Did you fall for the wolf-like looks in a domestic dog, of a husky? Whilst you love your dog to bits, this is a challenging breeds to own, not least because their reason for living is to escape, and run and run and run...Indeed, there’s little down time when you share the home with a husky, because of their seemingly endless supply of energy.
A strong, energetic dog that needs lots of exercise but is prone to running off, means they are a challenge for even the most dedicated of pet parents. This is why training is so important with huskies, something we understand here at Royvon. To give you a helping paw, here are our top 10 training tips for husky owners.
Few people would deny the Siberian husky, with their distinctive markings and pale eyes, is a dog with a presence. Indeed, it is perhaps this wolf-like allure wrapped up in a friendly dog that first attracts many people to the breed. However, the Siberian husky is a classic example of ‘look before you leap’ because the Siberian husky is a whole handful of dog.
First, let’s get some practical considerations out of the way. Huskies don’t drool so there’s no fear of your walls being redecorated with slobber. When it comes to shedding it’s a mix of good and bad news because the husky doesn’t shed much as a rule, except (and it’s a big except) for once a year when their hair sheds in the same way that snow forms a blizzard. Neither does the coat need trimming or clipping, although a slick over with a brush can help reduce matting and tangles.
For the active person requiring a dog to accompany them whilst jogging or hiking, look no further than the husky. Originally bred as working sledge dogs, they are up for all-day activities and are never happier than when running...and running...and then running some more. Amongst the many positive joys of huskies is their love of life and of company. These highly sociable dogs are unreserved when meeting people. Of course this could prove a little galling if you seek a one-person dog with eyes only for you, as they’re liable to ‘adopt’ any likely person who gives them attention.
Hand-in-hand with this sociability goes qualities such as being eager to please, adaptable, friendly, and affectionate. All of which sounds like huskies are the perfect dog, so why do they have a reputation for being a handful?
Go back to the huskies love of the outdoor activity, to glimpse why these dogs are not ideal for first time owners. Selectively bred to work hard and pull sledges, over the generations they developed an insatiable appetite for exploration. Translate this into a modern life style and you end up with a determined escape artist who makes short work of scaling six-food vertical fences.
But they don’t limit themselves to escaping from enclosed places. No. A husky off-lead in a park is liable to think the grass is green in the next field along and make a bolt for freedom. Indeed, many a husky has taken off and not been seen for dust...until that is he gets hit by a car and hospitalized or worse.
Don’t forget the husky is also an intelligent breed, but inclined to use that brain power to get what they want (freedom rather than food!) What’s more, they need bucket loads of mental stimulation (or entertainment!) and if you don’t provide it they make their own mischief. This means trying their paw of landscape design (digging up the garden) or recycling (chewing the house), and whatever their outlet for energy it’s going to be messy.
Surprisingly for such a strong dog, the husky isn’t a particularly good guard-dog. He’s more inclined to make friends with a burglar than bark at him. Plus, he can be a bit of a drama queen and scream when you tug on the lead. All in all, there’s never a dull moment when you own a husky, but be sure your life needs brightening up before you buy!
Know that a husky is hard-wired to run off. In truth, even impeccably trained huskies are a flight risk, although the training reduces this. That love of running free, plus a strong chasing instinct, means a squirrel crossing your path could spell disaster which could end with the dog being killed on the road. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by keeping your husky on a longline whilst exercising. This gives the dog freedom to roam and you the security of knowing you can get him back no matter what. And don’t worry that you’re limiting the dog’s freedom because when a longline is handled correctly, most dogs forget they’re attached to it.
A quick walk round the block doesn’t cut it for a husky. But how do you exercise a dog that is prone to running off? One idea is to get a hands-free waist lead and take up jogging. That way your get fit at the same time as the dog (plus if you get tired the dog can tow you home.) In a fenced yard or even on a longline, play highly aerobic games such as Frisbee or fetch. Know that your dog needs a minimum of 45 minutes energetic activity twice a day, and that’s just the basic essentials. If all else fails and you’re struggling, consider investing in a dog treadmill so he can pound the pavements in the comfort of your own home.
In an ideal world you’d source a puppy from a good breeder who takes puppy socialization seriously. This means the pup has already been exposed to people, places, sounds, and smells before you take him home. You should continue this socialization program, once he is home with you. Take your adult husky out and about, and give praise or a tasty treat when he’s calm in the presence of others. If he is over anxious or aggressive, divert his attention, change direction, and in the longer term seek the help of a professional trainer to overcome the problem.
A husky is not a dog for beginners because they have a habit of out-smarting their owners. The remedy to this is to get one step ahead of the dog by becoming knowledgeable about dog behaviour and training. Read books by the experts and register with a dog trainer who knows what their talking about. When you have a wider knowledge base and have a plan in place to tackle problem situations, you will feel more confident. In turn, this new attitude feeds back to the dog who is more likely to respect you and take notice.
Dominance theory is disproven, so do away with harsh punishment and train your dog by rewarding good behaviour. The rules are easy, you use a treat, praise, or play to reward the dog when he correctly carries out a command. He learns that the way to earn goodies is to be a good boy and training becomes fun...This is the basis behind Royvon’s training techniques.
use the 3 clear consistent cues
Clear: Have a clear set of commands that everyone uses. Remember, English is a foreign language to your dog so using “Down” and “Drop” for the same action will confuse him. Decide on command words and stick the list on the fridge door so the family know the correct cues to use.
Consistent: Apply all house rules consistently. No feeding from the table means just that 7 days a week, with no exceptions at the weekend.
Cues: Use the tone of voice to guide your dog and give verbal cues to mark good and bad behaviour. Let your know he’s about to make a wrong choice with a short, sharp, “Uh no”, followed by a happy “Good boy”, when he does as asked.
Botton down the basics by teaching a rock solid “Sit”, “Stay”, “Come,” and “Look”, puts you in control in so many different situations. Don’t underestimate the power of “Look” to focus his attention on you, rather than a passing cyclist. This avoids a nasty confrontation and can make walks a pleasure again.
Your husky can be stubborn – but so can you! Be sure to make training fun, but also make it regular. Lots of short training sessions spaced through the day, helps to instil the understanding that he has to listen to you and get into the habit of obeying.
Stave off bad habits with mental stimulation. A husky’s independent mind needs to be kept busy as he’s easily bored and he’ll make his own fun.
And finally, huskies are strong, demanding dogs. If the training isn’t going to plan don’t be afraid to call in the professionals. It’s much better to get a plan put in place sooner ratherthan later, before bad habits once deeply entrenched are hard to correct.