How to Train a Husky off Leash

Hard
2-6 Months
General

Introduction

One of the ultimate obedience goals for any dog owner is the ability to trust their dog to be obedient and loyal while off-leash. Recalling classic canine movie stars like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie paints a fantastical picture of a dog’s loyalty and ability to always be available when needed. But for many dogs, the reality is not quite as brilliant. While dogs are capable of many great feats, there is also the very realistic notion that they are animals and can sometimes do as they please.

One of the breeds who seemingly exhibit grace under pressure is the Husky. As a heavy duty working breed, the Husky is known for his ability to pull sleds along long distances over cold and snowy terrain. While this endurance and strength is excellent when controlled, you may wish to challenge your pup and try to harness that level of obedience off leash. This goal, while rewarding, may prove to be more challenging than you think.

Defining Tasks

Huskies, while bred for their stamina, also come with one of the more intense prey drives. Prey drive is the instinct to run and chase after small prey-like animals including things like rodents, birds, cats, and even some smaller breeds of dog. This can mean that letting your Husky off leash in an unsafe environment can lead him to placing himself in dangerous situations in pursuit of prey, such as running out the door and into traffic. Because of this, it’s generally not recommended for Husky owners to allow their dogs to go off leash in an insecure environment.

However, if you still wish to train for off-leash obedience, there are methods that can prove to better your pup’s ability to listen when not hindered by the leash. Each of these methods requires caution, but can be started once your Husky is over eight weeks old and vaccinated if you plan on taking him outdoors, but expect to be working with your pup for two to six months on your off-leash training.

Getting Started

You’ll want to gather up a nice quality leash to begin with. While it may be ideal to try to start training off-leash right away, you’ll want to focus on the fundamentals beforehand. In addition to a leash, you’ll want to get ahold of some treats that your Husky especially likes. These will be useful in reinforcing whatever training you choose to begin. Start your training in a quiet, distraction-free area before progressing to the outdoors and remember to never let your dog off leash unless the area is secured and safe.

The Recall Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Use a reward
Use a treat or a toy to entice your Husky to come to you when you call.
Step
2
Call only once
Use your dog’s name only once. Using it repeatedly may cause her to begin to ignore you.
Step
3
Make yourself interesting
Wave the treat or toy up and down or run away from your Husky to encourage her to come towards you or chase after you. Be more interesting than the area surrounding you.
Step
4
Reward for recall
Reward your pup with the treat or toy whenever she manages to catch up to you. Use plenty of verbal praise and affection to show her that recall is fun and great.
Step
5
Use sparingly
Try not to call your dog for unpleasant things or things that may not interest her. This will lead her to start avoiding or ignoring you.
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The Transition Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Start with the leash
Make sure you have a secure leash and collar on your Husky before you begin training.
Step
2
Perfect the ‘heel’
Practice asking your dog to heel by using a treat to get him in the proper position at your side, then rewarding him for walking a few steps. Gradually increase the number of steps you take before you reward him.
Step
3
Use reinforcement
Reward with a treat often to continue to reinforce the ‘heel’ command.
Step
4
Introduce distractions
Take the walk outdoors in a safe area where you can introduce things like sights or sounds that can be distracting. Be sure to reward whenever your dog does well with ignoring these distractions.
Step
5
Remove the leash
In a safe and secure area, remove the leash and practice the earlier learned ‘heel’ with a high value treat.
Step
6
Practice safely
Remember to never let your dog off leash in an area where you do not have control. Practice indoors or in fenced in areas that are safe for dogs.
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The Focus Check Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
Observe behavior
Watch your dog for signs of him paying attention to you.
Step
2
Reward for attention
Offer a treat any time he looks up and focuses on you for more than a few seconds. You may need to catch the behavior and reward instantly at first and then proceed to wait a few seconds before rewarding.
Step
3
Repeat on leash
Take your dog for a walk while rewarding every time he looks up at or focuses on you. This will encourage him to continue to look at you every so often.
Step
4
Repeat off-leash
In a safe, secure area, continue to reward your dog any time he comes to you or focuses on you without using the leash.
Step
5
Wean your dog off of the rewards
Start using alternative methods of rewards like a verbal marker such as ‘yes!’ or ‘good!’. Use them randomly with the treats until your Husky no longer relies on food rewards.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Norman
Siberian husky timber wolf
1 Year
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Question
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Norman
Siberian husky timber wolf
1 Year

