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Siberian Husky Training Tips

The American Kennel Club of America (AKC) recognizes one-hundred fifty-eight different breeds of dogs, each breed having its own unique traits and history. Often times a dogs past and breeding stock can greatly influence their overall behavior and how receptive they are to basic and advanced training.

As an example, there is a definite reason border collies are often used to herd sheep, or why German Sheppard’s are used by law enforcement as canine officers. For a moment, stop and think what comes to mind when you think of a guard dog. Are you thinking or a large Rottweiler? The traits these individual breeds were endowed with often shape the roles they play in our society.

Aside from the breed of dog, the individual style of training can also influence the effectiveness of a person’s training. How often have you watched a famous trainer on the television tell you how to command your dog, and then on an alternate channel see a trainer get down on their hands and knees and act like a dog? These varying styles often have more and less effeteness depending on the dogs overall reception to the style of training.

With that being said, to truly determine the proper style of training you must first understand what the dog was designed for. Let’s look at the Siberian Husky. This breed was first developed in the harsh climate of northern Asia buy the ChukChi People of Siberia. They developed them for a specific purpose, which was as a form of transportation.

About three-thousand years ago the ChukChi people realized that there were great challenges in trying to cross the frozen tundra in search of fishing holes to feed the village. They saw the great versatility and intelligence of the wolf. From that came the idea to take the domesticated dogs and breed certain traits into them. As time went on and selective breeding initiated, they developed what we know today as the Siberian Husky.

One trait they instilled in the breed is the desire to work and pull, this was obviously very important to the men of the tribe since they used teams of dogs to pull them across the ice from one fishing hole to another. This being said, they also realized a need to ensure the dogs were social with both each other and their masters. There would be no use for a pack of dogs that would not act as one and follow commands.

As pups they were raised by the women and children of the tribe. This made the dog very gentle and good with children. During the summer months, the dog was not needed to pull the men across the now thawed ground and the tribe realized that it would be futile to feed and support a dog with no purpose. Because of this, they set their packs of dogs loose allowing them to fend for themselves during the warm periods. This unique action had a profound influence on the breed’s development.

Unlike most breeds, Siberian Huskies retained many traits their ancient ancestor the wolf posses today. Since they were left to fend for themselves they also kept their instinct to prey on smaller animals to feed themselves. They also ran as packs keeping their Alpha instincts. Another byproduct of this freedom was the ability to think and problem solve for themselves. This was found to be a great asset to a lost musher in a frozen ice storm. Often his pack of dogs had the ability to direct themselves back to the fishing hole or to the village when the musher otherwise might not be able to do so.

Any experienced husky owner will tell you stories of their dog’s ability to open locks, doors and other acts that can only be replicated by Houdini himself. It is this intelligence that keeps husky owners on their toes always trying to second guess their escape artists. This same trait makes training a Siberian Husky more of a challenge then your average dog.

Because of their development huskies have a strong free spirit and can often be stubborn. Their strong packing instincts makes it essential to establish yourself as the pack leader when ever attempting to train or even own this unique breed. Often times a husky can become “bored” with repetitive styles of training and simply refuse to do the command that in their mind they already know how to do and have no need to reassert to you the trainer.

Many a potential husky owner has found themselves in an out and out verbal argument with their huskies. It is worth mentioning that the breed has a tendency to make “wooing” sounds or howling instead of barking, and can be often seen “talking back” to their owners when they feel they do not need or want to do what they are being told.

Since they have such a desire to run and pull, it is very difficult to train a husky to walk off leash. This combined with their often high prey drive can cause a husky to bolt from a quick movement of a squirrel of unfortunately the neighbor’s cat, oftentimes with disastrous results.

The use of heavy handed training methods often have opposite affects then what were originally expected. Their high intelligence, strong will, and primal instancts, make them less likely to respond to borderline abusive forms of training and can make them less likely to respect the trainer and the end result being an unmanageable dog.

Food is a great motivation tool when training huskies but even this can prove to be more difficult than first expected. Although they respond the best to treats, they are also very picky eaters and have been known to turn their nose up at various rewards until the one to their liking is discovered.

As with humans, each dog is unique in its nature and personality, but to get the most out of training your dog, one must truly understand the underlying traits that form the breed as a whole and work with these to maximize the experience.

I hope this was helpful to you and happy training