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 Greetings from MI....for now.

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gladahmae
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Female Join date : 2012-02-13
Location : Northern Lower MI

PostSubject: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:41 am

This ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. Sorry. You can probably get away with reading the first 2 sentences of each paragraph and get the picture. The rest is just details and me trying to process everything.

Not sure how long I'll be applicable to this community, but I have learned SO much in the week and a half that I've been reading through the forums. My husband feels that it would be best for everyone if we returned our dog to the shelter we got him from (per the adoption agreement) so that the dog can have a chance at having a home that will give him the time and exercise he is proving he needs.

In late July of last we we adopted Niko, a "Husky Mix" (they said husky/native american dog?? mix, but they said that they weren't 100% on what the mix really was) from our animal shelter. He looks like a husky, only he's big.....around 27in and 75lbs big. The shelter estimated his age to be 2.5, but when we took him to the vet for the health screening (local vets participate with the shelter since it doesn't have a vet on-staff) and the vet was very skeptical that he was that old....his guess was the he was around 1.5. He was turned in to the shelter from a woman who got him from CL, and couldn't housetrain him in a week, which resulted in his surrender. We adopted him as being "not housebroken" which IMO was not the case. It quickly became clear that he had a good case of SA, which wasn't surprising considering that we were his 4th 'home' in a 2 week period (original owner, CL lady, shelter, and then us.) I did some reading and decided that crate training would be a good idea to protect our home AND help settle him down when we did have to leave the house.

However, crate training was a disaster. We started with a metal crate. Did food and water in the crate, toys in the crate, small intervals in the crate, gradually increasing over 2 weeks. The first time we were gone for just over an hour he BROKE the metal cage in 15min. We then purchased a plastic airline-style crate CHEWED his way through the side of it within 2 uses (the first use there were a few tooth marks , the 2nd use we came home to a hole that he could get his head out of.) We built an outdoor kennel for him using chainlink fencing, and he has since BENT the fencing in the corner of the door (4ft up) over enough to crawl his way through and then obviously run off. Our very gracious neighbors (4 houses in a row around a quarter of a mile away) grab him for us and put him in their garages when he shows up, and then call us so we can come get him. I should note that he did NOT get out of the yard for the first 5mo we had him. It was no big deal to put him and our other dog outside to run around and play for a few hours until it snowed, and the snow didn't melt (early December).

At this point when we all have to leave the house, which is NOT often since I work evenings and my husband works days......we're gone for 4-5 hours on Saturdays usually to do the grocery shopping, etc........we have to completely clear the main floor of the house. No kids toys, no dishes in the sink, no box of kleenex on the counter, NOTHING that we care about getting chewed up and destroyed. Nothing that can be shredded and strewn about the house. This worked well for 3 months. Occasionally he would chew something up that we had overlooked or forgotten to put away: an empty pizza box, kleenex, mainly paper or cardboard objects. We bought more toys: stuffed animals (which he loves to mouth), nylabones, a soccer ball that holds treats and randomly drops them when you roll it around (although our lab tends to hog that one) and a kong that we put peanut butter in when we have to leave the house. Things appeared to be improving (he was getting out of our fenced yard on almost a daily basis for 2 weeks, and being a much larger than normal nuisance for for a month and a half) until Saturday. On Saturday we came home from grocery shopping to find half of a couch cushion scattered across the living room.

And we feel like we should be done. The emotional part of me wants to keep him b/c of how hard his transition was when we got him, and because I know what we NEED to do to make improving his behavior more likely (more exercise, more mental stimulation, and hard-core crate training). The logical part of my brain knows that getting the exercise will be very difficult. I would have to drive a minimum of 20min each way on a daily basis to have a place to safely run him somewhere other then our yard, and pack up a toddler and baby to do that. And having a baby out in sub-freezing temps for an hour+ isn't going to happen. So that's where we are. I cried for 2 hours last night b/c my husband talked to the kids about taking the dog back to the shelter and they agree with him.....and then asked if we could get a puppy. I feel like a big fat failure as a dog owner.

Kudos to you if you got through the whole thing. I really needed to get a lot of this out in a place where I (hopefully) won't be ripped to shreds. And I'm hoping for some help or ideas. I can't bring myself to call the shelter and make an appointment, and the likelyhood of my husband doing it in the next week without me asking him to is very small. So I do have a window of opportunity.......
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hollywoodhuskies
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Female Join date : 2011-07-24
Location : Los Angeles

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:20 pm

Coming from someone who didn't leave the house without their dog for 6 months because of separation anxiety - I understand how frustrated you are. My dog was rehomed twice before us because of it.

It definitely sounds like it may be a result of not enough exercise/stimulation as opposed to separation anxiety because he was ok for a while (3 months). My dog would have "panic" attacks if she even thought we were leaving, which gradually lessened with crate training in the same room with other dog, use of a thundershirt, a frozen kong in her crate, and short increments where we were gone. We also exercised her before crate time, to take the edge off. I was going to suggest a stronger, aluminum hunting style crate - but it maybe seems the 3 months coincided with the coldest months of the year and he didn't get out at all? It definitely seems like a husky that is bored.

There are many ways to stimulate a husky, including training and games. It does sound like with a job, your schedules, the weather where you live, a toddler and a baby, that it's too much for you. Is he happy with your family other than the destruction while you're gone? Does it seem like he's getting better and he's picking up your training?

Many members here have experienced what you have and some make it work. We even have a dog on the board that punctured the crates you mentioned, plus plumbing when he was in a bathroom - and is now a therapy dog! I'll be blunt with you - it's all about how much you're committed to keeping him. A dog should fit your lifestyle or you change your lifestyle to fit the dog you really want. Definitely think about the changes you could make versus the ones you want to make. Once you rehome him, there's no going back. Only your family knows what's best for the family.

