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

ribbon-method-2
Most Recommended
3 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.
Recommend training method?

The Transition Method

ribbon-method-1
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.
Recommend training method?

The Focus Check Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
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
Blaze
Siberian Husky
1 Year
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Question
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Blaze
Siberian Husky
1 Year

Blaze has a hard time with barking when bored or wanting attention, pulling on the leash while walking, and not listening very well while off the leash. He is very independent and sometimes treats are not even important to him. He also gets very excited when greeted and jumps up a lot when brought inside.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashley, Jumping: Step Toward method - if pup doesn't have any issues with aggression. If pup is jumping to dominate, I recommend hiring a professional trainer to help with this in person and additional safety measures will need to be taken. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Heeling - Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall For the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below. Work on teaching pup the Quiet method and using the Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark You can either interrupt pup's barking or ignore it when it's attention seeking. Use the desensitize method for the boredom barking, and you can give pup something else to do, like an automatic treat dispensing device such as AutoTrainer or Pet Tutor, a dog food stuffed kong, puzzle toy, or similar interactive toy that pup can work for their food from. To interrupt the barking, once pup understands what Quiet means you can choose an interrupter - neither too harsh nor ineffective. A Pet Convincer is one example of an interrupter. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. If pup has any aggression issues, I would work with a trainer and not do the above on your own, because pup will likely need additional safety measures like a basket muzzle and the training adjusted to work on the aggression before giving pup new commands and rules that they may protest. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Maxie
Siberian Husky
6 Months
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Question
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Maxie
Siberian Husky
6 Months

I want to be able to take the leash of my dog without the fear of losing him. The problem, we don’t have fenced areas where we can train. Can i try in a park? Or in the countryside? Will my dog return eventually after he is tired?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Have you thought of practicing with him on a long leash? You can pick up a 50 or 100 foot leash from any pet supply store or online. Practicing in a park or distracted environment is a perfect way to teach him to respond to you in an environment like that.

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Question
Sky
Siberian Husky
1 Year
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Question
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Sky
Siberian Husky
1 Year

My Dog has a tendency to find any escape she can to run away, she turns around eventually but i would appreciate it if i did not have to chase after her. I've also been trying to house train her for 4-5 weeks and she still uses the bathroom in the house. She also doesn't listen to me when i tell her to come here. I'm sorry I'm so lost on what to do to control her. Can you please offer me some tips?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nekiya, First, for teaching come check out the article below. Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ For potty training, know that it generally takes about three months to potty train even under ideal circumstances, but I suggest crate training for potty training because it tends to go quickest, involve less accidents, and help dogs with a poor history with potty training in the past. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for her. Make sure the crate is only big enough for her to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that she can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take her potty less frequently. I suggest taking her potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return her to the crate while her bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since her last potty trip. When you have to go off she should be able to hold her bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while she is getting used to it and longer once she is accustomed to the crate. Only have her wait that long when you are not home though, take her out about every 3 hours while home. You want her to get into the habit of holder her bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever she feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If she is not already used to a crate expect crying at first. When she cries and you know she doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give her a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help her adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If she continues protesting for long periods of time past three days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell her "Quiet" when she barks and cries. If she gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If she disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at her side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If she stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward her quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark For the escaping, work on Come. You can also can practice walking around places like your yard or a field and changing directions frequently without saying anything with pup on a long training leash (not retractable one). Whenever she takes notice of you changing direction (at first because the leash finally tugs, but later just because you moved), then toss a treat at her for looking your way or coming over to you - without calling her; this encourages her to choose to pay attention to where you are and associate your presence with good things on her own, so she will want to be with you. If she is escaping from a fenced yard because she is left out there when you aren't with her, you can also bury an electric fence two feet inside your physical fence to discourage her from approaching the fence boundary to find an escape. This needs to be in addition to a physical fence. Not as the only fence in place of a physical wood type fence. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Balto
Siberian Husky
3 Years
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Question
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Balto
Siberian Husky
3 Years

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

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

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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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
946 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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