Reminder: The selected responses presented below are a reflection of the collaborative effort of Hybrid Wolf Mailing List aka. Wolfdoglist members to share opinions / information about wolf x dogs, responsible "ownership" and breeding practices. This FAQ is not a scientific or veterinary resource. Some responses have been edited for brevity.
Wolfdog FAQ - Question # 41
Is it ever acceptable to let a wolfdog run loose ?
*IN GENERAL*, wolfdogs are not reliable offlead. However, you may be a smashingly good trainer, have a lower content wolfer, or might just have "the exception to the rule".
When I lived in Colorado, the law was "you must have your animals on lead, or under voice control". Meaning, if you could call your dog off of ANYTHING (this included elk, rabbits, antelope, and other hikers and dogs), then he could be offlead. It also meant that your dog would not slip off & bother people, or harass wildlife, before you thought (or realized) to call him back.
IMHO, this is the most appropriate "leash law" I have ever dealt with. Soooo...be honest with yourself. If you have one of those rare wolfdogs (maybe low content, mixed with GSD) who truly IS reliable offlead, and you are walking somewhere relatively nonhazardous (the middle of [an uninhabited area] is good; downtown Denver is not ;) Then, sure, go for it.
If not, do yourself and your wolfdog a huge favor and stick with the lead. They sell extra-long retractable leads that are almost as good as no lead at all...
It is never acceptable to let any dog run loose. Period. Dogs that run loose get killed, hurt, maimed and are subject to impound and worse. Do yourself and others a favor and contain your animals.
Since wolfdogs are pretty strong willed, I really wouldn't recommend letting a wolfdog run loose, especially a higher content animal. Some lower content animals can be trusted to walk with their owners without a leash under certain circumstances, but even these animals should be supervised.
There are many reasons why a wolfdog should not be allowed to run loose, the least of which is that a wolfdog running loose in the neighborhood is more than likely going to be blamed for anything which happens, whether they are guilty or not. Too, people often fear large dogs and as a responsible owner, one should not allow others to feel threatened in their own yards.
Walking higher content animals off leash could result in the loss of your animal. Should a rabbit, or deer jump up or something that they are unfamiliar with frighten them, they could run off and be too afraid to come back home. While they are outside of their primary containment, they are going to be more shy and skittish around strangers. This may cause someone to think they are a wild animal and shoot them. Many types of dogs, including wolfdogs, have strong prey drive. A child running, or screaming in a high pitched voice or a small animal could trigger the prey drive in your animal and the results would be devastating.
NO,NO,NO!!!!!!!! It's totally irresponsible to let any wolfdog or domestic dog run loose. People who do, shouldn't be allowed to own an animal.
In my opinion, it is NOT in the best interest of anyone to allow or have an animal "run free" or off lead.
I know that there are dog parks and "free running" "off lead" parks and areas for this very thing. I know that many owners train the animals to some degree and trust them or have no problems with the animals running free.
The most pressing question to ask someone that does feel that this is allowable is - Who is going to suffer if there happens to be an incident or problem while your animal is "off lead "running free"? There is but one answer and that is the animal.
An animal doesn't have to "do" anything to get into trouble. Meet a person on a path that is never used and get brushed against or have contact with a wild creature and be bitten or scratched, look cross eyed at another human or just have someone think that your animal is or has implied anything close to their definition of an "attack, growl, snarl, threatening movement or posture" and the owner and animal could face problems with the law or animal control facility.
I feel that there are just too many variables that can take place. The overwhelming responsibility of the owner is for the safety of their companion. That can be done only on lead and under the eye and supervision of the owner.
If you mean allowing an animal to run loose unsupervised, such as let them out in the morning and bring them back in at night, or not at all, without an enclosure, absolutely not. This is how animals get into trouble, get lost, stolen or killed. However, when on a long hike or in an area that is "safe" from people, vehicles, etc., it might be OK to allow the animal to run loose. However, I don't consider this "loose," as the animal is supervised and usually in sight. If there is a good relationship between human and animal, it can be OK. It might take a little trust on the side of the person, though. Start with short times off lead, then extend times until comfortable. It can be very individualized.
Then, of course, there is the "game" of try to get me back into the van, or try to get the lead back on. One of the first times Ariel was off lead it took almost an hour to get her back into the van. I wasn't very happy. Not at all. Still happens, on occasion, but not as bad as that time and at least I know it is a game and she isn't trying to run away.
I personally would NOT let any of mine (low content) run loose. Too many chickens, people, etc. I live in a rural area, but from what I understand, these guys like to roam, and a 20-mile radius of roaming from home is not unheard of.
I don't want to take the chance of any of my critters getting shot or them hurting any other creatures. It's just better for me and my guys if I keep them confined to their 1/2 acre, the house, and on a leash.
I live in sheep country and if either of my two set even one foot in a sheep field at lambing time the farmer can shoot them. They don't even have to have done anything. There is one place at the coast where Storm can't escape and I can let her run there, but generally she is on a Flexi and there she stays. And that even though her recall is very good. If I were really in the middle of nowhere I would let Storm run off lead more often, as it is she has to go at my pace.
If by "Running Loose" you mean, is it OK to not have proper containment, because "dogs gotta run & fish gotta fly", or "I live in the Country and that's what the Country is for", then the answer in unequivacably & resoundingly, NO NO NO...
But if you mean ever off-leash ever, in my opinion & speaking purely from my malamutts, that depends. There's a beautiful dog beach in my town, and I do take three of mine down there, with one or two human chaperones, and let 'em run & romp. ... I have jury rigged a 100' cable & a 20' training leash, and they get that much romp, & no more, because I do not trust their recall.
There are certain places that I feel secure in allowing exactly 1 of mine to be off-leash romping. She has extraordinary recall. She is also mostly doggie. The rest of the krew just doesn't have that recall.
So, I guess to answer this question is it entirely depends on how effective your recall with your animal is. If you cannot trust your Voice Control, then do not take the chance. I guess that one of the key elements here is, Follow the Law & use Common Sense. Because we have misunderstood companions, I believe that we all have to work extra hard to make sure that our companions always show up in public as Extraordinary Canine Citizens, and not nuisances.
The only reason I would see for a wolfdog to run absolutely loose and free is if you are taking it hiking and have had the wolfdog through obedience training. Other than that no, do not let your wolf dog run loose in a residential area or any other area.
This has the potential of becomeing very dangerous to the safety of your wolfdog, neighbors and other animals especially if your wolfdog is not properly socialized.
Not only that, but you could have the worlds most wonderfully sweet wolfdog who you let run loose, but unfortunately perhaps your neighbors are scared of such a large animal. I think we as wolfdog owners need to be aware of our neighbors feelings towards wolfdogs. We need to make our neighbors feel secure in knowing our darling furries aren't running loose on the streets waiting to eat their children, because lets face it, that is exactly what is going through their minds when they see our pups. The more you can accomodate your neighbors, the easier they will be to get along with in the long run.
Even though Gabe has been through obedience, and generally comes when called, I wouldn't trust him off leash anywhere. He is somewhat skittish around people he doesn't know, and he has a very high prey drive. He will pace his containment area constantly when he sees the yearling that runs in the pasture behind my house. I wouldn't trust my Malamute girl off leash either as she is a dominant female and can be other dog male or female aggressive. So in general I would say no, do not let them run off leash for their safety and my sanity! :-)
I personally would never allow a wolfdog to run loose no matter how well trained the owner may think their animal is... there is always a risk involved and why take it?
The animal just may decide that running over to that child on the bike is a better thing to do than come back to the owner, or to take off after a smell in the air somewhere.
The animal could wind up paying for this little mistake with their lives not to mention if by accident that wolfdog is involved in any incidences. I feel always think of *possibilities* before acting upon what we would *like* to do with our wolfdogs... keeps them and us the owners safe.
If I were to ever be walking through a park and an animal I had no doubt was a wolfdog was running loose and free, I would not be too happy about this. Heck I have had too many doggie dogs come running over to attack our own, on leash... and even us... Ones animals may like every dog or wolfdog they come upon up till then and see one they finally do not like for whatever their reasons.
I personally feel any canine should be in a controlled environment at all times when out in public... even on our land here we do not allow any animals to run loose. Too many risks and chances being taken and it only takes once to loose a beloved family member.
Sky (Wolf Valley Ranch)
No! There is just too much at risk period. Come on these are not dogs! Unlike dogs if there is something "of interest" and he/she wants to explore they're gone. I don't care how well you think you have them "under control" you don't.
Tasha has done it to me more than once (and not because she is running loose I am taking her for a walk unleashed), she'll take off into the open field next to me I'll call her, whistle and she'll stop look at me and say; "yea right be back in a couple". If I keep a constant eye on her this "usually" doesn't happen. When it has happened it happens because they are opportunist they know when you are not paying attention, they know how to sneak around a brush or whatever wait till you look the other way then go have fun. Most DD you can call back but in my experience with Tasha forget it she is gone. Oh sure they come back after an hour 2 or 3, but will they come back in health? Will they come back with a phone call to follow? You can not let them out of your sight therefore running loose please ...
Letting any DD or WD run loose is just plain irresponsible!
Not just wolfdogs ! Given how often the Northern dog breeds and mixes are confused for wolfdogs, and that most wolfdogs are some combination of Nordic breed(s) and wolf...
As a reminder that even PUREBRED DOGS (particularly the Northern breeds aka. "sleddogs") should be kept leashed when outside of a proper containment enclosure, I've compiled the following resources of information:
Excerpt taken from the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. website
More about Siberian Huskies
Excerpt taken from the Siberian Husky FAQ by Stephen R. Lee of OooWoo Racing Kennel
Northern Breeds in General
Excerpt taken from Malamutes & Huskies, Similarities & Differences by Sidney Helen Sachs of Wayeh Kennels & Sleddog Rescue
Excerpt taken from Why do I want an Alaskan Malamute? by Texalmal
More about Alaskan Malamutes
Excerpt taken from So-- You Think You Want A Malamute... by Molly Moldovan & Jim Thomson of the Alaskan Malamute HELP League
* Note: it is NEVER acceptable to use chains or cable runs to confine a wolfdog except on a very temporary emergency basis inside of a fenced enclosure. Please see Wolfdog FAQ #25 "Why shouldn't I keep my wolfdog on a chain or an aerial cable run?", for more information.
From a purely personal perspective, the idea of having any of my own animals off-leash in an unfenced area is ridiculous. They would be GONE, period. Never to return, ever...
To borrow a quote from Sleddog Rescue, "Unleashed is Unloved".
I hope this information is of help to you,
See Copyright information on main FAQ listings page.
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