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 Stiff body and personality

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manleydt
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manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 5:08 pm

Okami seems to not like my touches.  For instance when I want to pet or massage his head his ears flip back and just ends up laying on the ground from avoiding my hand.  Or If i'm scratching under his neck and muzzle he leans back, so far that he could almost fall over backwards.

Another instance is when he is chewing on a nyla bone, I want to go over and pet him.  So I walk over and say "Hey Okami!" and start to reach down to pet his head and he dips his head down guarding the plastic bone.  And he is extremely stiff.

How can I stop this behavior and make him more relaxed and happy? Please help. He just doesn't seem as happy as he could be, and I'm not happy with his reactions either.  Sad Crying or Very sad 
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amymeme
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amymeme

Female Join date : 2013-12-20

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 5:20 pm

Try not approaching his head directly - Ami is not particularly physical in his affections, either. He does like his ear scratched, though (today on walk, stopped to watch birds - I scratched his ear, he leaned into me and stayed there for almost 10 minutes!) I've been slowly cajoling him - at night, before he goes in his crate I sit on the floor in front of crate with a baggy of kibble and his kong, I tell him "down", he lies down, I give him a piece of kibble, put several pieces into his kong, one for Mr. Dog, several for the kong, until it's all gone, then the kong goes in the crate followed by Mr. Fluffy butt. He no longer jumps up and moves away after each piece - and 2 nights ago was wonder of wonders..he lay down with both paws across my thigh. As good as it gets, for now. I'll take it Very Happy 
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wpskier222
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wpskier222

Female Join date : 2013-02-11
Location : NYC

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 5:39 pm

To deal with the bone guarding, sit on the floor to his side a couple feet away and toss treats and kibble to him. Don't try to take the bone. Just toss him the treats and don't make direct eye contact, direct eye contact in that situation is akin to a hard stare. If he has his bone drop or toss a treat to him every time you walk by. When he starts to anticipate that you are going to give him treats he will drop the bone and look up to you, or maybe even come to you. After he starts doing this, offer the treats out of your hand until he does the same, then progress to touching the bone while hand feeding treats, then take the bone, give treats, and give the bone back. Do this in very short intervals and pretty soon he won't care if you approach when he has something good, because he'll be hoping to get something better. When working on this always, always, always give him back what he had. The trust building will go back to square one if you start taking things away.

For the affection, well, a lot of huskies just don't really love it. Obviously he's annoyed by it if he's backing away to the point where he's laying on the ground or falling over. From your avatar he looks like he's maybe 5-6 months old? When Diz was this age, I had pretty much accepted that my dog was kind of a jerk, and I would just have to do the best I could. It was a rough time ha ha. He has gotten better as he's gotten older, he's still not a snuggle up 24/7 kind of dog, not even close, nor does he really enjoy being pet a lot, but he will lean against my legs for a quick ear or chest rub, or lay at my feet.

I would concentrate on working on your bond with a lot of training and fun adventures together. If you take him hiking, play with him, take him swimming, walking, and give him mental stimulation and food, that will do way more for your bond that forcible petting.
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manleydt
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manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 6:02 pm

Hmmm ok. Thank you both.

Jen, if I just go by and give him treats I already know what he'll do get right up and follow me. Completely forgetting the bone haha.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 6:44 pm

Which is perfect because what you are actually trying to teach him is that his instinct to protect that bone OR his fear of losing that bone should not apply to you because you mean no harm and aim not to take it, but if you do, you'll reward him with something better.  That's your core goal here.

[ Wink]
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manleydt
Newborn
Newborn
manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 7:02 pm

Ok which is great then!  Very Happy  Buuut why does he still stiffen up and guard the bone? It's not in an aggressive way or anything he just puts his head down on top of it and stiffens up.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 7:19 pm

Well likely because he doesn't trust you yet, that takes quite a bit of time to develop that and it has a lot to do with the foundation set from the day you got him.

