The best way to understand wild wolves and wolfdogs (part wolf, part dog) is undoubtedly to view them in their home environment. The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary cares for these animals, which can display varying degrees of wolf-like behavior, and also educates visitors about responsible wolfdog ownership and wolf protection. It is not uncommon for people to misunderstand the differences between wolves and dogs, and they are frequently abandoned — which is where the shelter comes in. The residents of the sanctuary provide fascinating insights into moderm wolfdogs, with each new wolfdog assessed for its degree of wildness and housed in pack enclosures, which can be visited on a 45-minute guided tour.
Wolfdogs are recognized as unique creatures—they’re not wild enough to survive on their own as wolves but often not tame enough to keep as pets. The nonprofit sanctuary helps to demystify the breed by taking in feral strays and rescuing those abandoned by their caretakers. Whereas dogs have been domesticated over hundreds of years, wolves and wolf dogs tend to not immediately trust humans. Tame but not domesticated, curious wolfdogs may come up to those visiting their enclosures. A set of seven chosen “ambassador wolfdogs” are the tamest of the bunch and quickly melt barriers with humans they encounter. By observing their natural behavior in a safe enclosure at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, travelers can learn about the importance of wolves in the wild, as well as the pecking order and pack culture shared by both wolves and dogs.
The property is located three-quarters of a mile down Range Road 53 off Highway 1A, and is 55 miles east of Banff and seven miles west of Cochrane. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Self-guided sanctuary walking tours cost $21C ($16US) and are supplemented with presentations (offered five times daily between 10:45am and 3:45pm). Introductory tours are also available, while interactive tours in the enclosures require advance booking and cost $46 per person. They are offered at 10:30am, noon, 2pm, and 3:30pm when the sanctuary is open.