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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19374
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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My wife and I adopted an 8 yr old female Alaskan Klee Kai.

Customer Question

My wife and I adopted an 8 yr old female Alaskan Klee Kai. She has been with us now 6+ months and it has been very challenging.
Some back ground for her- She was an active part of a breeders program. She had 4 litters and was shown enought to get her nation wins- BoS etc. and validate her for the breeder. She is an exempery example of the breed both from a conformation as well as behavioral perspective. They sadly removed her abilty to bark and for some reason there was a need for her to have a historectomy.
As a member of our family here are some details- She is a great dog with other dogs and animals. She shows no aggression or prey drive (unusual for klee kai but typical if not allowdped). She is wonderful with small children, as well as all guests in our home. Our kids are grown so its just my wife and I and another young Klee Kai. She is close with and trusts my wife. The issue is with me and will be illiterated below.
We have another Klee Kai, a 1yr old (nuetered) male we got as an 8 wk old puppy. The two get along like two peas in a pod. She puts up with more than my wife and think she should from him. She acts like he is one of her own even though he was here first.
The problem is with me. She is apparently distrustful (excessively so) of me. If I enter the room (quietlt and calmly) she will stand arms length from me and- GENUINELY - bark (well silently) until she is no longer able to. 30+ continued minutes. Unprovoked. I cant touch her, feed her, let her out to go potty, put her in her kennel, put a leash on to walk etc. its a really big issue. There has been no negative reinforcemet or correction from me. Ever. So its a bit weird. Any thoughts or advice. Its so bad that our Vet, much to his chagrin, has put her on prozac. First 10mg. per day and then 15mg. We also have her wearing a calming pheremone collar.
We love her and want the best for her. I have tried everything we could think of to biuld trust( treats, losts of positive reinforcement) to no avail. She is REALLY difficult for me to deal with if my wife isnt home and the situation is just short of untenable. Any thoughts?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. I am reading your question now and it will likely take me about 20-30 minutes to type up my response. I hope you can be patient.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

What I would suggest is that your wife first work with her on her obedience training. I know she was trained before but she needs to acknowledge someone in the household as her owner. The way for her to see someone as the boss is for that person to work with them on their commands. Show training isn't necessarily obedience training so let me give you a site that helps an owner with how to train a dog. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

Once your wife has her under control, she can then work on her behavior toward you. Some people believe in a purely positive approach to training but I believe that a dog needs to also know what they are doing that is unacceptable. So I believe a balanced approach to training is necessary which does entail reprimands for unacceptable behavior.

Have your wife leash your dog. Each time your dog barks at you have her give her a short tug for a correction and tell her “NO” in a low firm tone. Dog’s growl when they are commanding other dogs which is why she should use a low firm tone. Do this each time. I realize it may be an ongoing battle. You may do training where you come in the room, have her make the correction and you leave immediately. She should make the correction as soon as she starts to bark. Have small tasty treats like hotdog slices ready. If your dog does not bark at you, she should praise her and give her a small treat. Practice this often. Each time she doesn’t bark, give her a treat. Before you know it, she’ll be associating you and not barking with getting treats and praise. At this point you will want to cut back on the treats and make them a sometime reward with the praise being the reward. Remember, the correction should not be hard, or choking, just a quick short tug, to break her concentration while she tells her “NO”.

Treats are tricky as they need to be timed so the dog is acting appropriately when she gets the treat. If she is barking and you give a treat, in her mind, she is being rewarded for barking. I would keep a leash on her at all times at this point. This will help allow you to control her to a certain degree. If at all possible, you also need to work with her on obedience training as well. I suggest once she is responding well to your wife's commands you take over working with her on commands as well.

The alternative is to have your wife step back from the dog a bit. If the dog wants food, she will have to eat what you give her. Leaving the leash attached will allow you to move her around. Keeping hot dog slices as treats in your hand will often keep a dog at least following your hand. You can have your wife use the leash to walk her outside and then you take the leash and stand there with her. You will just stay outside with her until she does her business, then you can go inside with her or have your wife come take her in if she won't move.

If you haven't had her long, it may be a question of giving her time. Often we will suggest ignoring the dog until they are more comfortable around you. You can put a few hot dog slices on the floor in various places leading to where you will sit on the floor. Say one 9 feet away, one 6 food and one 3 foot. Do this several times a day and ignore her as she eventually comes and eats the treats. Eventually there will be no hesitation on her part and she'll eat them almost as soon as you sit down. Then move the treats a little closer until she is next to you eating them. The you will keep a treat in your hand palm up and open and wait for her to get that last treat from your hand. You still ignore her. After she is taking that treat regularly, you can start talking to her and this will get her associating you with good things and not be so confrontational.

If you are not against shock bark collars, you might use one to stop the barking (even though it is silent) or get a citronella spray bark collar. This will immediately reprimand her for the unwanted behavior of barking which will be a start at least to stopping the other unwanted behavior. Once you get to the point where you can work with her on obedience, she should settle down pretty quickly.

If your wife is unable to work with the dog on obedience training effectively or the techniques I've suggested don't seem to be working well, then a professional behaviorist may have to be consulted. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

http://www.apdt.com

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer so I am compensated for my time.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi Francis,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler

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