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 Rescued husky, new member need HELP

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Stacy Ann
Stacy Ann

Join date : 2016-02-29

Rescued husky, new member need HELP Empty
PostSubject: Rescued husky, new member need HELP   Rescued husky, new member need HELP EmptyMon Feb 29, 2016 11:54 am

Hello everyone. I am new here and new to huskies. I own a small pet supply, boarding and grooming shop in Alabama. I have rescued for many years, and generally specialize in difficult dogs. Karma, however, is a bit out of my scope of experience. I have mainly worked with mastiff and bully type breeds, Karma is my first husky. She was found as a stray about 2 months ago, and a rescue group I work with asked me to foster her for a week until she could be transported to Florida. Initially we thought she was about 9 months to 1 yr old, turns out she's closer to 2. She became sick with explosive diarrhea and vomiting about 3 days after she came to me and missed her transport window. She had a massive hookworm infestation and is heavy heartworm positive. We got the hookworms cleared up, but by the time she was healthy enough to transport, her foster home had filled up. So she is still with me, and it looks like she will be for quite some time.
Karma has a few "issues". When she first arrived, she bit me within minutes. She would rub on you, asking to be petted, but when you did she snarled and bit. I could barely handle her without muzzling her. I initially thought it was dominance aggression, but have come to believe it's fear/insecurity. She's VERY insecure with new people, in my opinion. After a week or so of handling her (muzzled usually), I can now do just about anything with her. She lets me pet her, groom her (except the nails), play with her, etc. She'll even offer her belly for rubs. She's become very affectionate and sweet, but only with me and my 17 yr old daughter. When she meets new people, she reverts back to biting. If they don't shy away or freak out, she eventually stops biting, but it takes repeated challenges and trust building. If she senses you're afraid, she escalates and continues to push. If you reprimand her w/ a firm voice or push away, she escalates. If you ignore her and remove any attention from her, she eventually stops and you can progress from there. It's definitely NOT a play bite situation. She'll snarl, curl her lip and bite. Then stand there wagging her tail asking to be petted again. Needless to say, this is going to make it extremely difficult to find her a home. I am at a loss as to how to get her to stop greeting people by biting them. I'm very concerned for her future, as this is behavior that could quickly lead to her being euthanized. I will keep her as long as I have to, but my home is not ideal for a permanent home. We already have 6 dogs and I work 50+ hours a week, plus she thinks cats are great with or without ketchup and we have 5 outdoor cats. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? She truly is a sweet girl once you've established trust and security. She also had little to no bite inhibition, and was EXTREMELY protective of resources (toys, food, etc) but she is improving. Any advice or suggestions are welcome, as well as any direction to reputable rescues or rehabilitation facilities would be helpful. I know I'm in over my head with her, but I don't have many options for her right now. Adopting her out at this point is very worrisome, both for liability reasons as well as her future. Thank you.
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Female Join date : 2016-02-10
Location : Reedsville, WI, USA

Rescued husky, new member need HELP Empty
PostSubject: Re: Rescued husky, new member need HELP   Rescued husky, new member need HELP EmptyMon Feb 29, 2016 1:06 pm

Hello, Stacy! Welcome to the forums!

You have a tough case on your hands. The dog is clearly not ready to be adopted. I think I can help a bit with the bite situation in regards to strangers. Unfortunately for the cats, Huskies are prey-driven and view cats as such. Unless a cat has been established as part of the family, it’s pretty tough to get a Husky to stop chasing them. In regards to that, you could teach her the Leave It command and use it when she focuses on a cat. Maybe it’ll help her learn they’re not to be chased.

Anyway, on to the biting-stranger thing…

Based on what you’ve described, you’re right that her biting is because she’s fearful. It’s important to show her that strangers are nice and not something to be scared of. You’ll need to get someone else’s help with this, and a new person each time you work on it is needed otherwise it defeats the purpose.

Take Karma for a walk and have the person who’s working with you on this be ready to meet you on the path with a handful of treats. Don’t let Karma approach them right away. Have her sit beside you, then have the person throw a treat on the ground in front of Karma. Again, don’t let the person approach her yet. As soon as Karma looks up from eating the first treat, have the person throw another one. They should not be in arm’s reach of her. Have them do this until half the treats are gone. Then have them kneel down and offer a treat from their hand, but they should not try to pet her, and she should only be able to reach their hand, not their body. Have them do this until half of the remaining treats are gone. With the last of the treats, have them give those to her as they pet her. As long as she’s exhibiting good behavior, they should continue to do this. As soon as the treats are gone, they should stand up and walk away. At no point should they pet her without a treat being offered.

They should not offer her a treat after she’s tried to bite them. They should instead get up, turn their back on her, and you should have her sit beside you again. Once she’s seated, have them turn around and offer the treats again.  

Have them back up a step if she tries to bite. You may not get through all of these steps the first few tries. It’s really importantly to proceed to each step slowly and only when she’s ready. If she ever tries to bite, back up one step for a few days. Over time, you’ll want to get her to the point that the stranger only has 2-3 treats, then one treat, then none.

In regards to the treats, you’ll want to use standard dog treats when they’re being thrown on the ground for her (something she likes and is quick to eat, so think of soft treats), but when they’re being offered from the person’s hand, especially when you get to the stage that they’re petting her, you’ll want the treats to be something that has high value, like boiled chicken (you can boil the chicken the night before and leave it in the fridge so they cool off so the person holding them isn’t burning their hands).

If you’re diligent and do this every day with a different person each time, she will quickly grow to trust strangers and the biting behavior should stop completely.
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