How to Train a Husky Recall

Medium
2-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Training your Husky recall is one of the most important behaviors you can teach. If your dog reliably comes when called you can call her away from potential danger, keep her from darting off if she slips her leash, or find her in the dark or dense woods.

Huskies are extremely intelligent dogs. However, they can also be independently minded and even stubborn. In addition, some Huskies have strong prey drive. These factors mean that although you can get a strong recall, you may not ever be able to rely on it near dangerous conditions. Keep this in mind when deciding when to let your Husky off-leash outside of a fenced area.

Teaching the basics of recall is not complicated. However, you will need to plan to practice for months under a variety of conditions to get a solid recall. The methods below will show you how!

Defining Tasks

The steps for how to train your Husky recall are included in the three methods offered below. Here are some tips to make sure you are making the most of your recall training:

Touch her collar before rewarding after a recall. This will make sure that you can regain control of your Husky in an emergency situation.

Don’t repeat your recall command. Say it only once. If your Husky does not respond immediately, you can try other ways of getting her attention, or enforce the command by going to get her and then administering a “time out.”

Say your recall command in a positive, enticing tone. If you sound angry when you issue your command, it can make your dog a little bit leery about getting closer to you. 

If your dog comes when called, never punish him or take away something he loves. Your goal is to give your Husky the notion that he will always get something nice when he comes when called. You can break his recall with even a single instance of calling him and then punishing him when she arrives. 

Getting Started

High value motivators:  You will need to have some food or toys to use as a major reward during your training. In the beginning, stick with food. Once she has the basics down, start to randomize rewards to include a game of tug or a toss of their favorite frisbee or ball. You want her to be excited to think about what she might get this time.

Have treats stashed in different rooms. This way you can do some random recall training outside of official training sessions. You will want to be able to reward your Husky’s recall from any room in the house.

Use a long line for training outdoors. You will eventually need to move your recall training outside. A long rope or leash (35’-50’) will help you to grab your dog if he tries to chase a cat or otherwise ignore your recall command.

Plan on practicing recall a great deal. In fact, you will want to continue random recall practice over the course of your dog’s life to keep her recall strong and reliable.

The Recall Basics Method

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Core principles
The main goal you are striving for when training your Husky recall is for her to know that coming when called is going to have a bigger payoff than whatever she happens to be doing, or whatever distractions may be present. The steps in this guide will give you ideas on how to get started with this training and make sure your Husky learns the basics.
Step
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Luring
In the very beginning, you want your Husky to be already running towards you when you use the recall command. This will help him associate the command with the action of coming to you. One way to get him to come is to lure him with a treat or a toy along with an excited tone. Once he starts coming to you, use the recall command. Repeat 10-20 times, working towards the goal of saying the command before he starts coming, and fading the lure so he comes without being baited (still reward heavily when he gets there).
Step
3
Chase
Most dogs can’t resist a game of chase. Running away from your dog in an excited way is another method to get her to come to you so that you can issue the recall command while they are actually coming towards you the first few times. Again, repeat this method 10-20 times, working towards saying the command earlier, and only running away if she doesn’t immediately respond to the recall command. Also, make sure your smart Husky never turns recall drills into a game where you chase her!
Step
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Outside and distance
Once you have trained the basics of recall indoors, you should move the drills outdoors so that you can add both distance and some level of distraction. This is where your long line will come in handy. Just let it trail around on the ground and your dog will forget about it, but you will have the peace of mind knowing that you can regain control over your Husky in an instant should you need to.
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Consequence
Only after you have been practicing recall for a few months should you get to the stage where it is time to start adding a punishment if your Husky refuses to come. For example, reeling her in and giving her a 3-5 minute time out in her kennel is a good consequence. Once you add this layer to your training, you can’t go back. After this point, do not use your recall command unless you are able and willing to enforce it.
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The Fun & Games Method

