While training and behaviour can vary widely from type to type, this is a good general guide to living with and educating your Lupine Dog.
These breeds all develop early and a significant amount of learning can take place before you bring your puppy home. Choosing an ethical breeder who raises pups in a home and has begun basic training and socialisation will give you a significant ‘head start’ in raising your natural companion animal.
Toilet training should progress no differently to any other breed, especially if your pup has been home reared by the breeder.
Because all these breeds are deeply social, they can suffer if left alone for long periods and do not do well in homes where owners expect to work long hours. Having a companion dog can reduce risk of separation anxiety/frustration, but does not always cure it.
The majority of these breeds are intelligent and active, meaning they bore easily at home if not entertained. They are also creative and opportunistic thinkers. This means that they can become destructive or show theft behaviour if not properly trained.
To this end, it’s usually a good idea to teach your Lupine Dog to spend some time in a secure area or outdoor enclosure. This must be introduced gradually, initially with company/supervision and with rewards and entertainments like chews/bones/food dispensing toys etc.
They are usually friendly and non-aggressive to family members – however, their size, athleticism and enthusiasm can mean they need more training to be round very young children. In general, teaching polite behaviour such as waiting patiently when asked, not snatching food or pushing in front at doorways and releasing toys when asked should be taught using reward based methods while they are young, before they grow large.
All the natural type breeds are powerful and athletic and will need to be trained not to pull on a lead. Generally it’s a good idea to start heel work with a longer line or completely off lead in a secure environment and practice short lead walking with rewards for only short periods – patience must be built up gradually. It’s better to ‘end on a good note’ and give your dog a break from short lead training before they get bored and ‘switch off’. Teaching specific start/stop/slow words or phrases, and also words for left and right can be very useful – try walking in squares and zigzags initially, rather than just nagging your dog to slow down while walking in a straight line!
Off lead recall training will vary considerably depending on the quantities of ancestral wolf in your chosen Lupine Dog. In general, it’s a good idea to make sure you have access to a secure outside enclosure to allow them to have a run/play regularly as whatever the breed, it may not always be possible to let them off lead -for example, the general public may become worried if you let them loose in a busy park environment. It’s always important to be respectful of the needs/feelings of others while out with your Lupine Dog. Not only are you ‘ambassadors’ for this breed whenever you are out in public, but also this breed is sensitive to the feelings of their owners and will react anxiously to perceived conflict.
Large quantities of sled dog in the ancestry of your chosen Lupine Dog will give your animal a strong desire to run independently and off lead recall will be very difficult to train. Some sled breeders/rescues insist that you keep your sled on a lead when not in an enclosed environment. Shepherd ancestry may be easier to train, but they may be easily distracted by their high prey drive in distracting environments. Higher wolf content animals are often quite laid back and so harder to motivate for recalls, especially with distraction. Whatever your lupine choice, it’s important to train distance work and recall on a long line. As well as rewarding recall with food, these animals need fun and excitement upon return to make coming back to you worth their while – so try playing a game or throwing food to chase upon their arrival back with you.
Like all dogs, never EVER trust them off lead round livestock – this is especially important with natural type breeds as their physical capabilities make catching hold of livestock a real possibility.
Socialisation needs will vary significantly depending on the breed background. Sled ancestry animals may be prone to over-excitement with strangers (people and dogs), while shepherd ancestry or wolf ancestry may be more cautious around strangers (shepherd ancestry may also be more prone to guarding behaviour). Either way, teaching a calm, controlled approach to socialisation is important. As well as mixing with strange humans and dogs frequently when young, it’s also important to begin teaching good manners immediately before they grow large. For example, learning to sit politely (manding) for greeting strangers should be encouraged using food rewards and attention should only be given while they are being good. They should learn to walk calmly past strange dogs and should not always expect to play – when grown, they will not be able to energetically play with everything they see, so must be happy to take your advice on the matter! Group training classes can be a useful way to practice this skill – but make sure your trainer uses positive, reward-focused techniques as these breeds generally don’t respond well to confrontational or dominant training methods.
Because the Lupine Dog is both sensitive and intelligent, they can be vulnerable to becoming anxious around other dogs/people if they have bad experiences, particularly when young. Make sure you set your animal up for success by choosing interactive partners carefully in youth. Some types may also show increased incidence of same-gender intolerance or aggression – bitches within the family, dogs to dog strangers. This can be significantly reduced by neutering before their second winter, when adult behaviours solidify.