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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A friend of mine contacted me today asking if I would be willing to adopt his husky, Shadow. I asked why he wanted to rehome him and he told me "I was hard on him as a puppy and he's never trusted me since. He's very skittish and he's starting to bite people now when they reach for him." His wife is still very attached to Shadow so I am looking for ways for my friend to build trust with his dog again. I already told him about dropping treats every time he is near Shadow but he said he has tried that and Shadow refuses to touch them until he leaves the room. When I asked what other things he has tried to build trust he said "the way I treat him, being patient, spending more time with him, going on walks a lot etc. etc." Any other tips that I can pass on?
 

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He needs to have patience. He is reaping what he has sown.

The treats are a good idea, so are talking quietly, moving slowly and being consistently kind and gentle.
 

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I would make sure he is the dog's primary care-giver. I would also have him stop trying. What I mean is, I would have him essentially ignore the dog unless the dog initiates contact. IF the dog initiates contact, be gentle and quiet. DON'T reach for him or make eye contact. Let the dog push for it. Put the male owner in charge of all of the good things and put the dog in charge of managing interactions. Might take a couple of weeks, but most likely the dog will reach out.

There's also an interesting element of nature/nurture here. There are a ton of dogs who will tolerate and forgive harsh handling. This one didn't. Likely this dog was more likely to be reactive genetically and his environment enhanced this trait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Trainingjunkie, as the dogs primary caregiver wouldn't that mean that he has to initiate contact regularly if he has to take him for walks and stuff? Mind elaborating on how he is supposed to ignore him but still be primary caregiver? I want to make sure I am passing this on correctly and make it clear what he has to do.
 

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Trainingjunkie, as the dogs primary caregiver wouldn't that mean that he has to initiate contact regularly if he has to take him for walks and stuff? Mind elaborating on how he is supposed to ignore him but still be primary caregiver? I want to make sure I am passing this on correctly and make it clear what he has to do.
The wife could do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
But then he wouldn't be the primary caregiver, would he?
 

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But then he wouldn't be the primary caregiver, would he?
Lol I guess not. Maybe trainingjunkie meant to just ignore him except for feeding and taking him for walks since those are positive things, but other than that let the dog set the pace as to how much physical interaction it wants.
 

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Putting down a food bowl and snapping on a line can be done very, very neutrally. Do it without babbling, without eye contact. If the dog flinches when the leash goes on, have the wife leash him and hand off the lead.

Have you ever watched someone trying to seduce a dog? The stare, babble endlessly in baby-talk, they try to pet, they reach... I have a dog that will LEAVE THE ROOM when someone tries too hard with her. She has never been mistreated for a minute, but the pressure from the needy people just melts her. If you walk into my house and blow her off, she will be begging for your attention in no time.

I can see how I caused confusion, but care-taking in a very business-like way has virtually no pressure to it. Begging for affection or even seeking it will push a dog away.

Have you ever noticed how cats gravitate towards cat-hating people? Shy dogs will often do the same.

Hope I'm less confusing than I was before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Much better! I get it now! Thanks!
 

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Daenerys;1215460He's very skittish and he's starting to bite people now when they reach for him."[/QUOTE said:
This is the most important part of the post and a situation I would not let go unaddressed. Handled improperly, it will end up with someone getting a real bite and that can get the dog put down and the owners sued. If they decide to keep the dog, they need the help of a good trainer/behaviorist. It will take a lot of effort to turn this dog around and rebuild trust - months of effort. To be honest, I'm impressed with your friend's honesty and his wish to do the best thing for the dog by considering rehoming. That would be my recommendation. There might be a husky rescue in the area that would be willing to take the dog on.
 

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Same idea, slightly different approach:
1. During feeding time, take the bowl of dog food into the kitchen (if that's where the dog eats) and sit on the floor.
2. Do not look at the dog, maybe read a book or play a game on the phone.
3. Toss one piece of kibble over the head of the dog and ignore him, until he eats the kibble.
4. Toss another after he eats the first.
5. After the dog eats 3 pieces of kibble AND looks at the owner for more, Take out TWO pieces of kibble. Toss one in front of the dog and hold the other in an open hand, again ignoring the dog.
6. If the dog also takes the second kibble from the hand, put two pieces in the hand. After the dog takes those... wait.
7. The dog may interact after this point. May stare at the owner, may nuzzle the hand, may talk for more food.
8. When the dog interacts, look at the dog, call his name, and give him 3 pieces of kibble one at a time... then wait again.
9. Try repeating 7 & 8 as needed. It may not be effective the first day, but may work great on the second day. May take a week.
 

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Huskies aren't naturally trusting, or forgiving, or food-motivated. Plus, a lot of them are stand-offish even if they do like/trust you. So I don't know how bad the situation is or what will motivate the dog to trust him again.

But rather than re-homing, can they simply transfer the major caretaking to the wife? I don't really like the idea of the guy re-homing the dog just so he doesn't have to feel guilty whenever the dog reacts badly to him. But the biting is a big concern, so if they feel like they can't handle that I do think a Husky rescue would be best. I just hope he learned his lesson.
 
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