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.
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.
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.
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
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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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?
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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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.
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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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.
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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Hi my name is Brandon and I have a 3 year old male husky, he is reasonably well trained, sit stay lie down ect but if he gets off a lead or gets out of the back yard all the training goes out the window and he runs away and even faster if I Chase after him, I'm looking for advice about how to fix this please, eventually I'd love to take him to dog beaches and let him roam lead free
Hello Brandon, Check out the articles linked below on teaching an off-leash recall - which starts with a long leash and for you specifically will involve going places with distractions to practice recalls around the things pup tends to run off around. If dogs are a distraction for him for example, then you can get together with friends' and their dogs and practice the PreMack principle - allowing pup to go up to another dog only after he has come first - then greeting the other dog becomes the reward itself after checking in with you. The same thing can be applied to treed squirrels and treats that are tossed out of reach. Come and the PreMack Principle: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall An off-leash heel is generally started just like a normal leashed heel, then as pup improves, you practice the heel on a long leash so that pup is following because they are paying attention to you and not dependent on the leash - but you can use the leash to guide back when needed and prevent pup from disobeying and having inconsistent training. Once pup can heel in places like your neighborhood on the long leash, then also go places where other dogs, squirrels, and other types of distractions and practice the long leash heel around more distractions - with pup learning to ignore distractions like other dogs unless told to "Say Hi". I personally prefer starting with a normal weight long training leash - like what you see online and in most pet stores, then going to an extremely light weight but strong one when pup is almost ready for complete off-leash work. The light weight helps the training transfer to off-leash better since pup is less aware of a leash being on them prior to taking it off completely, but it's hard on your hands for a dog who is still likely to pull early in the training - so I like to start with a regular width length first and transition to that as pup improves. Whenever pup starts not coming or heeling again well, snap the leash back on for a month and do a refresher training course to deal with any issues - the refresher shouldn't take nearly as long as the initial training but at some point most dogs will test ignoring you again and need the refresher. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel I also suggest teaching pup to automatically check in with you while off-leash. To do this, go to an open area - even a yard. Have small treats hidden in a treat pouch or pocket and pup on the long leash. Don't say anything to pup but slowly walk around, changing directions occasionally, even if pup isn't watching. If pup acknowledges you and comes toward you, praise and toss a treat to them. If pup doesn't catch up, let the leash give their collar a tug as the leash tightens, then reward if they come up to you to catch up after that. After pup has been rewarded with a few treats being tossed for turning toward you, then practice the same thing, praising pup following, but only giving a treat if pup comes all the way to you to take it from your hand without being told to. I like to practice this exercise periodically between practicing come and a more formal heel. All three serve different purposes and an off-leash dog needs all of them. The official heel will help pup stay close when pup needs to be right by your side - like around other dogs and in tight or more public spaces. The automatic following teaches pup to pay better attention while off-leash, and the come allow you to call pup back to you as needed - which can save pup's life. James Penrith from Take the Lead Dog Training also has a lot of great videos on Off-leash training. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoxuNKpmUs390K7x_rvgjcg Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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