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5wolf Posted - 04/04/2013 : 10:25:14 PM
Hey everyone,
I desperately need some expert advice in regards to one of my dogs strange behavior.

I will share a bit about my dogs & their experience. I have 3 daughters and 3 siberian huskies, all rescue, 2 females and a male. I started with my first female, added the second female as companionship. Their relationship was awesome until Zia matured ( we got her at 4 months of age) then they struggled for top dog position of the house. Never anything extreme,though, I would say they enjoyed each other for the most part, happy with each other and spent their days together free in the backyard and came indoors every evening, with daily walk/runs and occasional mushing experiences.

About 2 years ago we added our 3rd, a sweet big male. He his extremely mellow, in a good way( as he can turn on the excitement whenever we go for a walk/run) , as he is lovable to all and never gets moody, like the 2 females ( they are competitive of each other)

My issues are the middle female, Zia. She has always had a different energy, the first couple years with her, we had to be extremely careful of an open door or gate, as she would try to escape, even with daily walks and lots of interaction. She is the one we have always said is the true sled dog, LOVES to run, will work, work and work. Our other 2, the older female is a princess, smarter than all get out, our lead dog, but is rather lazy and loses enthusiasm for the run quickly. Koda our big boy, gets scared at the start of the run( well a mix of intense excitement too), although once going gets the hang of the run, but he is content to be indoors whenever possible. Both have never been bolters, just my Zia.

In the past year she has had very strange episodes. For all the years we have had her (5 years now), she slept inside, beside our bed, all 3 dogs. Then she decided she no longer would sleep there. And often sleeps outside all together, although with lots of patience and treats we can get her to come in and sleep alone in the living room.( I like her in the house at night because of her weird behaviors, plus on one early escape from our property she got into trouble with a cat that did NOT end well) When she comes in she paces constantly, often jumping on doors that lead to nowhere. I have resorted to trying passion flower tea to help soothe her anxiety, which is not working all that much.

Worst part , about 6 months or so now, when we head out for a walk she tries to pull out of her harness and run opposite of us???? This is especially crazy, as it does not happen every walk/run, probably 2 out of every 10 or so walks ( even runs sometimes) . Just today she started the walk extremely relaxed, not even pulling ( which is not the norm) but towards the end she started to pull and try to back out and head opposite of us? ;( ( sooo weird)Upon returning from the walk and entering the yard she frantically scratches on the gates and paces, with a body language of wanting away from the yard/dogs/us - yet with a mix of confusion too, as she will come to me to be petand loved on too? I sat and observed the other 2 to see if there has been any bullying or signs that she has been kicked out of the pack, and the other 2 were relaxed and in chill mode, not following her, bodies at ease..... I need help trying to figure this out. I hesitate taking to a vet, as I do not know exactly what they could possibly do for her, and do not like the idea of medicating her.

Oh she eats a dry meat based kibble mostly( although not liking it much these days), but we do add some raw meats when we can, mixed with their kibble.
Another note, she has not even started blowing her coat and she is a Northern breed, so very dense coat, different than the other 2 , and our weather has really warmed up.

Thanks so very much for anyone who cares to answer and converse over this!
AWolf
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5wolf Posted - 04/12/2013 : 1:32:41 PM
Wow, thanks everyone for all of your tips and suggestions, at first I thought no one was going to bother! :D She is spayed and has been early on after we got her.

I am curious as to the not blowing yet, and that is curious that it could be a thyroid issue.
Ok, so the general opinion I see repeated is to take her in, I will get her scheduled and do so.

I never let my dogs loose outside of our yard. I am always amazed at those that are able to roam free on adventures and long to do so. We have a handful of times, once out in a camping area, and they took off and we had to hunt for them for a couple hours, eventually they found us. Another was at a friends cabin, and it was when we only had the first sib, and she took after horses and cattle, wild as all get out and after being threatened by a rancher that he was going to shoot her, well , we have just not been willing to take the chance again.

It is of some comfort that others have had odd balls like our Zia. I am more hopeful now that a vet will help me sort it out , thanks again & if anyone else has ideas, please share!
doggirl Posted - 04/10/2013 : 10:34:34 AM
I would take this dog to the vet as the failure to blow the coat can idicate an underlying medical issue (thyroid) etc which can also manifest as behavhiour changes.
bluesharpplayer Posted - 04/09/2013 : 07:12:34 AM
[quote]Originally posted by bluesharpplayer

Sounds a bit like my first dog (also a siberian). Two ideas. For the anxiety issue, there are two things I can suggest. I have tried both of them on a non-sled dog in our house with some success. There are collars with a pheromone called DAP (I think). Looks a bit like a flea collar. This is suppose to be the same pheromone released by a mother dog to her pups while nursing. I think this actually did worked to some extent. The other thing is a "thunder jacket". These are basically just a compression jacket for dogs. The "deep pressure" from the jacket calms the dog (much the same a a compression jacket/weighted blanket used for children with sensory disorders and autism). This made a significant difference. It's not be worn 24/7, but can be worn for extended periods (always good to put it on before anxiety peaks it possible). Again, just two ideas that may help.

bluesharpplayer Posted - 04/09/2013 : 07:12:18 AM
For the staying outside/not coming in, there is one thing to consider. I use an e-collar for recall training. The best one I have used (and currently use) is made for hunting dogs, has a page function (vibrate) and shock/nick (nick is very quick, but there is also a constant button for a longer shock), and it has a 3/4 mile range (somewhat shorter of course depending on landscape). I know there are some people who may think e-collars are cruel or lazy - but when used correctly I think they are a superb tool.

