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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19767
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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Please help! We have a Husky - have had m years now and s

Customer Question

please help! We have a Husky - have had him for 2 years now and his bad behavior and aggression is getting worse. He has bitten every member of my family including my 5 year old. Last night, he made his way upstairs through a baby gate system we have in place (oldest son home from college left it open) and:
1. woke us up at 4am, would not settle down, would not leave the room
2. gently took him by the collar to pull him off the bed stating, "lets go get a treat" and he growled and bit me, keeping my arm in his mouth for over 10 seconds
Our last family pet was a giant long haired german sheppard who was our hero and I cry as I type this. Belle wouldn't have hurt anyone in our family ever, for any reason.
Bandit our husky, has learned to sit, stay, lay down, for treats, you can brush him (for the most part) but when he is done he will just snap and bite the crap out of you. I am the sole breadwinner of the family with 3 children, a husband who stays at home but who will NOT do anything with the dog other than let him outside. Thus, no walks, no routine, etc. and I am exhausted and terrified in my own home. The shedding is horrendous but I would gladly put up with that for a nice dog. He will run you over when you open any door, literally taking out your legs (had huge bruise on my knee for 2 weeks), runs away..... but comes back if you walk away vs. chase him - HA! He is extremely intelligent but has absolutely no respect for us as his owner. He fights with the yorkie we have so we keep them separated, same but worse with the cat who stays upstairs (with Belle the german shep, they all used to just lay together) I am afraid when he does get loose, he will attack another dog (he has tried but my son caught him in time). He does not jump our 3 foot fences and will stay all night long in a room with a giant all leather couch - unharmed so I am grateful for his good behavior. PLEASE HELP - I am at my end with this dog (keep in mind, the yorkie wears a diaper due to marking our entire house but weighs 5 pounds and is 14 years old so he is family) I have very limited time and resources and what I do have, I'd prefer to spend it on my children.... who need me and who don't bite - sorry laugh or cry.... thank you!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
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.
Unfortunately, if no one is willing to put the time in with him and earn his respect, he will continue to do exactly what he is doing now which is controlling the household.
The first thing I'd do is get him neutered. That will take some of the hormones out of the equation. The next thing that is absolutely necessary is training. Now I don't mean that you have to take him to a class and pay money to have him trained. He might learn commands that way but he won't learn to listen to you which is what you need. He has to see you as the boss. This is training that should have been happening throughout his life.
Huyskies are very intelligent dogs and strong willed. They need owners that are strong willed as well. The owner has to be the boss. You can still accomplish this. It would be best if everyone was on board with the training program, but it is possible for you to start and the rest to follow.
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.
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.
Use hot dog slivers as the treat. Keep a leash on him. It doesn't have to be a very long leash, just keep it on so you have a different way of controlling him besides grabbing his collar. You can then use the leash to get his attention and issue a verbal reprimand in the form of NO.
At first he will be listening to the commands only to get the treats but the more times a dog obeys a command from a person, the more submissive they become to that person and obeying that persons commands becomes second nature to them and they obey no matter what. Along with treats you also give nice calm praise and as he obeys all the time, start cutting back on the hot dog treats but don't let it be predictable when he will get treats and when he will get praise. Initially always more treats than praise.
Start working with him on the recall/come command. Many dogs don't come when called because they have learned that the only time they are called is when fun time is over. People call their dogs to them to make them come inside or to stop chasing prey (cats) or to be put on leash (end of free running time) or even crated. The only association they have with the come command is negative.
Additionally, dogs find chase to be a highly amusing game and have learned that if they get close to a human, the human might chase them. They love a good game. So what you need to do is make coming to you more pleasurable.
The easiest way is to reward your dog with small tiny treats and praise whenever your dog comes to you when you give the command. Do this even when the dog wants to come to you. After a few treats, the dog will associate coming to you with getting treats and praise. Outside, you will want to use a long lead. Do not drag your dog to you, but say the command and if the dog doesn't come, give the leash a short tug. Start with short distances and gradually extend the distance as your dog becomes more familiar with the command. Over time, you will reduce the treats and increase the praise until praise is the only reward. Another thing to remember is to never call a dog to you to discipline it, go to the dog. During training I don't call a dog to me unless it is going to be pleasant for the dog. I usually don't have much of a problem since the dogs quickly learn that I have thinly sliced hot dog treats just waiting for them to obey me.
I alway recommend starting inside since most dogs are more than willing to come when inside. You can even have a helper and both call the dog to them in turn rewarding the dog for coming to you.
I would be using a muzzle as well. They make basket muzzles that can be worm for longer periods of time to prevent biting. He may not allow you to use it on him, so be sure to acclimate him to it first. Here are some instructions on that.
This isn't a quick fix, though the muzzle will help prevent bites when it is on. Training will start the dog respecting you. When the dog sees you as the boss, he won't be tempted to bite you to reprimand you for what he feels you are doing that is unacceptable like tell him what to do or moving him or even making him listen to you. So he bites. If you are doing what he wants you to do, he is fine until he no longer wants to do it, then he growls and bites if you don't listen. Once he sees you as the boss, he won't bite you.
At that point everyone else will need to start training with him as well or he will continue to treat them the same way. It is not going to happen over night and going to take a lot of work, but the sooner you start the faster it will progress. He is still young and I think you can turn him around with training.
Rehoming him may not be feasible without you disclosing that the dog bites and that may put you in a situation where you might be liable for any of his actions so be sure to seek legal advice if you decide you have to rehome him. Start with training and making him work for everything and see if there is any improvement at all even if very small. I think you will be surprised at how fast you see some results.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi Amy,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler