Initial Reflections and Observations on Training Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs.

by Siam Crown Kennel April 24th 2012

// Siam Crown is a K9 working dog kennel specializing in the breeding and training of FCI pedigree working line Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd Dogs. We also have a training and breeding program for Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. We have been active in the working dog field for over 25 years. We train dogs in Schutzhund, IPO, KNPV, as well as security dogs, guard dogs, protection dogs, SAR dogs and police dogs. Our breeding program produces FCI pedigree puppies with strong working drives and very stable temperaments. //

Our objectives

As mentioned earlier the CSV is very strong on scent capability and has very good endurance. Given the limits of understanding of individual lines that I described earlier, we decided to institute an experimental program for training CSV's. The purpose of the program was more to learn about the nature and behavior of the breed, as well as reactions and capabilities to various forms of training approaches. In doing so we exposed the CSV's to both sports training such as IPO, scent work and detection, agility training and obedience training.

The total sample we have worked with is not large enough to be statistically significant, and hence our observations must be treated as anecdotal. The total sample within our program is 11 CSV, ranging in age from immediate post whelp to 4 years of age. This consisted of the following: One male CSV was brought in at nearly age 4, two females at approximately age 3, a female and 2 males at age 10 months, 2 males and a female at age 8 weeks, and a male and female that were born at our kennel.

Observations on Socialization and Consequent Reaction and Trainability

More than any other breed we have been exposed to, early socialization in the CSV is extremely critical. A young CSV needs to be exposed to every practical type of environment, sound, terrain, people, and other dogs that one can possibly arrange. They operate almost as if it was a checklist. With each exposure, they appear to accept the new input. Like any canine there are variations between individuals, with some exhibiting more confidence than others, but overall the critical nature and benefit of this early socialization is paramount. The CSV appears to somewhat lock personality at around 5 months of age. If not socialized well prior to this age there is what we would term a behavior reversion. By nature the pack instinct is very very strong, more so than most breeds. If not socialized there is high potential for an innate shyness to occur. This results in a very cautious dog that is not particularly open. The behavior is not aggressive, but the dog will shy away from contact with strangers, and will establish bonds with individuals only after a relatively prolonged period of contact. In short then, with proper socialization you have a friendly "dog", without it you have a shy "wolf".

Some examples of how we reached this conclusion are as follows. The two female adults in our sample were brought in at age 3, one from France and one from Hungary. Both were kennel/pack raised. The female from France had relatively little human contact; the female from Hungary had exposure to the breeder, and limited show exposure. Neither was given any formal socialization and both were raised in a pack environment. Both dogs after a period of several weeks became friendly with their handler. They would approach and play briefly, and then remain aloof until they decided to re-establish handler contact. When strangers approached the dogs would seek a safe location out of "range", they would not make an attempt to check out the stranger. If directly approached, they acted passively. Both dogs clearly prefer the company of other dogs, especially in a pack, and display discomfort at being left alone without another dog present. Except for very basic obedience such as sit and down, training is not practical. Basic obedience to the extent it was achieved was done with food reward.

The 4 year old male had some socialization and exposure to multiple people and locations, but not that broad of a range of socialization. He is confident by nature, friendly towards strangers, and slightly wary of new experiences. He reacted reasonably well to obedience and agility training. Attempts to train him in any form of protection were not very successful as he could only be provoked into a defensive mode.

Two males, one from Hungary and one from Belgium were brought in at age 10 months had already been socialized, one in a more limited environment, the other quite extensively. Both males are friendly and open, and fully approachable. Both males have passed their IPO BH certificates, and their IPO 1A tracking certificates. Both males show a limited willingness to do protection work, but it is more game based than aggression based. I will describe our training approaches later in this paper.

One female brought in at age 10 months was well socialized. She bonded very quickly and has been living in a home environment with us. Her obedience training is very good, but she is also somewhat stubborn and will do obedience work when she is interested. She is very good at scent work, and shows little interest in protection work. Her family bond with our immediate family is the strongest we have ever seen in a dog.

Two males were obtained at age 8 weeks; they are now 18 months old. One was from the Czech Republic the other from Hungary. Both were socialized extensively. At around 6 months of age the male from Hungary exhibited some tendencies towards caution and slight shyness. He is overall open and friendly. He was trained in IPO obedience and passed his BH certificate. The male from the Czech Republic exhibits more confidence; he has also passed his BH certificate, but shows promise for sports protection training, and is very good at tracking. He exhibits reasonably good curiosity towards new experiences and new people.

One female was obtained at 8 weeks of age from Lithuania; she was extensively socialized initially by the breeder and in both our home environment and in the kennel. She is now 6 months old. She shows interest in obedience and agility training, no formal attempts have been made in protection training, but she enjoys play biting with tugs. It is too early in the cycle to make observations.

The male and female born in our kennel are now nearly 9 months old. Both were extensively socialized. It is worthwhile to note that they are the offspring of the 3 year old shy female from France. Both dogs are confident and stable. They approach strangers readily to say hello and play. Both dogs have showed good capability in obedience and agility training, but display little aptitude or interest in protection work.

All of the wolfdogs demonstrate natural capabilities in scent work. One must differentiate the term scent work, from sports tracking. By nature the wolfdogs use a combination of air and ground scenting. When training for sports it takes more time than with a mainstream working dog to teach them to ground scent only. For practical deployment in SAR work, the wolfdog shows very good promise.