Puppy raising

Wh handraising of wolves and dogs?

Since wolves are inherently very shy, you rarely will catch a sight of them in the wild.

Only in accustoming the animals early  by close social interactions to humans, they are able to develop a relationship without fear.  Also other wolf-experts reached the result, that pups - when raised by their mother - develop dread against humans within their first 4 weeks, even if the mother was a tame wolf and the raising was close to man. As you see a big difference to dog pups!

It's essential for an animal living in a wildpark, that humans are no stressing factors. For they are used to our wolves, accept watching visitors, shouting children and barking dogs. And even the annual fireworks in the neighbouring village on New Years Eve do not upset them. They know that the happenings all around are not threatening.

In addition we offer a lot of diversion for our animals. Due to their confidence in us and trusting the visitors we are able to provide a large range for them: walks to hunt mices and explore the park at their whim as well as visitors attending their enclosures, asking for stroking - but only if dogs and wolves are just in the mood for it!

The animals collaborate in the scientific test, seeming to have a lot of fun with it. We never would have any possibility to force them against their will. Their trainers are their psychologigal parents. Since they know them from their very early age they trust in them. Only a relaxed animal is able to concentrate when working. And only the work free from fear will provide valid scientific results. Fear paralyzes intellectual performance as known in humans, too.

Even veterinary examniations can be executed without anaesthesia, particularly as the wolves and dogs got used to certain female veterinarian.

Of course no one of the above reasons would make it necessary to raise dogs by hand. Yet it is important for our research to treat our dogs and wolves as identic as possible for we want to compare THEM and NOT apple and oranges.And therefore our dogs are also hand-raised. By the way we thus saved the life of the concerned mongrels.

Why starting with the 10th day of life?

To obtain a basic trust in man the puppies must be taken in charge by humans before opening the eyes, i.e. approximately 10 days after their birth. Only then they will accept man as substitute for their mother. Being separated from their mother later, they will suffer from stress in the near of  man and the collaborations between wolf and man would not work. Loosing a couple of puppies is a natural process to the mother-wolf, which is experienced by her in the wild again and again. We never take more than two out of a litter of puppies usually leaving some puppies with their mother.

Wherefrom do our animals come?

Wolves

We receive our wolve puppies from zoos, wildparks or other institutions. Their parents know nothing more than a life in enclosures. Even if the puppies would not have come uo to us, they never would have lived in the wild.

Our North American timberwolves originate from ancestors all over the latitude of the continent. Most of our animals we picked up directly from wolfparks over there. Thus we minimize the probability to get in-breeded animals with their typical predisposition for diseases.

We need many not related animals for our investigated population. For the aim of research is to compare wolves and dogs in general and not just one family of wolves with one familiy of dogs. Like human families there is a similar genetic base in dog- and wolvefamilies and perhaps certain traditions are passed on between the generations. Meanwhile our experiences with most different personalities of our wolves and dogs, their learning- and working-receptivity, etc. confirm our decision of working with many unrelated animals to make universal statements about wolf and dog.

How do the wolves come to  Austria?

Bringing animals to Austria always means a lot of efforts. At least one of our hand-raising members flies over there and takes the animals by car to the next airport, wherefrom we can use Austrian Airlines to Vienna. It's allowed only with this airline to take the wolfbabies into the cabin - a highly important demand, because the babies must be fed every two hours.

Every time this journey is a again great adventure. 2009 a team around Barbara Puskas joined us by order of the ORF – making a fascinating documation of it: „Mit Wölfen unter einer Decke“ [link].

Dogs

Our dogs derive from Hungarian animalshelters. We always ensure to take animals, who lost their mother or the conditions for their survival in the animalshelter are very poor for other reasons.

The animals have to stay for two months in Hungary in quarantine. Hand-raising usually starts in a small house in Budapest. Reason for this is to avoid infections. Since we do not know a lot about parents and the past of the puppies and they are rarely vaccinated we must try to exclude each risk. The raisers from the WSC stay with the little ones around the clock, feed them and play with them as it is done with the wolfpuppies.

Despite highly competent and overall care by veterinarians we loose puppies in this early stage of raising. We never would have calulated on an emotional and financial more extensive raising of dog-puppies than the raising of wolf-puppies.

Where are the animals housed?

Before the arrival of the little ones we prepare the puppy enclosure and the appendent building accordingly. This concerns an about 3.000 m² large enclosure in the midlle. This enclosure is for the animals to frolic around and to play. It can be divided by a continuous fence, thus providing different options as necessary for us in the raising:

  • Separation of puppies
  • Contact through the fence with adult wolves
  • Separate „puppy-tours

The appendent building fulfills several functions:

  • Retreat for the puppies („nursery“) and common room with their raisers
  • Heated sleepingroom
  • Kitchen for the preparation of the puppy milk
  • Sanitary facilities for the collaborators

The sleepingroom offers place for two mattresses, whereon the raisers (and most often all of the puppies) can sleep more or less comfortable and mostly on top of each other. The room can be entered besides through the door through zwo dog flaps.

Howis the puppy raising managed?

The puppy raisers are a team of 10-10 scientific collaborators. They take care of the puppies around the clock. They sleep beside them, feed them regularly, play with them and keep their "nursery" clan. They keep the minutes and start the first, playful training of "sit" and "down". Thus they become intimate caregiver. Later the adult wolves show a strong bonding especially to the persons, who were involved in the raising and encounter them with jpy and confidence. But they can also generalize very well concerning the tolerance towards new persons, since they are used to a number of raisers and not only to a single person.

The private dogs of the raisers - Bolita, Guinnes, Oskar, Todor and some others - also help in the raising. This serves the imparting of social behaviour and shows the wolves the possibility of a friendly and cooperative interaction with man. Other than we humans the dogs are quite dominant to the young animals - and  besides the educating effect the puppies thus learn to respect them. Our team dogs can run rings around the wolves, what hardly is done by us humans. When the young wolves are grown up, the dogs still can be together with them and thus assist in scientific tests. This would not be able with strange dogs.

Uniting the puppies with the adult wolves

The adult animals visit one or several puppies for a limited time at regular intervals in the puppy enclosure. Thereby we can detect sympathies and consider in advance, how the new arrivals will be distributed to the already existing packs. These meetins take place in the beginning only for short time periods and become mor frequent and longer the older the puppies are.

How long does the puppy raising take?

During the first 5 months the puppies form a collective pack. They visibly enjoy living together with their contemporaries. But from the beginning the young animals get used to the adult conspecifics by the "introductions". At the age of 5 months they are ready, for now they become "yobs" and can assert themselves in the packs of the "bigs". These are mostly very tolerant till keen to the adolescent conspecfics. It would be difficult to unit and to integrate adult wolves.