There are many generic guides out there on training dogs and puppies and while they may work for some breeds, the Siberian Husky has characteristics, tendencies, and behavior that is certainly not generic.
Therefore, a specific guide on how to train a husky is truly needed for any Siberian Husky owner. This guide will be focused more on training husky puppies although certain techniques will be the same for an adult husky.
One of the most important parts of training, if not the most important part, is HOW you train.
There are many different styles and approaches to dog training but through my experience, Positive Reinforcement-Based Training is by far the No.1 style for the best results.
● Positive Reinforcement-Based Training
With this style of training, you are only praising and rewarding your pup for the behavior and actions he gets correct.
Whenever he makes a mistake It’s ok to show him, but you never punish or reprimand him. Instead, you capitalize on the moments when he does get it right the next time.
● Why does this style of training work the best?
Any puppy or mature dog only wants to appease his owner. If you show him great praise and attention the very second he gets a phase of training correct, he WILL build the association between the actions he just did, with your approval and positive attention.
It may take a little time, but he will learn through repetition what actions earn him a good response.
The main point is that you should never get frustrated when training your puppy, or when he makes a mistake. Your energy, voice, and actions are fully received by him.
The best way to keep a puppy engaged and attentive in training is to keep them happy and keen. If you give off your frustrations and shout, you’re creating negative associations towards training and everything it involves.
Remember, you have to be very patient and understanding. Your puppy has no idea what’s right and what’s wrong until he has been shown a good amount of times.
Are huskies hard to train?
One of the most common questions about huskies is whether or not they’re hard to train. Let’s clear this up first!
I like to answer this question in two parts…
Huskies are known for their stubborn mind and unbelievable ability to do exactly what we don’t want them to do. They love being defiant and this is admittedly very challenging. It would be wrong to dismiss these obvious personality traits that come with any husky.
But, on the flip side, there are many well-behaved huskies out there, they just need a firm owner that gives them a lot of guidance and direction (and patience).
Training your husky puppy isn’t necessarily a hard thing to do, it just takes a lot of time and consistency.
Forming good habits from the beginning and making it easy for your husky to get his training correct will play a huge part in how “easy” or “hard” your experience with him will be. And, honestly, this is in your hands.
If you come at this from the wrong approach or mindset then yes, training your husky will be hard, but if you are ready and willing, you will be able to do it easily with time.
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Basic Obedience Training
The foundation of any well-trained husky comes from a solid understanding of basic commands. Basic obedience training involves learning the usual commands of sit, stay, down, and, leave.
Let’s take a look at how to teach each command with a few simple steps. Remember that your patience is mandatory and you should always reward and praise when he gets it right, and do not punish when he gets it wrong.
1. Teach your husky puppy how to “Sit”
An easy and important command your puppy needs to learn early on!
1. Hold a treat in your hand and let him know you have it there
2. Sit in front of your puppy and hold your hand in front of his nose
3. Once he is sniffing, raise your hand up higher than him
4. Use the command “SIT”
5. If your puppy does not sit, use your other hand to gently guide his backside down
7. As he sits down, repeat the command “SIT” again
8. Praise him and reward him with a treat. Repeat this process several times every day
2. Teach your husky puppy how to “Stay”
Another great command that will teach your puppy self-control. This will also help many other types of training
1. While you are standing, command your puppy to sit
2. Open your empty palm
3. Take a single step back and as you do say “STAY” keep your stop palm gesture firm.
4. If your puppy stays, go back to him and reward him with a treat and praise
5. Keep repeating this but increase the distance that you are creating between you and your puppy each time.
6. Set them up for success and in the beginning do not make them stay for a lot of time. Increase the time once they are more advanced.
3. Teach your husky puppy how to go “Down”
This is command is harder to learn but will teach him great control and will help him to feel calm in stressful or busy environments.
1. Hold a treat in your hand
2. Hold your hand in front of your puppies nose until he smells it
3. Lower your hand to the floor
4. Let him follow your hand and encourage him to get “Down”
5. Encourage him with your other hand on his backside
6. Keep repeating the command “Down”
7. When he is in the down/prone position reward and praise heavily
8. Repeat everyday
4. Teach your husky puppy how to “Leave it”
There will be many occasions your husky pup will want something he isn’t allowed. For him to obey a simple “leave it” command will be invaluable to you.
1. You need two different treats, one should be more “boring” or less exciting, the other treat should be a high-value treat like a tiny piece of turkey, or flavored puppy treat.
2. Have the boring treat in one hand and the exciting treat in the other hand. Place both hands behind your back and make fists.
3. Have your puppy sit down in front of you with his attention on you.
4. While you keep your fist closed, present the hand that contains the “boring” treat out in front of you. Keep the exciting treat behind your back.
