The Siberian Husky is a dog that needs a special kind of person to be able to deal with their rather unique requirements. Their stubborn behavior, combined with their exercise requirements make it a breed of dog that is not for everyone. However, for the right person, there is no dog like it and many people once they have experienced a Husky will never get another breed.
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Why You Should House Train Your Husky
The Siberian Husky is a pack-dog and respects, expects and needs an authoritative figure to provide instruction and discipline throughout its life. It is also quite an intelligent dog which means it may challengy your authority from time to time. This doesn’t mean you have to act like a Sergeant Major, yelling instructions at it for the duration of its life. In fact, far from it. But, you do need to be in a position where, when required, you can issue a command and they will obey. The Husky will look to you for leadership and if they don’t get it then they may try and take on the role themselves.
By the way, if you’re wondering what you should get your new Husky Puppy after you’ve just got them – take a look here (opens in a new window).
What If You Don’t Train the Husky?
So what can you expect from your dog if you choose not to give them any kind of training? Well, they are likely to chew anything within your house, dig up your garden and may think it’s perfectly okay to howl throughout the day and night when they please. Their toilet will be your home and they will not tidy up after them! Although the Husky can’t be described as aggressive towards us – they are more likely to do something regrettable without training.
You see, the problem is – how are they meant to know what is right and wrong without being told? It’s not their fault, they would just act according to their natural instincts, as if they were in the wild. This would be absolutely fine if they were in the wild, but they’re not. They will live their long, happy lives with us in our homes and they need to be shown how to behave with us and with our things. We teach children how to behave so why do we think we don’t need to teach animals?
As an example, would we expect our Husky, when we go out, to just sit on the couch and cross their legs doing Sudoku until we get back? Well, that would be cool but no, we need to train them how to behave when we’re not around.
When Should You Start?
You should start training your Siberian Husky from the moment it arrives in your home. This is the very best time to start as consistency is one of the key ingredients to a successful training regime. If you allow your Husky, even once, to get away with something that you then subsequently reprimand them for then it’s going to be (rightly) confused and you’ll only make life harder for yourself.
The first few days may well be the hardest though. Everyone will be so excited to have a cute bundle of fur in the house that you can be forgiven if you slip up occasionally. Of course, it’s not ideal but we’re only human. Especially if you have children, they are more likely to be lenient to the Husky’s cheeky (read: naughty) behavior during those first few days and weeks.
Be Sure You Know What You’re Going to Do
Do know what you’re going to do before the Husky arrives in your home. If you have a family, make sure you all sit down and communicate what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable behavior. If you have kids then get them involved by asking them to think of some ideas and then decide whether it’s acceptable or not.
Particularly for puppies, there should be someone present at all times during the first few weeks. If you must pop out for a bit (it should really only be a short time) and can’t find anyone else to puppy-sit briefly then confine them to a small room or crate (more on this later) to minimize the disruption. The problem with leaving them alone at this time is that if they do something bad then they will have no one to tell them that it is wrong, so they won’t know. After this, whatever they’ve done whilst you’ve been away, they will repeat at some time in the future.
Socialization of the Siberian Husky
A key step in the upbringing of a Husky puppy and only second in importance to good training is socialization. At an early age, you should introduce your puppy to as many different people (especially children) and as many different animals (especially cats) as possible. This will bring a sense of familiarity with them and may prevent any incidents later in life. This is particularly important with regard to cats. One idea is to get permission to take your Husky to a cat rescue center, which is a controlled environment and you can leave at any time.
Just cram as many different people in (I’m sure it won’t be hard to get people to come round and see your Husky) to spend a bit of time with them and the same with other animals. This could really pay dividends later so don’t leave this step out!
Should I Use A Crate?
Many people (including myself originally) think negative about putting a Husky into a crate as it feels like it’s some kind of confinement. It’s not like this though and your dog won’t see it as confinement. In fact, your Husky will feel safe and secure within the crate and will actually help reduce separation anxiety.
The reason why we look at crates is that we ultimately want a housedog. I’m not saying we want to change the Husky into another breed, that’s not possible. But, we want to be able to live our normal reasons (well, it’s hard to have a normal life when you have a husky) and enjoy an all-round sociable, well-mannered pet. Unfortunately, there are far too many occurrences where Huskies have had to be returned as they did not fit in with the owner’s lifestyle. Well, the owner has to have some flexibility but there are some things we can do to make life easier, and using a crate, in some situations, may be the answer.
You tend to get what you pay for when buying a crate and you should not try and save a dollar or two on buying a cheaper variety. I’ve been through this myself and if you’re after one that will do the job then do check out my post here (opens in a new window). There’s only two I recommend, so do take a look if you’re in the market for one. Do remember that the Siberian Husky is a bit of an escape artist, so whatever you do, make sure that whatever you end up getting – it has a roof on it 🙂
When do you use the crate?
The crate should be used for sleeping and relaxing and can be a place for the Husky to go when it has become too excited. Also, this will be its
Training the Husky to Use a Crate
Actually getting your Husky to use and feel comfortable with a crate is not something that will happen overnight. There are some things you can do to make it easier for yourself though. Always make sure you take your Husky out for lots of exercise before you crate them. At first, only for a few minutes at a time but you can do this a few times a day if appropriate.
