“Wild Dog” Question and Answer

Thanks to the Huffington Post for the photo

Occasionally I get a question that I think would be best answered via one of our blog posts.  Either it is truly unique, or it is a question I get fairly frequently.  Oddly enough this next question is one that almost fits both categories.

Although we don’t really hear much about this in the USA I have heard this question asked by people in other areas in the world where dogs run more as wild dogs.

Read on:

My dog came to me in April and he was about 2 or 3 months old. (I live on an island in Thailand where there are far too many dogs and no owners; it is a Muslim island where dogs and cats have been breeding out of control so we have many stray packs of dogs. My dog got lost off a pack and ended up staying with us. I never tied him, let him run free in case he found his pack, our house is in the jungle, he has never been aggressive with neighbor’s dogs or other packs of stray dogs that roam by. He actually loves to play fight and will run or be scared or try to play with a pack leader. He had many dog friends.

As he got a few months older he became afraid of people. At our house he could play with other dogs and not really see people, the back of our house has a lot of jungle and he could easily keep his distance from people. If anyone walked by our house he would always watch them from a distance but not bark and if our friends came to our house he would bark or growl to protect his/our area.

Because Muslim people cannot touch a dog it makes it difficult to get him to like people because they do not want to be near him either, never mind give him food or pet him. So I would tell him to stop, give him treats, pet him and eventually he would relax until people would start to move again and REPEAT. He would listen and obey.

Now the problem I have is that we have moved house 3 weeks ago. WHERE? To a small village that is crowded with houses and people, children, cats, chickens, dogs, motorbikes. Every house is has a perimeter of 2 meters with no walls or fences around the houses to separate them.

It is very close living conditions. When we moved I tied him for the first time and he was ok with that, he was so scared he was shaking and actually didn’t want to go anywhere, just wanted to hide.  He was quite no barking and I tied him and made a small area on the front outside of the house where he could hide a little and I spent the first 2 days with him. A few days later when we would come home from work in the start I would let him off the leash (untie him) but even in my presence he had 3 times gone to nearly bite people so now he is tied always and I take him on a leash to the toilet and walk around (luckily we are nearly the last house so it’s close to the jungle and easy to get away from people) In the nighttime when everyone sleeps I let him off the leash he has made friends already with other dogs. I wake at 5am and give him to run with me (I am either on the motorbike or cycling) to the beach and jungle for 1 hour before people wake up at 6am we return and then he is tied for the rest of the day.

Lunchtime I come home and bring him for a toilet walk 5-10 mins. I feel very sorry for him but I cannot trust him. All the dogs here run free, owner or no owner. The chickens don’t bother him or the cats or the dogs… only the people and children, which is scary and dangerous. He has been sterilized already. The 3 times he tried to attack people there was no barking or growling just a quick decision to run at them and only for I was there calling and shouting at him I think he would have bitten them. ?? When people come close I try to take his mind off it and tell him to sit, give treats.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,

V (edited)

Oddly enough this is not the first “aggressive wild dog” question I have gotten.

I even took an adult dog that was imported from Mexico and tried to train him as a Service Dog, once.  I quickly learned a few things about genetics and learned behavior when it comes to wild animals and dogs.

The first thing you need to know is that your dog is essentially wild.  This is not your average “dog” that has been domesticated.  In some ways you own a Tiger or other wild animal with big teeth.

Wild dogs learn to be aloof and stay away from people (for the most part) because it helps to keep them alive.  And, although some people feed them and they seem to tame for that person, it certainly doesn’t mean they are tame for everyone.

Dogs, especially these dogs, don’t generalize like some other dogs do “One person is good so ALL people are good”.  These dogs work on a very different set of rules.

He was young when he came to you and young puppies are very rarely overtly aggressive all the time.  But when they reach sexual maturity (even though you had him neutered GOOD FOR YOU) their behaviors often change.  They become more protective and possessive and territorial.

And when you took him out of his “normal” environment and put him in an environment full of things that terrify him, it multiplied his fear, his aggression and his negative behavior by 1,000.

Not only that, but now he is living on a tie down and has to hide and feels like he can’t get away.

Travel with Me for a Moment

You were abducted by aliens (that look nothing like you and certainly don’t speak your language).  They drop you in a jungle where there are others like you and you learn to live and get along.

