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 Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress

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Ranya
Newborn
Newborn
Ranya

Female Join date : 2014-03-05

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PostSubject: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 9:10 am

Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum and also new to huskies. I already found a lot of helpful advice here but there are still some things that I wanted to ask.
(beware, it's a long post, but I wanted to make sure you know the whole background of the story).

Our Max is a husky/(probably)akita mix rescue dog - he was a stray and we found him in Cyprus (an island in the Mediterranean), he was all bones and skin. He had a collar on but no name tag and also no chip. We waited for three weeks to see if noone is missing him (Cyprus is really small and an all white dog with two coloured eyes certainly stands out). We contacted shelters and the police to see, but apparently nobody missed him. According to the vet, he must have been alone in the mountains for several months. We have thus no information on his previous life. He does not seem to have been mistreated as such (he is absolutely not aggressive and not dominant around other dogs, he does not seem to be scared of anything in particular). We think he was probably just too much for his previous owners and when he ran away they just decided he was not worth the trouble. Who knows.

He is not our first dog - me and my boyfriend both have had several dogs. My last one (a golden retriever) passed away last year at 14 years old after a battle with cancer so I was very happy when we adopted Maxi. However neither me nor my BF have had huskies before. We did a lot of research to be able to provide him with a nice and fulfilled husky life. He's been with us for about 5 or 6 weeks now. He is about 2 years old (+- 2 months).

I started slowly training him straight away. He proved to be quite stubborn although with patience he now knows how to sit - before putting the leash on, before eating etc....he won't do it as quickly every time though and if we are outside and there are a lot of distractions, he won't. He walks now fine on the leash, he used to pull like crazy, now he walks besides me. He tries to go ahead from time to time but I guess that just needs more patience and training.

Of course, his name was not Max before and since we have no idea what his name was (and whether he was good at recall even then anyway), he has to learn recall from the beginning. Recall is still something that we have a lot of trouble with. At home he is like my shadow, following me everywhere, in the garden he comes now most of the time. In the dog park, he is IMPOSSIBLE to recall. He is crazy about playing with other dogs and completely forgets about me. I stopped taking him to the big dog park now until his recall is good and we prefer to meet up in a smaller area with a couple of dogs from the neighbourhood so he can still play around and socialize and I can put him back on the leash.

He ignores me a lot of times outside. He sometimes does not even turn his head when called, let alone come. My BF had his hearing checked,he thought Maxi might not hear well - I knew he's just a stubborn boy Very Happy:D:D
I praise him and give him treats every time he is attentive to me or looks at me when called or when he comes to us (called or even alone, especially outside - so he knows he is always welcome and gets a hug or a treat when he stays by my side).

Now, my question is not really about the methods of training as such. Luckily, as said, he is not our first dog and since my BF is in the military, we also have his friends who train military dogs help us out with tips and tricks. I also found advice in the other threads on this forum.
My question is, since he is our first adult adopted dog - both of us have had dogs since they were pups - how can I tell that the progress we are making is a good progress, or too slow? How can I tell I am doing something wrong or that he is just the type of dog that needs more time and patience?

I take him out 3 times a day, for about 45min-1hour in the morning. In the afternoon either running for 15-30min (I let him decide, he slows down and then I know he's tired... for a husky, I think he is relatively low energy) or a walk to the small area to see the other dogs, and then at night before we all go to bed I take him either just for a quick walk around the block for a pee and a poo or for another 30min walk, depending on whether is tired after the whole day or not.
At home, he spends then most of his time sleeping, or playing around with his favourite toy. I make sure he has enough exercise and he is a real darling at home afterwards.
I do training sessions with him on each of these three walks, sometimes shorter ones, sometimes longer ones, depends on how attentive he is (I don't want him to get used to me repeating the command and him not listening).
Recall has been our main issue.

After over a month of these 3times a day sessions, his recall is still bad when at the park and sometimes even in our garden, if he does not feel like it. Now, as I said, he IS making progress, especially on the leash and with the speed of executing the sit command, but it is far from being good.
Am I expecting too much of him? Or am I not doing enough?
I would love to let him play in the big park with all the dogs, he loves it and is always so happy. He is prancing like a little deer, and does the "puppy bow" to get the others to play. So it makes me sad that for now, I cannot let him do that, because I then spend hours trying to get him back on the leash (he would run away from me because he knows, play time is over, and of course I don't run after him, he will then think it's a game and get used to running away from the leash, so it takes a long time for the perfect opportunity to put the leash back on)

Any advice, tip or opinion is appreciated. Thank you!

