The Outdoor Witch Blog
the Trust Technique®
How it is helping us with our pack of 11 adopted huskies
I got interested in the Trust Technique last winter. The work we had been doing for one year with our adopted sled dogs was paying off. They had already changed so much, were doing amazing with pulling the sled, and their interactions with both humans and their fellow dog companions had improved dramatically. I had been using animal communication, energy healing along with my intuitive dog “being” skills(I can’t find any better word!) to teach them new things, help them release fears and stress and implement new, more positive behaviour. Yet, some of them were showing remains of some serious traumas and fears, as well as some deep rooted conditioning. I was also facing some challenges with my horse, and was looking for tools that would complement my approach to animals.
Some background information
To start with, let me give you some background information. Some two years ago, I adopted Bobby, my first Alaskan Husky to be rehomed, after my beloved Nyx, one of our rescued pups, passed very suddenly. It wasn’t a breed I was familiar with. Bobby was extremely sensitive, with sudden fears and easily anxious. Using patience and energy healing, he quickly made huge progress. He helped me tremendously with getting over Nyx’s death. And I fell in love with these dogs. So much so that I went back to the same mushing kennel, to pick up his brother, Quint, and ended up working there for over seven months.
Out of that experience, the #home4husky project was born and we adopted 6 more huskies that were to be replaced for various reasons. Read their stories here.
Fast forward one year, and we now have 11 adopted huskies, and have found new homes for some 50 retired sled dogs or declared unsuitable for safari work.
So for the past year and a half, I have been working daily with our pack. It’s been quite hectic in many ways. I had to get used to such a drastic change of life (from 2 dogs to 12! Not mentioning the cat and horse) and tried to learn everything I could about mushing and sled dogs. My husband joined me in that new, exciting life, and is more and more present with the dogs. We have been moving a lot from places to places and countries, with the whole tribe, and this has actually helped bind the pack together and with us.
About the dogs
Our 11 huskies come from 4 different families, which means that we adopted siblings who loved or hated each other! At first, the 3 Ewoks didn’t mix up easily with the others and didn’t really know how to interact with other dogs. Baby was the first I could mix with them. But Baby was not best friend with her two sisters, Sporty and Posh. They had some serious fights before I adopted them. Bobby and Quint were usually very easy with any dog, but could show jealousy when other males were around. After a couple of months of regularly being together, we could let all 8 run free together. It wasn’t always peaceful but well on the way.
After summer 2021, we got Oak and Hazel. These two are daughters of Quint, and they love their dad and uncle. It was fairly simple to integrate them in the pack, even though some tensions arose with Typy who can be pretty nasty with any weaker or more introverted dog. They also are very young and babyish. So it was a matter of helping them gain confidence without aggression around adult dogs.
Over autumn and winter 2021-22, we had some dogs coming and going too, who were there only for a short period before adoption, but we never mixed those guys with more than two-three of our dogs. The running fence we had then was too small to let all the dogs out together safely.
Now that we are back to more comfortable premises and temperatures (!), we have been able to really start doing some proper work with our pack. Peppi, Bob and Quint’s sister joined us, and is for the time being staying with us. She integrated the pack very easily.
A word on the four families background
The Ewoks litter
I’ve named them this way because I think they look like Ewoks from Star Wars, shy yet so funny! Typy, Hassu and Vinku are three young Alaskan Huskies with a lot of hound blood, out of a Siberian Husky mother. They were rescued from a certain death by another working kennel in Finland. However, they never settled in this bigger kennel, being too shy and anxious to stand the stress. All three have very strong reactions to new people, places, and for Typy to men, as well as over excitement and a very very busy mind. Things have improved tremendously over the time we’ve been together. Yet, we wanted to take it further. They are very good sled dogs. If they could get over their stress, they would be just AMAZING! They very likely had no socialising at all as puppies, and the only time they had interactions with humans, was to go running - which they love by the way. So every time they are around humans, they are both anxious and over excited. I love their drive to run! It’s their stress and anxiety that would be nice to lower down. So they could be more focused and not wasting energy. With Typy, her fear of men can lead to some dangerous situations, mainly for herself, as she would try to escape and run away out of panic
All three will have their TT separated video series ;-)
The Swedish short nose litter
A funny nickname given to Bobby, Peppi and Quint as they have quite short noses in comparison to their body ;-) These three originally come from Sweden, out of an Alaskan father and Siberian husky mother. They left their breeding kennel after their owner had a serious accident and were sent to a bigger place in Finland. The contrast was a shock for them, and Bobby and Quint never settled there. Quint has a history of epilepsy, which is certainly due to high stress, as he never had a crisis since I’ve got him. Still, he was suffering from very high separation anxiety, fear of thunder and shootings. Bobby also used to get very stressed when facing new places or moving to new locations. And Peppi, who we got only recently, is showing the same separation anxiety as her brother Quint, making some deafening sounds when left alone. Not too hard to understand where their traumas come from, isn’t it? We don’t do mushing with them, only long hikes and canicross.
