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Need help training our rescue dog.

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
We rescued a Malamute mix (Brooke) from our vets office around 2 months ago. The vet said she was probably between 2-3 yrs old, and she has been neutered. She is a very well behaved dog for the most part. She does like to get up on the furniture but will get down when I say "down". I'm also very bad about making it a strict rule, so I can't fault her on that.

What I want to train her to do is to stay at least in sight if she is off the lead. We live on a farm. We own 5 acres, and MIL owns the other 12 acres. We live on a dirt road where the only traffic is the house at the end of the road, and it is a little old lady that only goes to church on sundays.

My other two dogs, Snickers (lab we got at 6 wks) and Buttercup (pug we got at 1 yr) stay with us for the main part when we go outside and we let them run free. They may disappear into the woods, but they will come when we call. Brooke, on the other hand, leads us on a merry chase, where we will have to get on the 4 wheeler and track her down.

We have tried to use treats to get her to come to us. We've stood apart with her on the leash and dropped the leash as me or DH calls to her and rewards her for coming to us. But, on a few occassions, she has run past us, then the chase begins.

We do have a little fenced in yard for now, mainly so they can go out and do their business, and we do take her on walks on a leash a few times a day. We are planning on having a bigger fenced in yard in the back next year, but we have to build the deck first (right now it is a 9 foot drop to the ground!)

Any suggestions on what we can do to keep her with us? We thought at first she didn't realize this was her home, but now that she is settled in, why won't she come to us? DH has even taken her to the end of the road and back, with her on a leash and on a 4 wheeler to try to get the urge to run out of her. He didn't drag her. He kept an eye on her and if she wanted to stop and smell, he stopped. It wasn't a forced thing. But he thought maybe she wanted to run. And, believe me, when she runs...she runs!!!

Any advice would be helpful at this point. Thanks! (Sorry this is so long)
post #2 of 23
I would approach it so she cannot run away. I bought a piece of 50' rope & 2 metal clips. The rope gets clipped to the dog's collar & to my pants. Armed with treats.....I go outside & walk around. I call randomly & whenever the dog returns, they get treats. If they do not return, I "check" them with the cord & make them come back. They then get a treat once they come.

The key is every single time Brooke comes, she gets rewarded. If she doesn't come, don't yell. Be positive. Act like a moron. If mine come, I blubber, & blow kisses at them.

I would honestly not let her outside without being on a leash. The key is to get her 100% trained, then reward her. You can't give her the opportunity to be what humans consider "naughty" as to her, it's fun! I know you probably know that...but it is what you must keep in mind.

I know a very good doggie trainer, so if you want, you can PM me with quesitons that I can refer to her!
post #3 of 23
Malamutes and other "northern" breeds can be very "stubborn" to train, in my experience. They also love to escape and run away, although some are worse than others. I would say make sure you research some breed-specific training.
post #4 of 23
There has to be a bond there for the dog to want to stay around you, and generally speaking that takes much longer than two months to build. The 'honeymoon' period isn't even overwith by then.

Personally, I would keep her on leash for several more months before switching to dragging a long line (which is the point our boston is at right now, and we've had him for almost 2 years. He ran away on me both times I tried to let him outside off lead the first few months after we got him). A reliable recall is not something you want to rush (as I've had to learn with Mr. Attention Span of a Gnat. )

You've gotten great advice already, and I completely agree with the silly sounds and motions to get your dog back to you. I've even dropped and rolled around on the ground, waving my arms if I called and they didn't come. Then it's HUGE party when they come over to find out what the heck is wrong with you.

And I hate to say, but I've never known a nordic dog that didn't run away. Good luck! I hope you figure it out!
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
I would approach it so she cannot run away. I bought a piece of 50' rope & 2 metal clips. The rope gets clipped to the dog's collar & to my pants. Armed with treats.....I go outside & walk around. I call randomly & whenever the dog returns, they get treats. If they do not return, I "check" them with the cord & make them come back. They then get a treat once they come.

The key is every single time Brooke comes, she gets rewarded. If she doesn't come, don't yell. Be positive. Act like a moron. If mine come, I blubber, & blow kisses at them.

I would honestly not let her outside without being on a leash. The key is to get her 100% trained, then reward her. You can't give her the opportunity to be what humans consider "naughty" as to her, it's fun! I know you probably know that...but it is what you must keep in mind.

