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Rescue dog issues witha Husky malamute cross


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I've just joined, so my apologies if my issues have been covered before, but mine are slightly different because I don't have a pure Husky - he's apparently half Malamute - and he's not behaving the way I've seen some members talking about how their huskies do.

Anyway, I rescued a 6-year old husky/malamute cross at the beginning of February this year. As you can see from the pic, he's a unit. He's been with us 4 and a bit months now. I got him from the Dog's Trust (the UK's biggest specialist dog rescuer, if any non-Brits are reading who haven't heard of it; genuine apologies for patronising those who do know) who recommended him to me due to my specific home conditions. I've had a rescue dog before, a pointer/staffie cross, who I lost last autumn to cancer after 11 years, but unlike when we got her, any new dog would be entering a home with my seriously disabled wife who has carers come in four times a day to dress her, get her up, shower her, take her to the toilet, and put her to bed. They use noisy ceiling hoists to lift her up and out of her chair. During the day, she is completely incapable of anything except talking to the dog. She can't help feed, walk or entertain the dog, she can't even stroke him. The DT reckoned this guy would have the perfect temperament as he's excellent with humans and according to their notes is happy in his own company.

Indeed he is. Having said that...

At first, he was so upset at being rehomed he refused to eat anything at all for the first three days, and cried pretty much the whole time, no matter what I did - whether I walked him, left him alone, tried to get him to stay with us, etc. I eventually got him eating, and he now looks forward to it. (Natural dog kibble with a small amount of tinned fish spread over the top.)

Once he'd decided that he'd better get used to being here, he calmed down a bit, but despite doing my best to follow two different behaviourists' advice, I still have the following problems.

He is completely unable to socialise with other dogs. All he does is want to attack them. Obviously I don't let him near other dogs (the DT initially said he was just a bit 'rude' but he'd calm down; he hasn't, at all) and even across the road it can be like holding a lead on a bucking bronco.

When I walk him, he pulls constantly. When I bring the lead up so he doesn't have the room to charge off in front, he weaves across from left to right to left, tripping me up, pushing me aside, anything to get me to let him get some steam up. It's a constant fight, literally every step of the way. I've twisted a knee and an ankle, neither of which have healed properly due to the need to walk him and what happens when I do, and this afternoon my hip hurt, too.

At home, all he wants is to be out in the garden. When it's dry, fair enough, but when it rains, I can't leave the door open because the inside of the house gets soaked and it drops the temperature making the heating come on automatically, costing us a fortune, and making my wife cold, which adds to her already considerable list of physical problems. Additionally, on the four mornings a week I go to work, and overnight, I can't leave him to wander in and out of the house at will as it means the place isn't secure and anyone could just walk in and do what they like.

When I can't/don't want to let him out in the garden, he gets very noisy and pushy, demanding attention to get what he wants - sometimes, this means using his considerable height to stand up and put his paws on my wife's arm as she sits in her chair, which frightens her. He doesn't try to bite her, or indeed do anything other than stand there until I get him down, which I have to do physically because he won't obey me, but she finds it painful and unsettling.

He is completely unable to play. He won't chase a ball, he won't chew, he won't play tug with a rope, he won't try to learn new behaviour - all he does is get really irritated that I have treats in a bag that he's not getting instantly just for being there.

The DT behaviourist said I should train him to use a muzzle, but I can't find one with a strap big enough to go round the back of his considerable head. The other behaviourist I saw last week put a haltie on his snout, which he wasn't happy about at the centre, but he accepted eventually. However, the minute I got him home and put it on to go for a walk, he somehow whipped it off in seconds. I checked that I was putting it on right, and I was. So I tried again, and whoosh, off it came. I tightened it up and whoosh, straight off again. And again. And again. And I gave that up too.

When I'm at home during the day, because it's summer, I let him out in the garden for as long as he likes. I quite like taking a book out for a read in the evening sun, but when I do, he comes back in. As soon as I come back in, he goes out again. If I shut the door behind me, he goes and lies in the bedroom next to my wife's bed. When I come to bed, he leaves the room to sleep elsewhere.

Having said that, he'll sometimes stand out in the hallway and call out for me to go outside and give him some company, usually in the mornings. When I go out, he completely ignores me and just wanders round the garden, sniffing the bushes, before he goes and lies where he can't see me. If I come back inside, he calls for me again, until I go out when he'll wander off again. If my wife is up (the carers don't come till 10.30am) I just ignore him and keep her company.

I walk him three times a day for about 35-40 minutes each time, trying to vary the route so he doesn't get too bored. While out, he'll greet complete strangers who want to meet him with more affection than he greets me when I come home from work. Otherwise, it's the hauling/rushing/bouncing etc.

DRTL version - I'm at my wits' end with a hulking great thug who treats the house like a hotel and me as just his caterer.

Is it just too early for him to have settled properly and he'll calm down in time, or is it, given his age, too late for me to change anything?

Apologies for yakking on so long, but I thought I'd answer as many questions as possible before they were asked.

Thanks for any help/advice/encouragement/whatever.


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I have two huskamutes. Husky x malamutes. I've just adopted my second from a rescue.  Mine is not socialised growls at people and other dogs. I use treat based training method and am gradually exposing him to new things. I've also managed to get a training class booked this week. He wont go in puppy class he will be going in junior. I'm taking him for socialisation aspect. UK training classes are restarting with limited numbers at the end of this month.  I used training videos on YouTube by George Zak google and start from the beginning. My older huskamute is stubborn and fortunately will sell his sole for a treat. Use meat as a treat / reward. My new rescue is 22 kilo and 6.5 month old so is going to be a big boy hes scared of everything and everyone except me. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh my word, I could be reading about my Luna, taken in at 6 years old she was much as you describe your boy, she even looks like him and I’ve often wondered if she had Malamute in her too. We’ve had her 2.5 years and it took her a long time to settle, she’d lived in a family with at least 2 other huskies for a while then just the one. Her home environment was mostly the garden, I think only allowed in at night to sleep. I have just described her on another thread which you can read if you’re interested as I’m not going to type it all out again. give your dog time, Huskies are loyal, I don’t know how it’s ended up in a rescue but it will be pretty upset that its human is missing. I might sound as though I’m humanising a dog but maybe he’s just finding it difficult to trust, 6 is half way through a dog’s life after all, he may only have one owner before, I wonder if that was a man or woman, he’s unsure about who to do what for.


I think he needs time, even now I feel that Luna isn’t as happy as I’d like her to be, she occasionally sits behind the side gate with her back to the rest of the house. I think your boy needs stability and you will have to wait it out, being there, never being cross, just offering him your love. I can’t forecast if that will be enough but you’re already trying to be there for him, just keep it up [emoji176]



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


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  • 2 weeks later...

It will take a while for him to settle in his new home, I’d give him space to get used to his new family, once you have a bond and the trust is between you, you should see a difference in him but it will take time and lots of patience. For the pulling on walks I’d recommend Indi dog head harness, they’re a lot softer on the muzzle than other brands.

Sent from my iPad using Husky Owners

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