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Ideas on how to break some bad habits

BioGhost
February 18th, 2009, 02:23 PM
Hello All

I am looking for some ideas on how to train out some bad habits that my 2 1/2 year old Male Husky mix has.

1. I have walked him since he was a puppy in the bush off leash. For the most part he listens very well to me; however when I call him back to my side he has developped a habit to stop and look for something of interest and if there is nothing there then he will return to me, if there is something he will most likely bolt for it. If I completely have his attention then it is usally not a problem, but he is a dog outside where he gets to roam and sniff away. I do not wish to leash him as this would break his and my heart. I like to see him run free and have fun.

2. He has a mild case of seperation anxiety in certain situations. Like going to a store and I tie him up while I go in. If I get out of sight he will most likely chew the leash to get free, yet at home in the backyard he would never do so, even if I was to ignore his whining to come back in.

3. When I got him as a pup my roomate had taken his sister, but her and her boyfriend were not capable of properly taking care of her so they gave her away to a country home. Since then he seeks the attention of any dog he comes across even if the dog is showing behaviour that they do not wish to socialize. He will almost choke himself out trying to get to the other dog no matter what I have tried. I am not sure how to word this, is there anyway to try and ease his anxiety? Just keep socializing with other dogs and eventually he will grow out of it? I'd like to get another dog to keep each other company, but at this time it is not feasible.

JennieV
February 19th, 2009, 08:42 PM
A couple of questions for clarification purposes:
1. Is your dog fixed?
2. Is he always an outdoor dog?
3. Have you ever trained the basic obedience commands?

Right off the top of my head I would suggest going back to start, get a long leash, they have these 20' leashes available for training and start training him the "Come" command from scratch. You should only be comfortable enough letting him off the leash completely if your recall is excellent. This may be a matter of life and death.
The strange behavior when he sees other doggies - I dont think it is necessarily related to losing his sister, but to lack of overall socialization with his kind. Dogs are pack animals, they like to be around other dogs, but dogs that are not given that opportunity may develop behavioral problems, as well as may react badly when they finally are given the chance to go over and see the other dog. This may result in a potential fight, because your dog doesn't know the "etiquette" of approaching another dog.
So I would suggest to start seeking out possibilities of socializing your dog with other dogs whenever you can, maybe arrange for play sessions with your neighbor dogs? But first thing first - if the dog is not neutered - you must take care of that. Just my :2cents:!
Good luck!

TeriM
February 19th, 2009, 09:43 PM
I would suggest going back to basics and teaching a new "come" command.

Choose a brand new word (I use hustle for my emergency recall).

Make coming to you the most fun and rewarding thing ever. When you call the dog try turning sideways while moving away and clapping your hands. Dogs love to chase and this makes it seem like a fun game.

When he does come then be sure to give good rewards (pick a super yummy treat that he only gets for this or pull out a favourite tug toy etc) and then release quickly again to let him go play. You want him to learn that come doesn't mean all the fun is over.

While walking off leash and your dog just comes back to "check-in" then reinforce that behaviour. Small tasty treats, praise etc will teach him that it is a good thing to stick close :thumbs up.

It sounds to me as well that your dog has some poor social skills. I would work on that as well, socializing with other dogs that you know is a great start. Obedience classes are also great as they help to teach them to focus even when other dogs are around.

Good luck :D.

JennieV
February 19th, 2009, 10:05 PM
Excellent tips TeriM, I will pick up some of them to reinforce Sparky's recall as well, even though he is pretty great now. :thumbs up

BioGhost
February 20th, 2009, 08:44 AM
Thx for the responses and ideas TeriM and JennieV.

Yes, Logan is fixed. He is not an outdoor dog. He has not been to obedience classes. In my opinion training never ends, its a constant within both our lives.

Recall: The first thing I did when I started noticing the recall behavior was training on my 25' Training leash in the park. Playing new games with him etc. I didn't try a special recall command, I'l have to work on that with the body movement to show its fun. "Check in" Its my favorite time to reward him and I always do. He never gets very far from me, unless there is something to chase.

Social: He has many dog friends that we run into all the time. We have been really lucky that almost all dogs we have encountered they were able to play together. I think he may be slowly improving in this matter with age, but its almost like he needs to get into that one scrap to learn this lesson(which is the scary part). It has always been my intention to get another dog, I would have kept his sister except at the time there was too much going on to handle 2 puppies. I am hoping soon I can get another one. Maybe Classes will be the key until then.

Lukka'sma
February 20th, 2009, 09:30 AM
If your dog has poor to no recall why do you allow it to run off leash? Even in the bush there is still the chance that your dog could go charging after something and you may find your dog in a very serious situation one day.
What is it that your dog is chasing? Do you allow it to go after deer, fox, rabbits. What if your dog actually catches up to a fox or rabbit, does it then fight and kill them, I find this very disturbing if that is the case. In my opinion your dog should never be off leash without recall abilities especially when there are distractions.

BioGhost
February 20th, 2009, 11:53 AM
Hi Lukkas'ma

I have walked him this way since he was a little pup. I walk him in the same area every single day. This area is on a very steep mountain side where there is very little chance of running into other animals. However even saying that I don't believe in creating a bubble for him to live in and to take something away from him that he enjoys so much would be devastating. After all he is only doing what is in his nature to do.

He has chased gophers, foxes. His intentions are to play, not that it matters to the other side. Could he get in trouble? Yes he could. Is the risk worth seeing him as happy as possible? Yes it is. It just means I have to work twice as hard to train him to recall while his attention is not focused on me.

I appreciate the concern, but please don't turn this into a debate. You have your opinion and are free to express and share it.