Kai Ken flight response (and how to deal with it)
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 3663
    So recent events, both of my own and in the greater world of Kai Ken, and this thread:


    have got me thinking about how to deal with the Kai tendency to bolt and run if spooked. I've only had my little boy for a few months, and don't really know how to deal with his flight response and "wildness" yet, so I thought I'd see what other people have been dealing with with their Kai Ken and what suggestions people have for working with it.

    (I copied this from the other thread about my situation) I've been thinking I need to figure out an entirely different way to train Leo, too, just for these sorts of circumstances. His recall is pretty good since like many Kai he loves being with us--BUT that's when he's not scared. I've seen his flight response kick in twice, and luckily both times he could not get away. Once at the puppy play group when he started scouting the perimeter of the play area for a way out and wouldn't come to me or look at me. And yesterday, he got spooked on a neighborhood walk (first a big mastiff barking at him from behind a fence, then a lawnmower) and his hair was up and he hit the end of the leash and his eyes were blank, and I couldn't get him to pay attention to me or settle for about 5 minutes.

    Both were scary.

    So I'm thinking, yeah, some special training (and a gps collar) are needed.

    What experiences have people had with the flight response? How do you deal with it? How can we train so we have a hope of catching them if the fear/flight response takes over? What's worked for people?

    eta: the trainer for the puppy class suggested Leo just needs more exposure to new things, and while that absolutely true of most puppies his age (4-5 month range) I'm also wondering how to handle Kai flight response and the fact he's likely entering (in?) another fear period and I don't want to make things worse for him. When we go out where there is a lot of stimulation, I see that he has a tendency to want to bolt--sometimes right towards a busy street! (of course he's leashed so he can't but....) I'm trying to balance his getting easily overloaded with the need for more exposure to high stimulation areas.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2012-07-23 14:42:30
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    Good thread! I'd love to hear what other people do also. I think (I hope) that maturity (and exposure) will temper this behavior as our Kai get older.

    With Akuma, who is a fairly confident dog but who did go thru a spooky stage, it took lots of exposure and positive associations to help improve his startle threshold. He had a tendency to spin around on leash looking for a way to bolt at times when in new situations. I walked him in a Ruffwear harness with escape resistant clasp, and he always wears his tracker collar. He rides in a crate with a leash attached too.

    Every person we met offered him food, and now he runs up to strangers and will shamelessly crawl in their laps, so hopefully he is viewing strangers as safe and not scary so he won't want run from them should the unthinkable happen. I also took him everywhere with another very steady older very confident dog as his "study buddy", like Farrah or Ike. I like taking a puppy out with an older dog for several reasons, but mostly it helps a puppy learn that some things aren't as scary as they appear. I think this was really important to help him perceive that there wasn't much reason to dart away.

    He has escaped a crate on two occasions, once when we were in Canada at a Flyball tournament, and once while at the fairgrounds. Both times he was following me and trying to go with me, and we noticed within seconds, so it was easy to grab him since he was also dragging a leash.

    He seems to be super sensitive to body pressure, so when I recall him, I don't walk into him. I let him decide his approach and I crouch down a bit so it isn't as threatening. We play a lot of recall games and he always gets praise for it and I won't chase him ever as that would totally undo the training to date. A lot of it is planning and preparing for the worst and taking good preventative steps, never leaving things to chance.
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu
    Post edited by lindsayt at 2012-07-23 15:07:42
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 3663
    I thought of taking Leo out with an adult dog too, but we don't have a good steady dog to do it with (though I could take him with my friend's GSD maybe). Toby is pretty steady but Toby won't tolerate him. Bel is spooky as can be so don't want him to model after her! Oskar's good but barks at strangers!

    But luckily, Leo LOVES people. I'm going to continue to work on having him greet strangers, but right now he likes to sit in front of people. And sit again. And again, until he gets a treat! He's much more scared of strange dogs than of people, but dogs he doesn't know spook him.

    Also Lindsay, was Akuma's spooky stage in the fear period? I wonder if that's what is going on with Leo right now, as in the past week or so he's seemed...not fearful, but easily spooked.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    Lol, Akuma likes to sit a million times in a row also.

    It probably was his fear period
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu
  • HeidiHeidi
    Posts: 3386
    I had one experience like this with Sosuke. We were walking off leash down in the coulees and someone else came along with their dog. I think that was the first time Sosuke had ever seen a strange dog. Anyway, I was just walking along and the other owner said to me, "Umm... your puppy just took off..." I turn around and all I see is a tiny speck that is Sosuke's butt running full tilt in the opposite direction. Luckily, all I had to do was call him back and he was fine. He greeted the other dog and after that, we didn't have any issues. What I learned from that situation is that Sosuke likes to be given directions. As long as he has a trained response to a certain situation, he's fine.

    That being said, he's not a very spooky dog. He pretty much just accepts everything that happens around him without so much as blinking an eye. The only thing he really hates is being left with or restrained by a stranger. He's very attached, so I think if he was with someone he doesn't know, he might just head for the hills.
    Dogs: Rakka (shikoku), Sosuke (kai), Effie (bc/kelpie)
    Cats: Hester, Batgirl, Stephanie, Harley
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    I'm glad you guys made this thread.