Ranya (and Max)
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siku&nikolai
Senior
Senior
siku&nikolai

Female Join date : 2013-06-17
Location : Maine

Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress Empty
PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 9:22 am

Sounds like as far as training and exercise you are doing great. This is where I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but huskies are not generally off leash dogs. Some of them no matter how hard you work on recall it will just never happen. They are very stubborn, and tend to do thing on there own time no matter what you do. I can promise you that most likely he does not have hearing problems, and thats just how they are! They hear you, but sometimes could care less Smile. My recommendation for the park would be make a long leash out of rope or even buy one and keep it attached to him. This way it can drag behind him while playing and when you want to leave if he tries to run away that leash is long enough for you to catch him or you can just hold onto it the whole time and let him play that way. I would suggest to keep working on recall for sure even if it feels like a loosing battle, and maybe when he is out of his puppy years, it is something that you may be able to do. But for now keep him on a leash at all times, and continue with everything else that you are doing!
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TheBadGuppy
Teenager
Teenager
TheBadGuppy

Female Join date : 2013-06-20
Location : Toronto, Ontario

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 11:09 am

We practiced with a long leash as well. When Gus had giardia, he wasn't really allowed to play with other dogs, so we bought a long leash to play with him at the park away from other dogs. If he didn't come when called, then i gave a little tug on the leash and he would almost always start trotting back towards me. I also gave him a treat everytime that he did. You didn't mention what kind of rewards you were giving him, but treats or toys or anything that motivates him is good. If he didn't come back, i just kept tugging, or pulling him back. But i always treated him once he was right back in front of me again.
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techigirl78
Adult
Adult
techigirl78

Female Join date : 2013-06-26
Location : Wisconsin

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 3:23 pm

It sounds like you are making really good progress to me. Like others said, I long rope attached to your dog can make you feel more secure. This is what I did when taking Loki to the dog park a few times until I really knew how to get his attention. Loki is generally less concerned about other dogs so it is fine. Also, if you get to know the dog parks, you can find times when there are less dogs and it may be easier to manage.
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Ranya
Newborn
Newborn
Ranya

Female Join date : 2014-03-05

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 4:55 pm

Hi everyone, thank you for your quick replies!

I know huskies are notorious run aways,so I am prepared to never hike or walk off leash with him,but if we manage at least the closed up dog parks,that would be awesome.

I am using a long leash to train recall in open spaces,which - as you all said - turned out be the best method so far. However my concern with using this in the dog park is that once we tried letting him play while on the long leash and Max got all tangled up in it, or when I held it tighter so he doesn't step on it,he ended up pulling to play with the dogs which I want to avoid also,since he would het used to pulling leash = fun time and play.

As for rewards,he is very food motivated and he is crazy about plain hard cheese. He likes general dog treats and apples also but cheese is what makes him the most motivated. He also has a rope toy and loves to play tug of war as a reward (I make sure to always win) and it makes him come to me some times,but cheese does magic with him. I hope with time I will be able to fade out the treats, so far if he does not get a piece,he will be very reluctant to repeat the command next time.

I guess I will give him more time and keep on the frequent training sessions.
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Kellyb
Canadian Sunrise
Kellyb

Female Join date : 2012-10-29
Location : Montreal, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 5:07 pm

I'm curious to see more photos of him. From the side he looks very similar to my bigger rescue dog, who we never got tested but wondered if she is an akita mix.

Patience is key in rescues. it can take months for them to truly come out of their shells and show their real personality. Ripley took about 2 months before she really became ours. She also didnt trust my husband for at least a good month. Sometimes it takes building up their confidence too. Keep at it! It will really be worth it in the end.
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TheBadGuppy
Teenager
Teenager
TheBadGuppy

Female Join date : 2013-06-20
Location : Toronto, Ontario

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 5:14 pm

Good call kelly! I just re-read that you've only had him for 5-6 weeks, which isn't very long. It took us several months to train a somewhat reliable recall with Gus, who is also a rescue.

I wouldn't suggest using a long leash inside the dog park though because of the risk of tangling and tripping. You never know. Another dog could get spooked by something, and then if a fight breaks out, the tangled leash could get problematic. When we were practicing recall, i played fetch with Gus. He always chased it, but didn't always bring it back, so the long leash helped with that. But we only did this in a quiet spot at the park. I think it's important for him to understand the recall, before you can expect him to obey it with other dogs around.
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capellalayla
Senior
Senior
capellalayla

Female Join date : 2013-09-24
Location : Billerica, Mass.

