Vocabulary building potty training books

I attended the same ‘living with baby’ class at the hospital a few months after leaving my job that I had gone to while on maternity leave. There was a mom there with a set of fraternal twins, girl and boy. They were about a month older than Sophia who was about eleven months. Their mom mentioned how much they loved story time and that they would sit intently listening to stories. I was hopeful that Sophia would soon act the same. Then she mentioned that they had been that way for quite a while. I didn’t feel as optimistic.

Finally, about three months ago, at nineteen months, Sophia began to show interest in books beyond spreading them all over the floor. Baby BooksAt first there were two that she carried around with her everywhere, one called “Happy Baby Words” by Rodger Priddy that is in English and Spanish and another called “Helping” published by Berryland Books. The second one is supposed to come in a pack of three or four books but Sophia picked this one out at a secondhand store. It’s all of four pages and very cute at first. After several hundred readings, it begins to drag.

Days later Sophia added two more books to her carry everywhere collection. The letters “S” and “T” from the Baby Einstein box collection were not to be left out of anything. I don’t know if it’s the shape of the letters or the little animal pictures on the front that draw her to these two particular books, but I’ve shuffled them within their box and she always picked the same two books out of the bunch and it shows. Those are the stickiest and most worn two books in the box.

Two weeks ago, on July sixth, I attempted potty training her for two hours. Kurt and I had heard some special news report where the doctor said the child is ready/can start being trained when he or she starts hiding when they go potty and starts showing a preference for being dry. I was excited. I am so tired of diaper changes and having her kick me the entire time I try to change her.

I put a gate up in our downstairs, blocking the rest of the house. I read the two potty books I bought at Half Price Books weeks prior, “Once Upon a Potty” by Alona Frankel and “Sara’s Potty” by Harriet Ziefert. I showed her the potty that we’ve had sitting in the main bathroom for weeks. I asked her to sit on it, and she did. I thought, “Wow this’ll be a piece of cake.” I changed her diaper, let her run nekkid from the waist down, and set a timer for twenty minutes. I figured I’d have her sit on her potty and read the potty books to her regardless of whether she had to go or not.

She peed before the timer went off. I expected that, really I did. I cleaned it up and set the timer again. Again she peed before the timer went off, so the next time I set it for ten minutes. She wanted to eat so we went upstairs, half nekkid, and she went again before the timer. She peed on the chair and it spilled onto the hardwood floor. I moved her to a different chair, cleaned up the mess, and then she went again on the second chair. I hadn’t even reset the timer yet. I moved her back to the first chair, cleaned up the mess, and reset the timer. After she finished eating, we went back downstairs to the tiled floor where she promptly peed again this time slipping on the tile. I was done. Clearly this wasn’t working. I simply couldn’t get her to the potty on time and she had no clue what I was wanting.

After all that she dropped the letter books for the two potty books. I view this as a sign that the experience didn’t scar her for life. Unfortunately, she’s using the books to scar me. Her favorite seems to be the one that annoys the crap out of me, “Once Upon a Potty”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to read it, probably twenty times a day. It’s pure torture.

I like some of the ideas used in the book like naming some of the body parts other than the potty focus, but the names used for the private parts and elimination are irritating. I mean who the hell calls a vagina a pee-pee? And this is a book specifically for girls. I may not use the more medial terms, urinate and defecate, for elimination but I also don’t use wee-wee and poo-poo. Those are silly words. I changed the words that I read and had to tell Kurt what we will be using.

Kurt reading the potty book: …And just like you, Prudence has a body, and this body has many nice and useful parts: A head for thinking…
Kurt calling to me: What are we calling it?
Me: A VAH-GUH-EYE-NAH!
Kurt back to reading: A Vaahhh-gu-EYE-Nuh for making pee

The board book version of Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You? By Dr. Seuss has also made her list. Someone told me that animal sounds count as words, so I’m crediting this book with adding two new words to Sophia’s limited vocabulary, “Kopp” and “Biz” (Klopp and Buzz). “Kopp” is of course the sound of horse feet and “Biz” is the sound that bees make. She only uses these words when reading the book herself. She doesn’t use them on the correct pages, but they’re associated with this particular book. This brings her total number of words (including signs) to a whopping thirteen. Not very impressive.

