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An Expert opinion on my pup...comments?

February 11th, 2006, 01:33 PM
My husband and I finally got a trainer in to help us with our puppy who is almost 8 months now. Things were spinning out of control with him...he has been ignoring our commands & ate a big chunk of plastic, which luckily passed. He also escaped out the front door and ran out on the street, just missed being hit by a vehicle and he is still just really afraid of people.

The trainer told us that his skittishness is very extreme. She thinks this is because he is a reservation dog (though he wasn't born there, his mom was). This was quite shocking to me because I didn't know that there were feral dogs on reservations...I thought they were all household pets and looked after. She owns reservation dogs and said that they think different than other dogs; they think more detailed rather than general. She told us that he was now comfortable with her sitting on the couch but if she changed her seating or stood up that he would again start barking & being fearful - this indeed was true. She said they are also more independent in their thinking.

On a positive note she said that he was super smart and very food motivated so he should be a good dog in about a year or so, with consistent training. This was good news for us but being first time dog owners, it is a big shock that so much more work will be required. We love him dearly and would never surrender him but I guess we didn't really know what we were getting when we adopted him.

She told us leadership is key. Right now he feels that he needs to protect himself. He isn't barking for any other reason than plain survival and when he is in this mode, we can't train him. She said that we need to get his attention so when he goes outside and sees a stranger, he first looks at us for guidance. Her suggestions were to get him to really be comfortable with eye contact and to get him to do this outside. Also to use our voice instead of a clicker, since it is always with us.

She was really good and I felt very hopeful when she was there but when she left I wasn't that confident that we could do this alone. He seems to be just so independent. I can't imagine that he will one day pay attention to us outside.

Any comments or thoughts?

February 11th, 2006, 01:55 PM
i'm an alaskan malamute person. They to are "indepentant" thinkers. I actually love that about them. You have to be consistant. I think your trainer is right it will take a yr. It usually takes me 2yrs to get my mals to be able to walk off leash . The best tip i can give you is to be confident. My malamutes can sense when someone is wishy washy and they will not listen at all to that person.
also remember this is an 8month old puppy, usually the Most rebelous stage is between now and about 14-15months in my experience. I call it the teenage yrs. My last rescue malamute i got at 1yrs old he had been beaten starved and generally miss handled. By 3yrs of age he wouldn't chase a squirrel unless i gave him permission.
I can't stress enough that you take a leadership role. back up your words w/leash corrections and when your dog makes right choices love him up like crazy.
Btw, my current malamute is 7 1/2 months old and used to snap up everything and wolf it down. He would try and bite if u went to take anything away. At 3months old i thought i may have to give him back to the breeder,But i went to a trainer who specialized in northen breeds and made me realize just cause he's young doesn't mean he get's to get away w/anything. Now he is WONDERFUL. I can take anything i want and he just kisses me. All i really did was treat him like i used to treat my adult rescues ie i expected a certain behavior and would tolerate nothing else. worked like a charm.
YOU CAN DO IT. In a short time you'll have a truely wonderful dog.
:thumbs up

Lucky Rescue
February 11th, 2006, 01:56 PM
OH gee, and this is your first dog..not easy! Yes, many reservation dogs are basically feral, living with and around people (as they have for many hundreds of years) but not really domesticated as we know dogs to be.

Puppies (and kittens) who do not see people when they open their eyes are usually feral.

The hardest part of dealing with these animals is teaching them to trust humans, since they have no reason to do so. Training is impossible until trust has been attained.

You need to be a firm but kind leader and teach him to follow you and to trust you to keep him safe.

Never soothe or comfort him when he is acting fearful or barking, as this just feeds his fear.

Eye contact is important. You can teach him the "Watch me" command by holding a treat up and moving it to between your eyes while giving the command. The second he makes eye contact, he gets the treat.

Not saying this is going to be easy at all, but sounds like you have found a great trainer and I would depend on her to help you deal with this.

February 11th, 2006, 08:23 PM
Thank you! I spent a long time training him today & at the dog park and he is already making some great progress on the first day. I'm pretty amazed. One thing I just became conscious of is the effect that the neighbor is having on him. When he hears or sees our neighbor, he barks. The neighbor then brings out treats for him and feeds between he is barking. So instead of thinking of this as helpful (that he is getting used to taking food) I saw for the first time that my neighbor is giving in to his demands and rewarding him for barking. Today I told the neighbor to make sure that he sits for him and is quiet before giving him food. This seemed to stop the barking and fear a lot. This may seem obvious but this simple change seems to be making a difference.

He is already getting the eye contact. I'm asking for a watch me before we proceed on walks. This is going to be a long process but I thank you for your advice and encouragement. I always somehow knew he was a little different than a lot of other dogs. I'm glad I went the private training route instead of a class. I don't think I would have gotten as much out of it and wouldn't have known much about him that way.

February 11th, 2006, 08:37 PM
Just a small note on dogs off the reservation....I rescued dogs and cats off the reservation for 10 years and these animals are not always looked after. They have their babies in the bush and if lucky they get out alive and not eaten by cougars or other dogs . The dogs I rescued were wild. They travelled in packs and one of the dogs I so feel in love with had to be put down because she killed my cat: the same cat she lay sleeping with the night before and she almost killed my neighbours cat. When they are out they become wild . In this case my vet told me that it would be better to PTS the dog (Spencer) than place her in a home where she could attack. Anyway that was my experience. However once you have a dogs loyalty they will protect and will always be their for you. It really is so rewarding to see. Good luck

February 11th, 2006, 11:51 PM
Oh my gosh cpietra. I'm really sorry about your experience. Thank you for the warning. My pup was not born in the wild but I think he may have picked things up from his mom and also through his genes....this is something I need to research more. I am going to be observing him very carefully. I want to have children soon too so I have to be sure he is 100% reliable.

February 12th, 2006, 11:30 AM
We have worked with Coy-dogs, Rez-dogs, Wolves, Wolf-hybrids, 3rd world dogs and Katrina survivors. The challenge is greater but not impossible. Yes, leadership is always the key.
We have drills that we do that help you establish that leadership from the start. We recently worked with a 6 yr old dog who had never been touched by a person except to recieve pain. In 1 hour we had her walking on a leash with manners and accepting full body rubs - all without tramatizing her - in fact we had to work extra carefullly because she was on heart worm meds that can make her sick very quickly if she is stressed. My point is that with the right guidance you can make changes quickly. In fact it is probably better to take fast baby steps in your dogs progress. This is because through good and confident leadership that exists in every moment of your dogs life he can take that deep breath and know that from this moment on he never has to fear for his own survival again.
Good luck with this fellow and thanks for getting him through this.

February 13th, 2006, 12:56 AM
Thank you once again are doing a great service here and with these dogs. I always appreciate & respect your advice! My trainer's views are very much in line with what you have taught me here. :love: