new adoptee behavior problems

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 10:10am PST 
I adopted a 10 month old siberian husky from a shelter 5 weeks ago. I was told he had been removed from his owner by the humane agent. I had him neutered last week, started on heartworm preventative and microchipped. Since a first week episode of round worm induced diarrhea he has been completely housebroken. However, he steals and chews and is very mouthy (I know, still a puppy) and we're working on those behaviors. My very real concern though, is that my grandchildren who live out of state were here yesterday for the first time and Kiska barked and lunged at them, not the second they came in but after they made a little noise. He was OK with my son in law while he was sitting down, playing with him and taking treats from him, but when my son in law (6'2") stood up, he barked and lunged at him as well. He was fine with my daughter. I also have a friend we've seen often outside wearing a hat or scarf, but when she came in to the house and took her scarf off and he saw her long hair he again barked. He's my 4th husky, the 2nd from a rescue, but I've never had this kind of behavior from any of the others. I'm planning on starting obedience classes after the 1st of the year, but I'm worried about him becoming more aggressive and possibly biting someone. Help, please!

Gone, But Not- Forgotten.
Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 10:31am PST 
My suggestion would be to lay him down immediately after such a behavior, correct him Immediately! My dog is scared of new folks, but once I invite them in, she is not allowed to bark or show agressive behavior. Another method is to take him out of the room for a "time out". Don't wait for classes to stop this. Your dog has to know you're the boss, and that behavior is not allowed.

Who knows what happened in an adoptee's previous life, but good for you to give him a new one, with boundaries & love! Good luck.
way to go
Rally Pood

Hand over the- treats'n nobody- gets hurt!
Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 12:35pm PST 
I'm not sure what the other poster meant by "lay him down immediately after such a behavior, correct him Immediately! ," but correcting or otherwise forcing a fearful and/or reactive dog into a down or alpha roll is a great way to get bit and to seriously inhibit your dog's ability to learn how to deal with people he's unsure of. I suggest you check out this site for more helpful information: http://www.fearfuldogs.com and definitely contact a behaviorist: http://www.iaabc.org http://www.animalbehavior.org


The sweetest- boy!

Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 1:54pm PST 
I agree with Pood. Do NOT "lay him down" - that is terrible advice and is sure to validate his belief he has a reason to be fearful. Rough, domineering behavior is the LAST thing any dog needs. I fostered a couple of young, fearful male Siberians from shelters and they were extremely wary at first, but they blossomed after a few months of steady love and gentle, patient treatment.

If he was actually removed from his home by an animal control officer, then he was in bad situation. He may have been being abused, or neglected, or both. If hhe showed the same sort of nervous fear when the animal control officers got there, he may have been removed by a catchpole, out of necessity.

Even if he wasn't removed that way, he has had a scary life up until now, and it will take him time to trust. Siberians are not prone to aggression, in particular towards humans. He is going to have to learn, slowly, that not everyone is out to get him.

My suggestion is to start with having treats ready to hand to you guests every time someone comes over, and just have them toss him one or two throughout the visit. Thank you for rescuing, and do not give up on this boy yet!
The Blue- Crab Crew

Name change due- to a new- brudder!
Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 3:40pm PST 
Hi Kiska, we are so happy you have a new loving home! hughughughug

I'm sure you are going through an adjustment phase with everything being so new. This can be upsetting to the pawrents.

My suggestion is that you join the Husky Heaven group. They are extremely supportive and have a wealth of Husky info to share. Huskies Nika, Rudi, Pandora, and Fugas were rescued and their Mom is active with a Husky rescue group. Their Mom has tons of great information on dealing with behavior problems specifically with Huskies. Feel free to pmail her! Good luck sweetie! hughughughughug

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 4:09pm PST 
My two cents worth-

I think you need to figure out whether this is fear based, excitement causing bad manners (which he already has with the mouthiness, etc.), or him thinking about being a jerk with adolescent hormones kicking in. Training will depend on what is causing the behavior. I'd make sure to find a really good trainer for those classes and be sure to talk about all your difficulties. Don't put this off as I think a professional will be able to help you figure out what is going on.

I'd start NILIF now to give him some structure, which should help regardless of the cause of the behavior. You also might consider management strategies such as having him trail a leash while inside, or crating him when guests are around until you feel he can be trusted. This way he will not be able to practice the bad behavior when you are trying to figure out the correct strategy.

The sweetest- boy!

Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 4:46pm PST 
OP, A HUGE part about working with rescues is going about it with the right mindset.

Please do not consider your young Siberian's behaviors as indicative of a Siberian who is "thinking about being a jerk" or one with "bad manners". confused

That type of thinking immediately makes him a "bad dog". He is not a bad mannered jerk. He is a young, scared Siberian who has almost certainly had a very unstable and unpleasant life so far. He has probably had little to NO training, so what some might consider "bad manners" are him simply doing what he is compelled to do at that moment- and he was NO idea it is not considered "polite" in our human society. Being leery of strangers or being mouthy is not him being a "jerk".