Using them "correctly" has a few pieces. Heres how I do it. Work on recal training with the dog (I whistle or use "come"). Have a word indicating a dogs activity is not desired. Some people use "no" - I use "ah ah" because it seems to be recognized better. So when the dog tried to get into the trash - "ah ah", or starts to dig a giant hole in the yard. You can tell they know it when they stop what they are doing. Then make sure I know how to use the e-collar. Read the manual, practice turning control and receiver on/off, practicing buttons and knowing their layout (there are only four so it is pretty easy). Shock myself on the hand at a low level - seems silly but good to do once.

Using the e-collar. Make sure to turn both pieces on. Set the desired stimulation level (shock) with the dial. Different dogs require more/less. Put the collar on the dog - make sure the prongs touch skin! Takes a little more effort for the thicker coated dogs. Let the dog out, call the dog, if the dog fails to come use the negative word "ah ah" and press the page function for a few seconds (causing the collar to vibrate). It the dog responds praise immediately and when they reach you. If the dog does not, I repeat the sequence onces more. If they still do not respond, I end the page, use "ah ah" and press the nick button. They may "yelp" or just look startled - I immediately call them again, praise when they come. The stimulation level may need to be adjusted to get a response or tone it down. Then practice many times - the goal is to create the conditioned response.

I have used this on three dogs. My first the siberian. She would get out, run in one direction - away. Loosing her was a serious concern and we had close calls that were terrifying. The e-collar training ended the bolting within a short while. After the initial training she still had the typical selective listening off leash, but with the page function alone she would always return. My current siberian mix never runs away has selective listening when it is time to come it. She always wears the collar when off leash, and most times she now comes when called with no problem. We use the page function as needed. My alaskan will come when called and does not always wear the e-coallar when outside off leash. If we are hiking or doing other activities wear immediate response to a recall command is needed he does. Prevents eating of dead critters, wandering into undesirable areas when hiking, etc. I look at all of this as a safety measure.

E-collars allow control from great distance and the negative simuli is consistant and not seemingly not coming directly from you. My dogs love to wear their e-collar because it means they get to go outside and do fun stuff. Something to think about if you have real concerns about safety off leash.
bluesharpplayer Posted - 04/09/2013 : 07:11:58 AM
(broke this post into two below)
CrazyDaisy Posted - 04/08/2013 : 1:11:32 PM
Going to the vet to rule out anything physical would be a good idea, but they might not find anything.

I've had a similar female for 10 years now and she has been anxious all her life. It manifests itself in the strangest ways, including breaking out and not wanting to come inside at night. She still breaks crate doors like matchsticks even though she has barely any teeth left.

The anxiety comes in cycles and I still haven't figured out all her triggers and what horrible things she is anticipating. At some point she decided to be afraid when I have the oven on. If she is in the house when I bake something and then let her out she is almost guaranteed not to come in at night and she won't eat anything that evening either. On the other hand I've flown with her in a helicopter and she felt comfortable enough to eat out of my hand when in the air. Go figure.

I've given up on trying to cure this; I've just accepted that she'll be this way the rest of her life and roll with it the best I can. Every now and again there is a new trigger, but sometimes I'm also able to identify a new place or thing of comfort. It often takes months before an anxious behaviour subsides a bit.

Sometimes a radical change helps to break the pattern, like a roadtrip with the dogs that lasts several weeks or boarding her at another place when I need to travel without dogs.
bluesharpplayer Posted - 04/08/2013 : 06:58:31 AM
One other question, is the female spayed (could the behavior changes relate to her heat cycle)?
bluesharpplayer Posted - 04/08/2013 : 06:56:14 AM
I defiantly agree with talking to your vet, especially because this is a change in behavior. I've had a siberian who was a bolter, and an alaskan who refused to eat (seriously in an extreme way). But the siberian always was a bolter, and the Alaskan was stressed from a move from his old kennel to my house. I was fix both of the issues with a few changes/training. But it is always important to try and understand why a change in behavior occurs before trying to fix the issue it (especially if it is physical health related).

In the mean time, one idea for the issue of where the dog sleeps, try giving her a crate. You don't have to lock her in, but try putting it either in your room or in the house somewhere else. Some dogs need a "den" for sleeping. It makes them feel secure and relaxed. My siberian slept behind a chair in the corner of the bedroom. We have a dog now (not a sled dog) that will destroy a crate if locked it - but prefers to sit in his with the door open if he needs a break from things. My Alaskan I put in sometimes and latch the door, it took him a while to get used to that - but he is too darn smart and gets into things when left alone for a period of time.

Also, in regards to not blowing her coat - a few things to notice before talking with the vet - how is her poop (the age old question). Anything out of the norm/different from the other dogs on the same diet? How is her coat/nails/skin? Maybe look for signs of an allergy (both grain or meet source sensitivities), and have the vet do a fecal exame in addition to lab tests (parasites could be stealing nutrients).
D.Heilbrunn Posted - 04/07/2013 : 6:21:50 PM
Sometimes when a dog starts acting weird like that - or at least showing behaviours that are way outa the norm for that dog (espcially anti-social behaviours)- a trip to the vet isn't such a bad idea. Get some blood work done and see if there is something going on inside of her that is causing her pain. I wouldn't worry too much about the vets medicating your dog for a behavior issue though.

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