Then one day one of these aliens is kind to you and feeds you and vocalizes kindly to you.

You begin to be attached to this nice alien, but you still get to come and go as you please and have your life the way you are used to it.  But you decide to stay where the love, affection and food is.

When these aliens have alien friends over, you scare them away.  Not only do you not want to “share” you also are still afraid of the species as a whole and don’t trust them… only yours!

Then one day they uproot you and take you to a place “crawling” with the things that terrify you; AND they tie you up.  You can’t get away.  No matter how scared you are, there is nothing you can do to save yourself except use your teeth.

By being tied up, you get frustrated and more and more aggressive and normally your aggression keeps these other aliens away from you; therefore rewarding your aggression.  You learn that aggression is the only way to be safe.

Now when you are off leash and an alien gets too close you feel terrified, and even though  you could get away now, you feel compelled to chase the alien and try to bite… it is how you have learned to survive.

Tie Downs

Tie downs often create aggression, even in a normally social dog.

I could take a normal dogs and chain him for a few weeks/months and you would see his behavior deteriorate.

Heck, I sometimes use tie downs to frustrate my dogs for the simple fact of learning.  But, I NEVER leave them on one.

It is frustrating and scary to feel tied up and not be able to do anything about it.

Similarly, even dogs left out all day behind chain link fences or fences they can see out of often suffer from the same behaviors.

The tie down or chain is escalating his behaviors.

Letting him Off to Run

I fear for anyone out wandering or running or working in the dark when this dog is loose.  I am afraid he is going to bite, maul or kill someone when he is free even if it is at night.

In my opinion it is not worth the risk to let him be off leash anymore.

You have changed the dynamics of his life by taking him in and bringing him with you and now you have to find a way so that you can both get a little happiness.

If He Were Mine

I would build a crate or a box that he can go into like a crate (I am pretty sure you probably don’t have crates) and I would consider keeping him in the house or in a place where no one can get to him or taunt him.

Dogs are den animals and most will take to a cool dark place pretty quickly and easily.

If it’s not in the house (I know in some countries people can’t have animals in the house) then dig out something under the porch or in some area where you can leave him where he won’t be traumatized by the sight of other people all of the time.

Then it becomes about you giving him the exercise and attention he needs.

Obviously he can still play with other dogs while he is on a leash and should be encouraged to do so since he likes other dogs.

But, he needs to be hooked up to your bike, or motorbike and allowed to run, and run, and run until he is tired.

Exercise is going to be key to his happiness and his tiredness.

Try to run him at lunch too and when you get home from work.

AND, work on obedience and give him a job to do.

You must build his confidence.

A Jungle Dog in a Den he Made

My guess is that he will NEVER love and embrace people.  However you CAN teach him that you are in control and he can tolerate them around you.

Teach him to give you eye contact, read more on teach your dog eye contact here.

And teach him the basics.

We have a wonderful puppy program with videos that will help you with training that you can access here.  Check it out, it literally has over 60 videos that you can watch at your leisure with your computer and will help you train and understand more about dogs.

Because you have accepted him into your pack, it is now up to you to make sure that he doesn’t bite or maul anyone.

It is going to be a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end and he will learn that working for you is a great job!

Got a question you want answered through my blog?  Ask it here!

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  1. Barbara in VA says:

    I completely concur with the advisor in this instance. He’s def. got a for-the-most-part an instinctively wild-mental dog and the suggestions she offered are right on. In those 3rd world countries, dogs are indeed not looked on favorably, that is why in Asian areas they are eaten like rats, etc. He’s actually to be commended for taking such a loving interest in this dog and trying his best to give it the love it deserves. Kudos to him! Good luck and God Bless.


  2. Luann says:

    Hi, What an intersting article. I feel that this dog should not be on a tie down thisis dangerous for him and will make him more aggressive in the long run. If possible a nice closed in fence with plenty of running, playing room and a den or place to hide like a dog house. I like all the sdvice that Minette has. I wish this person and dog the best.


  3. Tom says:

    Wild is wild, and you can not expect the dog to accommodate to you or your surroundings 100% of the time. With the possibility of an attack at any time, it does not make much sense to try to correct this without increasing the chances of the attacks. I’m afraid you have bitten off more than you can chew. It may be better for the dog to be free and take its own chances in the wild.