    I think it's very important to remember that most of these situation where Kai have run away have happened to Kai who have recently been re-homed at an over 6 month age. You don't hear or read many stories of Kai Ken running away from the owner they have been raised with since a very young age.

    The other day I dropped Nami's leash while at a sushi place. Jen panicked and went to grab her, grabbing her tail in the process, and this FREAKED her out. Then she ran off. I told Jen to stay with Chase, and then I calmly followed Nami being sure to not act like I was chasing her. Once I got close enough to her I took my hat off and tossed it on the ground in front of her... She approached the hat and smelled it, then wagged her tail and came to me. Before that, she was actively truing to avoid me.

    So, what I learned from this experience is this...

    2) Stay calm, fight every urge you have to freak the f#ck out
    3) Avoid direct eye contact and threatening behavior (looming, running, jumping)
    4) Don't invade their personal space
    5) Wait for them to chill, then find a way to remove the disassociation - present your smell to them, give them their favorite toy, offer their favorite food - anything that you know they will remember - in my case it was my smell.

    The reason I have come to that list is because I think Kai, once frightened, disassociate with their environment/owner very quickly. You need to find a way to re-associate yourself with them - via routine (like Kel did @Yandharr) or something that they can relate to. In this situation, the more erratic you act the more likely you are to scare them, and then the further they move from coming back to you. You have to act like this is no big deal.

    This is why I think the runaway-Kai-thing has ended so bad for newly re-homed Kai - they disassociate and then have nothing to "ground" them to the environment. It's all too new for them, so there is no physiological association between them and the environment, and so they go into "survival mode". So, all attempts to catch them just freak them out more, and push them further into the disassociated fearful state.

  • YandharrYandharr
    Posts: 200
    One thing I have noticed with mine. they don't seem to be as afraid of other (familiar) dogs when spooked by objects. Not that they are comforted, just that they are neutral towards them. that's why with my experience my knee-jerk reaction was to get another dog on her before i even moved. I guess the drawback to this is you could spook two dogs in the process, but if your second is calm, it's a method of giving chase without actually running after them.
    All of these have worked for me to some degree depending on the level of fear:
    1.To steal from brad, I think the most important thing is: You have to act like this is no big deal.
    2. If there's a clear/long line of sight, get their attention and run the other way or parallel to them. don't go too far
    3. pretend like it's an exercise. every time they inch toward you, congratulate them, tell them to stop, repeat.
    4. chances are they are looking for a tight space to hide, identify the closest ones just in case. her them away from the dangerous ones.
    5. Approach palms up, shoulders shrunk in, kind of like a volleyball bump. when you get closer turn sideways (So far this in my most reliable method when dealing with any type of fear)
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2953
    @Yandharr, when one of my Akitas bolts out a front door, I usually use another one to get them to come back. I've done it off leash with mixed success twice, both times with puppies who would be easy to catch if they decided not to cooperate. I don't think I would be comfortable turning a second adult Akita loose to catch the first. But normally I would grab another dog and keep them on leash and just calmly walk them until the escapee comes back to join us on our walk. They're not scared when they have escaped, however, just want to run and explore.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2012-07-23 19:12:09
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    "2) Stay calm, fight every urge you have to freak the f#ck out"

    Lol I agree with that. A lot of times people who's dog ran off they tend to freak and yell come and the dogs name which might cause the dog to freak out more or think it's in trouble or danger.

    You do make good point a lot of runaways are from dogs new to their homes.

    I think working recall each day making it fun time every time the dog comes to you helps.

    Saya loves her flirt pole toy especially the squirrel pelt I always have a fannypack on so I can take it out to reward her with play for coming.

    Changing up the treat reward helps one day it's string cheese another, fish fudge, another cooked chicken then cooked liver or hot dog bits..

    Saya's so good I had her off leash in the trails and there was a little bunny in the pathway and I told her to leave it then come and she did I was so happy.

    leave it is another good thing to work on.

    I had this issue with Bella she would bolt and act scared and like she didn't know me she's a boxer not a kai ken, but when people describe how their kai was when bolted that's how Bella looked..

    I was lucky and got her back. I followed her at a pace I can see her, but not at one I'm chasing her. I do call her name and tell her calmy to come though it did seem to make her run from me more.. It was odd all sudden she'd get back to normal and come to me.

    I've said it before why I think she acted that way so no need repeat it. Now she is on her hypothyroid meds she has improved greatly to point I say Bella come she comes right away and sits close to me.

    I've been working with her each day on her 30 foot leash and she's doing much better.

    Never use recall for bad things like if your dog really hates getting his/her nails clip try not use it for that it's nice if the dog comes to you, but it might think he/she is in for clipping not treat or play time..

    I'm not sure what else to say.. hope we can all pool experiences together and help new members especially ones getting a rescued kai or older kai ken while they're bonding with them.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion