As a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog he is very curious and cautious towards new things, so he loves to sit or lie down and observe. Especially playing children or flocks of birds. He can sit and watch them for several minutes. But apart from the occasional watching, we’re physically active most of that time.
When we’re inside and I’m not working, we do some easy training and we play for about an hour a day. So all in all, he moves around for 2.5 to 4 hours a day together with me. He’s also with me while I work for several hours, just resting, chewing or walking around sniffing, watching and doing the usual stuff dogs do. 😉 And yes, he does love to tease me when bored. At this age, they’re very much like human children. They know how to get your attention. Lovec, for example, is not allowed to be on the couch. So, when he wants to play and I’m busy working he stands next to the couch or he puts his head on the daybed part of it and wait for me to react and tell him “no”. When I do, he steps back and grins at me – and you can tell by his body language that he is playful and wants me to join or chase him. And if I ignore him, he simply repeat his behavior a few minutes later (or he sneaks up on me and rubs his wet nose against the back of my arm). It’s kind of cute at first, but when you’re in “the flow” and need to get a lot of work done, it can be very annoying. But that’s your life when you have a puppy – a lot of interruptions. 🙂

 

Q: How does he act around strangers or other dogs?

Will pose 4 fud!

Will pose 4 fud!

A: Very much in the same way as when we have guests over. He want to greet, smell and play. His tail is low and you can tell by his body language and behavior that he is excited, curious and happy to meet them.
He also play very well with other dogs and is quite gentle, even to small dogs. In this area where we live there’s actually a lot more small breeds than larger breeds. So some of his best playmates that we meet regularly are a Bolognese, an Australian Terrier, a Jack Russel Terrier, a French Bulldog, a Miniature Schnauzer and a West Highland White Terrier. He also plays well with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The larger dog breeds he has played with are mostly a couple of German Shepards, two Collies, a Golden Retriever and actually a Bernese Mountain Dog (quite rare in these parts). With older dogs, if they’re calm, Lovec will show immediate respect and usually rolls around showing his belly. However, he does not really read (or care) when it comes to aggressive and barking/growling dogs. Lovec simply walks up to them and start the greeting process. The aggressive dogs actually look rather confused, as in, “I just told him that I’m dominant and that this is my space and my human that I will protect, but now his sniffing my butt. What’s going on here?”
And if smaller aggressive dogs start to growl and jump around, Lovec simply put his paw on them as to say, “calm down dude, I just want to smell you.” At one point Lovec actually stepped over a growling and aggressive Dandie Dinmont Terrier and just laid down on top of the little fella. The Terrier’s owner, an old lady, simply uttered, “oh my!” in response. I couldn’t help laughing and the poor Terrier actually calmed down – probably from the shock and confusion.
The really good thing about Lovec, that I’m very proud of, is that he has never met aggression with aggression and that he has never shown aggression to any living being ever. No, not even cats – he just want to play with them (or watch them from a distance – like a staring contest). 🙂

I hope that answered you questions. And yes, there are more videos in the making. I have tons and tons of material. All I need are some extra hours to sit down and piece together some stupid stuff. Also, I’m waiting for some cool and groovy music from my brother that I will use in future videos of Lovec. So stay calm and keep your pants on, more videos will come. Eventually. :p

 

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Living with a wolfdog – reaching sexual maturity

Resting after digging yet another hole and chewing on tasty rocks.

Resting after digging yet another hole and chewing on tasty rocks.

