View Full Version : Dogs in wolf areas?

May 28, 2012, 10:49 AM
Last year I went bird hunting in northern Idaho. A hunting buddy of mine had a well trained dog (I am not sure of the breed... I am not a dog guy) that would follow his hand signals. The dog did very well in the past when hunting pheasants.

Any way last year we where hunting ducks in some of the wet land areas in northern Idaho when my buddy dog starts to pee all over its self. It then starts whimpering and will not shut up. We finally locked it up in the truck. We never saw any thing so that afternoon we packed it up and went to a small back woods style bar and grill.

After talking to one of the locals we mention our dog situation and he says that we where likely in wolf territory. He said that dogs start acting really odd when in wolf territory especially if they are not taken there often. He told a story about how dogs will go after grizzly bears with out a second though but will hide at the first sign of a wolf.

Is this true? Do wolves scare the P*$$ out of dogs?

May 28, 2012, 11:20 AM
They will kill a dog. Wolves view dogs (and coyotes) as competitors. They are territorial and must view that dog as a challege.

Interestingly, it's not just wolves that will do that. I have known of coyotes attacking small statured hunting dogs here in Florida.

Deja vu
May 28, 2012, 11:43 AM
I have first hand seen big dogs cower in wolf areas. Dogs that hunt by smell (most of them) seem to have the hardest time. Dogs that hunt with there eyes (such as Irish wolf hounds) tend to do a lot better.

One other thing that helps is dogs are social animals they are much less skittish when there is a few of them rather than just 1.

as far as the bear and wolf story... I have heard that too but I have no idea how true it is. I do know that my uncles two rottweilers do not like to come camping with use because it is on the edge of wolf territory. My father has a Wolfhound mix that does great and when the lady folk come hunting with us we leave the wolfhound with them at camp for company and protection while we are out (along with a some fire arms).

I think dogs know that wolves are higher on the food chain.

May 29, 2012, 05:14 PM
It makes me wonder what it is about wolves that bother dogs more than other animals.

May 29, 2012, 05:21 PM
Competition. They also will kill coyotes on site.

May 29, 2012, 05:48 PM
Competition. They also will kill coyotes on site.

Do the dogs know this? That dog is really well trained and it was freaking out with out some much as seeing a wolf. It was like the dog was possessed.

May 31, 2012, 02:20 PM
Dogs that hunt with there eyes (such as Irish wolf hounds) tend to do a lot better.

Wolf hounds were bred for going after wolves, so it makes sense that they wouldn't freak out as much as other dogs.

Competition. They also will kill coyotes on site.

Do the dogs know this? That dog is really well trained and it was freaking out with out some much as seeing a wolf. It was like the dog was possessed.

Yes They may have no first hand experience with wolves, but they know instinctually to be afraid. A dog can be trained to ignore a lot of outside influences when it is being given commands, but instincts can still take over, especially in a situation where the dog is not experienced at ignoring the presence of other predators.

May 31, 2012, 04:02 PM
Go to Montana . There mountain lions have been killing wolves !!:D

May 31, 2012, 04:11 PM
Wait. Old Yeller was not afraid of that wolf.

I don't go for that knowledge in the DNA that the wolf is the superior ones on the food chain. I expect there are plenty of dogs that would face down a wolf.

I know dogs will acquire fears through experience. Look at a dog that survives a shooting. Thunderstorms become quite a terror for them, even for the undisputed alpha dog.

I find it unlikely an adult English Mastiff or similar breeds fear much of anything. They stood up to lions and bears. They may not be smart enough to fear wolves.

If the dog fears something out there, there are other aggressive critters from which to choose. Mountain lions, some bobcats, bears, wolverines and moose are not the most friendly. An event that was not witnessed by the owner can leave a lasting impression.

Still, I have seen dogs that will just not show fear or back down.

May 31, 2012, 05:49 PM
Several years ago I was hunting an area of blow-downs for late season grouse with a large male GWP. We had hunted this area several times before with good success. A tornado had taken a good swipe thru this section of woods a few years earlier and between the cover of the blow-downs and the new poplar growth, it was grouse heaven. It also attracted deer in late winter. We had no sooner got started when all of a sudden the dog comes running back to my side and sits down......shaking. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get him to go back and hunt. I could tell something wasn't right. This dog lived to hunt and had never before refused to "go find". Going ahead I see two sets of tracks in the snow. They had the stride of a deer but with bigger feet. The dog did not want to cross those tracks. It wasn't until I determined they were wolf tracks that I put two and two together. The minute we got a distance away, the dog was his old self and started to hunt again. But every so often he would come back to my side and whine. Yep, sure enough, the wolf tracks were there too. Seems the pair of wolves was hunting the same blow-downs. From then on, till the day that dog died, you could tell whenever he crossed wolf scent, even when there were no tracks to see. I never saw that kind of reaction to anything else. He had never had any experience or contact with wolves other than scent and tracks......but he knew it was nuttin' good.