  4. karen denny says:

    thats great that you took the dog in to give him lots of love & thats what he needs a lot of love & its not good to keep him on a leash. he needs a yard with a fance that he cant jump over & a large dod house where he can go when he feels scared of someone are something. put a bowl of dry dog food in his house & lots of water & when its to hot are to cold he can go in his dog house & its good to let him no that he can go into your home for he will think he is a part of the family. & get him a few toys like a couple balls & a big stuffed animal he can have in his dog house with a warm blanket you have to give him as much of your time & a lot of love he will come around just dont scream at him are ever hit him . & beleave me all the work will be worth it you will all have a happy ending. thank you for saving a dogs life. good luck, & god bless you


  5. carol says:

    yes, some of them can be trained by a professional.

    it just will take alot of patience, committment and time.

    Think twice before you do adopt one.

    It is sad what humans have done to these animals.

    carol pierce


    KAREN DENNY Reply:



  6. Todd says:

    Great article. I have wolf-dogs and they are not like regular dogs. They train more like cats actually.. The pack mentality works on training but you have to be firm and confident. Sometimes I have to hold them down to make a point. Yes, the pack leader in the wild does not put up with aggression towards it. I generally start with a growl sound if they dont back down I will grab thier scruff and hold onto them until I get a submitt response. I fully trust my dogs and want to keep it that way. These dogs test authority until they are 2-3 years of age then they follow the leader for the most part with some challenges, but seldom. When I say challenges I don’t mean agressive, mostly it is passive.
    It is also preferable to get these pups young like 4 weeks old in order to create a bond with them. Older wolf dogs, depending on content, are difficult to bond with.
    Another thing to keep in mind is wild doesn’t mean more protective, or intimidating, it means more skidish. They don’t trust humans.
    I love my 2 wolf-dogs, but they are lots of training, frustration and hard work. somewhere between raising a child and a dog. They are also very rewarding and the hardwork, love and patience eventually shows up in thier personality.
    They are also too smart for thier own good. They are always watching you even when ignoring your commands. Yes, they open doors by wathching you open them. They are also diggers and we have BIG holes in our back yard that my 110lb dog can crawl into and hide easily.
    They are very disciplined when they jaw spar. I can put my hands in the middle of them sparring and not get Bit. They put thier mouth around my arm, but don’t leave any marks. It is somewhat scarry the first time you think you are getting bit, but they show the control they have. This is just to point out that they are very different from dogs and that is not all bad.
    Raising these wolf-dogs has really given me some unique insight on how Pack mentality really works. Unlike dogs they do not look for every oportunity to make humans happy. Understanding how they communicate is key to raising these canine companions. I say companions because they are more that than pets.


  7. Ralph Stern says:


    I have a neighbor with a sweet female Pit Bull. When you approach her to say hi, she licks and licks incessantly. How can we cure this?
    Thanks in advance….


    Minette Reply:


    I have the perfect article for you to identify your licker. 😉 I am guessing she is a submissive licker, so don’t get mad, use bitter apple if you need to, but give her something else to do: lay down, sit, go to her bed etc. to break her mindset.



  8. Helen says:

    I have a wild desert dog, a Caynaan, that was born in the desert and rescued when she was about 7 weeks old. There were 6 in her litter that got homes. Some of these pups were easier than others to manage, but some had to be put down because of their aggressive nature. My dog is wonderful with us and very funny, but she has her moments of rebellion when we have to stand firm. She is very smart, I even do agility with her, but she is skittish and protective and does not welcome visitors she doesn’t know. I know if I had her tied up outside she would live in fear every day, so I have an idea of what V is going through. My advice, like others here, is to put up a fence so this dog would feel more protected than vulnerable. Tying a dog up only feeds their fear because they cannot escape. V, I think you are wonderful for taking care of and loving this dog and asking for help. Best of luck with your furry friend!


  9. ROGAE says:



  10. Rigena says:

    I raised a wolf years ago and while I had the benefit of another mature dog to help model behavior, the most important thing to remember is that it, like this wild dog pup, is not a domesticated animal. It does not posses the same amazing ability to communicate with people the way most of our pet dogs do. That makes it so important for V to learn about pack behavior. The more the pack leader can learn to communicate control, the more at ease the pup will be.

