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Ice


Emma
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Disclaimer:  I'm on the laptop today which in a nutshell means that I'll put my touch typing skills to use and most likely end up a writing a novel similar to war and peace.  I'll try not to but I'm not about to start making any promises I can't keep.  I have a tendency to veer off into a magical world full of magical unicorns and rainbows, always have done.  You should see my school reports....maybe you shouldn't acutally, they're pretty shocking!  :rofl:

 

I'll give you a little bit of history on Ice for those who haven't heard it before. .....

We took on Ice when he was about 4/5 months of age.  You'd think at that age that he'd still have a fairly simplistic and untouched frame of mind but unfortunately he had a pretty bad start out in life (to put it mildly) and what we ended up with was a tiny ball of angry, defensive fur.  I always knew that owning a full blown husky was going to be a challenge but I didn't fully understand how much with all of his extra 'kinks' that needed to be dealt with. 

I needed a starting point to work with so I studied his 'language', sat back and observed his behaviours and what I learned was that he was very unhappy.  My husband described him as a broken dog.  I can understand why he'd say that but that's not my choice of words.  He was also very, very afraid.  You wouldn't think it initially as he appeared quite aggressive.  He was actually really just reacting incredibly defensively to situations as he felt that 24/7 he was under threat of violence from anyone and everyone.   Trust was a very big issue for him too.

There were lots of little issues to overcome due to his defensive streak such as he'd growl at the kids if they walked past him but the main problem I identified as being the biggest threat was his food aggression.  Whilst it was mainly dog based, we had 2 other dogs in the house who were getting hurt because he saw they had food and would literally leap at the bowl and bite any dog in his way.  Not good for them or anyone else who ended up getting caught up in the fracas. 

so what did I do?  Well basically I have worked in the childcare industry since I was 18.  I always learnt that you had to start at the bottom and work your way up.  In order for children to thrive, there's a pyramid of building blocks that are essential to lay down piece by piece before you're able to progress up.  I applied this strategy to Ice.  Firstly he needed his physiological needs met.  He needed to see that he was regularly given food (separate from the others), he needed to establish a bond with one person (he chose me), he needed to be able to come to me for reassurance if needed and when he got up to something he shouldn't he needed to know that I would deal with him in a calm and even manner and with a calm but firm voice (easier said than done at times, in my head I was swearing a lot, lol).    In a nutshell, he needed to be provided with a safe and loving environment.   That took time to sink in for him.   A lot of time.  He bonded to me very quickly but he feared Paul very much.  Anyone with a deep voice, or a loud or dominating demeanor were frightening to him.   Personally I wouldn't call Paul dominating but apparently to Ice he was.  I'll give you an example.  One day Paul offhandedly asked him to get off the bed.  Ice looked fearful but angrily stood up, faced him and growled.  Ice kept fronting up and then suddenly urinated himself and hid under the bed.  Paul felt terrible even though he hadn't really done anything particularly wrong.  I left him there to calm down and then sat by the bed and waited for him to come out and get a fuss.  It took a while and in that waiting time it made me evaluate that how humans see situations and how dogs perceive them can be very, very different.   

As time went by, he began to relax and learn that he was safe.  He slowly started to come to life.  He began to smile with his mouth open and his tongue hanging out. He slept upside down and ignored you if you passed him.   He began to learn new things (sometimes good things, sometimes not so good, lol).  He learnt to trust the family and he stopped over reacting so frequently.   Now heading back to the learning new things.  His development overall was significantly behind Bear's.  Not because he wasn't capable but because he simply wasn't in the right frame of mind that was needed in order to progress.  He had too many things to worry about to pay much attention to the training I was trying to establish. 

Training wise, I followed the nilif method (nothing in life is free) I told him to sit, he would and then he got his food bowl on the floor.  He learnt that one pretty fast tbh, lol.  The trickier one was tackling his stealing from others.  I wanted him to learn that sitting and waiting was going to be his best chance of getting what he wanted.  So I adapted something I learnt about sharing and taking turns for children on IEP's (I was at that time a special educational needs coordinator so wrote out goals I wanted them to achieve and setting out steps I intended to take to get there being realistic in my expectations).  I sat all 3 dogs down in front of me with a bag of treats.  I then went across each one and asked them to give paw and treated when they did.  I started off with Ice initially but as he got the hang of it, I deliberately started leaving him till last as I went down the line.  It worked pretty well for him.   in fact nowadays he's the best trained out of all of them in that respect.   I also practiced 'trading up' when he stole things and wouldn't give them back.  Rather than stand tall and start demanding he drop it, which in his case would escalate things through fear, I calmly went and got something tasty and offered a trade.  He dropped it and I gave him the tasty treat and took back the toy he'd snatched from Bear (not because he wanted it for himself but because he didn't want her to have it).  AS he got more accustomed, I would offer treats less often and eventually he needed them rarely.    I suppose in hindsight that there was a risk that this could have taught him that stealing toys would reward him with something good but in his case that thankfully never happened.   Another thing I wanted to mention is the growling.  I learnt that growling is not to be corrected, which lets face it goes against the grain.   But think of it like this,  it's a verbal "i'm not happy" and an early warning system that things are not good.  If you condition that out of him, yes he'd stop growling but he'd still need to react somehow and that would have meant bypassing the early warning and instead going straight for the bite.  Ice has never bitten a person, never really tried to infact.  But it wasn't a risk I was willing to take regardless.  