Lovec turned 29 weeks this last Wednesday. Just before he turned 27 weeks I noticed a small change in behavior. At first he started to bite and pull the leash when I stopped to talk to someone. It reminded me of a little child that got envious that I directed my attention to someone else – and thus threw a tantrum to get my attention back.
He also started to drift away more (slightly pulling the leash) when he picked up a scent from another dog. This behavior has intensified during the last couple of weeks and he is now overly excited as soon as we meet a female dog. Actually to the degree that he jumps and make small silly noises (I’m glad that wolf dogs can’t really bark – although they can learn from imitating other dogs).
This is normal if a male wolf dog pick up the scent of a female dog in heat. They usually turn pretty much “deaf” and stops to work and obey.
So, yeah. Lovec is currently in “dog puberty”. Usually a male wolf dog enters this phase at 6 to 7 months and reach full maturity at 10 months. I keep my fingers crossed that he will calm down somewhat at that point (as the hormones stabilizes). However, the wolfdog “teenage years” usually lasts until they are about 18 months or close to two years old.

Watching cars driving by. He actually likes it - a lot!

Watching cars driving by. He actually likes it – a lot!

Another sign of reaching sexual maturity is testing its owner and in some cases (not all male dogs) some dominance challenges. Fortunately, Lovec only test me in small measures such as biting the leach (or clothes if they are baggy and moving) or lightly bumping into me while walking – as higher-ranking wolves do to lower-rankers. Fortunately, these small things are pretty easy to correct. When bumping, gently shove back. When biting, I place my hand palm-down across his muzzle and simply say in a stern voice, “No biting”.
Please note that nipping, chewing and biting are very common behavior traits among Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppies up to one year of age. This behavior is related to teething in nature and is fully normal. However, it’s up to you as the owner to set the rules of how much is allowed, especially when playing (where they can get over excited, especially when reaching sexual maturity). For Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs over one year of age, biting or nipping is not accepted.

With that said, Lovec usually calms down within seconds after I show him that I do not tolerate such behavior. And if he doesn’t listen to commands or corrections, all I have to do is changing my body language – stepping in closer and “tower over him” (to show that I’m the dominate leader) and he will immediately obey. This is very important with wolfdogs in general, since social hierarchies are imperative to them. They do not obey anyone whom they see as being lower on the social totem pole than themselves.  This means that as an owner, you must maintain a constant position of dominance/leadership over your wolfdog at all times. The more certain your wolfdog is that you are fulfilling the role of leader, the more secure he will feel in his own position. And a secure wolf dog is a happy and balanced dog. This is true for all domesticated dog breeds as well!

Yes, you got my immediate attention!

Yes, you got my immediate attention!

Although he’s maturing and does challenge me at times, Lovec is still very calm at home and never strays from our routines. He rests at his place in the kitchen area while I’m working without any protests. He’s patiently waiting for his food and does not start eating until I say “here you go” (“varsågod” in Swedish). The same is true when we’re going out or coming back in. He stays away from furniture and everything he knows he’s not allowed to touch or play with. Probably because I imprinted this from day one.

Other signs in sexual maturity is that some male dogs will lift one of their hind legs when peeing (or marking a territory). Lovec has not started that behavior yet.
Some wolf dogs will frighten more easily during this period. They can jump or shy back when they come in contact with something new – such as an unknown object or sound. I’ve only noticed this in Lovec during our late evening walks when it’s dark outside. If something comes up from behind, or there is a sudden noise, he can jump a little – but a second later he’s curious and wants to see what it was.

That’s it for this post. I’ll continue to plot down my thoughts and experiences in upcoming posts. If you have questions, please post them below. If you have any stories from your own experiences with wolfdogs and sexual maturity, please share them by leaving a comment.

Thank you for visiting and reading. See you soon!

 

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Walking your dog (walking the leash)

While I’m writing on an article about body language, I thought I’ll start this blog off with something “more easy” – or at least something I see a lot of people struggle with. Yes, something as basic as walking the leash.

Once you master the walk you’ll have noticed a positive change in your dog’s behavior. Troubled dogs really benefit from this, since the walk is one of the strongest forms of bonding – leading to a lifelong connection.
It’s also a very important form of exercise (and a lot of behavioral trouble with dogs originates from nervous energy and from being confined to a small enclosed area for too long).
You should start training your puppy to walk with you as soon as he comes home with you. You’re imprinting an important routine into your puppy’s brain – that this is how one works for food and water. Keep in mind that wolves as well as wild dogs always moves in pack. Walking with their alpha and the pack is imprinted in their genes. It’s natural and an important part of their socialization.