When they feel comfortable with just staying inside it, close the door and repeat the process. But do so whilst you’re still in the room and also leave their favorite toy in there with them. If your Husky complains (it may at first) then just say ‘No’, in a commanding voice whilst tapping the crate with a finger a couple of times. They will soon associate their complaint with your firm response and also it will have an association with the crate. Remember, they don’t have to stay in it long at first, just a few minutes, building up the time slowly.
One thing to remember here is to not give in. Don’t let them out when they are complaining, only let them out when they are quiet. If you start giving in to them then they’ll know exactly what to do to get you to let them out! Some owners also use the crate when there are delivery people are workmen around but if yours doesn’t get too excited during these times, then perhaps there’s no need.
So, you just build up the time that they spend in there. Never make it a punishment and eventually they will see it as a sanctuary. Just two important points to remember though about its usage:
- The crate is never to be used as a prison, bad behavior does not get time in the crate.
- The crate is not to be used to keep your Husky in all day. It is only to be used for short periods during the day and at night-time.
Huskies and Other Animals
The Siberian Husky is a sociable dog which can get on very well with other dogs. The problem comes when you try and introduce a Husky into a house that already has a cat (or other small mammals) – or vice versa.
The Husky has a very high prey-drive. What this means is that it can see these small animals as prey and its natural instinct is to run after them and destroy them. You won’t be able to train this natural instinct away.
This doesn’t mean that a Husky and a cat can’t live together, however, it’s not recommended. There are a lot of owners who have a Husky that has been living with a cat fantastically for the whole of its life without a single problem. There are also reports from others where the same has happened until one day something flips in the Husky’s head, it sees the pet cat as prey and the outcome is unfortunate.
There are things you can do to give yourself the best chance possible of a healthy Husky/cat relationship though and the main thing is proper socialization when younger.
If you do choose to risk introducing your Husky to your family which already has a cat, it must be done gradually. This is worthy
Potty Training Your Husky
You may decide that at least initially, you will want to train your Husky puppy to go to the toilet inside (in a potty) for the first few months. Personally, I would try and get them used to going outside as soon as possible otherwise you might have a tough time convincing them later to stop going inside! This can be quite an ordeal but just bear in mind you will need to be on top of this during those first few months. For more information, take a look at this great article written by the superb RSPCA in the UK.
The Siberian Husky is a pack animal, in fact – all dogs are. So what this means is that they all, to an extent, exhibit a consistent behavior that affects how they need to be trained. So, regardless of whether it is a Siberian Husky or a Poodle, the dog will assume a leadership role until told otherwise. To be able to adopt that role is actually quite straight forward. You need to apply discipline quickly, consistently and unemotionally. It’s this last bit that proves to be tricky, of course. It can feel wrong telling your new puppy off but you’ll have a better relationship in the long-run if you do!
Siberian Husky Basic Training
There are some basic things that you need to know to ensure a solid training programme. Despite being quite simple, they are easy to forget at times, so here’s a summary of what you need to know.
Leish Training you Husky
Prior to using a leash, it is a good idea to put a very soft, lightweight collar onto your Husky for familiarization. At first, unless you’re really lucky, they are not going to like it. However, after just a few hours (on in some cases, days) they will totally forget it is on them. Build up the time gradually with the collar at first. First, for just a few minutes and if they’re okay with this then take it off and reward them.
Increase the time with it on over the course of a few days until they’re entirely comfortable with it. Whether you choose to keep the collar on whilst they are at home is entirely up to you but they should never be outside of the house without the collar (and the leash attached).
Once they are comfortable with the collar, attach a lightweight leash to it whilst you are playing with them inside. Don’t take up the slack initially, just let them play without using the leash to guide them anywhere. Use the leash to then guide them around the house, constantly praising their good behavior and providing the occasional treat. They are subconsciously at this time associating the leash with rewards and praise.
You absolutely must get a good leash. There is one I recommend that has a massive 100-foot range, which is unusual and perfect for the Siberian Husky. The price is good and you can find it on Amazon with excellent reviews, I’d recommend getting it so do take a look here.
Make sure you continue to build up this time gradually before venturing into the outside world. You really shouldn’t have any problems with this step, as long as you take it in gradual steps!
Giving Commands to your Husky – Tips
Essential to maintain discipline is your ability to provide instruction to your Husky and for them to obey. There are a few simple tips that will hopefully make things easier for you:
- Whilst you are training, don’t give a running commentary on things. Only talk when you need to, using clear, simple commands.
- Ensure you use the same commands each time. You may need to work out which one works best but if you adopt the use of, “<name of dog>, Come!” – then don’t change that to, “Come on <name of dog>” – this obviously means the same thing to us but to your dog it is different.
- One of the most important aspects of providing commands to your Husky is the tone of your voice. Every single command should be authoritative, confident and consistent. Try not to add any emotional into the command, such as, “Oh for the love of God, please stop!”. 🙂
- Consider using a different word to ‘No’ – this is used so frequently in our daily language that it might not have such an impact when you really need to use it. Some people have changed this to ‘Wrong!’
