|If your wolfer is still tiny (2-4 weeks) you'll want to start with puppy formula. There are a few pre-made types on the market, or you can make your own (recommended ;) Here is a really good recipe for puppy formula:
1- can goat's milk
1- can's worth pedialyte (you can also use gatorade or water)
2- 2.5oz jars baby-food meat (remember, no onion powder*!)
1- raw egg yolk
1- Tbsp Karo syrup (white)
6- Tbsp yogurt (unflavoured or vanilla)
1- tsp Canine Red Cell (from farm store; or, baby vitamins)
1- tsp (or 1- 7g envelope) Knox gelatin dissolved in hot water
|Keep it in the fridge, and warm only what you plan to feed. (for 2 week pups, figure ~2 oz every 4 hours, work your way up to 3 oz for 3 week pups...then you can start increasing the gap to every 6 hours.) Don't overfeed, or the formula can spoil in their digestive system, and the bacteria can kill them. If they get 'the runs' alot,. you are probably over-feeding. It is a good idea to warm the bottle in a pot of hot water on the stove...some folks do use the microwave; others say this will kill some of the nutrition in the formula. I always figured, why risk it? When bottle feeding, hold the pup in your arms or your lap (but in a natural dog position, *not* upside-down like a human baby! She can choke). Let her 'beg' for the bottle for a minute, and seek it out herself...then, offer her the nipple. Don't just stuff the nipple in her mouth ;) If she still won't take it, try dipping your fingers in the formula, and letting her nurse off your fingers first. Then, rub your fingers on the nipple, leave them there to lure her to it, and slide them back slowly as her mouth gets hold of the milky nipple. She'll probably get some milk from it this time, and catch on quickly. Talk to her, stroke her, hold gentle eye contact while she nurses...after all, the reason you wanted to do this was for the bonding, right? I know it's 4 a.m., but she won't be a precious little grub for long ;) Make the most of it.
She will let you know when she's ready to be weaned off onto solid foods...this is usually around 5 or 6 weeks, but varies from pup to pup. As soon as she has teeth (3-4 weeks), you can start offering solid foods--if you are planning a raw foods diet, now is a good time for little bits of raw chicken, steak, and organ meats...along with cottage cheese and mooshed up canned veggies. By 4 to 6 weeks, many pups are able to chew raw chicken necks and backs, frozen ground turkey, etc. Let your pup set the pace for her progression onto different foods. One thing to be careful of: don't start right out with chicken legs or other weight-bearing bones. Pups can choke on these, and should begin with necks or backs until they learn how to eat raw bones. NEVER feed cooked bones! Also, don't make your tiny pup compete with the older dogs for meat--she could choke playing "keep-away", or be bitten by a food-aggressive adult. (Most adult wolves will let pups take food from them, and will even regurgitate things they've eaten if the pup "asks" for it by licking their muzzle...however, many *dogs* & lower content wolfdogs have lost the knowledge of how to properly treat pups, and will bite a pup over a valuable object, or even in competion for the humans' affections.Wolf pups can't comprehend this, and will try again and again for the "proper" wolf response from the adults. Know your animals, and how they react to puppies--some dogs/wolfdogs simply cannot be trusted with young'uns.)
If you have decided to go with kibble, you can transition to pouring her formula over the kibble she will be weaned onto, letting it soak until the kibble softens, and feeding that every 4 to 6 hours. You may want to still offer a bottle at alternate feedings, for a little while. Canned food is another option, for young pups...again, you'll probably want to alternate the dogfood meals and the bottle feedings for a bit, until you're sure she no longer needs to be on formula. (Believe me, if she still wants the bottle, she will let you know ;) You are treated as the Giant Human Nipple, and she'll attach herself anywhere & everywhere on you until that bottle shows up!)