Her current signs are: milk, more, eat, apple, and banana. Her actual spoken words consist of: daddy, hi, cheese, cat, bye, momma, and now klopp and buzz. I’m waiting for that vocabulary explosion I keep hearing about. According to an article I found in Scientific America Kurt is enabling this explosion by telling Sophia that “Friend” must stay home because he is agoraphobic, so I should be hearing an explosion of words by her second birthday…in two months.

McMurray says. But “to explain the big picture, it’s much, much simpler. … Anytime you have more difficult than easy words [the learning curve] will have this property.”

The great diaper war

In case you didn’t notice, in my apparently shocking baby squeezins diaper post, the great cloth verses disposable diaper war is over and Kurt won out. The issues I brought up in favor of cloth diapers were less diaper rash, faster potty training, and the use of Sodium polyacrylate in disposables. Kurt wanted the ease diapering that comes with disposables and he was thoroughly disgusted with the idea of washing dirty diapers in the washing machine.

The non-issues were:

Environmental – I’m not at all convinced that cloth is anymore environmentally friendly than disposables. Yes, you can use it repeatedly for multiple children but it still has to be manufactured, often using bleached cotton. Polyesters are also used in newer brands of cloth diapers to wick the wetness away from baby, and water and detergent is consumed to wash them. No matter what brand is used detergents are not as friendly to the environment and soap, but soap cannot be used on diapers as it reduces absorbency because it leaves a film that overtime can also cause odors to linger. Cloth diapers also require a cover – usually plastic.

Disposable diapers, obviously manufactured, use wood pulp from trees specifically grown for diaper purposes. So toss aside the deforestation argument. They have a plastic outer layer and collect in landfills. But landfills are changing and they aren’t all as evil as they once were.

Waste Management to tap landfill methane
Garbage hauler to spend $400 million to turn greenhouse gas into power
updated 8:26 a.m. PT, Wed., June. 27, 2007

Waste Management Inc., the nation’s largest garbage hauler and landfill operator, plans to spend roughly $400 million over the next five years building facilities at 60 landfills to convert methane gas to electricity, its most ambitious renewable energy project to date.

Financial – We are not in a financially strapped type of situation. If we were, I would not have been looking at Fuzzi Bunz and Kissaluvs as my main cloth diapering choices. While I did want to do cloth diapers, I also wanted it to be just as easy to change as disposables. For the true economic diapering, the prefold cloth diapers are the award winners. They cost about $1.50 to $2.50 depending on size and fabric type. About 36 diapers and 6 to 8 pairs of plastic pants in three sizes and you’re pretty much all set. Unfortunately, they leak on a much more regular basis than then disposable “blow out”. Depending on how I ultimately went about things my totals would have been somewhere between $750 and $950 and that doesn’t include cloth wipes, and washable dirty diaper bags. The brand of disposables that we chose would cost about $1100 over the course of two and a half years ($29.99 for a box of 234 – rounds up to thirteen cents a diaper, twelve diapers a day for two and a half years). We don’t use twelve a day and the bigger she gets the fewer she uses per day. Fewer diapers come in the box as she goes up in size though so it may even out my padded number.

The Issues I had for cloth/against disposable diapers:

Faster potty training – I don’t have any valid evidence that cloth diapers would lead to faster potty training, but because cloth doesn’t have the wetness wicking powers that the super absorbent disposable diapers do I added faster potty training to my list of benefits with the assumption that most babies wouldn’t want to sit in their own filth. I have heard of many toddlers that could really care less if their pants are wet and/or poopy and will continue happily playing until someone tells them they stink and wrestles them to the ground for a diaper change, so going cloth might simply be adding more work without any benefit in that arena. I hope that my kiddo isn’t one of those.

Diaper rash – Cloth or disposable, no matter how a baby is diapered they’re going to get diaper rash sometime during their diapered years simply because they’re in a diaper. I know this, and I have not found a single piece of credible information that can say for certain that one type of diaper will without a doubt cause fewer rashes on my baby. I was just hoping that with cloth, maybe we would have less rash problems than with disposable. Based on my scouring of the internet I’ve found that the best ways to avoid diaper rash aside from letting the little one run around nekkid (it is good to let them air out a bit, but I prefer not to clean urine and feces off the couch, floor, etc.) is to change her right after she goes. This is the problem I have because there are times that she lets out one more little fart. It’s so little it hardly justifies another change regardless of the type of diaper. The other thing is nighttime. She sleeps for four hours at a time and I’m not about to wake her up to do a diaper check every hour just to make sure it’s dry. At least in disposables it’s wicked away from her skin.