5. When your hand is out in front of you, let your puppy sniff your fist.
6. When your puppy starts sniffing your fist, tell him to “leave it” and encourage him to back away. (as your puppy knows you have two treats, he will smell that this treat is not the high value one, so upon sniffing he’ll be less more inclined to step back)
7. As soon as your puppy steps back and stays back for a few seconds, praise him heavily and reward him with the high-value treat that you’ve kept behind your back the whole time.
Resources: South Boston Animal Hospital
How to Potty Train a Husky Puppy
Potty training should start from day one. In the beginning, your puppy will not know where he should be doing his business and there will be some mistakes. But fortunately, if you follow the correct potty training method outlined below, it shouldn’t be too long before he knows exactly where to pee and poop.
Step by step potty training method
● Create a small area outside for potty breaks
This should be a small patch of land in your yard where you will not need it for anything else. This small area should only be used for your husky pup to do his business. This should be away from any main relaxing area of your yard.
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● Take your husky puppy only to that spot after key moments
The key moments your puppy will usually need to use the toilet is immediately after playing, eating, drinking, sleeping, or napping, and before bedtime. You should take your pup there every single time!
● Be patient, and remember to praise
Remain there in the spot with your puppy patiently waiting (5-10 minutes), keep him close by you with a leash, avoiding all attempts of play and distractions, ignore him and wait. When he eliminates, praise heavily with your voice, strokes, and a tiny treat.
● Immediately leave the designed area
After 5-10 minutes, or as soon as he eliminates, once you have given adequate praise, you should leave the area promptly and keep your puppy away. With enough repetition of successful runs, your puppy will easily learn THIS is where he needs to do his business.
A few key pointers about this training
● Always use a leash to keep him under control and located in the area.
● Avoid all playing/talking and only use a single command while in the area.
● After the first successful run, leave the first poop in the area until the next time. Don’t worry!! This shouldn’t be too long away and will definitely help him understand what this special area is for.
What if your puppy didn’t use the toilet?
There may be times where you take your puppy out to their spot after one of the key moments and they don’t eliminate. Here’s what you should do in these situations
● Pick them back up, and bring them inside again.
● Wait a few more minutes, do not engage with him or allow him to play with toys
● After a few minutes, pick him up and take them back outside to repeat the full process.
Why should you do this?
Puppies have very short attention spans, he may get distracted the first time and it’s normal for him to misunderstand what you want from him in the spot.
By repeating the process a second time, you are giving him another chance to successfully do his business in the correct place. This is HUGE!
After the first successful run, you can be assured the connection has been made and with only a few more successful repetitions, he will know where he should be eliminating.
With a little more time he will learn not only to wait until you take him but if he needs to go, he will let you know!
Last thoughts on potty training
Despite this being a great method, there will still be times your puppy makes a few mistakes. Perhaps you bring him back inside and he poops right there on your floor. Yup, it is what it is and you just have to be ready for the next time.
Remember to use positive reinforcement and praise him heavily when he gets it right.
How to Crate Train a Husky Puppy
The need for a crate is usually just in the beginning before your husky pup is properly potty trained, and while he’s still teething.
After your pup graduates from potty training school and is no longer biting and chewing everything in sight, the need for a crate becomes less and there may only be a few occasions when you need it.
Never the less, it’s an important part of managing your husky puppy and it’s an excellent way to keep him safe while he is still young.
Important note: Be absolutely sure to remove collars before putting your pup inside a crate. This will avoid the chance of his collar getting caught and causing serious harm.
Choosing the correct crate for a husky
Choosing the correct crate is the first step, and luckily I have a complete article dedicated to choosing the best crate for a husky. This article reviews and goes over in complete detail all the crates available.
Getting the correct type of crate is important and will have a big effect on how successful your crate training goes.
Why? your husky puppy needs to feel comfortable and safe. Space has a lot to do with how well your puppy will take to the crate, too small and he’ll feel trapped, too big and it won’t provide give him comfort and security as a den should.
What to do first: Crate training tips
After you have chosen the best crate, you should begin by following the next steps!
● Locate the crate in your bedroom near to your bed.
The main use of the crate will be throughout the night, you’ll want your puppy to be safe so you can sleep without worries.
By having the crate in the same room as you or next to your bed, he will automatically feel more at ease, less anxious, and less lonely throughout the night.
● Make your crate cozy and comfortable
The crate should feel like a den to your puppy. To make it more den-like you should place a warm, soft comfort blanket inside at one end where they can snuggle and curl up.
You can even get great toys like the snuggle pup teddy which gives off a warm, pulse sensation that will mimic having their mother by their side while they rest.