I know a very good doggie trainer, so if you want, you can PM me with quesitons that I can refer to her!
That is a great idea. Do you hook it onto your belt loop? The only problem with that is she loves to chase the barn cats, and I'm afraid she will rip my pants right off me. NOT a pretty sight!

We give her lots of lovings and basically make fools of ourselves when she does come to one of us. My MIL has a large fenced in back yard so maybe we will work with her there.

I didn't realize it took so long for a dog to bond with you, but things have been pretty hectic since the day we brought her home. The same day Little One showed up with a bad leg infection after missing for almost a week, so a lot of our time was spent taking care of her instead of paying attention to Brooke. Then 2 weeks ago, Snickers had her puppies, which took more of our attention. Plus, we were worried about Snickers and Buttercup feeling neglected if we gave Brooke extra attention (especially with Snickers being pregant) so we probably didn't give her as much attention as she needed.

I guess I got spoiled with Snickers because we never had a problem with her sticking around us, but then again she was 6 wks when we brought her home.

Thanks for all the advice. I think time and working with her (and lots of treats!) will do the trick...eventually. Don't worry, we don't experiment with her anymore! I've gotten more excersize chasing after her the last 2 months than I have the last 2 years!!
post #6 of 23
Many Mals will never be 100% off-leash reliable no matter how much you train, it's part of the breed.

You need to teach a reliable recall, and stop letting her out off-leash for right now. Running away is a self rewarding behavior for her, why would she stop

I like this article to start training a reliable recall.

Hope that helps,
Lauren
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
I would approach it so she cannot run away. I bought a piece of 50' rope & 2 metal clips. The rope gets clipped to the dog's collar & to my pants. Armed with treats.....I go outside & walk around. I call randomly & whenever the dog returns, they get treats. If they do not return, I "check" them with the cord & make them come back. They then get a treat once they come.
This is generally the approach that I use with the recall command ("come"). You put the dog on the rope and walk away from her. Stand at the end of the rope and firmly use the COME command and tug the rope until she is at your side. Repeat this as often as necessary until she comes 100% of the time. I actually don't use treats, just love and affection as the reward.

I won't let my dogs off lead until they have learned COME. When we take our boys out walking, we never use a leash now. We give them a certain distance where we will allow them to roam, and once they hit that distance, we recall them with the COME.

I honestly don't think that their sex or breed have a lot to do with it. We've had very challenging breeds and this has worked for us, as long as we use it consistently.
post #8 of 23
Ben is our 9 year old Golden Retriever. Too smart for his own good. On leash or inside, he is perfect - no pulling, perfect sit, stay, stand. I was told that he would make a great therapy dog as he is so calm.

Until he is off leash and out front. He knows he can go where he wants and we can't catch him. He has taken off for the park for his own walk before.

At that point, we decided that for his safety, he can never be off leash. He still goes places, just always on leash. And people are so impressed with his manners - because he is on leash.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
I didn't realize it took so long for a dog to bond with you, but things have been pretty hectic since the day we brought her home. The same day Little One showed up with a bad leg infection after missing for almost a week, so a lot of our time was spent taking care of her instead of paying attention to Brooke. Then 2 weeks ago, Snickers had her puppies, which took more of our attention. Plus, we were worried about Snickers and Buttercup feeling neglected if we gave Brooke extra attention (especially with Snickers being pregant) so we probably didn't give her as much attention as she needed.
It happens, life gets busy, especially when you have other pets. Our rott rescue Sydney was a severely under socialized yard dog with heartworm and two blown cruciates. She could barely walk and we have to lift her up after she laid down. She started HW treatment two weeks after we got her, and didn't recover from it well. She almost died and was in ICU for a week. She came home with specific instructions that she was NOT allowed out of her crate except to pee, and that had to be on-leash and then right back into her crate again. We weren't allowed to play with her or get her excited, and if she got nervous (she doesn't like storms) we had to lightly drug her. This went on for two months before we were allowed to let her out of the crate.

As a result, her bonding time with us was delayed as well. But now she is like a part of my butt. She loves me more than any dog I've ever had. So it will come with time.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys! You all have given such great advice! We diffently won't "see how it goes" until we have done extensive training either on a long lead or in an enclosed place (like MIL's back yard). The only thing with the long lead is, I'm trying to get to listen while on the leash. As in staying by my side without pulling my arm out of the socket! I want to walk her, not the other way around. 90% of the time, she is very good (actually better than Snickers EVER was on a leash) but that 10%, when she sees something she wants to go after, it's all I can do to keep all four feet on the ground!

Would it confuse her to have her on a short leash, then put her on a lead for training? Or, should we try to train in a confided place, then keep her on a short lead for walks?

I'm new to the dog world, so please bear with me...and thank you for all your help!
post #11 of 23
Maybe enrolling her in obdience school or find a private trainer to work with her. but YOU will be the one working with her not the trainer.. so I would enroll her in obdience school at petsmart or something.

Jenny was a pain in the rear to train. I trained her in 4-H. She was great at sit, stay, lay down, heel but she would be stubborn as an ox when I told her to come..

She finally learned to come, she knew how but doesn't come when she gets loose. She knows a lot of commands to stay and we used the method in 4-H to make the dog sit and walk 2 circles around them and if they stay to reward them.

It's very important you work on her re-call just incase she gets out someday and another dog approaches her that she will come back when you call her. keep a firm voice when you're training her..keep it calm and don't shout but use a very firm voice.

don't use "baby talk" you can use "baby talk" when you praise her, though. and . make her sit and stay or lay down and stay and when you say come and if she comes reward her. you don't always have to reward in treats, just a nice pet on the head is fine and say "good girl" and praise her.

Sometimes you can keep her on a long leash but if she's not so fond of other dogs keep her on a short leash until you get her away from the other dog(s) if that makes sense. Also, what worked for us in 4-H you would kneel down and step on the end of the leash and say "come" sometimes if you pat your legs and say "come" it helps, too. best of luck to you and Brooke!

It's sometimes best to enroll them in obdience school so she can learn other commands as well.
post #12 of 23
When we were training our Lab, the trainer suggested we use a Halti, or Gentle Leader. It's basically like a halter for a horse. She explained that dogs like to pull, and some (like huskies & northern breeds) are even BRED to pull. So a regular collar or harness supposedly makes them want to pull more. It really helped a lot because he used to hurt my back when he'd take off after something.
post #13 of 23
Something to keep in mind if you have a smarty pants dog, is that when you're working on recalls holding a long line, the dog will KNOW it's on a line and therefore can't run away. So when it's outside on a line the first time, and you tell it to come and it doesn't, and you reel it in, all the rest of that session, it will know it can't run away.

So a lot of time you can only get one 'true' recall in in a session.

Don't you hate it when they're smart?

For the pulling once in a while, does she have a favourite toy or treats that is just the WORLD to her? If she does you could save it for only when she starts to get distracted (the 10% of the time you mentioned), whip the toy/treat out, make a huge deal out of it and walk away while she leaps all over you to get it. Once the distraction is past, give her the toy/treat.

You could also use freedom as a reward. If she's on lead (in a fenced area) and gives you a beautiful prompt, attention recall, then throw a party, let her offlead and tell her 'loose dog' or whatever you release word is. Let her run around and sniff, pee, etc, and then go to her and put her back on lead (with a treat of course).
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post
When we were training our Lab, the trainer suggested we use a Halti, or Gentle Leader. It's basically like a halter for a horse. She explained that dogs like to pull, and some (like huskies & northern breeds) are even BRED to pull. So a regular collar or harness supposedly makes them want to pull more. It really helped a lot because he used to hurt my back when he'd take off after something.
You know, I never even thought about since she's part malamute, she may have just been bred to pull! That makes sense though. I'll look into one of those halters.

And Gomer, she IS smart enough to realize she can't run on a lead so it probably would be better working with her in MIL's fenced in yard.

Thanks guys!
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
You know, I never even thought about since she's part malamute, she may have just been bred to pull! That makes sense though. I'll look into one of those halters.

And Gomer, she IS smart enough to realize she can't run on a lead so it probably would be better working with her in MIL's fenced in yard.

Thanks guys!
This thread had perfect timing for me. My daughter tried to bring home a Husky puppy yesterday, LOL.
post #16 of 23
I am not a big fan of using the lead and pulling on it to get the dog to come. This is called "phsyical prompting" and as Gomer already said, the dog is not stupid and as soon as the lead is gone, your dog will be too.
Until the recall is reliable, I would not let her off-lead for a while. Some dogs are clingy and will stick to you and others are not. Nordic dogs usually are not.
I would recommend practicing recall indoors-the "sit" "stay" "come" routine using rewards for correct behavior.
If you want to try "behavior capture" to train the "come" command you can make use of a dog's wanting to play chase. However, never chase the dog-have the dog chase you. Run AWAY from the dog-most cannot resist a good game of chase. Holler "come" over your shoulder. This gets the dog to associate the word "come" with something pleasant (chasing you) and what you want (dog runs towards you).
You've gotten a lot of advice here, have fun sorting through it and finding what works for you and best of luck.
post #17 of 23
Malamutes are part of a collection of breeds that are not particularly motivated by pleasing their owner. This has led to the mistaken belief that they are stubborn, but they are actually not, you just have to find what motivates them. They are a strong and independent breed that was initially developed to work alongside humans - hunting, sledding, working side by side. They are a part of a team and not genetically or naturally subservient and motivated by making you happy. In order to expect your dog to work with you, you need to work with your dog and treat her like an intellectual equal - with an important role to play in your pack. Then you will start to make real progress.