Many sites say that if cloth diapers are used that it’s best to use a cover made of a breathable material and not plastic to “let air circulate”. That’s fine, there are also waterproof pants that are made of “pul” (polyurethane laminate) that are very popular in the cloth diapering community. Seems odd to me to have a community based on the way one diapers their baby but oh well. I also think it’s funny that pul seems to be regarded as a better choice than plastic when both are waterproof and I don’t think either is a breathable material. There are also wool covers, but that seems like it would be too bulky for daytime use, and too hot for indoor summertime use.

Sodium polyacrylate – Up to this point, all issues and non-issues either come to a draw or lean a little more towards the disposable diaper. The one thing that hands down leans towards cloth is the fact that ALL disposable diapers use sodium polyacrylate for super absorbency. sodium polyacrylate is the same stuff that causes Toxic Shock Syndrome in women that wear tampons and don’t change them frequently enough. As I’ve said before, I know there is a difference between the internal use of tampons and the external use of diapers. I have not found incidents where a baby has died or become sick due to the sodium polycrylate in disposable diapers. I know it’s an unrealistic fear, but I still don’t like the idea of sodium polyacrylate in my baby’s diapers. So why are we using disposable diapers despite my fear? Number one, because I know it’s an unrealistic fear and number two, because Kurt said, “I want you to be able to spend time with your daughter instead of cleaning diapers all the time.” He really hits below the belt doesn’t he?

So we are using Costco’s Kirkland brand diapers and their wipes. We went with a store brand diaper not because it’s cheaper but because they don’t add all the dyes and perfumes. I’m really happy with their wipes too because they’re thick, made with cotton, and alcohol-free.

We did use cloth wipes for the first month because in the class we took about newborn care said not to use commercial wipes for the first month. They said that for the first month that the baby’s skin is adjusting to the new waterless environment and to simply use a damp cloth for wiping. I’ve heard that it’s good to go back to damp cloth wipes during diaper rashes as well.

A couple good links for further diaper debate reading…
Among the Earth Baby Set, Disposable Diapers Are Back, By MICHAEL SPECTER, Published: October 23, 1992.
Revisiting the Diaper Debate

The Importance of NIMS

Yesterday I had a mandatory National Incident Management System meeting. This meeting was meant to broadly explain what FEMA and Homeland Security have been doing to justify their jobs and pretend like their on the ball getting procedures all worked out trying to show that they were not to blame for Katrina. So NIMS (National Incident Management System) is what we get. When I heard this I just kept thinking about the children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, unfortunately they have nothing to do with one another…if they had I may have been able to stay more alert.

What took two hours of repetitive acronyms and 81 slides – I can sum up in one sentence. NIMS is to be the guidelines for the coordinated response to national disasters, which requires extra acronyms and 81 slides in order to tell the general public that it would be great to have a standardize language for response teams to use that is separate from their regular work jargon.

At the beginning of this lecture the woman told us that there would be a test at the end, but that we would all pass it (nudge nudge wink wink), so I didn’t pay much attention, except to notice that this was made to sound extremely well thought out and important to us all by the use of confusing acronyms, which I just feel like I just can’t mention enough.

On slide nine (I have a paper copy with me) we have:

NIMS Standard Structions
Incident Command System (ICS)
Multiagency Coordination Systems (MACS)
Public Information Systems

No acronym for this last one. I guess PIS isn’t appropriate?

Slide ten:

NIMS’ Role in Preparedness
Planning, training, and exercises (NIC)
Personal qualification and certification (NIC)
Equipment acquisition and certification (NIC)
Publication management (NIC)
Mutual aid / Emergency Management Assistance Compacts
*NIC=NIMS Integration Center

Wait wait just a minute…why wasn’t NIC listed under slide nine if it’s under NIMS? I’m all confused I thought NIMS was the integration system that was going to be used to make communication simple…why does NIMS need a separate integration center – isn’t that what FEMA is? Oh never mind I’ll just go back to sleep.

