On this episode of Wolfdog Radio we’re going to talk about training Wolves and Wolfdogs off-lead. Joining us we have Lynn Andrade, Tammy Wald, and Richard Vickers who will share their techniques, experiences, and tribulations while working with these animals off-lead.
Off-lead work is not for all animals, nor is it for all owners. It is our job as responsible pet owners to protect our animals and use the utmost caution. There are certain steps you can take to safety initiate this type of training but it is essential we take the proper precautions to ensure we are not putting our beloved animals at risk. “No matter how well you have trained your animal, there are always elements that are beyond your control.” Please be safe.
Lynn Andrade holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with one year of credit hours toward his MBA. As his fifth year at University approached Lynn was drafted to serve in the military during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential term. Instead, he chose to enlist in the National Guard where he served six years and during this time concurrently began his career in the Hi-Tech industry. In 1980, 10 years after graduation, he founded his own company and continued to work in the Hi-Tech field throughout the remainder of his career; lastly at a Dot-Comspinout of Intel. He says, “I do not remember a life without canines”. Lynn had Black Labs & Goldens for much of his adult life, who were extremely well trained both on-leash & off leash in retrieving and hunting skills. Although they never went hunting, as Lynn does not care for hunting, he does love being in nature with the animals. Additionally he used to take his Black Lab, “Nuppy”, with him on business trips to accounts in forest cities.
Lynn had done a lot with dogs and yearned to know the prototype dog, the way God and nature made it, the wolf. An animal unchanged by the meddling of humans. On a sudden business trip toDenver there was a sign beside the road in the middle of nowhere outside of St John’s, AZ. The sign said, “wolf-hybrid pups for sale”. He had to check it out. There he found a little 5 week old, soon to be first wolfdog. The lady selling the pups had a write up on wolf-hybrids that Lynn was required to read and sleep on the decisions before being allowed to bring Sira home. He spent that evening in a hotel room in a town a ways off and returned the next morning with cash in hand. Lynn named the puppy “Sira”, for Sirius, the Dog (or Wolf) Star. Sira was 75% “on paper”, wolf / husky. Lynn’s brother’s wife got him a video of “Sirius Puppy Training” as a gift to celebrate his new wonder girl. And his eyes were opened!! He had used traditional “military” style training on all of his previous animals prior to this… It worked BUT never seemed right, for reasons he did not understand.
“After learning Positive Reinforcement Training, I fervently wished I could apologize to my old animals and train them over again.”
Sira was a super but complex girl. She was an incredibly intelligent animal. She would take complex instructions and execute them perfectly. You could tell her, “Sira, go in the bedroom, find X object, bring it back to this room and put it in Y location”. That later came in very well for wrangling his next animal Hammy. Overthefollowingyear he researched extensively into pure wolves and ultra high-content wolfdogs. He settled on 2 choices. His preference was for a Davidson animal which after much negotiation, he got, and named him “Amadeus Wolf”, better known as Hammy. Hammy was the inverse of Sira in that he was a model puppy but a handful after turning a year old. Without Sirius Training, Lynn attests that he doubts he could have well trained either of them. Like the dogs before them, they could do about 20 commands, voice or signal. Lynn was the founder of the “Sirius Training List” with the intent to share all of the research and learning he had done to do justice for Sira to meet her special needs and give her a good life. Later, he had Isis, who was the daughter of Hammy and Tala Nata. On paper Isis was 99.9999999% triple F1. Lynn also dealt with and helped train several other animals that were not owned by him.
Lynn’s goal is to share the knowledge he has garnered to enable animals to have the best possible and joyful lives with their physical and psychological needs well met. “They are not pets but rather companions, on an equal footing.”
Tammy Wald was born and raised in Southern California. 10 years ago she and her husband bought a 100+ acre ranch in central Texas and then made the culture shocking move from Southern California to Texas. Once in Texas, Tammy was soon interviewed & hired to be a receptionist at a two doctor Veterinary Clinic. Within two months she was promoted to a vet technician to help the doctors in the rooms with the animals and also worked as their office manager. Tammy says she ‘can’t remember a time when she didn’t have all types of animals around’. From early on she remembers wanting to be a veterinarian or a veterinary technician, however Tammy’s life took her down a different path than she had originally had planned. One of her friends introduced her to a rodeo type sport called “team penning”. This was the start of another life long passion, which eventually brought her and her husband together and launched them into their journey with wolfdogs.
While at a team penning event in Arizona one of their friends had a litter of low content Wolfdogs. “Wyzer” was the first puppy she ever picked out and purchased because her family had always taught her to rescue animals or adopt pets from the humane society instead. Wyzer spent a lot of time on the road traveling to team pennings around the country. After losing Wyzer at the tender age of 5 to a inoperable tumor on his heart, this lead her to start looking for another Wolfdog. After many disappointing searches for another animal, Tammy ran across Sky Phoenix’s website and immediately contacted her to ask some questions about her puppies. Even though Sky knew right away she was not experienced with higher content Wolfdogs she could tell Tammy had a certain determination about her, to qualify her as a potential wolfdog parent.
Tammy and her husband flew up to Sky’s place and brought home beautiful little “Moksha” in 2009. She quickly discovered the differences between Wyzer & Moksha. Tammy never believed in or used an e-collar as a training method on Wyzer but wished she had looking back. Wyzer, even though he was only a low content Wolfdog he couldn’t be off leash around any of the other animal; he would chase horses, cattle, cats, other dogs- it didn’t matter what it was… Even deer and coyotes also! He gave Tammy more than one good scare thinking he wasn’t going to make it back. There is nothing worse than the feeling of not knowing what happened to your pet! Tammy trained Moksha with the e-collar at five months of age for recall purposes at the suggestion of Sky and Georgina De Caigny from Yamnuska Wolfdog rescue sanctuary in Canada. Although Tammy was very hesitant to use an eCollar, to say the least, looking back four and a half years later it’s been a very positive tool, and, in turn, has given Moksha so much freedom he could have never experience otherwise. He’s very rarely on leash when he’s on their property. He has full run of their property because he doesn’t chase the horses, cattle, chickens, cats, or other dogs!
Before she ever used the eCollar on Moksha, Tammy put the collar on her bare thigh and shocked herself with all the settings so she knew what the intensity of each settings felt like first-hand. Without knowing what it feels like yourself how can you judge what’s appropriate to use on them? By using the collar for recall purposes only and not discipline Tammy believes you decrease the risk of confusing the animals by what you want or becoming confused and therefore will start ignoring the collar. Tammy believes it is imperative to understand that an eCollar is only going to work if used it properly!!
Richard Vickers is a 3rd generation canine trainer and handler. His family traces it’s canine professional and specialized roots back 100 years to his grandfather who bred and trained specialized hunting dogs. In 1978, when he was just 6 years old his parents opened the business known as Dark Forest Kennels in a secluded part of a small town in Southwestern Virginia. At that time, Dark Forest Kennels bred, raised, and trained German Shepherd Dogs as well as provided boarding services and training services to the public. Richard grew up and spent most of his life working in the family business and was handling and training canines of various breeds by the age of 10. From his mid teens until now, Wolfdogs have been a major part of his life and integrated into the family business.