With training such as this, you need to be consistent, never, ever change your routine, never, ever confuse your dog by allowing her sometimes to do one thing and sometimes to do another, persistence, commitment and patience is the key to getting this right. Malamutes are amongst the most intelligent of the breeds. You will be able to teach her to do what you want and it will stick, but you just have to understand the breed and work out what is the best motivation.

The advice you have been given about the extra, extra long rope is the best you will get in order to achieve what you are after. But don't use it to coerce your dog, use it to guide her and teach her what her boundaries are. Don't vary your commands and make sure that whatever it is that motivates her - whether it be food, praise, a toy, a game - is there and is plentiful for when she does the right thing. Keep corrections positive and meaningful and do not bore her with repetition and nagging.

And good luck! Would love to see some pics
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I'm basically new to the dog world, and not really sure about training. My MIL suggests a choker collar, but that just sounds too cruel (although I did try it once, and she did respond). I'm still not really sure what motivates her. She can be a mystery at times.

But, here are some pics. They are when we first brought her home a few months ago. The other two dogs are Snickers (choco lab that just had puppies) and Buttercup (the pug and current alpha...believe it or not!)







Like I said, she isn't a pure malamute (that is what the vet said) she is a mix. I think she may have some German Shepard in her too, but I don't have a clue!
post #19 of 23
She's adorable! You know, she looks exactly like my little JD, except he's black. How tall is she?
post #20 of 23
She looks like she has Samoyed or Spitz in her to me. Do NOT use a choker - outdated, cruel, ineffective. And do not under any circumstances watch or read Cesar Milan. He has been indicted for killing two dogs and has no actual qualifications whatsoever. He has set back dog training 20 years and continues to do a lot of damage in the real world where reputable trainers have to clean up the messes he has made. I am only reminded of him because of the mention of chokers
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
She looks like she has Samoyed or Spitz in her to me. Do NOT use a choker - outdated, cruel, ineffective. And do not under any circumstances watch or read Cesar Milan. He has been indicted for killing two dogs and has no actual qualifications whatsoever. He has set back dog training 20 years and continues to do a lot of damage in the real world where reputable trainers have to clean up the messes he has made. I am only reminded of him because of the mention of chokers
I strongly second that assessment. If you haven't heard me mention it before, I absolutely love Jan Fennell's book, The Dog Listener. She teaches true dog leadership skills in a very gentle way that dogs understand. Unfortunately she is not on U.S. TV, but only on U.K.'s Animal Planet.

If you had a choice to follow Gandhi or Hitler, which would you choose? I liken Jan's style to Gandhi and Cesar's style to Hitler.
post #22 of 23
Oh yeah. Well put. I love her work. She is a little old-fashioned and I don't always put a lot of stock in such dominance-based training, but she has what I would call a true understanding of the pack and dogs really respond so well to everything she teaches. Talk about meaningful communication - it was Jan Fennell that helped me make my decision to become a behaviourist.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I strongly second that assessment. If you haven't heard me mention it before, I absolutely love Jan Fennell's book, The Dog Listener. She teaches true dog leadership skills in a very gentle way that dogs understand. Unfortunately she is not on U.S. TV, but only on U.K.'s Animal Planet.

If you had a choice to follow Gandhi or Hitler, which would you choose? I liken Jan's style to Gandhi and Cesar's style to Hitler.
I have "The Dog Listener" and have tried to use a lot of the methods. I just wish I had more time to work with her. Well, with all my dogs! I've never even heard of the other guy (which sounds like a good thing!).

I only used a choker that one time (at MIL's suggestion) and it was a very short walk. I would never use one again though. When I was growing up, my Dad used to walk our German Shepard on a choker (I think it was the norm then...my Dad would never have intentially hurt his "son"), but I thought it was cruel even then. So, don't worry...that is not an option!
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