You are going to teach him what you want him to do, and I recommend doing so through positive reinforcement methods, they have consistently worked well for me. Mouthiness/stealing and chewing, etc. - make sure you redirect the behavior - chewing on something inappropriate, make sure you provide him with plenty of appropriate chew alternatives.

Go into this process thinking your are a teacher and he is a student who knows nothing, not that you are a disciplinarian and he is just misbehaving and needs some reprimanding.

Edited by author Sun Dec 28, '08 4:48pm PST


Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 6:04pm PST 

With all due respect, I would ask you not to put words into my mouth.

"Bad manners" do not indicate that you have a "bad dog". As you pointed out, it indicates an "untrained dog", which is more indicative of the "bad former owner". (Which we already knew about, considering Kiska was lucky enough to be removed from such a situation.) If it's a spade, I'm going to call it a spade. The mouthing etc is "bad manners", and the OP is doing well to be patiently educating their dog in "good manners". I'm certainly aware that all dogs must be educated in "good manners" and do not come with a preprogrammed set of instructions for living in human society. If they were, a lot less adolescent dogs would end up dumped in shelters when they cease being cute.

However, the OP knows nothing of what that former home was like, or what behaviors he learned there, so Kiska may be repeating behaviors that have worked for him in the past. If it works, it is reinforcing.

As neither of us was in the OP's house at the time of the incident, or has seen video footage of it, I feel it is highly inappropriate (based on the OP's description) to immediately diagnose the behavior as fear related. It might be; and if it is, a good course of counterconditioning and desensitization in combination with good positive reinforcement training will help the dog settle happily into his new home.

However, if it was simply excitement, that counterconditioning would be inappropriate, and the dog just needs some training so that the OP can communicate what behavior is wanted.

Admittedly, "being a jerk" is a remote possibility, as it involves the dog trying to order the house the way that he wants it. Perhaps it is a more common problem in my own breed, which are meant to be extremely rules oriented and bossy farmdogs with enough grit and guts to save you if the farm's bull decides it wants to stomp and gore you. They get into a LOT of trouble if they are allowed to make up their own rules. (Thankfully, I've only had to deal with telling Chandler that he does not have to be playground police.)

The point is, if you are not directly there, it is really hard to tell what emotional state is causing a behavior, and that is probably best left to the family and the trainer that they will be working with.

As you say, the dog does need some training, and I agree with a positive reinforcement course is the best way to learn. And yes, redirecting the mouthing and chewing into appropriate outlets is a great choice. For stealing, I would suggest management to prevent the dog from having opportunities to practice, and perhaps teaching the dog to trade and bring you things. My trainer likes to teach the dog to bring the wonderful thing it has found to her in exchange for a cookie or toy.

NOWHERE did I say anything about going into this with a hard disciplinarian attitude. NILIF is not punishment for misbehavior. It is structure that will help an (excited and untrained/fearful and untrained/bossy and untrained...whichever it is doesn't matter) dog feel secure knowing what is expected. Untrained does NOT mean bad. It just means untrained.

The sweetest- boy!

Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 6:17pm PST 
Er... Chandler... relax. I made a comment inspired by your post but I hardly put words in your mouth. But enough about you....

OP, do you have more specific information about the conditions he came from, other than that he was seized by an animal control/humane society agent? Was it a neglect situation, an abuse situation, etc?

If you know more, please fill us in! Thanks!

Barked: Sun Dec 28, '08 6:57pm PST 
Thank you for rescuing. My female lab had some of the same behaviors. She was afraid of people in hats, men with beards. ski poles, sometimes it was a child, or a leaf blowing across the yard. I finally decided that she just lacked confidence and needed good experiences to build her up. The more positive experiences the more secure she felt...and that just takes time. We didn't get specific to the issue right away. She learned a"place" command which meant go to her area. I would use this when guests would come to the door. I think maybe her own spot away from the commotion helped her because she would come out when she was ready and she could retreat when she needed to.

You can be firm without doing things to make her fear you. I don't want a pet that fears me. That would suck.

She also used to chew everything. Again for security, I think. We would just set her up for success and shut doors to rooms we weren't using, hide remote controls, and surround her with a kong filled with frozen peanut butter, a frozen knotted up t-shirt, one of those balls that you can hide treats inside. Pretty much like new parents baby proof. Let her know the rules. We did a lot of redirection. A LOT of redirection. If I caught her chewing on something -- I would tell her "no" in a firm but not scary voice and hand her what she was allowed to have in her mouth.

I hope something here helps you. You are getting some great advice.

Tina (with Duke, Keena, Scout, and trying to find a home for Harry)
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