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Ice is your lovable canine, loyal to a fault and constantly cuddly. Then there are the mesmerizing eyes on your Husky that you just can’t help but stare at. It’s fair to say that life hasn’t been the same since Ice came into your life. Gone are the days where you woke up without a wet dog breathing in your face. Gone too are the days where your floors were clean and free from dog hair. Yet despite all this, you wouldn’t swap your Husky for the world. But whilst you may not swap him, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to put him to work either.
If you live in a dangerous area or you have young children that you want to keep safe, you may want to train your Husky to be protective. This type of training will help cement the bond with your canine companion. The obedience commands will also come in handy when you want to teach him other behaviours too.
Training a Husky to be protective isn’t as complicated as many owners fear. Huskies, by their very nature, are quite protective of their owners. Your job will be to reinforce that you are part of his territory to defend. You will also need to use obedience commands to train Ice to react in the correct manner to protect you. Routine and an effective motivator will play a key role throughout training.
If your Husky is just a puppy, then he should soak up all information and learn quickly. You could see results in just a couple of weeks. But if Ice is older, stubborn, and has never been too concerned about protecting you, then you may need a couple of months. Stick with training and you’ll soon be able to head out late at night, safe in the knowledge that your watchdog is on duty by your side. You’ll also be able to sleep easy at night knowing your first line of defense isn’t far away.
Before you get to work, you’ll need to ensure that you have some tools. A short training leash will be required. You may also want to invest in a body harness. This will increase your control while reducing the strain on your dog's neck.
You’ll then need to stock up on treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small chunks. Toys and a clicker will also be needed as well as some brave friends. Set aside around ten minutes or so each day for training.
Once you have successfully gathered those few bits, just bring patience and enthusiasm, then work can commence!
The Natural Instinct Method
The earlier you can start training your Husky to be protective, the faster he will learn and the easier the process will be. So once he is a few weeks old, it’s time to gather some rewards and begin.
Take an interest
Whenever a stranger approaches, you need to try and draw Ice’s attention. So point, whisper, and do everything you can for him to catch on. It may take a little while, but eventually he will catch your drift and start sniffing around.
Whenever he sniffs, barks, or take an interest in a stranger, he must be rewarded within a few seconds. Any longer and he may not associate the action with the reward. You can use a clicker too before you hand over the reward. This is an effective way to signal to your Husky when he has performed a behaviour correctly, speeding up the training process.
Once he starts to get the hang of it, start testing him out by organising for people to slowly approach. Encourage Ice to take an interest until he barks. Then have the person scream and run away. This is important as it teaches Ice that he must bark until the person flees. Now simply practice this regularly until your Husky starts naturally doing it.
Do not use any punishment techniques when training your Husky to be protective. Huskies are big and strong and you may struggle to keep him under control if he gets too aggressive. Instead, stick to positive reinforcements.
The Bark Method
Spend a couple of days watching your Husky closely. You’re looking for situations that causes him to bark. This could be when he's about to go for a walk or when he gets excited for his dinner. You’re going to use these moments to train him to bark on command.
Once you’ve found the trigger, put him in the situation and issue a ‘bark’ command just before or as he barks. Give it in a playful voice. Huskies learn best when they think they’re playing a game. Note that you can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction.
As soon as Ice does indeed bark, quickly hand over a reward. This can be treats, a toy, or simply a cuddle. But the happier he feels, the more likely it is that he will repeat the behaviour again. Now practice this for several minutes each day until he barks as soon as you give the command.
Now secure your Husky to a leash and walk into the yard or down the road. Arrange to have a friend or someone Ice doesn’t know too well bump into you. When they get close, point and give your Husky the ‘bark’ command. As soon as he does indeed bark, hand over a reward again.
Practice makes perfect
Now you simply need to practice this a few times each week. Try and have different people approach in a range of situations. Keep practicing until your Husky naturally starts barking whenever anyone approaches. At this point, you can slowly phase out the treats.
The Boundaries Method
Secure your Husky to a leash each morning and walk him around the perimeter of the place you want him to protect. If it’s a person you want him to protect, keep him on a very short leash and close by. You are showing him what is within his territory. He will then naturally want to defend this space.
Take Ice out for exactly the same walk each evening. Again if it’s a person he is to protect, keep him on a short leash and close by for a little while. This routine will soon show him where his boundaries begin and end.
In the daytime, tether your Husky to a long leash so he has enough space to roam around the area or person you want him to be protective over. Again, this further reinforces the space or person that falls within his boundaries, which he will naturally want to keep safe.
It is important you take Ice to group obedience classes so he can socialize with other dogs. If you don’t, he may become overly aggressive around all other people or pets. Socialization is important for any protection or guard dog for this reason, especially for Huskies which have a very high prey drive.
You must make sure you reward your Husky whenever he barks at a stranger that approaches. You can click if you use a clicker, then hand over a toy and play with that for a minute or so. Alternatively, give him a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time and he will soon get in the habit of barking at anyone that approaches.
By James Barra
Published: 05/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021