    We know that tie downs are not the answer, and it sounds like space is limited, as far as a fenced yard is concerned which wouldn’t actually help, anyway). Running loose for exercise may sound like a good way to tire him out, but leash training and time spent following his pack leader will be much more mentally and emotionally stimulating. The more time V can spend with the dog enforcing pack rules, the better.

    It is a lot of work that is totally worth it. Good luck!


  11. Lillian says:

    I think that it is unfortunate that you have become attached to this wild dog. I fear that this is a tragedy waiting to happen! Suppose the dog gets out and attacks, God forbid, and kills a child?) In some ways you are to be commended for caring for this animal, but I think you are playing with fire and may eventually get burnt. Sorry — find another dog to give your love to. Can you really give this dog a happy and contented life? I don’t think so – it is totally out of its element, and consumed with fear, which makes it very dangerous.


  12. Frustrated says:

    have a question for you.
    We have a 18mth pure bred johnson american bulldog. Beautiful adorable sociable we love him.
    But he has a habit i hope you can offer some solution to. He likes to scratch one only one of his ears until it bleeds. Then he happily licks his paw. We have been to our vet no infections no mites. Had a biopsy done results were that it was most likely self harm as no infection or disease present. Their recomendation was an Elizabeth collar or bucket over head. I dislike this also we are not at home during the day and i beleive it is too dangerous to have an unattended dog with a bucket over head. We have tried to correct behaviour with distractions and it works for a while but never really goes away. Hope you may be able to suggest something i dont want him to have a bucket on his head. We do not believe it to be an allergy although anti itch medication helps to a small degree. He is manly an inside dog.


    Minette Reply:

    I would seek a second opinion and if he has not been anesthetized and had his ear scoped, I would suggest that next.

    There are parts of weeds and stickers that can break off and work their way down into the ear canal and toward the ear drum. If left the foreign body can cause permanent damage and deafness.

    But it is difficult to look into and assess completely if the dog is awake.

    To me it is not normal that he is only scratching one, that tells me something is probably wrong with that one.

    Allergies don’t come in ones, they are usually both ears, feet, arm pits, groin etc. I would go to a doggie dermatologist and see what they say. They specialize in skin and itchy problems and see these things day in and day out.

    Other than that you may need to try the Ecollar, or a bootie on his scratching foot (although he is likely to rip it off and we don’t want him to eat it).

    The ecollar could help his ear heal which would in turn allow him to realize he doesn’t need to scratch at it over and over… like a child picking a sore.

    And, exercise and training is good for dogs that might have OCD. Check out this article on that http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dog-ocd/


  13. QH says:

    Living in rural areas of Texas, there are packs of dogs. Most have run off or been dumped at some point, while some may have born in the wild.
    I have dealt with our semi-wild, but aggressive dogs and it isn’t fun.
    Many years ago, there was a pack that made the news and the farmers/ranchers were keeping their eyes out for them. The alpha was a VERY large and aggressive pit bull. My mom went out to water her plants, (up on a hill in the country..no neighbors etc) and the pack was in the bushes. My dog was there and wanted to protect her, but my mom locked her up and got her gun. When she went out to see if they’d run off, the pit was trying to break through the screen at my dog, then was just about to turn at my mom and she shot the dog.
    No, this isn’t what I hope for with ANY dog, but I believe that killing that lead dog…who was huge and VERY deadly, might have broken up that pack. They didn’t cause problems in our area again. They had been killing pets, sheep, goats etc.
    As for taking in an animal from ANOTHER country, I wouldn’t do it. We have THOUSANDS of dogs in the U.S. that are on “death row” in many states. Rescue the ones that are loving, and READY for homes.
    I have a friend in New York who works with Pits that are in dire need of homes, having been abandoned etc. and those she works with are NOT aggressive and horrible. I have 5 dogs myself and love them all….but would not introduce an aggressive/wild dog to my little pack. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them, me, my daughter or anyone else.

    I admire the person in the article for trying, and wish them luck…but be careful. That dog is scared and so unsure….I’d bite eventually too if I were in the situation the dog is in.