He's a good boy but I slacked a lot in the discipline and training for both him and I. Just trying to find the easiest way to have him on a leash without hurting me. He's more than half my weight and rambunctious

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
417 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tiffany, I suggest teaching him to follow you in a safely enclosed area first, using his favorite treats. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Treat Lure" method". Because of his size, strength, and wolf heritage you will have some extra challenges. Ultimately, you need to teach him to follow you off-leash, even though he will NOT be off leash when you actually take him for walks. If he will follow you willingly, then his size will be less of an issue. Use rewards to teach this, by following the "Treat Lure" method. Practice in a calm fenced in area. When he gets good at it there, then you can take the training to an empty culd-de-sac, field, or your front yard with him on a ten-foot leash that is kept slack most of the time, so that he is depending on your instruction and body language, and not just the leash. You need to train his brain and not just force his body because he over powers you. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel When you do take him for walks, once he can handle the calm environments, if he is highly prey driven, which most huskies and wolves are, then I also suggest using a no-pull device. Your no-pull device options are head halters, front clip body harnesses, and prone collars. I suggest trying a head halter first. Introduce the halter slowly by feeding him treats whenever you show it to him, touch it to him, and eventually put it on him. Make the presence of the head halter really fun, so that he wants you to put it on or at least tolerates it. Many dogs do extremely well with them if they are introduced right with treats, but some dogs that depend a lot of their vision hate them. Take the time to introduce one correctly, gradually over a couple of weeks. If he still hates it after that, then try a front clip no-pull harness next. Your objective should be to teach him to actually follow you though, so that the harness or halter is only being used as an extra backup, in case he tries to chase an animal and his size could over-power you. Don't worry about not being able to take him on long walks right now, as long as you do "Heel" training with him every day, you will be walking and challenging him mentally, that can actually provide the stimulation that he needs just as much as a walk, but you must work with him. You can also create obstacles and play games with him that use his brain, and do not involve wrestling. Those types of things will help with the extra energy. Wolves are extremely smart, but most have less of a desire to please than dogs do. It is a more independent intelligent, where the dog thinks for himself. If you find that to be the case with Norman, then focus on training that challenges his mentally in a good way, is reward and life-rewards based, meaning the rewards are sometimes treats and sometimes other things that he wants, like a pet, toy, or walk, and done with a lot of consistency. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hagu
Husky mix
5 Years
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Question
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Hagu
Husky mix
5 Years

She is a reduce dog from a village. She is sweet and gentle but runs away. We have her in obiedience school and she has stopped jumping and is doing well.
We live by the beach and would love to let her go which we did when we first got her. She was gone and it took 2 hours to find her.
So we are wondering about a shock collar. Would this help?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
417 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carmen, An e-collar (what you are referring to as a shock collar - now days high quality ones work on a different type of stimulation that contracts muscles but does not penetrate deep layers with electricity, making a good collar safer than older versions)... They can be used to teach effective recalls, but only if it is paired with the correct training. You must teach a dog to come when called first. Once they understand "Come" an e-collar can be used to increase reliability with the come. You have to first have the dog wear the collar around for a week while it is off to get her used to the feeling of it, then you must find the dog's "working level" - which is the lowest level of stimulation that your dog indicates that she feels. Next, you have to teach the dog to come when they feel the collar go off by reeling them in with a long leash and timing your rewards and collar stimulations at the right time. If you just put the collar on, call your dog's name, and correct her with the collar when she doesn't come, you could actually make her run further because she won't understand why she is being corrected, what you want her to do (dogs don't speak English unless you teach them commands), or how to escape the correction. I suggest researching teaching an e-collar come and make sure you are really sure how to do the training before you start. E-collars can be extremely effective tools but they are also very powerful and should never be used by someone who is not familiar with how to train with one. Start by simply teaching her a "Come" command using to "Reel In" method from the article linked below. She needs to understand Come very well before you start using an e-collar to enforce it for reliability around distractions. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall After she can perform Come consistently on a long leash in a variety of locations, you can move onto e-collar training. Only use a high quality e-collar. Cheap, poorly made ones can be inconsistent and dangerous. You want one with at least 40 different levels so that you can use the lowest level she responds to and increase the stem gradually if needed. E-collar technologies, Dogtra, Sportdog, and Garmen are well made e-collar brands typically. If you feel at all uncertain how to do the training yourself once you learn about it, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced with e-collars to help you. E-collar Come training video: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/how-to-train-e-collar-recall-with-your-dog/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rocky
German Shepherd husky
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Rocky
German Shepherd husky
1 Year

