Five Key Principles of Training a Husky

Kurt Tully is a husky owner who has a genuine love for huskies and has experience in dealing with health problems and training.

To get the best results in training your husky, you might want to change the way you think about it. It's true that huskies are exceedingly intelligent and that they sometimes reveal their predatory instincts. That makes some people apprehensive that their husky is always waiting for some chance to take advantage of his owner. Actually, a husky appreciates having a strong leader to follow; if you take charge, he will be happy with that. As a pack dog, he needs to belong to your pack. He will do what he needs to do to be accepted.

Disobedient behavior that is particularly destructive is a good place to begin learning how to train a husky. You can adjust his behavor within the limits that are set by his instincts. It is a big no-no to flip out at your dog during training. Remember, he or she is looking for a strong leader, not a bully.

1. Crate Training

Huskies who are properly crate-trained tend to be more calm because they have their own territory and area to go back to. Train your husky to regard his crate as a den or nest where he is safe and can await your return, not as a prison where he is punished.

Punishing your husky through detention in a crate is cruel and in no way do I condone this.

Initially, when you are crate training your dog, make sure you never leave him on his own. Keep him calm during the initial crate training and spend as much time as possible with him so that he adapts better. House-training problems, barking, and separation anxiety can all be reduced through an effective crate-training regime.

Crate-Training a Puppy With a Clicker and Treats

2. Leash Training

If you are having problems when walking your dog on a leash, you should take a step back in training and make certain that your husky is acting peacefully before heading off for a walk. Don't rush him while you are waiting for him to get calm before walking. Once he is calm, he will most likely respond much better to your commands during the walk.

If your dog doesn't know the leash rules, it's not his fault if he behaves badly. When he tugs or pulls on the leash to advance ahead of you, calmly sit him down beside you for a few seconds and then continue walking. Eventually, your husky will associate his pulling on the leash with the interruption of the walk.

Teaching a Husky Not to Pull the Leash

Reinforcing Proper Behavior Outdoors

3. The Alpha Position

As you may well be aware, huskies are working pack dogs that are legendary for working hard within a team. Taking "the Alpha position" is the way you provide your husky with a dependable leader and a sure foundation in the home location. It should be your highest goal to have your husky realize that you are in control of the home area and of them. When he understands that you are the leader and the provider of food and safety, he will calm down and be more receptive to good training. The more time you can spend early on teaching this idea, the less frustration you will face in later training.

4. Obedience Training

It is an exceptionally good idea to take your husky to a professional obedience school when he is a puppy. He really needs to socialize with other puppies; learning basic commands is just a bonus of puppy school. After puppy school, obedience classes are a great way for owner and husky to learn more advanced commands and to develop the alpha relationship. An older husky that has developed some bad habits could also benefit from obedience training classes.

5. Being Consistent in Your Training

Remaining consistent in your training and rules for your husky is essential. Training requires consistent messages and rules given over time. Anything else will lead to bad behavior. A good example is making sure that boundaries around your home remain consistent. Make sure that everybody in your home knows the ground rules for your husky, where he can and can't be and what he can and can't do, to avoid mixed messages. Having him sit down before crossing the road is a good example of teaching positive habits that reinforce good behavior. Getting compliance from your husky will be easy if you stick to your rules.

Stephanie Jensen on October 30, 2018:

My male husky was food aggressive too but what I learned by trial and error was to take the food away from the dog put some in your hand and make him/her come to you for the food they will realize that you are the dominant one.

Alyssa on October 03, 2018:

Hello, I have a almost one year old German Shepherd Husky Mix. we have taught her to sit, lay down and come so far. But she is still having a hard time listening to what we have to say meaning when we tell her to come from taking her outside with a leash she's been refusing. I will admit me and my parents aren't staying through with training fully but we are trying. Any help will be much appreciated, I just want my dog to listen much better.