After an overview of the “information” we move on to the 25 question test, which will allow us to all become NIMS certified. The lady told us that we’ll even get our certificate mailed to us if we put down our SSN on the answer sheet. She then reminds us that this was a required class, indicating that we needed to show proof to our employer that we actually took it. One of my co-workers asked, “uuhh isn’t that what the sign in sheet was for?”

“Well yes, but you’ll want your certificate to show you completed the class.”

“But we’re taking the test and will pass that..? What is the certificate for?”

“Well if a national disaster ever happens and they want to pick people to send to help, you’ll need it to head up a team.”

My co-worker and I both left the SSN spot blank. I’m not a police officer, national guardsman, fire fighter, paramedic, nurse or doctor, and there is good reason why I didn’t choose any of those fields. I don’t want to fucking do it!! Moving on…

As the facilitator read each test question she moved around the room selecting a different person to answer each one and then giving us the correct answer if necessary. She then read #13. She said that number 13 was particularly confusing and that two answers are equally good, but only one is actually accepted. She of course wound up having to tell us which one was the more correct between the two equally correct answers. It was the same for number 21 and I believe the third one was number 23, which she said, when she took her test she obtained her correct answer from one government source while a colleague received their correct answer from a different government source. Sounds like this standardization stuff really works. I feel ready for anything now!

“Alpha roll” – How Wolf Handlers Deal with Dominance…

Since the email pen pal I mentioned in my post, Northern Breed Dogs and WolfDogs – How do you know the difference? had given me such a great resource, the contact info of a person that worked with pure wolves for 10 years and WolfDogs for 15. I decided to ask this person some burning questions:

When I trained Petie the only obedience trainer I found in the area taught using the Koehler method. It’s an extremely domineering method of training, and really went against my usual nature. I was yelled at a lot when practicing in public places for being cruel, though I was only doing what was taught in class. I had never trained a dog before, so I didn’t know of any alternatives. I do know how unpleasant it can be to have the dogs run the house, so I continued.

When Petie was four I took him to another class hoping to solve Petie’s dominance issues. I had heard of clicker training, but couldn’t find anyone who teaches it (I do better with an instructor than simply reading about things). The second class I took with Petie was supposed to be a “positive training” class. It was much gentler, but it wouldn’t be considered to a “positive reinforcement” class. We had the option of using a choke chain, prong collar, Halti or just regular caller. The first couple of weeks we would “show” the dog how to sit, lay down by moving their body and then saying the word we wanted them to associate with the action and after that if the dog didn’t respond to the command we administered “corrections”.

In the first class the instructor advised that I roll Petie onto his back on a regular basis, and when he shows aggression to roll him on his back, grab his throat (not squeezing just holding), and stare at him while growling back. In the second class the instructor told me that when Petie shows aggression to other dogs that I should stare him in the eyes until he submits, that I have him watch me eat dinner before serving him his, and that I walk through doors before him. Would you use any of these suggestions on a wolf or WolfDog? What do you do to maintain dominance over a WolfDog?

We never get into pulling contests and the wolves walk more nicely on leash than most dogs, due to the training methods we use. It’s all fun, positive, and broken down into more steps than is needed with a dog or low content wolfdog.

I have heard about the Kohler stuff – it’s nightmarish! Any wolf subjected to that would bite the heck out of the handler! *grin* And all that “alpha roll” stuff is junk! Even wolves don’t act like that. They use the least amount of force that is necessary, most of the time.

To maintain my dominance I basically give commands and expect them to be followed (this is with dogs and low content wolf dogs.) I control all the resources, and the dogs don’t get to push me into doing something, such as pawing me to get petted, get food, etc. When THEY demand it. They sit before meals, before going out gates, to get anything they want. I don’t care if I eat first or not, but I don’t reward pushy, demanding or bratty behavior. If I want them to move out of my way, I make them. (Alphas control space too, so I don’t walk around or over my dogs, I make them get out of my way.) If they are someplace I want to be, I tell them to move. I use food rewards to motivate them, and lots of praise, but I don’t reward or allow obnoxious behavior. If they jump up and down and scream for food, I wait until they are sitting quietly, even if it takes a long time.

