How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

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victortiti89
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How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

Post by victortiti89 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:06 pm

Only for a while... Has anyone in real life done that? I don't mean forever, or to keep the wolf as a "pet". Just wolves from sanctuaries where they are protected and cared for. How would this experience be like?

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Re: How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

Post by Isela » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:09 pm

- Moved topic to Wolf Q&A -

I would say, if the wolf is highly socialized (not tame) and comfortable with the person and action in general, it would be much like the act of walking a larger dog. Wolf Park in Battleground, IN has an annual event called Walk for Wolves, where they bring out a certain wolf and walk it around the perimeter of the park with a crowd of guests following a little ways behind. The wolf would, of course, need to be comfortable enough in this type of situation to do this.
And the tempest is raging,

it's caving-in the sky

And the tempest is raging,

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Re: How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

Post by DaniBeez » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:00 pm

Going along the line of Isela's response, the big difference from walking a similar-sized dog would be in the wolf's behaviour. A wolf would act more unpredictably in an urban setting than a domestic dog. But experienced handlers and conditioned wolves like the one Isela mentioned make it possible.

I know this clip was posted before to the forum, but I could not for the life of me find the post. So here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8WMtHoGi60. It is a video that shows what can go wrong with a leashed wolf. In it, a handler is walking a captive wolf on leash around a zoo. When the handler was looking the other way (bad), the wolf snagged a child passing by. Even though the shot is kind of far away, you can tell that the wolf didn't give much body language clues before striking like a typical pet dog might do, other than staring at the child.

This next bit is a personal anecdote: I had the opportunity to pet a man's "wolf-dogs" once while he was waiting with them outside a store. I couldn't verify if they were actually wolfdogs beyond the owner's word, but my best educated guess is low content. What was interesting about the encounter though is that I noticed these animals seemed to hold eye contact longer with me than typical pet dogs. (Maybe someone with wolfdog or wolf handling experience could verify that observation?) It was a little chilling actually, because I wasn't used to it. One of them actually jumped up and placed his forepaws unto my friend's shoulders without any of the typical dog body language hints that is was going to do so (eye contact, ears back, excited wagging tail). It was a really interesting encounter, and made me appreciate what a close encounter with a wolf might be like.
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Re: How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

Post by Isela » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:39 pm

DaniBeez wrote:Going along the line of Isela's response, the big difference from walking a similar-sized dog would be in the wolf's behaviour. A wolf would act more unpredictably in an urban setting than a domestic dog. But experienced handlers and conditioned wolves like the one Isela mentioned make it possible.

I know this clip was posted before to the forum, but I could not for the life of me find the post. So here is the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8WMtHoGi60. It is a video that shows what can go wrong with a leashed wolf. In it, a handler is walking a captive wolf on leash around a zoo. When the handler was looking the other way (bad), the wolf snagged a child passing by. Even though the shot is kind of far away, you can tell that the wolf didn't give much body language clues before striking like a typical pet dog might do, other than staring at the child.

This next bit is a personal anecdote: I had the opportunity to pet a man's "wolf-dogs" once while he was waiting with them outside a store. I couldn't verify if they were actually wolfdogs beyond the owner's word, but my best educated guess is low content. What was interesting about the encounter though is that I noticed these animals seemed to hold eye contact longer with me than typical pet dogs. (Maybe someone with wolfdog or wolf handling experience could verify that observation?) It was a little chilling actually, because I wasn't used to it. One of them actually jumped up and placed his forepaws unto my friend's shoulders without any of the typical dog body language hints that is was going to do so (eye contact, ears back, excited wagging tail). It was a really interesting encounter, and made me appreciate what a close encounter with a wolf might be like.
Very good point, DaniBeez. Wolves can be very unpredictable, unlike dogs. You would be taking a risk if you were to walk a wolf around on a leash, and would have to be extremely conscious of what the wolf is doing. Even then, they can do something that throws you completely off guard.

Going off what Dani said, it would be unwise to walk them around in places where children might be present. While I was working at the International Wolf Center this summer, there was a wolf-child moment. In the observation area, there are big windows that show the exhibit pack's enclosure, and attached to those windows is a bench that you can sit on and is wide enough to stand on (not ideal, but it happens). One day, there was a small child walking along the bench, and Grayson, one of the arctic wolf yearlings, took notice. The wolves will get curious and look in through the windows sometimes, but for the most part they aren't particularly interested. However, when Grayson saw that small child, he zeroed in on the child with an intense, focused gaze. Ears perked forward yet flattening to the side (common while stalking), eyes not once leaving the child until the child got down off the bench. Children are small enough to look like prey items to wolves, which is why walking a wolf on a leash would require an extreme amount of focus from the individual walking the wolf, and staying alert at all times in case the wolf does something unexpected.

That intense focus is a very key wolf trait. They observe.
You could say that, generally, the mentality of the average dog is equivalent to the mentality of a wolf pup. Adult wolf mentality is steps above that of the average dog. This stems from the domestication of the dog. Dogs, for the most part, rely on us for guidance and care-giving. While they still retain the instincts wolves have, those instincts are not near as strong, because they have been subdued through domestication. Wolves need those instincts because, being a wild animal, they have one goal in mind: survival.

Not just anyone can walk a wolf.
And the tempest is raging,

it's caving-in the sky

And the tempest is raging,

couldn't tame it if she tried

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Re: How would walking a wolf on a leash feel like?

Post by DaniBeez » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:59 pm

Thanks for the in-depth response Isela, it was really interesting and had cool insight :). It's probably not a coincidence then that there are a lot of videos on YouTube of big cats and bears and similar stalking children on the other side of zoo glass. And I guess I was not just imagining those wolfdogs holding gaze with us!
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