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyMon Mar 17, 2014 10:07 pm

First off, thank you for rescuing Max! Sounds like you can provide a loving, educated and capable home for him. You have experience and support from other friends/trainers. It seems you have done your research and are doing a great job with training him from the get-go.

As for being able to tell whether his learning is too slow, I think it really depends on the dog and your intensity of training. What are your goals for his training? Do you want him to know every trick in the book, or just basic manners? Since you've had him for less than two months, he's still learning your way of life and learning to trust you. I could be a few more months or even a year before you fully earn his trust. But if you keep going the way you are, I'm sure you will get there soon.

As for recall, as others have mentioned, he may never be an off-leash dog. Try training him his basic manners (sit, stay, come, etc.) in lots of different kinds of situations: indoors, outdoors, no distractions, some distractions, lots of distractions, in a park, on the sidewalk, in a city, in the woods, etc. Once he reaches a point you're comfortable with in lots of different situations and levels of distraction, you can be more confident that when you do ask him to sit or stay or come, he will do it in any situation, though, of course, no dog will ever perform any command 100 percent of the time.

It seems as if you're doing everything right. Keep learning and keep teaching him. We need more folks like you to rescue dogs like Max. )
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Huskyluv
Resident Nutritional Bookworm
Huskyluv

Female Join date : 2009-06-23
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyTue Mar 18, 2014 8:55 am

A month is really too soon to tell and progress varies based on soooo many factors. We rescued our sibe as an adult too, he was also a stray. It took a good 3 solid months for him to really be himself and for us to see any real progress with his training. And during that time there was a lot of back and forth. Some days you'd see improvement and others it was like taking 2 steps backward. But through it all its vital to remain patient and be consistent. It took 2 years before I had a recall good enough to break my sibe off of chasing a squirrel mid-chase.

Also, set him up for success. By that I mean if you know his recall is weak, don't try it when you absolutely know he's not going to respond, such as when he's in the middle of playing at the dog park. Instead, wait until he's tired of playing and not actively engaged with another dog and then try his recall. If he doesn't respond then ignore it and reset, don't call him over and over so that he learns to ignore you. Wait for a good opportunity and try again.

I think you're doing fine, just be patient, don't put time limits on when you think certain things should be achieved, keep at it and set him up for success.

_________________
Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress Summer10
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Ranya
Newborn
Newborn
Ranya

Female Join date : 2014-03-05

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyTue Mar 18, 2014 4:53 pm

Thank you all. As far as what I want to achieve - I know he will never be like a lab, a golden or a border collie (all breeds that me and my BF have had before, so you can imagine the hard time we have adapting to Max). I just want him to be obedient enough so that HE can actually have a good life and that I can let him live it to its fullest without being constantly worried something happens to him. So I need him to walk nice on the leash and even though recall will stay problematic I want him at least let me put the leash back on in the dog park and not run away thinking it's a game we play.

I also have to say, to be fair, that even though he proves to be stubborn in many aspects, we were lucky that we didn't need to housebreak him - he just doesn't pee or poo in the house, or even on concrete for that matter. He needs earth or grass in order to "relax" haha. That's a real blessing. He sleeps through the night, and during the day if he needs to go between his walks and is not outside in the garden, he just comes and annoys me for 5min and I get his message Very Happy

I would love to upload more pictures of him, but haven't figured out yet how to attach them to a message (keeps on telling me I have to download something)
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Kellyb
Canadian Sunrise
Kellyb

Female Join date : 2012-10-29
Location : Montreal, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyTue Mar 18, 2014 4:59 pm

top right of the page, there is a sticky on "how to upload pictures"
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Ranya
Newborn
Newborn
Ranya

Female Join date : 2014-03-05

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyTue Mar 18, 2014 6:28 pm

Oh thanks Kelly!
Here you go:
you can see in the second one (where he is sitting next to the lamp in the garden) that he has Akita-like features (japanese standard). His face is quite round, and I had several people come up to me outside and actually ask straight away if he is an Akita, without guessing the Husky part (which we are sure of though).
Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress Photo110
Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress Photo211
Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress Photo310
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Kellyb
Canadian Sunrise
Kellyb

Female Join date : 2012-10-29
Location : Montreal, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress   Adult Rescue - how to tell we are making good progress EmptyWed Mar 19, 2014 10:13 am

His fur looks a lot like my Ripley's, especially from the side view. We always wondered if she was Akita/Chow and not Husky/chow. He seems a bit leaner than she is too, but shes a tubby girl. Wink
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