● Place a blanket over the top of the crate
This is a simple trick to make the crate feel more den-like and cozy. Most puppies will like this but if your pup seems scared or flustered by it, remove the blanket to allow for more light and space.
After your crate is located properly and you made the above adjustments to the crate, let’s begin the introduction and training of the crate.
Step by Step Introduction Process
● Have the crate door open and bring your puppy into the same room and let him inspect the crate at his own pace. At this very initial stage, do not urge him to go inside, allow him to sniff around and get familiar with the presence of the crate.
Start using the word CRATE whenever he gets near to or interacts with the crate. Spend at least 10 minutes like this.
● After spending some time around the crate, it’s time for your pup to go inside. You should sit down next to the crate and encourage him to enter by using your hand and toys, once he enters the crate, give him a treat and praise him, if he leaves, that’s ok, just be patient and try to repeat the process another time.
If he stays in the crate, keep him in there with the toys and then again, reward him with treats and praise. This should all be done with the door kept open. Always make sure your puppy is comfortable.
● After you have done these first two steps several times, you’ll want to now make the adjustment of closing the door when your pup enters, after you close the door. Offer another treat through the crate to distract him from the action of closing the door. Stay there beside the crate. Remember to always use the CRATE word to build an association.
● Easy does it! Do not keep the door closed too long. Before your puppy gets flustered, slowly open the door again. Do not let your puppy barge out of the door, they need to understand the crate is the boss.
After coming out of the crate, take a break from the crate and repeat the whole process again in another 10 or 20 minutes.
● Keep repeating this process, every time your pup enters the crate, be sure to keep him in there a little longer each time. If you do this slowly enough, you will not run into any problems. Increasing the time kept in the crate needs to be a very gradual process so you don’t make him anxious.
Putting your puppy in the crate at night
By this stage, your puppy should be comfortable with their crate and not see or associate it with any negative. The next moment you’ll need the crate is at nighttime.
Before your husky pup is ready for bed, there are basic requirements to have met. This will reduce potty mistakes and whining throughout the night.
● He has received recent adequate exercise
● He has been out for a potty break before bedtime
● There has been no playtime for at least 1 hour
● The environment is calm and dull in preparation of sleep
After this, you are ready to guide your husky pup into his crate at the same time you are also heading to bed.
If you have carried out the previous introduction training, guiding him into his crate should not cause any issues. Especially after he is well exercised and already tired.
In general, it’s better for a puppy to go to sleep on more of an empty stomach, than a full stomach. Therefore your pup should have eaten at least 2 hours prior to bedtime.
This will reduce hunger throughout the night, and avoid the classic post-dinner poop being made inside the crate!
How to deal with your puppy whining or crying inside the crate
One mistake you do not want to make is reinforcing bad behavior. If your puppy is whining or crying it is down to only a few reasons, some are legitimate and some are not.
By making sure your puppy has been to the toilet before entering the cage, you are eliminating the first good reason for them to cry. The second one is ensuring they have received their last meal. Needing the toilet or being hungry are the only good reasons for crying.
MOST of the time, it’s simply because he’s bored or wants attention.
The best way to deal with your puppy whining and crying is to ignore him, and only when he stops crying and whining for a short while, you see to him.
If you rush to his needs whenever he cries, you are teaching him that’s all he needs to do for your attention. A big mistake that will cost you MANY nights of sleep! Your puppy needs to know that whining is not how his needs are met.
How to Leash Train a Husky Puppy
The time will soon come when your puppy is ready for the outside world. Having him leash trained or at least comfortable with the leash is something you should make sure of before this amazing moment.
Being able to put your puppy on the leash will also serve well for a lot of other training. The leash gives you control over where your puppy goes and where he does not go which will prove extremely helpful!
Like potty training and crate training, your patience is super important. You have to remember that having something strapped on to him will be a very new and weird sensation for him.
The best method for leash training
A very slow, gradual process is required for successful leash training. At each stage you will spend some time there, ensuring your puppy is content, before moving on to the next stage.
It’s important to understand that puppies can get spooked very easily. So strapping something to his body he’s never seen or felt before will not work. He’ll become nervous and it will make it very difficult moving forward with more training. At least for a while
Introducing the harness and leash
1. Place the harness/collar on the floor
● Leash training actually starts with the harness or collar, not the leash!
