Training a Siberian Husky can be challenging, but the rewards are greatly worth the effort. This headstrong, hardworking breed balances their energetic nature with a loving loyalty that’s hard to match. The key to training your husky will be in utilizing their strengths and redirecting any undesired behaviors.
This northern breed was first used by Siberian natives, the Chukchi, to pull their sleds through deep snow. When brought to Alaska in 1909, their sled-pulling skills were honed as they took part in races like the famous Iditarod. The abundance of energy bred into these furry workhorses is still part of their personality. Harnessing this stamina in fun and engaging ways is vital for their happiness. Accompanying their penchant for hard work is a kind gentleness, quick mind, and eagerness to please. With the right methods, your Husky can easily be trained. (1, 2)
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Tips For Training Your Husky
Before beginning a training program with your pup, it’s important to have a clear understanding of dog communication and psychology. A good foundation will allow you to approach training your Husky with the right attitude, which can greatly impact your success.
While advice from times past has preached establishing dominance as an essential part of running your “pack,” psychological study of animal behavior points to positive reinforcement as the best and most humane method of training. This creates a low-stress atmosphere where you and your Husky work as a team–not pitted against each other in a power struggle. (3)
Be Conscious Of Body Language
Animals are extremely good at responding to non-verbal cues. They watch you – noting how you move, the expression on your face, the way you hold your body. They will then respond accordingly.
You know how a dog gets excited if you grab their leash–or even just look at it? They’ve observed you, and they’re able to associate your movements with your actions. This same concept applies to everything you do during the training process. You’ll want to set your intentions, be patient, and not overreact if your Husky doesn’t get it right the first several times.
It’s also important to observe your canine’s body language as well–after all, communication is a two-way street! Since dogs can’t talk like us (though those who have particularly vocal Huskies may disagree), they express themselves in other ways. Is he wagging his tail, flattening his ears, waiting by the door, or pacing? All of those behaviors indicate what’s going on in your furbaby’s mind. (4)
Basic Manners And Safety
Keeping your Husky’s natural tendencies in mind and being aware of their body language, you’ll want to train them in some basic manners and behaviors to keep them safe. Huskies are pack animals, so taking them with you wherever you go is a great way to keep them exercised and happily social. Basic commands here will be extremely beneficial.
- Prevent a dangerous sprint. Because the Husky has a strong prey drive (meaning they tend to chase after something they perceive as a snack-on-legs), leash training, stay commands, and recall are important to teach. For example, many Siberian Huskies have escaped simply by bolting through an open door when something caught their eye. Teach your furry sprinter that they can only go through the door when you say it’s okay. Have them sit and stay on a leash as you (or someone else) opens the door. If they begin to move towards the door, say ‘no’ and then have them sit again. When he doesn’t get up from his sit, reward the behavior immediately and keep on working till he gets it. Do this consistently so your furry friend doesn’t take off on a wild goose chase whenever he gets a chance! (5)
- Teach them to say hello. Training a Husky to greet dogs and humans politely is a great way to socialize them. Huskies can be intimidating to strangers, though they’re extremely friendly. Teaching them to shake hands, for example, is an easy and adorable way to have your pooch greet the people. Have your husky sit, and then pick up his paw and shake it while verbalizing a command such as ‘shake’ or ‘say hi.’ Then give a treat. Repeat this until your pup gives you his paw on his own when you say the command. (1)
Utilize Their Strengths With Fun Activities
Training your Husky doesn’t have to be all about preventing “bad” or undesirable behaviors. All that energy needs to be directed, and there are many activities that can accomplish the task. They’ll be fun for both you and your furry friend and can make use your Husky’s natural abilities.
- Harness their love of the chase. Just thinking ‘Siberian Husky’ floods your mind with images of sled dogs mushing through the snow-covered wilderness. A great way to expend your pup’s energy is with activities that require running. Start simple by teaching ‘fetch’ games, rewarding your Husky with a treat when he successfully brings the ball or toy back.
- Train your husky to pull. No, we don’t mean a game of tug of war. If you don’t live in a rural place where teaching your pup how to pull a sled is viable, there are ways to train urban Huskies to do something similar. Huskies can be trained to pull you on a wheeled dog cart, using the same basic commands and techniques as sled riders would.
A Trained Husky Is A Happy Husky
When you keep your Husky’s sharp mind and able body working, you’re giving them exactly what they need. Of course, your Husky will love to cuddle and sleep too, but it’s vital not to neglect their energetic needs. Training your pooch can be fun and rewarding, as long as you remember to be consistent and keep their minds interested. While training is a lifetime project, it will grow the bond between you and your Husky and help sustain your partnership.