Siberian Huskies are intelligent dogs, but can also be stubborn, and grow bored easily. Training a Husky puppy is not easy. You will need a lot of patience and dedication to properly train a Siberian Husky. Are you up for the challenge?
How difficult is it to train a Husky?
Siberian Huskies are difficult to train. Rewarding in the long run, but difficult. If you haven’t owned a dog before then you might want to consider adopting an older, trained, and socialized Husky or consider a different breed.
Before acquiring your first Husky you might also want to get in touch with your local Siberian Husky club where you can meet owners, play with the animals, and get a feeling for whether this is the breed that is right for you in your current lifestyle.
Top Training Tips for Your Husky
1. Be the leader of the pack
As any Husky training guide will suggest, you need to be the leader of the pack. Be the “alpha dog”, so to speak. That does not mean you will be aggressive, loud, or violent. It does mean you need to exert dominance over your dog. Huskies will not obey if they view their owner as passive or weak.
Being the leader means firm commands, with consistent wording, and applied consistently. No bending the rules, ever! If one rule can be bent then your dog will think all rules can be bent!
For example, when passing through a gate or doorway, you lead and the puppy follows. When playtime is up, you remove the toys from the puppy’s possession. You decide when and where the puppy sleeps. Crate training is also likely to be an appropriate activity. In short: you lead, and your Husky should follow.
2. Start early
As soon as you bring the puppy home you want to settle into a routine. Each day you and your puppy will need to sleep, eat, poop, play, and exercise. The great thing about routine is that it helps build trust with your puppy, plus helps you remember to get through all the activities that need to happen each day.
Training is not something that necessarily stops at a certain age. As your puppy grows up certain behaviors and routines will become second nature, only to be replaced with more advanced training and exercise. Thankfully some training such as housebreaking your Husky puppy will settle down and not require constant attention.
3. Give Feedback (immediate, clear, and consistent)
You will be well equipped to take on the challenges of raising a Siberian Husky puppy if you are armed with these three feedback concepts:
Feedback needs to be given as soon as the dog exhibits a behavior worthy of it, whether that be good behavior (demanding positive feedback) or bad behavior (demanding negative feedback). By ‘soon’, we mean within 5 seconds – straight away!
Why so soon? Because you want the puppy to connect its own behavior to your response. The puppy is constantly exhibiting different behaviors: playing with this, wandering over there, lying down, getting up, and on it goes all day long.
Siberian Huskies can get bored easily. If you wait just a few moments too long your puppy is probably already doing something else! Your response will either encourage the puppy to repeat the behavior or discourage it.
The words you say and the actions you take when issuing feedback should not leave any doubt as to the purpose; positive or negative. How you verbalize positive feedback (“Good boy”, “Good Girl”) should be distinctly different in sound to how you verbalize negative feedback (“Bad Dog”, “No”). Some trainers recommend using special words and avoid “Yes” and “No”, which are commonly said in everyday conversation.
For example, your Husky is likely to only hear “Good Boy” in the context of its own behavior unless you also have a young child and using Good Boy to him as well! In which case an alternative phrase should be picked for the dog such as “Atta Boy”, “Yup-Yup”, or whatever you choose. Pick something and go with it for the life of the dog!
“No” comes up often in everyday human speech that it would be wise to pick an alternative. Shibashake recommends “Ack-Ack” instead. By saying “Ack-Ack” instead of “No” your dog will associate that command exclusively with its own behavior and adjust accordingly.
Siberians are smart dogs, but you still want to be consistent to remove any doubt as to the type or purpose of feedback. By using the same words each time your Husky will associate them with good or bad behavior.
Just as important is to give the same feedback every single time. If your puppy likes chewing on your shoes, then never once let him or her get away with it! Repeat the same negative feedback words every single time. Don’t leave any doubt in the puppy’s mind that the behavior will be tolerated!
Similarly, if your puppy does good by sitting still while you plate up the food bowl, you can and should give positive, reinforcing feedback each time. Even if the puppy seems to have mastered self-control at feeding time, there is no reason to stop loving your dog for behaving!
If you are using more than words for feedback, and you probably are, such as scratching behind the ears or giving the puppy a cuddle, make sure that is consistent as well. You don’t want to cuddle the puppy for positive feedback on one occasion, but then on another after negative feedback also cuddles because you feel sorry for the puppy. Consistency is the key.
4. Don’t give up!
Training is going to take time. Not just a few days here or there, but consistent training, every day, for many months. Don’t give up! If something isn’t working over a period, try something else. Ask other Siberian Husky owners at your local club what has worked for them. Check out our other tips on training Husky puppies for advice on specific issues.
Training a Siberian Husky puppy requires effort, dedication, and persistence, but please don’t let that put you off! Training can be fun, enlightening, and rewarding for puppy and trainer alike. Improved relationships between your pet and yourself, your family, the general public and other animals is the secret to successful pet ownership!
Husky puppies can be a handful at times but with patience and dedication, you will get there and very much enhance the bond between owner and pet