But the wonderful news is that you can change now and start creating in him the dog you want. Use Jen's advice above, work it in a command like "off" or "leave it" eventually and you can start building that trust now and he will respond.

They don't linger on the past in the same way that we do. You can change his outlook on you right now.

If he really loves that nylon bone use it to your advantage. Take it when he's not using it and start working on commands and tricks and play games with it. Have high value treats in your one hand and the bone in the other.

Let him mouth the bone and bite it and say "off" or "aahhh". He will respond and as soon as he makes eye contact with you, treat him and give him the bone again. Keep holding it though. Repeat this 3 or 4 times and then finally give it to him and then you walk away without making a big deal about it whatsoever. Just walk away like nothing happened at all.

If he's stressed about the bone you can change that right now. Teach him that the bone + you = relaxation and calmness.

Keep it up, he'll come around.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 7:29 pm

Also, don't leave the bone lying around openly. Keep it out of reach and every time he gets it it comes out of your hand with your other hand scratching his chest.

Teach him that you are source of the bone as well.

This is the gist of what's called Nothing In Life Is Free training. You become the source and filter for anything worth having.
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wpskier222
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wpskier222

Female Join date : 2013-02-11
Location : NYC

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 7:54 pm

@manleydt wrote:
Ok which is great then!  Very Happy  Buuut why does he still stiffen up and guard the bone?  It's not in an aggressive way or anything he just puts his head down on top of it and stiffens up.

Jeff and I were talking about this a bit and it kind of seems like almost a reflex, or survival instinct, similar to chasing a moving object. If he sees a newspaper flying by in the wind it will trigger the chase and prey instinct. So the stiffening, is just a built in response to something or someone approaching his space when he has something important to him. Puppies do it to their litter mates ALL the time, but rarely if ever actually hurt each other. Like Jeff said, it's about trust and at a really deep level. Trust enough to allow the social bonding instincts to override that basic possessive instinct.
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manleydt
Newborn
Newborn
manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 7:58 pm

Ok, thanks Jeff. I'll do that. I leave at least one of his toys laying around all the time. >__>

Ok, Jen. I guess I'm expecting the sudden change of COMPLETE TRUST, which is MY misunderstanding. I need to just keep working on building the trust and bond in the ways he'll let me.
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wpskier222
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wpskier222

Female Join date : 2013-02-11
Location : NYC

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 8:02 pm

Ha ha. That's what I love about huskies, it's a dynamic relationship and you have to do your part to earn their trust and deserve the bond.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 8:21 pm

It'll come in baby steps, one bit at a time.

Right now the bone is a really big deal both for him and for you. Eventually, once your bond is an even bigger deal and he trusts you and there's mutual respect, the relevance of that bone will just fade into the background and you will be able to share it with him.

Make his trust in you a bigger deal than the bone.

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seattlesibe
Senior
Senior
seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 8:25 pm

And Jen touched on something important here too which is the difference between communication and aggression.

The stiffening is body language communication that "hey, I'm not comfortable right now and you're not taking my bone."

It's important to not interpret that as aggression but as his normal way of communicating to you. The trick is to learn that communication and respect his motivation behind it--and then you can begin to work towards solving the problem.

Keep thinking of it, or framing it, in positive terms. Don't think of this as a behavioral problem. Set yourself and him up for success.
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manleydt
Newborn
Newborn
manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 8:46 pm

So what the other issue with him, moving his head away in generic situations.  For instance, I call him over to sit in front of me, with him in a neutral state of mind, and try to pet his head/ears and his neck, but he move just his head and neck away.  Trying to avoid my hand.  

Does this come back to me just building trust again?
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 9:58 pm

Does he seem scared or annoyed or disinterested? Can you try to objectively say which one or something else?

How would you articulate his gesture?

It is perfectly possible he just isn't interested in physical affection, which is very common in the breed. When they do become interested a theme I've gathered in the past year, my own personal experience included, it seems to develop later around the year mark for age.