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The purpose of games
Professional trainers like to invent games to reinforce behaviors in a way that keeps things fun and motivating, both for the canine and the human. These games are all great to add to your recall training program. Better yet, get the kids involved so they can develop some leadership with your family dog.
Step
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Monkey in the middle
This game is pretty self-explanatory: Have two or more people take turns calling your dog with her recall command (only use it once!) and then dispensing rewards. This game is great outside. Remember to use a long line for safety.
Step
3
Wind up
Another variation on the Monkey in the Middle game is to hold your Husky between calls, letting her get very excited after the recall has been given by the next person. This will make her jump off the line and sprint to the next person, adding excitement to recalls in general.
Step
4
Hide and seek
Add another level of challenge to your recall work by hiding behind a door, a curtain, or a piece of furniture before issuing the recall command. Make sure you have a treat or other reward ready, and really heap on the praise for each success. This can also be combined with Monkey in the Middle outside as long as you have either a secure area, or are using a long line for safety.
Step
5
Trading
One of the things you want to build into your Husky’s recall is for her to come even if she has something interesting in her mouth, AND to give it up to you willingly. To do this, pick a moment when she is nearby chewing on a favorite toy. Ask her to “drop it” and bribe her with a very high value food reward. After she drops it, take the toy. Once she is finished with the treat, give the toy back. Combine this with your recall training once she understands to 'drop it' at close range.
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The Advanced Skills Method

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Strengthening recall
The steps in this method are about making your Husky’s recall strong enough that you can rely on it no matter what. Only work on these after he has lots of practice and success with recall, inside and outside.
Step
2
New places and people
Make some time to take your Husky to some new places and around new people in order to do recall training in a variety of different contexts. Each new situation your dog has a successful return in makes his recall that much stronger.
Step
3
Distraction
Think about what your Husky is super interested in--that is, things that could distract him from paying attention to your recall command. You want to add these distractions to your recall training. Start at a wide enough distance from them that he ignores the distraction, working closer and closer until he is successfully focused on you right next to the distraction.
Step
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Random surprise recalls
One mistake novice trainers sometimes make is to think they can train recall using only official training sessions. Nothing could be further from the truth. You need to do random surprise recalls when your Husky least expects it. Otherwise, if you really need your recall in an emergency, it may not translate to your dog since they only ever practiced recall in the context of drills.
Step
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Fade rewards and refine
After your dog is reliably giving you a recall inside and outside, and along with distractions, you will want to start to refine his recall so that it is very quick and snappy. To do this, gradually decrease the rate of reward, working to where only about one in ten of the very fastest returns are given a big reward. Continue to praise successful recalls every time.
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Written by Sharon Elber

Published: 02/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Tobby
Siberian Husky
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tobby
Siberian Husky
3 Years

Tobby has a hard time staying home alone.. I’ve tried different calming treats and stuff and he eventually becomes immune to them.. I had to go to the vet and get anxiety medication for him it does the job while I’m at work but once I come home and I try to go out he freaks out .. not right away but after like 5 mins of me being gone he starts barking, he never destroys anything but since I live in apartments barking has gotten animal control at my door.. he also isn’t very good at listening commands. I have been trying to train him my self but he is too stubborn. My biggest issue is leaving the apartment.. I have gotten to the point where I only leave to go to work. And it’s getting annoying

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

Hi there. It sounds like there may be some separation anxiety going on. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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Question
Greta
Siberian Husky
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Greta
Siberian Husky
2 Years

My husky knows the sit and shake command only. She’ll come when called only if i have a treat. I don’t know how to train my dog well and i can’t afford sending her to be trained by a professional. What can i do to make her listen to me?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Zoe, Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Reel In" method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall https://wagwalking.com/training also has numerous articles on teaching specific commands. www.dogstardaily.com is another great free resource for training. YouTube is full of videos demonstrating how to teach things as well. Finally, the library has many books you can check out for free to learn how to train. When I first got interested in dog training a long time ago, the library was actually where I began learning. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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