Saturday, January 26, 2008


Here are some photos from yesterdays session at the prison. Zebra, the husky who had been adopted out, was returned to the shelter so I brought her to play with Grizz.

Excuse the weird eyes. My camera is old and slow and takes pretty crummy pictures of moving dogs. There is a video of them playing at the end of the post. Hopefully that makes up for these terrible photos.

Grizzly is still awaiting his new home. Because of his issues, it is of extra importance to me that his next home be his last. (and best of course) Here is what I have written about Grizz for potential adopters to read about him.
Grizzly is a lovely dog and is very sweet to people once he gets to know them. We have no idea why he is as shy as he is. I suspect he missed some crucial socialization with people during his puppy hood. I doubt it is related strictly to abuse due to it being so generalized for him. Abused dogs usually avoid one specific subset of people. Grizz tries to avoid all people. Fortunately he did get the crucial socialization with other dogs, which is why he is so good with them. He has wonderful social skills with dogs of all types. He isn’t a pushover though. He will fight back if provoked into defending himself.

Grizz has been taught some basic obedience. He knows sit, down, come and a few tricks. (high five, shake, and sit pretty) His recall isn’t 100% because it is situational. He will not come if called if he is stressed about going near something he is afraid of. He also isn’t reliable at stay for the same reason. He is crate trained and prefers small-enclosed spaces or being close to a wall if uncomfortable in a new area. This lessens as he gets to know a place and feel comfortable. Dogs are a fight or flight animal. Grizz is defiantly a flight when it comes to people and stress. He will seek out the farthest point or cubby to hide in if needed. Grizz was not on the program for obedience training, but for behavior modification and counter conditioning to address his fear of people instead.

He is a stress chewer and will chew cords and shoes if left unattended with them. We have noticed it has diminished over time but he will chew if presented with an opportunity while unsupervised. I am unsure if this will go away once he lives with another dog or not. I suspect so but cannot guarantee it. He had no idea how to play with toys when he first came into the program. He now will play tug, and with a ball. He gets nyla and marrow bones for chewing. He also loves his kong with peanut butter in it while crated.

Being part malamute he is still a work in progress with leash pulling. This is very normal for that breed. I have left a detailed photocopy of working with sled breeds on this issue in his record. We have used an easy walk brand harness on him so he is used to that if you prefer using a tool as management.

Grizz needs a patient and understanding owner that will accept him as he is. I don’t think he will never be the dog that you take for walks in public around lots of other people. He would do best in a quieter home with at least one other dog for him to have as a companion and for him to take positive cues from. He will most likely hide to get away from visitors unless they are frequent and he gets to know them. Do NOT force contact with people upon him. If forced he will accept their touch but it does nothing to change the emotions of the event for him. The thinking part of a dog’s brain shuts down when they are stressed. They simply go into a reactive instinctual mode, for Grizz that is to run away. EVERY interaction counts with Grizz.

Grizz will need to be on leash or in a fenced area to prevent him running off. I do believe he may have the potential to be ok off leash but not for at least 6 months living in a new home. Again there are no guarantees. He is part sledding breed after all. When he is seriously uncomfortable about something he will use a warning growl. This means either I am uncomfortable with this or get away from me. It is EXTREMELY rare for him to protest so pay attention and react appropriately when he does.

He does also get carsick and will evacuate his body when seriously stressed. (urine and feces) This is a normal physiological body reaction that he has no control over so do not punish him for this. Punishment will only make it worse. He is housetrained under normal circumstances.

During our work we used positive reinforcement and counter conditioning using food treats. Grizz prefers cheese to most treats though he does also like some meat treats. If he won’t take a treat we know he likes that is one of the signs that he is stressed. A stressed dog will not eat. (again another physiological body reaction) For more info on the training method we use see the book “How to teach a new dog old tricks” by Ian Dunbar.

Grizz has come a long way during his time on the program. I do think he may regress somewhat during his first week in a new place. He will need to learn to trust his new people with time and patience. Once you have his trust he is a wonderful and very sweet dog. If I had the space I would had adopted him myself. (My dog Jack is one of his favorite playmates.)

PLEASE contact me directly if you have ANY questions regarding Grizzly. This special boy deserves his own home with a family that will love him for the dog he is.

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