Our Beautiful Alaska, Need Your Advice

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Our Beautiful Alaska, Need Your Advice

Postby pmfunder » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:34 am

Hi everyone. It is great to see this community of Chow Chow lovers! My wife and I are in need of some honest and heartfelt advice with regards to our beautiful Chow, Alaska. Here's the background. We fell in love with Chow Chows because of our neighbors dog. He is a Chow Samoyed mix, three years old. When we were looking at our house before buying, I was surprised to see his fluffy head peer out between two bushes. After moving in and getting to know our neighbors, we ended up watching him a lot. They went away for a month and let us watch him the entire time. He stayed with us and it was a wonderful experience. He is calm, loyal, and loving Chow. Skeptical towards new people or dogs, but he showed it well so that you could avoid any problems. We were so sad to give him back, but he lives next door and we see him all the time.

So we start looking for our own Chow because we loved their demeanor and loyalty. We saw a beautiful 1 year old Chow, Alaska, for adoption in our state and immediately applied to adopt him. Eventually we were first in line to adopt, explained our familiarity with Chows, and finally got approval. We were very excited. We met Alaska, he was very energetic, and took to us immediately. We learned that his previous owner was most likely irresponsible. Alaska did not know any commands and was taught that jumping up on people was OK. He lived outside during the day and was fed poor quality food. We fixed all of those issues quickly! He is a great companion. He lets us groom him, which is quite often obviously! We play with him often and give him tons of attention. We love coming home to him and hate leaving him, he is our baby but he has some issues, that more than likely existed in his prior life and we were not told about.

Alaska's issues arose as he grew more fond of us. Originally, he was fine around people even in the house. The first major issue occurred when we had family over. Alaska had just been playing with the neighbor's chow outside. They became a little to hyper so I put Alaska away in our bedroom to calm down. Surprisingly to us, a relative went in to see him and he bit her. It was an awful experience, and should never have happened. We make sure that no one goes in his room except for us. So we embark on some professional training. We have a great trainer who is helping us. Alaska works for his food now with tricks and focus. We keep him in his room all day so that he has his calm space, and does not look out windows and become more territorial. We train him to ignore distractions and keep his attention on us. He sits and waits for our command before going outside or doing any other rewarding activity. He has been progressing well but still has his puppy moments, after obedience, we will work on socialization with our trainer.

The second incident occurred recently. Our friend came over, who Alaska likes. We put Alaska in his room before she came over. I wanted to socialize him some so I brought him out on the leash calmly. He sniffed her and was ok, our friend petted him and he was good. I fed him, making sure he earned all of his food with tricks and maintaining focus during, and he was in a good calm mood. A few minutes later, I was putting him back in his room so we could leave, our friend calmly walked over to say bye to Alaska and he bit her. Another awful experience.

Now we are faced with a decision. Do we keep professionally training him with obedience and socialization, making sure no one goes near him in his home until he is ready, if ever? We want kids eventually, not anytime soon but definitely during Alaska's lifetime. We worry for their safety as the most recent indecent was surprising and during a calm moment, there were no warning signs from him. We know he would never harm us, but would he take kindly to new additions to the family? Or do we find a good home for him, somewhere where the new owners know his situation, and he is loved and trained just as well, with no risk of harming children in the future? Your advice is much appreciated. We are in a very sad state as we cannot imagine living without Alaska, but are trying to be realistic. We cry just thinking about giving him up but at this point we have to consider it.

Thank in advance!

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Re: Our Beautiful Alaska, Need Your Advice

Postby kingalls » Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:43 pm

Our angel Chowboy, Nahkohe was not good with people. We got him when he was about 10 weeks old but he was never comfortable around other people - even my daughter & grandson. For 10 years we had to manage the environment so that he and our visitors (which were not many) were not put into a bad situation. When we took him to the Chow Chow Fests, we had to make sure he was not approached unexpectedly. We did not take Nahkohe to obedience classes. I did have him groomed regularly and that was a special arrangement since he could barely tolerant the groomer touching him. I was always present during the grooming and did the front part of him since he would go ballistic if he made eye contact with the groomer. At the vet's I had to handle him versus the vet tech. Nahkohe had unconditional love for us but that was his limit. After Nahkohe crossed Rainbow Bridge, we adopted a puppy GSD and took him to obedience classes. One of the instructors told us about one of his GSD's that was born hating other dogs. He said that some dogs are just that way - no matter how much training is done...and this was a dog trainer saying this.
I don't know that training and more socialization would have given us a different Nahkohe. Nahkohe was what he was and we managed as such.
If Alaska already has had 2 biting incidents, it would be of significant concern. Is your dog trainer an experienced Chow Chow trainer? I assume you have discussed the biting incidents with the trainer - what were the recommendations?
Adding children into the mix will need more management and consideration of Alaska's temperament.
I am not an expert or trainer. I only speak from my personal experience with having a Chow Chow that was not good with other people. My Chowboy was territorial for certain. There was an incident wherein a baby gate was left open and he ventured into the other room where my grandson was watching TV. Nahkohe approached him quietly - not aggressive. My grandson was calm and said that my Chowboy was there. I called Nahkohe and he came back to the other side of the gate with no issues. I think that because my grandson was calm, the situation turned out to be okay. With very young kids, this could be more of a challenge.
Alaska's first biting incident sounds very territorial. I have heard where Chow Chows are okay if the owner is present (basically saying it's okay) and someone enters their "space" but will have a different reaction if the same person enters their "space" when the owner is not present. I am not sure about the 2nd incident. Maybe there were other factors that made Alaska uncomfortable...Chows can pick up on a lot of things that are now obvious to us.
I hope you can find a good situation for Alaska and your family.
Karen, Kohana, Takoda, and our Chow Angels Nahkohe and Shiloh

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Re: Our Beautiful Alaska, Need Your Advice

Postby pmfunder » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:07 pm

Thank you so much for the response. Sounds like your Nakhohe lived a happy life!

Our trainer is very aware of the issues. She deals with aggressive animals and animals with behavioral issues. Alaska is responding to obedience but we have not crossed socialization. But we may need a trainer who deals with chows specifically.

Reading your post and others, I am learning a lot. Alaska's bites only happen when people want to pet his head, when he is in the home. Definitely something to avoid. For now we will cut off his interaction with home guests. Continue to train and get him out of the neighborhood for walks. We will see how socialization goes, but home guests will be a future task due to the incidents we've had already.


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