I wouldn't take him back to the shelter. Huskies love being around people and a kennel environment is not ideal. I would try to rehome him with the help of a local rescue. Think of it as a "foster" situation until they find him his forever home - rescues are full and won't take a dog unless they have a foster. Otherwise, they have to pay for boarding and it gets expensive. In the meantime, make sure he's up to date on all shots and well groomed. You may need to drive him to weekend adoption events.

Best of luck and I hope Niko gets the happy life he deserves, even if that it's with another family.
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gladahmae
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Female Join date : 2012-02-13
Location : Northern Lower MI

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:14 pm

Re-homing with a rescue is not an option. Our area shelter requires that we bring him back to them if we are unable to keep him. I'm pretty sure they're no-kill for dogs without a bite history since they have had a particular dog available since before we got Niko.....senior, special needs, no kids, and available for 8mo now.

I'm really torn about returning him also because I know we'd adopt another dog and have to start all over on what issues a new dog would have. Niko is AMAZING on a leash.....our 4yo can walk him with 0 pulling, great with kids, has a very gentle mouth for taking treats, and is very good with other dogs (his 1st owner did a great job with socialization and basic obedience obviously). It seems like an 80/20 split on behavior. 80% of the time he's great....happy, and playful. And 20% of the time, that time being when we're not home, he's awful.

As far as mental stimulation, I've gotten a lot more serious about training in the last 2 weeks. We've been doing clicker training to strengthen known commands (sit, down, stay) and improve iffy ones (come, back). He's smart, but once we're 10min into it, he'll get selective about following the direction. Which I know is a "husky thing."

As for physical exercise, we go out into the yard almost everyday and I fetch our retriever, and Niko chases him. We also work on 'come' then (it's getting a lot better). I shoot for 30min, but if nap time ends early, it's shorter. I'm certain it's part of the problem.

My husband and I talked about it more this morning and he admitted thathe isn't emotionally innvested in Niko. He's too tired of the destruction and feeling like he's just throwing money at the problem (replacing things, buying/re-enforcing enclosures, etc) and nothing changing.

As for the work stuff.....I'm parttime, so only 3-4 nights a week now.

I think I have to seperate and reconcile my feelings about feeling guilty about having 'failed' thus far to get us and Niko to adjust appropriately and wanting to succeed so badly, vs what is best for us and him.
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Ghost
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Female Join date : 2011-09-20
Location : Vancouver, BC

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:04 pm

We also couldn't leave our rescue home alone for months after we had first got him. Separation anxiety is very common and I just posted something about it in the training forums, if it's any help to you.

Is there a doggy daycare near you that you can use instead of leaving him home alone? We sometimes put our dogs in daycare for the day when we have lots of errands to do, and they love it. They get to play with the other dogs and they come home exhausted. If it's only the destruction that is making you think of re-homing him, this could be a solution.

Training can be very tiring for a dog so if you can find some time to do more training with him, that will help to tire him out. Any commands or tricks that you like ... sometimes this can help to make up for lack of exercise when it's not possible to get enough walks in. It sounds like you are doing this already though.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
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jbealer
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Female Join date : 2009-05-29
Location : Denver, CO

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:28 pm

ok do you own a bike? can you ride your bike and have him run with you? that will get him running with out you having to drive somewhere. how about looking for a dogwalker since with the kids it might be hard to go and bike or walk him? i bet there is a teenager around that will do it since you say he is great on a leash.

we are here to help you but returning him to the shelter and getting a puppy is NOT the answer, puppies and small kids do not go well together. you need to work on the crate training. or can you block him in just a area downstairs? the garage? huskies eat things when board and have pent up energy, sure i would be pissed if he ate a sofa seat but i would also blame myself for leaving him out to get to it. the issues you are having can be worked on as well as as he gets older some of those behaviors will calm down. glad to hear you are stepping up the training. that is mental work and will wear him out.

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ljelgin
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Female Join date : 2012-01-29
Location : Broken Arrow, OK

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:40 pm

I hope you can come up with a workable solution for this problem. I am not sure I can add much to what has alreaady been said.

Looking at the picture of Gladah it surprised me how much his face looks like Blazes and Jacks. He do look alot bigger than Blaze.
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gladahmae
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Female Join date : 2012-02-13
Location : Northern Lower MI

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:43 am

I'm not on-board for getting a puppy right now. No way. I know what it'll be like with a teething puppy and a crawling baby in the house. Wink

My husband and I talked about it more last night, and we are going to get a crate and hit the crate training again. If we can make it through until mid-March, we can cement in posts for a cable run to eliminate the running off aspect, and it'll be light out long enough that one of us could bike him once my husband gets home from work, or I could bike around the yard (we've got 10 acres) during naptime.

Finding this forum and REALLY helped my husband understand that what we're dealing with are NOT specific to our dog. He keeps asking me, "really? they all crate their dogs EVERY time they leave?"
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jbealer
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Female Join date : 2009-05-29
Location : Denver, CO

PostSubject: Re: Greetings from MI....for now.   Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:25 pm

good to hear your talking to hubby and he is hearing what you and the rest of us are saying Smile
as far as the new crate goes we have a thread on here
http://www.itsahuskything.com/t918-crate-training
check it out. there are also members that have gone through the husky getting out of the crate (get a GOOD metal one, hell check craigslist Smile ), you need some zip ties, some locking carabiners and i forget what else people have used but you need to reinforce it and not trust it out of the box....
many of us have had luck after 2-3yrs of being able to trust our husky in a HUSKY proof area of the home (either they get older or more trusting) and then there are some that can NEVER be left out, only time will tell.
building the zip line is a great idea to keep him in the yard.

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