Find Out Why You Should Not Have A Wolf Or Wolf-Hybrid As A Pet
Most wolf and/or wolf hybrid pet owners do not realize the potential dangers of having such animals as pets. Most of them assume that keeping or training them from their young age is enough to make them domestic as the normal dogs. The aim of this article, inspired by Dr. Karen Becker, is to make wolf or wolf hybrid lovers aware that there might be a safety issue related to keeping such as a pet.
According to Dr Becker, people who would want to keep a wolf or its cross with a dog maybe at grave danger. This is because wolves are genetically wild – it is a natural instinct in them. This makes it very difficult to tame them especially that one can mistakenly take it for granted that they can be raised the same way as domestic dogs. Despite the wolf’s and dog’s undeniable physical similarities, inside they are different. They develop their social coping mechanisms at different stages in their early ages. This is what makes it unsafe to keep a wolf or anything with its blood as a pet.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted a study headed by Kathryn Lord, an evolutionary biologist, to determine the differences in the way a young wolf and a puppy develop in the the first 4 weeks of their lives. Why the first four weeks? This is a critical period in either species’ growth development because that is when they develop their sensory capabilities – how they perceive their environment in order to survive.
How Social Habits Of Wolves And Dogs Differ From Early Age
The study showed that wolf pups develop more of their sensory capabilities than canine puppies in the same time period of 2 to 4 weeks. The study was conducted on wolf and canine puppies from 2 to 7 weeks from birth. It was discovered that in 6 six weeks both groups fully developed their sense of smell, sound, sight and could walk. The sense of smell developed by the second week, hearing developed by the fourth week while the sight developed by the sixth week in both groups. All these developed at the same time except for the ability to walk.
The wolf pups started walking in 2 weeks while they could only smell while the canine puppies started walking after 4 weeks when they could smell and hear. It is this realization that explains the difference in behavior of wolves and dogs. Full development for wolf pups occurred within 6 weeks while for canine pups occurred 2 weeks after. Therefore the wolves develop more senses in the critical period of socialization than dogs because they can walk in the first 2 weeks and thus develop more “sensory” experiences from their environment earlier than the dogs. This has a huge impact on the behavior of both groups of animals.
Here is an explanation why the ability of the wolf pups to walk 2 weeks earlier than the dog puppies has a bearing in the difference in behavior of the two; the wolf pups get to explore and develop a skill to decipher their environment earlier than the dog puppies and well within the established critical four week period needed for socialization.
The biologist Kathryn Lord explains it this way – “When wolf pups first start to hear, they are frightened of the new sounds initially, and when they first start to see they are also initially afraid of new visual stimuli. As each sense engages, wolf pups experience a new round of sensory shocks that dog puppies do not.” Clearly the ability to walk gives the wolf pups more chance to develop more “sensory” experiences than the dog puppies.
When the wolf pup gets exposed to different stimuli such as smell, touch, sound, sight, etc it develops fear. It is this fear that when it gets fully developed it becomes its survival weapon. Therefore for the wolf pup to be tamed this fear must be intercepted by making it familiar to human touch and smell within 2 to 4 weeks. However this is normally 4 to 8 weeks for dogs. This is where the assumption that wolves are the same as dogs is dangerous because by the time the wolf pup gets trained to familiarize itself with human touch and smell it is already too late. The instinct to lash out in fear has already developed and difficult to “untrain” since it is during the socialization period that each species has the ability to form attachments to other species, in particular humans.
As Kathryn Lord puts it – “The data help to explain why, if you want to socialize a dog with a human or a horse, all you need is 90 minutes to introduce them between the ages of four and eight weeks. After that, a dog will not be afraid of humans or whatever else you introduced. Of course, to build a real relationship takes more time. But with a wolf pup, achieving even close to the same fear reduction requires 24-hour contact starting before age three weeks, and even then you won’t get the same attachment or lack of fear.”
In conclusion, it is not a good idea to have a wolf or wolf hybrid as a pet because it is unpredictable in behavior and may attack anything that it develops fear from. The study has shown that with the wolf pup’s critical socialization period it develops fear early on and in that time that it should be familiarized with human touch and smell to develop friendly attachment towards humans. But since most people assume it is the same as a dog the familiarization is introduced in 4 to 8 weeks. But by that time the wolf pup would already be almost past its socialization period. And continues to feel fear towards humans making it dangerous to be kept as a pet!
It should also be noted that wild behavior can also be experienced in domestic dogs. They often react with “fear aggression” or behave not very differently from a wolf especially when reverting to pack mentality like wolves. If you do not know who trained the wolf or wolf-hybrid you want to make a pet rather avoid it! It is very risky because maybe the trainer or the person who groomed it, groomed it the same way they would a dog.
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