● Place the harness on the floor and let your puppy sniff around and get familiar with it
● Keep diverting the attention of your puppy so he does not get too focused or concerned about the harness. Use a treat or toy to help
2. Making contact with the harness
● It’s time to let him see you pick up the harness
● Hold it in front of him and touch his back and body with the harness
● Drop the harness back on the floor and divert his attention with toys and a treat
3. Attach the harness to him
● After your puppy isn’t spooked by the harness touching his body it’s time to put it on properly
● After putting on the harness immediately divert his attention from what has just happened using toys and a treat and praise
● If your puppy bites the harness just calmy divert his attention away until he is not phased by the harness
4. Now put the leash on the floor
● You guessed it, it’s time to repeat the initial steps but with the leash now
● Introduce the leash on the floor and let your puppy become used to it
● Keep diverting his attention so he does not get too focused on the leash or harness
5. Make contact with the leash
● Just like with the harness, pick up the leash in front of your puppy and make contact with the harness, let your puppy hear the clips making contact
● Keep diverting his attention with a treat and toys
6. Attach the leash
● After attaching the leash, let it drag on the floor, this will be a very weird experience for him and he will definitely be intrigued.
● After some time, pick up the leash to let him know you can hold it and it’s attached to him.
7. Walk back from your puppy while holding the leash
● Make it super for easy for your puppy by just stepping back away from him, and calling him to come to you
● Stay really close, you want to set your puppy up for success
● Once he comes, praise him heavily with your voice, a treat, and toys
Why go through this long process?
You may be wondering why it’s necessary to go so slowly when introducing a harness and leash for the first time.
Maybe you’re thinking it’s ok to quickly attach the harness and leash and away you go!
Well, the reason for a very slow introduction to the harness and leash is to make your pup feel super comfortable with the harness and leash. Once he feels very content and at ease attached to the leash, there won’t be any behavior issues when you start walking (controlling) your pup.
Repeat step 7
It’s best to make things really easy for your puppy and setting him up for success is important. To properly teach him to walk on the leash, you need to make it simple.
While holding the leash, take one or two steps back away from him and then encourage him to come to you. Remember to always face him and step back away, this will automatically encourage him to come to you anyway.
Once he comes to you, make a big fuss and praise heavily. Be patient for him to come to you. Do this very simple process many times and before long your puppy will walk beside you on the leash keeping up with your pace.
How to Train a Husky Puppy Not to Bite
The Siberian Husky, by nature, is an aggressive chewer, he’ll love to bite and chew things not just when he’s a puppy but throughout his adult life too.
When he’s a puppy it’s nearly always down to the teething process. This is the process of your puppy gaining his “baby” teeth, losing those baby teeth and then lastly, gaining his adult teeth.
This process starts at around the 3-month mark and can last until he’s 8 months of age. It can be a painful, uncomfortable process for him and his pain release will be to chew and bite everything in sight.
Train a husky puppy not to bite in 4 easy steps
Remember to have patience, and always praise him when he gets it right. Never punish him when he gets it wrong.
● Once your puppy starts biting something he should not, the first thing you need to do is intervene
● The goal is to startle him and take his attention away from what he’s biting
● Raise your voice slightly, in a firm tone call his name
● The point of this step is to start teaching your puppy what “No” mean
● So once you gain the attention after calling his name, you should firmly and in a slightly raised voice say “NO”
● The point is to build an association between what they should not be doing and the word NO
● The next crucial step is to replace what he was chewing with something that he is allowed to chew.
● Use one of his favorite toys to immediately take his attention away from what was not allowed to bite
● Once your puppy starts biting his toy it’s time to praise him heavily.
● This is positively reinforcing that biting should be done only with this object (his toy)
Ideas to make this training more effective
Having great toys ⭐
You should have a range of toys your husky puppy and these need to be high quality and durable! Husky puppies will chew through certain toys easily if they are low quality or the wrong material.
One of the most durable toys on the market is the Kong toy which will last a long time. It’s fairly inexpensive and its rubber texture will give pain relief when your puppy chews due to teething. You can also place treats inside, a great help when distracting your puppy away from what he should not be chewing
Using great treats ⭐
You should also have some tasty, healthy treats for your husky puppy, the praise part of the training is very important. Having a tasty treat will help your puppy understand they are being rewarded for their actions.
I have a complete article on the 10 best treats for huskies, with 5 homemade ideas and 5 shop-bought options
When to start training a husky puppy
Training your husky puppy should begin right from when he comes home with you. It’s a common thought amongst new puppy owners that they can’t start training until their puppy is a certain age. By 8 weeks old when he enters your house, he’s ready to begin training and is more than capable of learning skills.
If you start training early on, you will be ensuring you have an obedient well behaved husky by the time he’s in his adolescence.
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Last thoughts on husky puppy training
As mentioned in the beginning, you need to have the correct mindset and attitude to correctly train your husky puppy. The above methods are well known tested methods that work very well with positive reinforcement-based training.
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If you would like an easy to read guide for training your husky puppy, check out my book The Husky Puppy Handbook on Amazon. All purchases are greatly appreciated.