May 31, 2012, 06:32 PM
Evolutionary shame?

I imagine it's just a scent thing. Wolves have got to put out far more "this is my house" pheromones than dogs. That combined with the "dog, but not quite a dog" scent probably combines into the olfactory equivalent of a boogie man for dogs.
Some breeds - wolf hounds, borzois, mastiffs, etc - have had the fear bread out of them, but the average hunting dog is going to get pretty freaked out.
On an interesting corollary, I was at a dog show several years back and saw a very highly groomed borzoi on his way to the ring go completely nuts out of the blue and try to tear his way into a kennel inhabited by a wolf mix. The handler managed to pull him off, but it's not something I'll forget. Dogs have a long genetic memory.

June 1, 2012, 01:58 AM
Scottie I have a mastiff type dog and he mos def is to stupid to be afraid, he plays with bulls.

But size isn't everything, not even aggressivness or dominance. I have been to a few temprament tests for dogs concerning bears. If you would pick your dog based on who looks the toughest on the parking lot and barks the loudest against the other dogs you might not acctually pick the one who,d stare down a bear. Some real alpha dogs loss themselves when they come face to face with a bear, even id there is a fence between them

The breed I see with the most dogs that pass %-wise is the jagdterrier

June 1, 2012, 08:38 AM
I am happy to be able to report the dog still hunts just not in northern Idaho. This dog is extremely afraid of wolves.

I guess it would be like being a human hunting in Africa in the 1700s. The sights of a Lion, elephant or a cape buffalo may be scary but seeing a group of human cannibals would be by far the more feared sight... may be I am reading too much in to this.

June 1, 2012, 10:17 AM
I've trained upland game bird dogs for people who hunt grouse in Northern WI. That there is wolf country up there and after placing a few calls out to these former clients asking if their dogs had any adverse reactions to being in wolf territory the resounding answer was no.

The dogs have hunted in wolf territory and have even come across wolf tracks, scat and presumably areas with urine markings. None of them (6 that I called) reacted negatively at all. They simply continued on as they were trained and commanded to do, quarter, flush and retrieve.

There was one dog that got slightly nervous going into some deeper cover to find some grouse to flush but the owner simply issued the "Hunt!" command again and the dog pushed on. There were however no signs of a wolf in the area so it can't be said that the dog's nervousness was due to that.

These dogs are NOT pointers though, they are labs and flushing hunters. As such they've been trained to work close to the hunter - typically within 15 to 20 yards of the hunter/owner/handler. Perhaps pointers (which can roam long distances away from the hunter and even out of sight) are more susceptible to being scared by wolves' presence because of the fact they do not remain in close proximity to their people? After all dogs came from wolves and wolves ARE pack animals. A lone wolf is prone to be nervous and afraid of others if he's far from his pack. The same might be said of dogs too.

Deja vu
June 1, 2012, 11:36 AM
The Irish wolf hound mix that goes camping with us has never showed any sign of fear even when we saw a pair of wolves. Of course his people where right there.

I think its like people. Some people are afraid of spiders and snakes and some are afraid of heights. I believe that there are dogs that are afraid of people and some that are afraid of other dogs and some that are afraid of wolves.

I don't think there is a dog out there that could take on a pair of wolves by its self. While there are dogs that are a bit bigger than wolves, the wolves typically work very well together. Wolves regularly take elk here in Idaho and if you have ever seen an elk up close they are much bigger than even mule deer. Granted they usually do not go after the big trophy bulls but if that was all they could find they are more than capable of taking those bulls (in my opinion).

June 1, 2012, 12:01 PM
Hansam - good insight on the influence of pack mentality. I would also add that a dog of any breed can be trained to ignore just about anything, but when they are taken out of their element and exposed to things they have not been trained to ignore, they are more likely to have issues. Additional training in the presence of wolf scent might help them to be able to maintain their composure better.

American Made
June 10, 2012, 11:56 AM
I know Karelian Bear-Dogs, norwegian elkhounds, Catahoulas, etc will defend their owners against most everything

I don't know if they'd survive wolf packs? But..does anything? I read that someone was out hound hunting and the wolf pack killed all his dogs. The last dog that was alive turned around and defended her owner and was killed herself. I don't know if the wolves went after him or she just stood her ground so he could get to his truck. Long story short - The wolves killed his whole pack of dogs.