- Use their name a lot – you will be combining their name with these commands so use it from the moment you decide what it’s going to be.
‘Wrong (or) No’ Command
Arguably the most important command that your Husky will ever need to learn. This should be the first command you teach them. Some people fall into the mistake of using this way too often. Only use it when you can enforce it somehow and start teaching this from the first day the Husky enters your home. You must be consistent though. Telling your dog to stop doing something that was accepted yesterday will only confuse them.
The next most important command for them to learn is so they will come to you when requested. This is usually combined with the Husky’s name, so for instance, “<dog’s name>, come!”. Initially, there will probably need to be an incentive for your Husky to come to you and this is where you will use your treats (you’re going to need a lot of these during the first few weeks). Consider giving a small treat every single time they obey this command (make sure you always have some with you). You may need to use this command one day when it will literally save their life, it’s totally worth the cost of the treats 🙂
You may need to be a little clever when first giving this command. You want to make sure that when you say it, they obey. Which they may not. So, at first, only say it when you know they’re going to come. This is usually when they’re on their way to you anyway but that’s fine – it’s all about association.
Never punish or reprimand your Husky puppy if they don’t respond. If you do then they will associate the command with fear which will in-turn mean they will try and avoid it rather than obey. Remember, lots and lots of praise when they reach you.
‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ Commands
These commands are a whole lot easier to each when your Husky is a puppy so get on to this as soon as possible. At first, you will practice inside but do remember the long, extendable leash when you eventually venture outside. There will be a lot more distractions outside so make sure they respond positively inside before going to this next step.
The best way I’ve found to make this command work is to hold a treat in your hand and elevate it above your Husky’s head until he’s sitting down whilst at the same time, issue the command ‘Sit’. Make sure you give them a treat after.
It’s okay to just touch their back when you want it to go down if they are reluctant to sit down but of course, never apply too much pressure – this again will associate a negative action with the command and they will try and avoid it in future. If they attempt to stand back up, repeat the process until they are sat once more. It may take some time so patience is the key and build up the seconds they must stay sat each day.
Once the ‘Sit’ command is mastered, start work on the Stay command. Combine, the two commands so you will say, ‘Sit
Once you’re happy with the distance, you will want to walk back to your dog without them moving. Once you get to them, make a massive fuss over them and give them a treat. These commands are tricky and they won’t get it overnight, it’s perfectly okay and normal if this takes a while.
The ‘Down’ command is used to make your Husky lie down and can be useful if you need them to stay in one place for more time than the ‘Stay’ command. They are less likely to move if they are lying down than sitting down.
To teach the command, have a treat in your hand and hold it under your Husky’s nose and lower your hand down to the ground. The Husky should follow the treat down and as he does, give the command ‘Down’ – put a little pressure on their shoulders but if there is any resistance, stop. You may need to gently move their feet towards you so they are properly lying down but ensure this isn’t a shock as, like other commands, if it causes them discomfort they will not want to participate in future. When the Husky is lying down, give them a lot of fuss and reward them with a treat.
You’re going to need to continue to do this for some time as it’s not the easiest to learn. Eventually, though, they will comply without you having to touch them at all.
Finally, the Heel command and this is something that many people choose to ignore. When you issue this command you should expect your Husky to walk on your left side. Their shoulder will be about where your left leg is and they should stick to it no matter which way you turn.
I would argue whether this command is actually required with the Siberian Husky. It is typically used with dogs when they are off-leash so they stay by the owners’ side but as the Husky should never be outside without a leash, it may not be required.
If you do wish to teach this though it should be when the puppy is young and you should ensure that every time they are walking with you they are on your left-hand side. This builds up familiarity and after a while, it will be an automatic process. When you are about to walk, issue the command, ‘Heel’ and ensure they are on your left-hand side. Give them a little treat when they are alongside you and if they venture off, re-issue the command and wait until they are along-side before continuing.
This will take some time to perfect as it is a tricky one so many people ensure all the other commands are learned before venturing onto this, more advanced, command.
Frequent Problems When Training the Husky
If you’re encountering problems when training then ask yourself whether it could be one of the below:
- Has your Husky had enough time to learn the commands – are you being patient enough with them?
- Are you speaking in an authoritative voice, without shouting or pleading?
- Are the commands that you issue consistent, clear and not too complex?
- Do you give your Husky enough praise and attention, including treats when they perform the order correctly?
- Are there distractions? If you’re performing this outside then there’s plenty going on and the Siberian Husky is easily distracted. Find somewhere as quiet as possible with not much else going on.
- Is your Husky unwell? It’s unlikely because you would have probably spotted other symptoms but if they are not feeling their best,
thenthey may not be able to concentrate.
Training your Siberian Husky doesn’t have to be a hardship. It’s an absolutely necessary step to help introduce them into our lives and ensure that they have a safe and enjoyable life, as well as ourselves. It’s a process that’s certainly easier if you start when they are a puppy but just because you’ve adopted a rescue Husky and they are older, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train them. The Husky that has been through some simple training techniques will be a much more rounded pet than one that hasn’t and you will find it will make for an altogether more enjoyable relationship.