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Once you have brought your beautiful Husky puppy home, it is time to start thinking about training. One of the most valuable things you can teach her is to come when called. This may well save her life one day, not to mention save you plenty of frustration when she gets older and can easily outrun you!
When your dog comes when called, professional trainers call this “recall.” Luckily, the strongest recalls come when owners start working with their dogs as young as possible. As early as 8 weeks old, you can begin to start teaching your Husky to come when called.
A special note about Husky puppies:
Huskies can be trained to have a reliable recall. However, this is an intelligent breed that has an independent streak. Although you should definitely train your Husky puppy to come when called, and working with your puppy early and often is critical, you should always be very careful about letting your Husky off-leash anywhere near traffic or other dangerous conditions.
For the best results when training your Husky puppy to have a strong recall, follow these guidelines:
No chasing – If you chase your puppy when she fails to come when called, you are rewarding her. Instead, run away from her excitedly. When she catches up to you, ask her for another behavior, such as a 'sit' before rewarding.
Add distractions – After your Husky puppy has mastered his recall inside your home or in a fenced yard, practice with a long line in more exciting environments to “proof” this behavior.
No corrections – It is critical that you never call your Husky to you and then punish her since this can discourage her from coming to you at all, particularly if she senses you are anxious. This can be deadly as it may keep her from coming to you in an emergency situation.
Practice – Recall is not a one-time trick. It is a life skill that needs daily practice for the life of your dog to ensure that it will be there when you need it most.
What motivates your Husky puppy? Probably food, toys and/or praise. When training recall you can use all three, making sure that each time he comes to you, he gets a satisfying reward.
Huskies are inquisitive and intelligent. The best way to keep them engaged in any training session is to keep things fun and exciting. When you are the most exciting thing around, your Husky puppy will be sure to have her focus on you!
The only special piece of equipment you need for training recall is a long line, a leash or rope measuring 25’-50’, so that during certain stages of training, you can have the power to enforce the command you are trying to teach.
The Basic Recall Method
Start with this method to train your Husky puppy to come when called. Set up with your rewards ready to go in a room that is very familiar to your young dog.
With your puppy nearby, run away from him in an excited way. Your Husky puppy, sure that you are about to include him in a very fun game, will bolt after you. Once he does, say his name followed with the command “Come!” Touch his collar when he gets to you, followed by a great big reward. Repeat 10-20 times.
Over the course of the next few weeks, continue repeating the last step, but add some distance to this fun training game. Remember to always touch her collar before rewarding. For now, just ignore failures. Say your recall command only once, and focus on rewarding success.
At about 4 months old, your Husky puppy is ready to take it to the next level. Now you can use your long line to take your training sessions outdoors. Follow the same process that you did inside – adding distance over time. Start to reel your dog in if she fails to come when called, but for now, do not add any punishment.
Only once your Husky puppy has a great deal of positive reinforcement history with his recall, will you want to add a consequence for failing. In this case, if your pup does not come when called, use the line to reel her in and then give her a 3-5 minute “time out.” You can use a crate or a small room to give her some alone time. Most Husky puppies will hate this, and will soon get the idea that not coming when called is no fun. Move on to the 'Proofing' method for some tips on advanced training to make your Husky puppy’s recall even stronger.
The Practice Game Method
This is a fun game that is an excellent supplement to the 'First Skills' method. It will help your Husky puppy get excited about running to the person that is calling him. Start with a few people in a circle with some treats your pup really loves.
The name of the game is to alternate calling him using his name, followed by the recall command “Come!”.
Once he goes to the right person, they should make big praise, give a reward, and then hold him at the hind quarters. When the next person calls him, being very exciting, hold him until he is tugging a bit in excitement before releasing him to the next person for his reward.
Increase the size of the circle as your Husky puppy gets better at this game. You can even go into separate rooms to really add a fun twist!
Once your pup clearly understands and loves this game, take the game outside. Be sure to use a long line for safety.
The Proofing Method
Why proofing is critical
The last stage of training any behavior is called “proofing.” After your dog has the basics down, it is time to make sure she will give you the behavior in any circumstance. The following steps are all different ways to add some challenges to your recall drills so that your Husky puppy will learn to come when called, no matter the situation.
On the road
Take your training on the road to some new places. Make sure to continue to use a long line in cases where a loose Husky could get into trouble, such as near livestock or traffic.
Add some distractions to your recall drills to really teach your pup that coming when called always pays more than other things that she enjoys. Make sure your rewards are more valuable than the surroundings!
To teach your Husky puppy to come when called no matter who is calling her, have some friends do some recall drills with you to practice this behavior.
Begin to get picky about only rewarding the fastest recalls your puppy gives you. Eventually you will decrease your rate of reward to about 1 in 20, making sure that only the most impressive runs back to you are the ones that get the big rewards.
When NOT to recall
Stop using your recall command unless you are pretty sure your pup will come running back to you, hoping for something great. If you use the command, and he fails to come, you need to enforce it or over time your recall command will become ineffective.
By Sharon Elber
Published: 01/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021