One note on solid foods: even though the bottle is your best avenue for bonding, solid foods can also be fed in ways that promote a good relationship. Plopping the dish of food down and leaving is the worst possible scenario. You want your dog used to having people's hands in her food, from Day One. Hand feeding of solid food is a fantastic way to start your pup off on the right foot, prevent any food aggression problems before they start, build her trust in you, and remind her of your role as leader and provider on a daily basis. First, ask the pup to "sit". (If you've not yet taught this command, it is an easy and important one: stand facing the pup, hold the food above her head, and slowly extend your arm to move the food towards her tail--in order to keep the food in sight and still keep her balance, she has to sit ;) Say "yes! sit" the instant her rump touches the ground. Pups can learn this command as early as 4 weeks.) Reward with a piece of food. ~Side note: many wolfdogs seem more attuned to hand signals than voice commands. You might want to create a hand signal for "sit", since you'll be using it often...such as holding your hand above the dog and pointing downwards. Even if only part of her dinner is fed this way, it'll make a big difference. If she is grabby/bites your hand, try feeding her off a metal fork for awhile to teach her to take gently. Some dogs need a verbal reminder...I had one GSD who needed to be told "gentle" before she was given food, or she would chomp down like a gator. ;) Hand-feeding soaked kibble is a messier undertaking, but is still worth the effort, in my opinion. Even if you are unable or unwilling to hand feed, try to be sure the pup is fed in the presence of the family...a pup who eats in isolation by default, may grow into an adult who bites over food and *must* eat in isolation for safety's sake...and there's no sense in setting a pup up to be food aggressive. The mealtime presence of other dogs of similar size is beneficial as well, assuming the *other* dogs are not already defensive of their food.
Kibble vs. raw foods: there is much information on the pros and cons of a raw foods (or BARF) diet online, and I'm not going to rehash the subject. As with all things dog, study both sides and come to your own educated opinion. Personally, I am in favour of the proven results and nutritional benefits of the raw foods diet, for domestic dogs as well as wolf crosses...and *I know what's really in kibble*, which naturally affects my opinion. But, raw can be messier, more time consuming, and perhaps slightly more expensive (depending on the availability of reasonably priced meat in your area--try a search at yp.yahoo.com under poultry or meat processing, many butchers will give you a great deal), and it doesn't usually come pre-packaged as a balanced diet. If you decide on kibble, be sure to go with a HIGH quality kibble with approx. 30% protein, 20% fat, and real meat (not byproducts) as the first ingredient. Don't assume that because it's a "name brand" it's a good food--read the label carefully, because even Iams (the new formula) is not such a stellar food compared to alot of what's available. A dog food comparison chart can help you cross-reference various foods. Most high content animals do NOT do well on poor quality "grocery store" kibble; chronic diarrhea and diet-related illness is common. In addition, most wolves are allergic to soy, and cannot digest corn--kibbles with corn early in the ingredients list, and those containing *any* soy at all, are not appropriate to feed to wolf crosses. Products like "Science Diet", though expensive, are grain-based...and are a poor choice, as wild canids are not meant to eat grains. Many of the premium "natural/holistic" kibbles such as Innova or Royal Canin's Natural Blend are excellent...as far as "economy kibbles" go, Wal-Mart's Maxxiumum Nutrition <Performance variety>, Excel, Exceed, and Diamond have been used by many with good results. As a general rule, if you are feeding kibble, you really ought to supplement with raw chicken, raw meaty bones, veggies, cod liver oil, brewers yeast, egg, etc...just add "a little something extra" to their dish each day. One easy, relatively inexpensive daily feeding plan that seems to work well (for adult wolfers) is this: fill their dish with Maxxiumum Nutrition kibble, stir in a can of Veg-All or half a bag of thawed frozen mixed veggies, and add a chicken leg quarter (or one or two raw backs, or some chicken/turkey necks). Have 'em sit, hand them the raw chicken, sit again, set the dish down in the kitchen while you go about your business there. :) Quick, simple, healthy...and you're maintaining your leadership position to boot! This is my usual recommendation to folks averse to the BARF thing ;)
If you've decided on raw, great! There's lots of detailed info online. If you'd like a few recipe suggestions to get you started, go here:
Young pups <post-weaning> are typically fed 3-4 times per day...around 5 or 6 months, we drop ours to 2 feedings...when they get up around a year, they go to once a day. Some folks feed adults twice per day...if this suits you, go for it! Your dog will probably prefer it that way--"chowtime" is usually any canine's favourite word ;) Don't forget to consider her potty schedule, in order to properly plan her feedings.
|*Onions and onion power are a no-no for dogs and cats. Baby food and pet food manufacturers are notorious for sneaking it in there--always check the label. Onions, like chocolate, cause Heinz-body anemia, and can kill your pet. Want more info? Go Here or Here.|
|Some suggestions on feeding your new addition-as with everything wolfdog, this is equally applicable to any other breed of dog. However, wolfdogs are generally placed at a much younger age, so this commentary starts with ideas for pups much younger than the routine 8 weeks.|