The Balance of Love and Discipline

By Seth Marin, Trainer for Northern California’s Wolf Hybrid Ranch

When buying a new puppy, many people have questions about how to bond with and discipline their puppies. Over the years we have gathered a great deal of experience in this matter. The one recurring theme we have noticed is that you cannot have one (love or discipline) without the other. You spoil your pet and wonder why it won’t obey even simple commands, or you only yell at your pet anytime you see it and wonder why it won’t come when you call. Both of these environments are unhealthy for a pet.

This will not be a guide to training your pet to roll over and play dead, this is a guide for new pet owners to inform them on what we have discovered, and what they can discover from their relationship with their new puppy. We are honored to share our insights from years of breeding and training at

I considered writing this in a chronological manner, but every animal has its own personality, and its own rate at which they mature.

When you first bring your puppy home, the balance will favor love. This is the time when you’re forming your bond with your new puppy. This puppy will be your best friend for better or worse. This time is fundamental to your puppy. Typically I tell a new owner that an average of a week of constant attention and love is important for their new puppy. Depending on their socialization from birth, it could be more or less than a week. We very intensively socialize our puppies from birth, and typically they form new bonds in just a few days. For those first few days, I recommend that people refrain from chastising their puppy. You want to build a trust first.

The puppy will have to reach a certain age before it understands the concept of “mine” anyway. “Mine” is a word we’ve used with our puppies to signify things that are off limits to them. Even animate things like our cats, are ours, not theirs. As they get closer to adulthood they will better understand this principle and respect it.

The concept of “No” is the same. Although we typically don’t use the word “no” with our dogs. We instead use a sound, like “ah!” with a strict tone of voice. And in some cases I will growl at my dogs if I adamantly want them to stop a behavior. But you should do what is most comfortable for you.

Discipline is important to maintain your position as the alpha in your pack. Not only will this make you safer with any dog you own, but it will also make your wolf or dog feel safer. When there is a noise out in the darkness, my wolfdogs hide behind me. When the puppy is still small, after they’re bonded to you, you should put them on their back on the ground. This will let them know absolutely that you are the alpha. It will also ensure that when they are too large to easily be physically dominated, they will still be submissive to you. Another sign of submission is their ears pulled back against their head. The importance of being the alpha in your household is that this will give your wolfdog a sense of security and stability. That is why this balance is so important, on both sides...

Last and certainly not least, Love. This is even more important than discipline. Many dogs around the country and the world each year are treated with no love. That is a tragedy. Before you consider buying any pet, you should search inward and consider if you have the time and energy to give them the love they need. I’m happy to see my dogs every time I see them, whether it’s been five days or five minutes since I last saw them. They return this love to me equally, just as they will for you. Love also extends to how you care for your animal. Make sure they have fresh, clean drinking water everyday. Make sure you give them the proper diet (Evo, Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, etc), these are examples of foods with no unhealthy fillers. Your dogs looks and attitude will be reflected by the quality of their diet. Make sure you always nestle away money for surprise veterinary needs, this is important, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

In summation, if your only reason for buying a wolfdog is to have a trophy pet to show off to your friends, DO NOT BUY ONE. If you’re looking for a loyal friend who will always give you unconditional love, then a wolfdog may be just right for you. And don’t sweat this training too much, we are always willing to help those who buy wolfdogs from us with any issues they may have. We’re just a phone call away.

For more information, visit You can reach Northern California Wolf Ranch at 530-990-2308 or P.O. Box 93, Etna, CA 96027

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