Sazza on August 24, 2018:

Hi there have read a few of your comments and tbh it is more on you as owners rather than the dog. I have a husky who is n absolutely gorgeous lovely dog, however, she wasn’t like this to begin with. She was stubborn and boisterous, you have to put in the time with husky’s, reward them for good behaviour as in positive reinforcement for going to their bed when you tell them to and sitting and coming back to you. When they don’t listen to you then do a really growly voice and make them realise you are higher in the pack than them. I have a very obedient husky and she was an adult when I started training her btw cus I started going out with a guy who had badly trained her. Now she will only listen to me and not him or anyone else. Which he sees as bad but it makes me feel good lol

Jazmine Kitchen on July 23, 2018:

Hi we got our husky just last month and were trying to train her but she doesnt want to listen . SHe barks and whines often and bc of this my neighbor threatened to call animal control bc she says this means were abusing her. Im getting to the point where i wanna give her to someone else bc i dont want to put my cats in danger of being take to

Kels on July 17, 2018:

-when I get older a bit I wanna have a dog that listens to me. So I chose a husky

Joan S on June 20, 2018:

Hope the biting has stopped by now. Look for the source - is she teething? Hungry for solid food? Angry? At this age it is usually teething. My method goes against many peoples grain. But... When they are nibbling, in fun play, I put my wrist in their mouth just to the point that they can no longer bite. I hold it there for 2, 3, seconds, then GENTLY pull away. But before you do anything - you set an alarm for 1/2 hour earlier than usual and do some heavy playing. A tired dog pays attention better. Run, bike, play ball, anything to get them tired. Take the kids. One more thing. Use a harness not a collar for walking. Our dogs always have their collars on and put an easy walking harness doesn't need to be an expensive sledding harness. And never, ever use a spike collar. The harness give you more control. The dog doesn't get hurt. And you can lift the pup more easily if their is a situation (bully dog or crossing the street) arises. Most important - invest in a good trainer for at least 6 lessons. Some doggie day care place also have training sessions available where you stay. You need to be trained as well as the dog.

Sorry for the long post - Huskies are a lot different from many dog breeds and too many get turned into rescue because of lack of knowledge. Reach out to local clubs as well. We all love to give free (and sometimes unwelcome) advise. Love to hear how it's going.

ChristianaPotter on April 19, 2018:

Hi, My siberian husky is 13 weeks old. Got her at 6 weeks. Any tips on getting her to stop biting. She is showing signs of aggression and is very aggressive with her food. I have 2 small children and don't want them to get bitten. I don't know how to get her to behave gently with everyone. I am don't want a dog that bites period. What tips can i use when she has growled at me and tried biting me.

Andrew on May 10, 2017:

My husky is now 11 months old but we are still having trouble with his potty training . He gladly goes outside but when we are sleeping or go out for a short period of time almost every time there is poo or pee when we wake up or come home. I have done potty training 101 and everything else I can think of he knows he isn't supposed to use in the house because he hides when he does . And it's not the lack of being outside because i let him out anytime he goes to the door . Sometimes he pees on the bed too. Can someone help me with this ??

Radeantred on August 15, 2016:

Thanks for your input. Oak just turned six saturday. He came to us, with several issues that we worked with him on. He is an awesome Husky, and after years of observation and the vets input we believe he has a lot of mal in him too, which makes him more devoted to my husband and so much more compliant than i had researched on huskies. He is part of the pack or we his! He is hilarious... You always know his mood. And what an insatiable nose for food, ans smells... We live in the Smokies, so he picks up on all them critters! We have to be severely careful w/the heat.... We both LOVE the AC, lol! Walking is a hoot with him, such a social buff! Oh, yes! The husky breed when understood and given time to become secure in the pack, and secure in his identity with you, he is an incredible bup! Thats what i call him, he's my Bup! Research if you just have to have a husky, cause if you dont & he misbehaves, its probably not his fault but your not taking time enough with him or her. They are one of the smartest breeds, keen to your Alpha or Wimp approach to their actions . Enjoy!

Moira Daniels on June 07, 2014:

My husky/ wolf cross is so vocal and whinney at times. He definitely learns a lot from my 6 year old golden retriever female. In the end he is still a puppy with puppy behavior. Ive raised all kinds of dogs over the years but this breed is by far the most work of any of them.

glen" in scotland on August 09, 2013:

d Your Comment... learned all this by diving in the deep end, nice to see i got a quality Siberian and i am doing 90% of things right, and have the method leadership and patience for this wonderfu pack l creature. Yes takes a lot of my time, yes lots of excersize, but i have made one of the best decisions in my life in aquiring this dog.

Kyle on April 21, 2012:

I didn't really get this


Situation Training is the process of defining triggers to create behavior expectation in a dog. Triggers are sights, sounds, smells, etc. These triggers, when properly defined, will signal to the dog how he/she will be expected to behave. When we as humans enter a library, triggers immediately influence our behavior because we have been conditioned to whisper, walk and move softly. These triggers tell us to behave far differently than when we go out to our favorite sporting event, where we have been conditioned to clap and shout. It is up to you to define these triggers to your dog. Be prepared to clearly teach your dog how you want them to behave in many situations such as, when you are eating dinner as a family, going for a walk around the block, going to the vet office, playing with the kids, going to the dog park, etc.