Our first walk on May 2, 2014, outside our hotel in Leipzig.

From our first walk on May 2, 2014, outside our hotel in Leipzig. He was so small back then. 🙂

Lovec was almost 14 weeks when I got him from the kennel Od Úhoště in The Czech Republic. On our way home we stopped for the night in Leipzig and he pretty much got the idea the first time we walked the streets outside the hotel. Now, as with all puppies, you can’t expect a perfect side-by-side or just behind you position for the entire walk. A puppy will easily get distracted by anything new or anything that is moving. Since Lovec knows I’m his pack master (leader), he will not walk off or run when he sees something that catches his interest. He will however look at it. And where the nose points, the body follows. So yes, a puppy will stray off course a little when he gets distracted. If the stray is too intense, it’s easily corrected with a mild pull of the leash – preferable in the direction that get his head to point forward again. The important thing is that the dog or puppy doesn’t pull or walk in front of you (which makes him the leader).
Also, if he starts to track (looking at the ground), simply pull the leash gently upwards to redirect his attention – or you could simply walk at a faster pace, which forces him to focus on where he’s going. And remember, when you walk, it’s a walk and nothing else. Tracking and playing can be a reward once the dog or puppy has walked for a certain amount of time without major interruptions. That’s the way I did it with Lovec. Since a wolfdog is an exceptional tracker, I walked him for five to ten minutes and then took a five minutes break where he was allowed to take the lead and track. This reward was given by a simple command – so he understood that we we’re about to do something else for a while.

From my experiences, these are the most important steps for a good walk:

  1. You should always be the first one out the door and the first to return back inside. The first one out takes the position as the leader of the walk. The first one in claims the space as his own. If your dog is the first in any of these situations, it will cause behavior problems down the line. My Lovec always stays by the door waiting for my command to either step outside or come inside. After the walk I can leave him outside the door with it opened while I take off my shoes and jacket. Then I ask him to come inside and I take off the leash. This is a strong signal that you’re the leader and also the master of the living area.
     
  2. Always walk your dog or puppy beside or behind you. Never let him pull you from the front (that is dominance and a sign that the dog is the leader and is taking charge of the walk) and never let him pull out to the side.
    In the beginning when you start practicing the walk and your puppy get distracted, just stop and get his attention, then start again. You can use a treat, a scented toy or a chewing stick to redirect their nose and to get their attention. As he gets older, a mild pull on the leash should suffice.
     
  3. Keep your chest and head up. Don’t slouch when you walk. You’re the leader, so show it! Your dog is always observing you – taking cues from your body language. Also, focus your eyes ahead to where you want to go. Don’t look down or look at your dog or puppy. Making eye contact can be interpreted as a sign for the dog to take charge or to play. I make eye contact if I need to make a major correction and then it’s a part of showing dominance (who is boss) accompanied with a strong body language. Lovec can be way too excited when he meet other dogs as he wants to greet and play. That can be bad depending on the other dog, so he needs to be conditioned to approach with submissive energy. And that training has to start early. Also, I make eye contact with him when it’s time for a break and reward (play or tracking).
     
  4. Try to keep the tension on the leash as relaxed as possible. Imagine that you’re carrying a briefcase or a purse. Also, it doesn’t matter what side you walk your dog on. Conventional schools teach to keep your dog on the left. That’s just bullocks. You can teach your dog to be on your right as well as on your left or do both whenever you want. I usually walk Lovec on my right, but I switch depending on the terrain and situation. He has no problem walking nicely on both sides. With that said, always start training with one side until your puppy has the walk down cold.
     