Rocky is very smart, knows how to sit, lay, shake, touch, go find (toys or food) on command. He knows how to heel with me, too, but isn’t ‘amazing’ at it. Sometimes he will wander off or go in front of me, but he knows for sure to go by left side and sit. He sometimes gets really excited when we are out or when certain people come over, and other times he just gets bored of training and goes off to do what he wants to. I love him, and I think he’d have a much funner time at the park and other places if he knew how to properly be off leash. I want to train him to be off leash, but I dont know how to get him to listen to me when I need him to. Like I said, he knows a handful of tricks, but he won’t always obey on command if he would rather play or is busy sniffing, etc.. What should I do to get him to listen to me when I need him to, regardless if there is more interesting things going on for him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
417 Dog owners recommended

Hello Niveen, First, you need to purchase a long leash 30'-50' foot long and a padded back clip harness, then practice the commands that he knows on the long leash at various distances and around distractions. The long leash will allow you to enforce your commands while he is further away and will give him the experience of more freedom. Consistency is key here. He needs to be taught that just because you are far away doesn't mean he can ignore you commands. This is done in very specific ways depending on what you are teaching. For Come, check out the article linked below and notice the parts about practicing training on a long leash and using the PreMack Principle. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ The easiest way to learn how to teach off leash obedience is to find a good trainer online who shows step by step how to teach different commands at an off-leash level, or to join an advanced obedience class. Most videos and articles cover Basic and Intermediate Obedience because that's all most pet parents in America want to work up to - it covers their needs. Advanced, off-leash obedience takes a lot more time and work (but also is a lot more fun when you get there). You have to have Basic and Intermediate (around distractions on the leash) skills before moving onto off leash skills because each builds on the other one. Look for trainers who off off-leash classes (more private facilities opposed to pet stores usually) or find trainers online who teach more advanced skills, like hunting dog trainers, herding dog trainers, outdoor enthusiasts, working dog trainers, advanced obedience trainers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Blue
Husky
4 Months
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Question
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Blue
Husky
4 Months

I have a question my dog is 4 months and I went to camp few days ago I was told to let him go but I didn't because I feared he would run off. I know that at 6 months they stop listening and I haven't really been a good trainer I would like some advice in what to do for him to not run off. I'm still trying to figure his way of telling me he wants to potty but he won't really cry instead just stares at the window with the pads he destroyed them I don't knew what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
417 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lucero, For the running off I suggest teaching Come using long leash and the Reel In method from the article I have linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall When you walk him outside on the long leash practicing come also just walk around, and whenever he chooses to come over to you without being called or he walks next to you, give him a treat also so that he will learn to want to stay close even when you don't call him. Hide your treats in your pockets while training so that he doesn't see it until he comes over to you. To teach him to alert you when he needs to go outside, try teaching him to ring a bell when he wants to go outside. Use the Peanut Butter method from the article I have linked below. You can also use liver paste or soft cheese instead of peanut butter. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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