Link became all gooey and lovey eyed around months 11-13 and then it kinda faded away again. He's definitely a dog who likes his space and we give it to him. By his own volition he will request physical affection but this happens very rarely. The most common physical thing he does is bury his face behind the small of our backs while we are on the sofa. Other than that he's on the other end of the sofa or beneath our feet on the floor while we are on the sofa.

They seem to be dogs who (again, what I've gathered and my own personal experience) whose affection is VERY proximity oriented and NOT physically oriented.

Link is a leaner, for sure, but even with strangers (who they love more than you always!) he seems very bored with being petted. He would much rather set the pace himself and lean on your leg until you fall, with his ears back and smiling.

Lots of reading between the lines with these lil buddies.
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manleydt
Newborn
Newborn
manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 10:05 pm

If I try to pet his head, he moves it down towards the ground just out of reach of my fingers. If I try to rub his ears he turns his horizontally away. And If I try to scratch his neck he lifts his head up away from fingers again.

Now he doesn't get up and move away from me. Sometimes he will do quick licks to his nose or yawn, which I now are relaxation messages to me. Sometimes he'll lick my hand, which I don't know the meaning of.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 10:31 pm

Ok so he sounds a little tense.  Yawning usually means anxiety or insecurity of some sort and that's how they try to relax themselves by releasing tension.

Maybe just lay off a bit and start from scratch.  Small victories as opposed to a grand sweeping victory.  

You can use the exact same method described above for the bone by Jen and myself with this too.  

Let him come to you.  Make yourself very interesting, and honestly, you can do this best by ignoring him and just doing stuff.  His curiosity alone will draw him to you.  He might be sensing that you're focusing to much on him and it is stressing him out.  Try staying really busy for an hour and don't pay any attention to him whatsoever.  Put away laundry, dance, leave the room while humming or singing, toss a tennis ball to yourself....just do interesting stuff (for a puppy) and ignore him, no looks or talking or gestures.  

He should just come to you to see what's up.  Make sure you have treats in your pocket that he doesn't know about (very important--this is not about baiting him).  When he shows an interest in you and follows you, throw a treat on the ground--keep ignoring him.  Carry on.  Repeat.  

If he ever gets so close that you can touch him, try a quick scratch to the chest or butt (avoid the head--in general this is really annoying for dogs no matter how much we like it), praise him with a treat, and continue.  

What you're trying to do is A) show him that you are not and need not be focused on him all the time. Huskies like space and independence, so give him some, and B) you are an interesting person and when he shows interests in you and follows you and looks to you for guidance he gets good treats and good attention.  

Keep doing this every day.  

I bet he's just stressed out that you are so concerted in your focus on him and he needs some space to relax.  But he is your puppy and he's a working dog and he has a drive to be interested in you and to build a working companionship with you.  Use this to your advantage.  

I think if you give him some space and draw him to you as opposed to trying too hard for him to accept you then he will start to build trust with you right away.  

I hope that helps.  Sometimes the best advice for our dogs is: try ignoring them.  

Smile
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manleydt
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manleydt

Male Join date : 2014-02-19
Location : Puyallup, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 10:36 pm

Haha, let the ignoring begin then. Very Happy

But yeah ok, I got it. Praise his approaches! I need to start discretely carrying treats in my pockets more often.

I've played with toys before by myself and he approaches. At that point I say "Good boy!" and throw him the toy.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 10:41 pm

Right, but it is not about the toy it is about you, right?

So when he approaches, have him sit, scratch his chest or butt, smile and send him some positive vibes, wait for eye contact, and then give him the toy.  

You're a bigger deal than the toy.  You control the toy and what you want is him bonding to you.  

So teach him that through you he gets the toy.  He doesn't get the toy because he wants it.
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seattlesibe
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seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
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PostSubject: Re: Stiff body and personality    Stiff body and personality  EmptyWed Apr 09, 2014 10:43 pm

This way he will eventually learn that he needs to check with you and go through you for good stuff.
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