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We all know how athletic and energetic our huskies can be. They’re just full of life, social, and just lovely all around. But, training them can be a chore, and training them will definitely be challenging for those trying to train dogs for the first time.
But don’t be afraid, we’re here to help. So, think of this as your boot camp where we’ll take you through husky pup training. Let’s go!
Why Are They Hard to Train?
Huskies are sled dogs and by nature, they are independent and strong-willed. Their ancestors were trained to work with their fellow dogs in a pack to pull sleds and not develop a very close relationship with their owners, what mattered was their athleticism and endurance. Unlike a lot of other breeds, they don’t have that desire to please you and because of this, they will usually challenge your leadership and try to push you and test you.
They aren’t dumb or stupid for not listening or following your commands, they just aren’t bred for that. They excel in sports that require that athleticism and endurance such as bikejoring or canicross or carting (which is basically just pulling a cart, really similar to pulling sleds which they’re good at) and they’re really fast.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t train them and now, we’re going to tell you how.
Husky Pup Training Tips
Be the Strong Leader
Huskies are strong-willed and independent dogs. They can be really stubborn because these behaviors are natural to them. You should establish yourself as the leader early on because the earlier you start fighting bad behavior, the better.
You shouldn’t treat them as equals because they are pack dogs and only follow their leaders and you must be that leader. You should adopt the following practices to establish yourself as the leader:
A good way to establish yourself in this role is to take them on pack walks. During normal walks, they usually walk in front of you but during pack walks, they are required to walk beside or behind you all through. They shouldn’t be allowed to freely sniff around and they should only be allowed to relieve themselves in the places you feel are appropriate. It also isn’t playtime or a time for them to meet other dogs.
Whenever you’re going through doorways or walking upstairs make sure you go before them. If they try to go ahead of you make them stay in place and go before them. You should also make them move out of the way when you’re walking.
You should also eat first before letting them eat. You’re obviously not going to be eating their dog food with them so what you should do is place a snack beside their bowl after serving their food and make sure they wait until you’ve eaten. The leader of the pack always eats first and you should position yourself as their leader.
They shouldn’t get excess attention and you should limit it to when you want to give them attention and not when they want attention. A good way to do this is to ignore them for a little while whenever you come home. Only give them that attention when you want to.
Do not let them on the bed or any furniture with you unless you invite them yourself. If they’re very stubborn or aggressive don’t let them on any furniture. If not controlled this can promote resource guarding which is common among other dogs too. Your dog will start trying to protect “their spot” on the bed or chair and that might lead to aggressive behavior in an attempt to make you leave what they feel is theirs.
Play with them but always maintain a higher position. Rolling around with them will make them see you as the submissive one and reinforce their stubborn and aggressive behavior because you’ve put them in a place where they’re trying to be your leader.
Through all of this when you give a command or your dog starts acting up make sure you maintain eye contact with them and don’t let it go. Doing this will make them look away when they realize how serious you are and also assert your position as the leader.
These are ways to establish yourself as the alpha and you should do them as often as required and go on pack walks every day. Putting yourself in the role of their alpha will also make general training easier and help you to stop them from engaging in bad behavior because they’ll listen to and obey your commands.
Be Firm with Your Rules
Emphasis should be placed on when you ask them to. An example, as I’ve stated before, they shouldn’t get on your furniture unless you ask them to. You ae the one in charge so you decide what goes and what doesn’t and you have to stick with it. This consistency will also aid their response and enforce that good behavior quicker. Decide where they stay when you’re not around, what furniture they have access to and which ones require your permission, where they’re allowed to sleep and play and remember, be consistent.
Reward Good Behavior
The purpose of training is to end up with a good-mannered dog that listens to you. You need to have a way to tell them what behaviors are good and which ones are bad, and you can’t just sit them down and explain it to them or give them a list of rules to follow. All the methods I’ve listed above are based on your direct response to their behavior.
This is how they learn from you. Whatever behavior you reward with treats or affection or anything good will be replicated and vice versa. Positive reinforcement as it is commonly called is the main way your dog will learn what you want them to do and what you don’t want them to do.
This could be done with treats or using an encouraging voice, or petting and playing with them but make sure you do it immediately after they have behaved well. If you wait too long, they might get confused and if you mistakenly end up doing it after they’ve done something bad without your knowledge, they might associate the reward with that bad behavior.
If you keep it up behaving properly will become normal to them and you won’t have to give them treats for it anymore.
Try to start simple and don’t have unreasonable expectations. Your dog won’t be kicking bad guys like Hong Kong Phooey or for the younger audiences out there, reporting and taking down strange bad guys like Scooby doo. Start with small and easy commands and build up slowly as they get better.
Do Not Use Violence as Discipline
When they behave well, they should be rewarded and when they behave improperly, they should be disciplined but this doesn’t mean violence. You can steer them towards doing the right thing, especially if what they did doesn’t repeat itself frequently. It might be that they haven’t realized that you don’t want them doing that and not an act of outright disobedience.
You should also be firm when telling them to stop something you don’t like and you can take away toys or make sure they don’t get treats. They will adjust their behavior accordingly without you having to resort to violence because being violent can also make them unwilling to obey you.
Build a Useful Vocabulary
Your husky can understand commands and you can communicate with them if you train them well. You should use simple words when communicating with them and this will make it easier for them to understand what you want from them. It also builds trust and eventually, you can train them to understand phrases and perform slightly more complex tasks.
Exercise and Play
Huskies have a lot of energy. They need to burn off all of this excess energy and like all other dogs, should get exercise and play daily. Not getting enough exercise might lead to bad behaviors like barking at night because they’re still energetic and can’t sleep or they just become restless and it will eventually lead to them becoming lazy and this can contribute to obesity.
Consistency in Training
It’s best to have a schedule for your training and activities. Huskies respond well to consistency and having a routine helps this. Do your best to keep to your schedule because sudden routine changes can cause confusion for them and maybe even irritate them and so any changes you want to make should be introduced slowly and they should be given time to get used to these changes.
Huskies can be a handful especially if you’re new to training dogs, but it can be a rewarding experience for you and your dogs and if you handle training them properly, it won’t be as hard as a lot of people make it out to be.