The Spice Girls litter
Posh, Baby and Sporty were indeed called after the “Spice girls” girls band from the 90’s! Very good sled dogs, they are total pro when it comes to work. Dedicated, focused, huge drive. Their only issue was aggression towards others, out of insecurity, and they’ve improved immensely. Sporty is the one I still have to work with as she is still quite anxious around some dogs, especially Typy; they would fight occasionally, when in season. Or she would attack one of the youngsters, mainly Hazel. Very busy mind, she’s always jumping at us to get protection and attention, and is the one who still can’t let go completely when using the Trust Technique.
The Northern Trees litter
Oak and Hazel were 1.5 year old when the kennel they were born declared them not suitable for safari work. They are very young, extremely social and very sensitive, still acting in a babyish way with grown-up dogs. But they are so full of energy and have all it takes to be good sled dogs. I bet that with some decent re-training and work on a mental level, they both will be pulling the sled along with the others next year! They simply need more time, a different environment, etc. And if not, they both show great potential in canicrossing ;-)
The changes noticed so far
Over winter, I started doing very short sessions of Trust Technique in the evenings. The cold temperatures in Finland weren't really helping! And we had no appropriate indoor space to take them to. Since we’ve started our journey back south mid march, we‘ve done short sessions with the whole pack nearly everyday. For the past month, I’ve been very consistent, and have been filming all the sessions. Ola (my horse), Quint and Peppi were my two priorities. Last year, I managed to help Quint with shooting and thunder. At the beginning he would get crazy to the point of hurting himself (and anything around!). We made him stay pretty peaceful inside. This year, he didn’t show any anxiety regarding the army shooting nearby. And was rather ok with thunder and lightning when inside after some tapping and EMDR. Yet, outside, he was in total panic again. I will post the video of a TT session I did with him the other night. He went from panic to sitting and breathing hard, until he lied down and stayed by his dog house far more peaceful.
I work daily with my horse, even if sometimes only for 5 minutes when time is short, and this deserves an article on its own! Same with Milwyn, our little survivor 3-legged cat. Things are slightly different with her, as she was raised by us since she was 3 weeks old. Her amazing story is also worth sharing
Peppi has made impressive progress in 2 weeks, with still some little issues to work on ;-)
My husband and I do regular sessions for Typy now. Always close to the rest of the pack. For two main reasons: being alone away from her friends, with a man next to her, is simply one step too far for the time being. Second, because the session benefits the whole pack. We can clearly see the impacts of each session on the dynamics of the pack the following day. Sometimes, not for the best. If a trauma is very close to the surface, but hasn’t been fully healed, the dog might show more aggression or fear the next day. It is so interesting to see! Also it allows those with deep trauma to go at their pace. For Vinku and Hassu, we have to proceed very gently. They are so sensitive, that it can be quickly too much for them to take in. They are showing impressive progress. Typy and Hassu haven't gone fully to sleep when on the leash or close to us, Typy is fairly close to, when she’s on the stake-out. Yet, even without having reaching level 0, many things have changed in their behaviour.
So, results are extremely encouraging so far. Especially with the time that I or my husband have been able to work with the TT daily. Of course, I would have seen much faster results if we had only one animal to work with. But it’s also very rewarding to work with all of them and see how they react, the dynamic, etc. And it has improved the fluidity of our animal-human intuitive communication - the dogs have really opened up..
We’ve already come such a long way! Long live the Striders Adventures :-)
Watch the Message of Trust here!