 

That was his past.  Took a lot longer than I thought to explain!  :D

On to today.  This morning he was laying on the sofa and I was getting ready to feed the dogs.  I called him last without even thinking about it.  I led him past two other dogs eating their brekkies already (we've taken on another little dog, an adolescent  Frenchie called Pepper, i'll tell you about her another time. Ice adored her, he mothered her to death when she first arrived and he's very gentle with her although he won't suffer her shenanigans.  He'll flatten her with a single paw and hold her there till she quits, lol ).  He payed no attention them and once he had reached his bowl, I left the door open and carried on about my business.  No issues.  No problems.  It's been that way for a long time now and I hadn't really stepped back and thought about it until now.   How unrecognizable he is now from that little angry ball of fur ready to attack.   If we're eating, Bear and the little one will be right up close but not Ice.  He will lay outside the room on the floor and simply wait.  Wait his turn quite happily and patiently.  Yes he can be a brat with my youngest still at times (my little son is 13 years old) but that's mainly because my son will haphazardly wave his food around in the air and Ice just sees that as an open invitation like my son is offering it up (we've tried explaining it multiple times but son doesn't seem to be aware he even does it). 

Basically he's come such a long way and i'm really proud of him.  Trust is still an issue but he is becoming more open to other unfamiliar people and dogs.  He wants to go and see them and is now excited rather than frenzied and scared.  Just don't wrap your arms around him if you don't know him coz he'll softly growl and back away until he's comfortable and then try to approach you again to see if you'll headscratch him.  lol.

He's still bonded to me and I to him.  We get annoyed with each other sometimes, he does like to vocalise everything.  But his growls are completely different to before and very rare.  If I ruffle his fur when he's sleeping i can typically expect to get a  quick, soft "muuuuuum, stop bothering me please" followed by a sigh and him rolling over and going back to sleep.  But that's pretty much all he's going to growl about.  No different to my teenage sons who both moan at me all the time anyway.  lol.  

Ice done good.  :up:

 

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Thats a lovely story and an inspiration in those times when I wonder just what on earth I've taken on in a rescue, frustration, tears, laughter and lots of love!!

well done Ice, gold star for you ( and your humans!) ⭐️

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Such a great read, awesome progress for Ice I get the small children and food, Keiko still kindly removes the "rubbish" for them doesn't matter if they are still eating it or not.  Maybe you should start on writing that book. 

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Good Job Emma.

With most other owners he'd probably still be a raging ball of fur.

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8 hours ago, Jo said:

Thats a lovely story and an inspiration in those times when I wonder just what on earth I've taken on in a rescue, frustration, tears, laughter and lots of love!!

well done Ice, gold star for you ( and your humans!) ⭐️

Thank you.  Trust me it sounded easier than it was.  There were plenty of times I came on here frustrated that we were making progress and then suddenly going backwards again leaving me wondering if we were ever going to get anywhere....but we did in the end.  😃

8 hours ago, Asslinn said:

Such a great read, awesome progress for Ice I get the small children and food, Keiko still kindly removes the "rubbish" for them doesn't matter if they are still eating it or not.  Maybe you should start on writing that book. 

Cheers birthday buddy. 😁 Ha ha ha, yeah I totally get that.  Ice used to be known as the bin raider. Literally if you turned your back for five minutes he would rip open the bins and leave dirty mess all over the place.  He's still got a thing for eating used tissues.  The minute I put them in the bin they cease to be mine as far as he's concerned, therefore they're available and up for grabs.  I have to flush the, down the loo, lol. 

I wouldn't dare write a book, it might incriminate me for being slightly crazy and not entirely normal, ha ha.  😄

14 minutes ago, Andy said:

Good Job Emma.

With most other owners he'd probably still be a raging ball of fur.

Thanks Andy.  😘

To be fair I didn't really do much, just refused to give up.  Think I might be part husky, lol. Probably best to keep me on a lead. 😂

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I once took on a ritired greyhound who was terified of people, to get past his fear I took him into my bed room, had a flask sandwich and whilst he sat on the floor wedged into a corner i lay on the bed reading a book for a few hours ignoring him, after about 3 or 4 hours i tossed him some treats, he calmed down a lot that afternoon was still very afraid. I was able to take his lead off, but i won the first battle. from dragging me out the back of a car pulling at the end of a lead to try and get away he went to walking along side me. to the point some days it was like you had lost the dog and you had to look to check he was still there

month later the people from the RGT came around took one look and never came back just he never got over his fear of strangers

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8 minutes ago, PaulG said:

I once took on a ritired greyhound who was terified of people, to get past his fear I took him into my bed room, had a flask sandwich and whilst he sat on the floor wedged into a corner i lay on the bed reading a book for a few hours ignoring him, after about 3 or 4 hours i tossed him some treats, he calmed down a lot that afternoon was still very afraid. I was able to take his lead off, but i won the first battle. from dragging me out the back of a car pulling at the end of a lead to try and get away he went to walking along side me. to the point some days it was like you had lost the dog and you had to look to check he was still there

month later the people from the RGT came around took one look and never came back just he never got over his fear of strangers

there's so many ex racing greyhounds needing rehoming,  it's so sad to be used and then dumped as if their life has no value. Makes me mad.  But anyway, back to topic, that's a great progress you've made, pretty fantastic to be more specific.  I don't think they ever truly 100% escape their past no matter how young or old they are.  Ice might be better with strangers but every now and then something will trigger fear, albeit short lived. 

A few years back just before xmas, I was sitting in the floor wrapping presents. Ice was sitting besides me, supervising me. I'd run out of paper and asked hubby to pass me a new roll and as the roll went over Ice, he immediately dropped to the floor and cowered, expecting to get hit.  Now I cannot say 100% what happened to Ice but judging from his reactions I can make an educated guess.... his fears escalate around people holding long objects, people smelling of alcohol, people shouting or talking loudly that can be interpreted as aggressive sounding.....I'm sure you can put 2+2 together and work out what's most probably happened.  He also had constant diahrroea and would have accidents a lot which probably added to that situation even more.  

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easy to work out ... picked up a broom next to my greyhound once and he yelped and wet himself

as to the bum problem ... sprinkle for mild cases  arrowroot powder, for bad cases slippery elm over his dinner

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Well done you - and Ice - and thank you for taking the time to write it down.   Informative and educational, as well as interesting to read.

 

You really should reconsider that book.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Very interesting read Emma!

You have certainly never given up on Ice and have worked on his fear and behaviour issues a lit through the years!

I've had a long road with Tsunami as well...and only now starting to see all the effort I've been putting in over the last year+ pay off! He still won't walk out of the yard on a leash, BUT he is way less nervous when going somewhere AND he actually went potty outside the other day while they were delivering steel poles for a shade port at the neighbours, throwing it on the ground with a huge noise...he just ignored it and stayed calm! He also had NO major issues while visiting the new Vets last week OR when going to the new dog park they're putting up 5 minutes from my house (but those stories will be typed in full on another post, not to steal yours!)

It just shows how much you can get done when you put the effort in and don't give up on them! Ice is lucky you rescued him as a pup!

Sent from my ALE-L21 using Husky Owners mobile app

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Thanks Cindy and Nix. [emoji8]

Sounds like you've put in a lot of hard work with Tsunami too, I remember you saying he was afraid of going outside a while back now but I don't think I fully appreciated to what extent. Sounds like he's taking steps in the right direction now though and that's fantastic news [emoji3]


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Thanks Cindy and Nix. [emoji8]

Sounds like you've put in a lot of hard work with Tsunami too, I remember you saying he was afraid of going outside a while back now but I don't think I fully appreciated to what extent. Sounds like he's taking steps in the right direction now though and that's fantastic news [emoji3]


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Yes, he was so super afraid of everything after getting neutered, even peeing himself when someone just approached him... but with loads of hard work it's finally starting to get better! That's why I found your post so great to read, it makes me optimistic that one day he might be able to put his fear behind him...or most of it anyways.

Sent from my ALE-L21 using Husky Owners mobile app

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I read this after midnight last night and didn't want it to end, great read. It must have been a long road you travelled to get him to where he is now, he sounds like a completely different dog, j
I like how you used your experience being a SENCO and adapted it to Ice, I remember the IEP's for my two sons and the sharing really helped one of my boys in particular.
A book would be interesting! [emoji3]


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Yes, he was so super afraid of everything after getting neutered, even peeing himself when someone just approached him... but with loads of hard work it's finally starting to get better! That's why I found your post so great to read, it makes me optimistic that one day he might be able to put his fear behind him...or most of it anyways.

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Was it neutering him that made him afraid?


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Was it neutering him that made him afraid?


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No, or at least the behaviourist I spoke to the other day at the dog park doesn't think so. She said it was the trauma of being left alone at the vets and that maybe the vet's assistent did something (as he was scared of Tsunami the morning I took him in, even though Tsunami has never shown aggression and was well socialised and mannered)

The trainer I took him to (when his fear/anxiety got so bad he wouldn't even go pee outside) also said that he lost his confidence and suggested an event at the vets or the whole experience being too traumatic for him. None of my other dogs that were neutered in the past has ever experienced this level of fear or panic attacks afterwards. But I have to say that Tsunami has always been an over dramatic 'drama queen' since I got him at 9 weeks, he is much more emotional than my girl Smokey...

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