    QH in the country in Texas


  14. Amanda in Thailand says:

    I do not agree with some of this information. I have lived in Thailand for 4 years and in that time have lived in rural and city parts. All of which have street dogs. These dogs are not wild!! They are domestic dogs who have been left to fend for themselves. We now have 8 of them of our own, all of which we saved from the streets. Two of them were nearly dead when we found them. They are all brilliant dogs and no different from any other household domestic dog. We have issue with one who does not like Thai people because he was abused by them, but he has improved vastly.
    Should this dog in the article have been left as he was and just cared for and fed, I dont believe he would have ended up with these issues.
    Many people who come to SE Asia end up adopting this wonderful dogs and we have recently met a lady who has rescued 4 and another couple who has 8 also. All dogs can have issues and I hope this article does not put anyone off from helping these animals in need.


    Minette Reply:

    I agree with you Amanda, I think if he had just been fed he would have realized that he could still get away from people and he would not have become so aggressive.

    But, he was not and he was tethered which has made it significantly worse.

    This is not the fault of the person who was trying to help, as they were just trying to be kind.

    But dogs that roam free in that country or this, typically have a more wild nature and instead of their territory being a small back yard and home, it is often a few miles; which can make territorial problems worse when they begin to be confined or are moved to very populated or congested areas.

    I do hope that this family can put a fence in and bring the dog inside, give the dog structure and teach him calming and coping skills along with obedience to help him deal with his new life.


    Jackie Younghusband Reply:

    I live in Kwazulu Natal, south Africa. I have living with me four AfriCanis dogs. These are the traditional dogs of Africa, very like the dogs in Thailand. They are not’wild’ dogs. They are often abandoned by their owners who simply cannot afford to feed them. There is a lot of poverty here and very limited access to Animal shelters and welfare organizations. I have two bitches which came to me as young puppies, one of them, a walking skeleton. Then I adopted two young males about nine months old, abondoned on a main road near me. Both very thin and suffering from mange. All of them are dogs with strong personalities, highly intelligent and affectionate. Excellent watch dogs but not aggressive except when provoked. If anyone would like to know more about AfriCanis dogs, go to http://www.africanis.co.za. These dogs are not a ‘breed’ but a land race. A genitic marker for these dogs has recently been established by work in the U.S.A and her in South Africa.


    Pod Reply:

    I agree with you Amanda in Thailand. I too have Thai street dogs. I think the problem with this person who brought a Thai dog into it’s life is the problem Any dog that is tied out will become territorial of the area they are tied to – in this case, the yard – and become very aggressive. This is not down to just Thai dogs, any dogs can become aggressive when THEY ARE TIED OUT. This owner makes me very angry. Had he let the dog come into his home and then go out and play like he was prior he would have no problems with the dog. He has pretty much caused this problem and it really doesn’t matter that the dog was Thai dog. We have this issue where I live in Canada where owners will tie out their dogs. If the dogs are left there then they are aggressive and territorial due to protecting their “space” and they also eventually develop depression due to being tied up all the time and not being allowed to be a dog. This owner should not be allowed to have this dog as he has no idea how to treat dogs and how to make them be the best dogs they can be. I am disguseted with this dog owner.


  15. Stephanie says:

    If it were me… I’d move self and dog out of the entire country for safety.

    But since most of us cannot pick up and move. I’d train the dog to live indoors. Keep the dog indoors always when he is not with you.

    I think the dog has found a good home he wants to keep and is guarding it and you against people.


  16. joe says:

    dear minette i wana know how to train a dog to stay.


  17. Pamela Gentilcore says:

    I also live in a community where dogs are disliked. I was told by a professional trainer that I must take my dog (a Canaanite Shepherd) walking around so that he will simply get used to people. The more he is exposed to the things he is afraid of, the more he will get used to and, therefore, not fear these things, people, etc. Keeping him tied up is no good. Can you make a fenced in area for him? or Can you keep him in your home? Keeping him indoors would be the best.

    Hats off to you for taking this poor dog in.


    Minette Reply:

    I agree with the trainer… you just have to utilize a muzzle or know that you are in total control before risking a bite by socializing with people (who can sometimes be uncontrollable)!


  18. Sebbie says:

    You are really doing a wonderful job! Big up!!
    I have a Bitch GSD, am tying to train, it is my neighbour’s. I had before train successfully his other three dogs. But as for this one, whenever she see me, she starts shivering, afraid of me.
    I will go back to it and be a little patient, may be I can make it.
    I envy your courage, congrats.



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