The way your dog behaves is a product of how you interact with him/her. Don’t blame the dog. Your dog’s behavior is directly related to your ability to understand and implement these training principles:-Timing links behavior with consequence-Consistency creates habits-Motivation influences decision making-Direction makes learning easy-Situation creates behavior expectation

Are Huskies Easy to Train?

If you are getting a Husky or have just started training one, you might wonder whether Huskies are easy to train.

You may have heard a lot of varying opinions on Huskies and feel a bit unsure over how easy it will be to train your Husky.

Huskies are well known for being difficult to train. Huskies are intelligent and independent, which can come across as stubborn. So while your Husky will learn fast during training, you need to be extra careful with your approach to train them properly.

In this guide, I will explain everything you need to know about the basics of training a Husky and why extra care needs to be put in compared to other dog breeds.

While Huskies can be difficult to train, if you follow the principles in this guide you will make the job easier.

Training Other People (Really Important)

As mentioned earlier, other people can quickly ruin your training by reinforcing your Husky’s jumping behavior.

Most of the time, other people won’t even realize that they’re reinforcing the jumping.

You need to train other people to do their part to prevent your Husky from jumping on them.

Here are a few quick ways to nudge other people in the right direction and stop them from unknowingly encouraging your Husky from jumping on them.

“Keep Your Hands Low”

As explained earlier, it’s common for people to lift their hands up when they think a dog is going to jump on them.

This has the opposite effect and signals to your Husky to jump.

Take a look at the below photos and think about how each one looks from a Husky’s point of view:

If a Husky was running up to me and I pulled one of these poses, the Husky is going to respond very differently to each pose.

My hands are targets to a Husky, so it’s no surprise that the photo with my hands up encourages a Husky to jump as I’m raising the targets.

People are likely to lift their hands (like in the above right photo) away from a Husky’s reach. But they don’t realize this encourages a Husky to jump up on them.

By keeping your hands down low, your Husky is more likely to stay low to receive attention.

Explain this to other people and tell them to keep their hands down. Simply say “keep your hands low”.

Your Husky may still jump to try and lick the person’s face, but if you can get other people to stop lifting their hands up, it will make a big difference.

Don’t Pat The Top of Their Head

A common mistake people make is to want to pat a dog on the top of the head.

You may have noticed that the reaction most dogs have to this is to lift their nose up or maybe grab the hand. Other dogs see this as an invitation to start jumping.

Patting on the top of the head raises your Husky’s attention higher.

In the below photos, you can clearly see a big difference in how my Husky reacts to trying to pat the top of her head and under her head.

If a stranger tries to pat your Husky on the top of the head and your Husky tries to lick the hand, the stranger may instinctively pull their hand back. This will immediately encourage your Husky to jump.

You can avoid this by teaching other people to rub your Husky’s chest and not pat on top of the head.

Patting a Husky’s chest keeps the person’s hand low. You will notice that your Husky’s head will stay lower compared to when people try to pat the top of the head.

The best way to do this is to get your Husky to sit before receiving a pat from a stranger. Getting your Husky to sit will also significantly reduce the chances of them jumping.

Sitting combined with a chest rub is the best combination to prevent your Husky from jumping on other people.

How to Train a Siberian Husky

Last Updated: January 11, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Beverly Ulbrich. Beverly Ulbrich is a Dog Behaviorist and Trainer and the Founder of The Pooch Coach, a private dog training business based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Certified CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Evaluator by the American Kennel Club and has served on the Board of Directors for the American Humane Association and Rocket Dog Rescue. She has been voted the best private dog trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area 4 times by SF Chronicle and by Bay Woof, and she has won 4 "Top Dog Blog" awards. She has also been featured on TV as a dog behavior expert. Beverly has over 17 years of dog behavior training experience and specializes in dog aggression and anxiety training. She has a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University and a BS from Rutgers University.

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A beautiful breed of dog, Siberian Huskies are independent, athletic, and intelligent. Despite their relatively gentle demeanor and affectionate behavior, they are not easily trained. Because Siberian Huskies are pack dogs, they will challenge your leadership and test boundaries. They will become destructive if not exercised. In order to avoid an unhappy experience with a Siberian Husky, it is important to understand their temperament in order to properly train them for all experiences and situations.

Watch the video: What Does My Husky Do When Home Alone? GoPro Spy Footage (September 2021).