With the wolves we start out dominant as we raise them from pups. Pups automatically submit to parents, and will to human foster parents. To prevent dominance challenges we don’t go around rolling them on their backs, staring them down, acting tough and aggressive. We do reward them for offering submissive behavior by rubbing tummies. We start this when they are tiny. If an adult wolf tries to start something with us, by staring or growling, we often change the subject. For instance, if I see a wolf growling or staring at a person, let’s call him Bob, I may pick up a stick off the ground and start playing with it, in a way to get the wolf’s attention. I make it look like I am having soooo much fun he had to come see what I am doing, and forgetting he wants to challenge Bob. If a wolf is staring at ME I may do the same thing too. Or I may put my hands in my pockets, look up at the sky and sort of pretend the wolf doesn’t exist. Most often this is plenty to diffuse the situation. If not, I rely on my other human backup to distract the wolf. (This is why we NEVER go in a wolf pen alone, even with just one wolf.) In worst case scenarios we may have to restrain a wolf while the target of their aggression leaves the pen. It’s better than a physical confrontation and very rarely ever goes this far.

We also do lots of other non aggressive things when introducing a new staff member to the wolf pack. In one case a young male wolf named Miska liked to threaten or even nip new people. But, Miska liked to eat, and he was a little intimidated by the wheel barrow we used to bring the meat in the pen with. So, we would have new staff members come in either with the wheel barrow, or even pushing it. We’d dump the meat out, and have the person hang around, staying near the wheel barrow enough to use it as a barrier or to even move it a little to keep Miska at a safe distance. Of course we had experienced staff members there to intervene if necessary. Over time, Miska got used to the new people and even started interacting nicely with them. I did something similar with a wolf named Socrates. He had begun to threaten people, including a friend of mine who helped raise him. (She was gone away to college for a while, and came back.) To get him to like her again, I had her join me when I did fun training things with Socrates. Eventually he began to associate Lara with fun stuff and now likes her a lot. (This also goes to show just because you raise a wolf doesn’t mean it will always like you. She was gone a few months.)Basically we try to come up with non-confrontational ways to stay dominant and stay safe. We never roll the wolves over “to show them who is boss.” We don’t use aggression against aggression, but we don’t submit either. We just “change the subject.” Often this requires pre-planning but works great.

We try to not let new people come in the pen wearing clothes the wolves would want to chew, or carrying things they’d want to bite or take. We may even spray some clothing with something like Bitter Apple spray, so the wolves didn’t directly associate any one person with making them stay away from certain things like shoe strings, etc. It’s all about prevention, knowing what wolves are like and not getting into dangerous situations with them. Wolves like to guard things they want, and when these things include your shoe, it can get ugly very fast. So making the shoe undesirable is wise. We also teach trading, where we trade the wolf something we have for something it has in its mouth. We teach the command “mine” where from about 3 weeks on, we use that to take the wolf’s mouth off something, like a hand, shoe, or anything we don’t want them to chew. They may never stop chewing with just the verbal command, but they learn “mine” means we are going to work on taking their mouth off something.

Every time you use a forceful method to “show dominance” you run the risk of the wolf fighting back. It only has two choices, either to submit or to fight back. It’s not good odds, and one day it’ll fight back. Even if it doesn’t right away, it’s not a very nice relationship with the animals. By using our “change the subject” method the wolf doesn’t get aggressive feedback, nor submissive, and it often is confused and stops threatening. We don’t even stare back at them if they try to engage us in a staring match. So we stay dominant without using aggression or winning any silly fight.

Some good books for working with leadership would be How to Be the Leader of Your Pack, by Patricia McConnell, and other stuff by her.

Northern Breed Dogs and WolfDogs – How do you know the difference?

A couple years ago when I was bidding on a bird cage listed on eBay. I asked the seller a question. When I replied to her answer the email went through my normal program and added my signature, which included the URL to my old site. The eBay seller was curious because of the web site name and read all about Petie, who at the time I was still calling a WolfDog. I had actually come across something that made me unsure of his wolf heritage, but I hadn’t changed the information on my site. The eBay seller sent me and email and very politely said,

“O.k., don’t shoot me :-) because I’m not attacking … just curious …I checked out your website – very impressively done!! And I REALLY REALLY appreciate the info you give on things like responsible breeding, etc. But are you SURE your dogs are “wolf”? If so, why do you think so?…”