  5. For puppies, as they need to be trained to be house broken, you can practice the walk for five to ten minutes every time you go outside to let him pee. In the beginning, I went outside six times a day with Lovec. After a few weeks I could reduce it to five or even four times if the weather was really bad. Since puppies grow very fast, don’t walk them for too long as this will stress their bones and growing ligaments. Keep the walks within ten minutes and add in some time to play. And for puppies with short legs and/or a short attention span, 10 minutes are more than enough. Also remember that small puppies has a built-in limit to how far from home it’s all right to wander. This will expand as he grows, but don’t push it.
    For adult dogs, I recommend a minimum of at least two longer walks a day (30 to 60 minutes per walk, depending on the size of the dog). And then some time for play and training on top of that. If you’re stressed for time – use a backpack or a weight west when you walk your dog, as it will drain their energy a lot quicker.
    Even if you keep your dogs in a big size pen and let them run around most of the day, you should still make time for walking with your dog/s. As mentioned earlier, it’s really important for building that lifelong connection with your dog/s.
    If you can’t walk your dog for at least two times a day, you should – in all honesty – not be a dog owner.
     
  6. The best leash to use is in my experience a short and simple one. The most important thing is that it’s comfortable. If you want a longer leash for tracking, simply wind it a few times around your wrist and hand while walking – or change leash when it’s time to track.
    The collar should be close to the puppy’s or dog’s head to allow better control if or when a correction is needed. This is really important if your dog tends to pull, since a collar low on his neck will give him tremendous power. In these cases a choke chain can be a viable option. But you should never have to use one if you start practicing the walk early.

 

The collar I use for my puppy – The adjustable Hurrta Outdoor Padded Collar. Much more comfortable than leather.

Now, I know that some people will be hung up on that a puppy’s immune system is not fully developed until they’ve had their third round of shots at around sixteen weeks. That might be true, but the psychological development of your puppy is much more important. You simply have to keep an eye on him and not let him eat other animal’s poo or playing with other dogs or puppies that are sick. From a psychological and behavioral standpoint, keeping a puppy confined inside a house or limiting his ability to exercise is not only cruel, but a sure receipt for disaster and behavioral problems.
A puppy grows and develops fast. Just imagine how it would be if you kept a human child locked indoors until he was a teenager. What kind of person would he become? Would he know how to interact with the outside world and other people? Probably not. So do not do that to your puppy!
If you’re not sure you can control your puppy or keep it safe, simply practice the walk in your yard, on your driveway, on your sidewalk or any limited space outside your home that you know well and that is clean (or easily can be cleaned). Also make sure that your puppy interacts with other dogs and animals that are healthy and mentally stable from as a young age as possible.

When I walk with Lovec and we see someone struggling to keep their dog in check or someone who is getting pulled by their dog, we avoid them at all costs. They obviously has no idea what they’re doing and their dog is clearly dominant and does as it pleases – and that is not a good example for my puppy. Dogs that takes the lead and pull on the leach often see themselves as alphas and the protector of the pack. Their owner is simply one of his pack members. Dogs like these can be very protective and will surely show aggression towards other dogs. So yeah, avoid them!
On the other hand, if we see someone who has mastered the walk and their dog is calm and happy, we approach and I ask if the dogs can greet one another. In situations like these, the dogs should approach from the side or from the back. This will usually be the case without you having to lead, since it’s the normal way balanced dogs approach each other. Only aggressive dogs or dogs playing goes head to head (if your dog approaches an aggressive dog from the front so they are head to head and makes eye contact, it can lead to a fight – so be careful).

To keep this from getting in to a full length article I will round it off here. Please remember that these are my opinions based on my experiences with dogs during a span of more than 30 years. It’s your right to disagree and I won’ be offended.
If you have questions, please post them below. If you have tips and stories from your own walks, please share them by leaving a comment. As the article grows older, the best comments will be re-posted as its own article – so don’t forget to post your full name and/or website if you want to be credited.

Thank you for visiting and reading. See you soon!

 

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