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at how she tip toed to the subject, but I do understand since so many “WolfDog” owners seem to need their exotic trophy dog to be different in order to be special. In her email she gave her credentials, “I’m involved in malamutes, and very involved in local rescue, and so have gone through the distinction process for ‘borderline’ dogs (mal rescue, as I’m sure you understand, cannot be responsible for wolf-dog placements … but we do call in rescue groups that deal specifically with these mixes when appropriate).” She said that Petie in her opinion looked just like a Malamute and that the behaviors I described on the site also sounded all Malamute. She admitted that she “disagrees with the general keeping of wolf mixes”, but towards the end of the email said,

“…clearly are a responsible person, and are NOT one of the people looking to ‘make a buck’ of the glamour of the wolf or wolf-mix … I love to see stuff on the web like you include in your site, about responsible breeding, responsible ownership, etc.etc. … it’s right on!”

That last part made me very happy, which is why I’ve kept her emails for two years.

I sent an email back that listed the few odd things that Petie does, all of which were on the site, that still made me think that *maybe* he was part wolf. I also listed all of the professionals that deal with dogs who “could just tell” that Petie was a wolf hybrid and either gave advise or grief.

The first obedience trainer I took Petie to was the one that told me that Petie was Malamute and Wolf. He said he didn’t see an ounce of German shepherd in Petie, which is what the breeder had said he was crossed with. (Petie was four months old when he started training and six months old when finished.)

Once I took him to a dog groomer (I wanted to make him pretty for pictures). I asked if they can bathe large dogs that dislike water very much. They said yes, without saying anything about his breed I brought Petie in. The people there told me to leave, and that they cannot bathe “wolf-hybrids” due to legal reasons yada yada and if my dog should bite any of their employees yada yada yada.

When Petie was three years old I took him to a new vet she made house calls and I had told her that Petie was a Malamute. She took one look at him and told me she couldn’t give him shots because it was illegal (she apparently didn’t know her Washington state laws very well, but I didn’t want to have her giving him shots if she was afraid).

Of course got the same reactions to Chelan when I took her to an obedience class, this trainer said that Chelan is so shy and submissive that she may have a bit of wolf in her. And there was the time that the shelter I got her from was having a “Santa Paws” Christmas pet picture fund raiser. I took both dogs in and the shelter manager looked and Chelan and insisted that she was part wolf…he stopped insisting after I told him I had adopted Chelan from that very shelter and still had the adoption papers.

I received this response from the eBay seller,

“You know, it’s been interesting – so many things that people attribute to wolves (not just talking about what you’re sharing :) just a general observation …) are actually very normal malamute (& other northern breed) behaviors. I think it’s because they are still a so-called ‘primitive’ breed – much more attuned to pack status, pack language & posturing, and other ‘primitive’ instincts. My boy does what yours does on the trail – almost freaked me out the first time, he swung over to hang his rear over the CLIFF! Fully-loaded pack and all! Just so he could poop off the trail … at least I didn’t need a pooper scooper *g*I’m also surprised (and saddened) by how many people – even dog people, though clearly not familiar with northern breeds – are SURE just by “looking” at my dogs that they are at least part wolf. I’ve heard of trainers claiming that a client’s dog was a wolf when they would perform the usual malamute ‘selective hearing’ *g* or from the dog-to-dog posturing that is normal for the breed. They ARE a stubborn breed! And it’s sad to see how many trainers think they’re ‘too wild’ to train – poppycock!! They’re just SMART! so you can’t ask them to fetch 100 times over like a Border Collie or Golden Retriever :) they just get bored so you have to keep it interesting … and have a sense of humor *g* especially when you compete in the obedience ring with all the ‘serious’ obedience breeds (it’s also fun when you kick their ass *G*)

It’s so odd to me, as after you get past the superficial differences there’s quite a bit of difference … of course, when you start talking crosses, the line is blurred … and, malamutes have been used so often to portray wolves in film, I think they have become part of the public ‘image’ of a wolf. But I’ve had more people than I care to think about INSIST that my malamute is a wolf despite being told they are a registered purebred … sigh …”

Through our many emails my new email pen pal had convinced me that she clearly knew about northern breed dogs, specifically Malamutes. She mentioned a couple times that she had some training in order to tell the difference between a Malamute and possible wolf-mix for the dog rescue she dealt with, so I had to ask… So what are the differences between a WolfDog and Malamute, as far as the way they act? Is it just higher prey instinct? To my surprise she referred me to a person who had years of experience in a wolf park and had owned rescued wolf crosses, and this was the answer:

In a word, INTENSITY! Not just in prey drive, but every little aspect. It’s something that is hard to really convey with words. If you live with real, pure wolves for a long time, you will know exactly what I mean. If you spend time even watching pure wolves for a long time, you’ll see it. But if you live and work hands on day after day for years, you will never, ever confuse an intense dog and even a low content wolfdog. *grin* Even a wolfdog that really and truly is part wolf, even lower content like under half wolf, is typically far more intense than a dog. They spook easier, they are harder to contain or restrain, they have a prey drive that is more easy to stimulate and harder to raise in a way to make them safe with prey animals, they have a much more developed urge to dominate and take rank order more seriously. They need to be handled and socialized starting far earlier, far more carefully and more intensely. They aren’t good pets, are harder to housetrain, leash train, people train, etc. You have much less margin for error in handling, and if you make a mistake in how you raise or train, you may have “ruined” the animal in that area. The more wolf in the animal the more likely these things will be true.

I raised some Inuit dogs. Both had issues, some very serious (one was VERY shy and both were spooky about many things) but it was different. A shy/spooked Inuit dog didn’t panic and eat your hand off. A wolf will. I could grab or tightly hold a scared Inuit dog and they didn’t even think of biting (not that some won’t) but a wolf will.

Wolves just view the world in a far different manner than dogs do. Reading Ray Coppinger’s book was so fun for me, after spending so many years with wolves. And it makes me wish I could somehow bottle my experiences with wolves and give you a drop, so you would really “know” what I am talking about. You can have all the head knowledge, read all the books, read my writings endlessly and still not “know” it – as in “own” it as a part of you.

I hope that makes sense. I guess it would be like reading about owning a malamute but until you live day in and day out with one, you only have head knowledge. But a wolf is so much more intense than a malamute, that I giggle when I hear people say how similar they or any dog is to a wolf. Yes, just a *little* in looks, but not in intensity!

If only I could convey that to all the wannebe wolfdog people, well, I would be satisfied! ;-) All those so called high content animals that sleep on the bed, lived in the house, were good with cats, etc. It’s just not truth. Sometimes when I see photos of so called high content animals, I just can’t bring myself to say all I see is dog, as the person has such a NEED to believe it’s a wolfdog that I don’t want to be the one to burst their bubble. But the part of me that likes truth has a hard time being quiet.

Dominant Dogs – Bad Advice Given from Professionals

Petie displays many behaviors that I’ve been told are indications of a dominant dog, like leaning on me, pushing, putting his nose under my hand or arm as a gentle hint to pet him, sitting on my feet, selective hearing, stubbornness, and becoming obnoxious when he decides it’s time for him to be fed. (Some of these behaviors that are seen as a dominant dog’s defiance to be an underling are really just normal independent Malamute attitude.) Many seem to think that a dominant dog leads to an aggressive dog, but I have to disagree. I’m pretty sure it’s aggressiveness, and people that have bad doggy manors that leads to an aggressive dog. In the dog world it’s considered rude to make eye contact when you don’t know each other very well, and putting your face up close to an unfamiliar dog can be seen as a challenge. Two things that I didn’t know before reading the book “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia B McConnell are that Dogs hate hugs! And they hate being patted on the head. I haven’t had a problem with Petie trying to be the “King” of the house. I made sure that every time Petie did something I didn’t like it was corrected that instant. I was told by Petie’s first trainer, whose choice method of training was the Kohler method, to use the word “out” in a gruff voice. He said that it would sound just like the vocalizations a female wolf would make to her pups. Petie would always show submission (by rolling onto his back). I was told to place my hand on his throat, because this is what the dominant wolf does in the pack while growing. Without squeezing his throat or choking him just place my hand there firmly and make a growling sound. I did all of this making sure I didn’t get my face too close to Petie’s because he had a tendency to pee on his chin while showing submission. The trainer also said that if Petie didn’t initiate it I had to roll the dog over on his back in order to “get dominance over him”. Be “the Alpha”!

When Petie was a year old I had some problems with him not listening to me. I just went over what I had done in his obedience class when he was a puppy and he was fine again, then when he was four…more problems. When taking him for a walk he started to insist on lunging after other dogs, especially male dogs. I never let him, but there were times I had no choice because the owner of the other dog was no where around, didn’t care, or thought it was funny and didn’t do anything to stop their dog.

After a while I stopped taking him on bicycle rides, and even stopped walking him because I couldn’t count on him to be good. I even stopped taking him to places in the truck because he would lunge at other dogs while I was driving on the freeway and make my truck bounce.

I had always wanted to breed him so that I could have another Petie, but I could never find anyone with a female I thought was suitable, and at this point I was thinking, “I really don’t want another Petie!” I finally got him neutered when he was four. He calmed down SO much it was amazing. He still tried to lunge after other dogs, but he was so much calmer. I took him to another obedience class so that the both of us could relearn the rules. The second trainer had said I need to force him to stare into my eyes for the same “you gotta be the Alpha” reason the first trainer gave. He did much better, for a while…

At age five Petie did it again. His rebellions seemed to happen every November. Petie grabbed some food out of my hand. The food was meant for him, and he knew it, but I hadn’t offered it to him yet. I grabbed it out of his mouth (something I practiced a lot when he was a puppy, just to get him used to it) and he bit me! I felt I should roll him over as the first trainer had taught me. I was taught to get Petie to sit, while beside him grab the front paw furthest from myself, pull that paw towards me while pushing away the shoulder that is closest to me. This gets him on the ground lying on his side. Petie just wouldn’t submit. We had a starring contest for about twenty minutes before he finally gave up the coup.

I’m so glad that these discipline tactics didn’t “ruin” Petie, but I wish that the book, “The Other End of the Leash” had been written sooner (it was published in 2002) and that I hadn’t waited two years after it came out to finally read it. She mentions a client that demonstrated the “alpha rollover” by picking their dog up by the scruff of the neck, swung the dog into the air, and slammed it down on the back. I think the maneuver I was taught is a little nicer, and it seemed to work well on him…at first, but it became just as ineffective on Petie by the time he was about three. In the book Patricia writes,

“Well-socialized, healthy dogs don’t pin other dogs to the ground. Submissive individuals initiate that posture themselves…Forcing dogs into “submission” and screaming in their face is a great was to elicit defensive aggression.”

It really makes sense that there are only two outcomes from this behavior; one is that they’ll roll over and pee themselves (not always literally) and the second is that they’ll get angry back. It also makes sense that as a puppy and adolescent Petie didn’t stand up for himself and waited until he was more mature. Human children often do the same. I hope that now that I know better doggy manors Petie and I will have a smoother coexistence, and I hope he can forgive me for following bad advice in the past.

Petie shows a lot of dominance towards his “sister”, Chelan, especially during feeding time. I would feed him first and then her second. This didn’t work. He ate his food and took hers, buried it, and then guarded it. He was so dominate and she so submissive that even when I fed him first and kept him outside, and she would not eat…until I went to bed, and took the cat with me. Yes, she was submissive to the cat too!! Even with all that she would only take a few pieces of kibble, go somewhere else in the house, eat them, then go back and get more. it would take about an hour for her to eat and even then she usually didn’t finish her food.

I had to teach both of them to leave the other’s dish alone. For a while I served Petie his food first and had him eat outside, then served Chelan immediately after, having her eat inside. Now after a couple of years and a few food brand changes I have finally gotten Chelan to be excited about eating. I now feed them at opposite ends of the same room at the same time, and she eats with almost as much gusto as the Malamute garbage disposal “brother” of hers.

I was told by Petie’s second obedience trainer that the dogs should eat after the people are done with eating their meal. She said the dogs should watch us eat and then be fed so they feel like they’re getting my leftovers. She also said that when I go through a doorway I should force them to wait for me to go through first. This is a bunch of crap! I think making him do a few tricks and insisting that he sit or lie down before I release him to eat is enough “control over the food”, and Petie, the one that is clearly more dominant lets Chelan go through the door first all the time. Obviously this isn’t something he really cares about. If I really needed to I could have him do a sit stay before going outside. Both dogs know that when I open the back door to the fenced yard they can run right out. They are also allowed to run out the garage door; however the front door is strictly for people.

We have house rules and the rules are not to be bent. That’s my best advice for any doggy household. Just establish clear rules and make sure all the humans know and follow the rules regarding the dogs.