How to Train a Husky to Come When Called

Medium
2-6 Months
General

Introduction

If you are looking to train your Husky to come when called, this is the right guide for you! In the guide that follows, we will cover how to teach your dog basic recall skills, how to play a fun recall game to reinforce this behavior, and how to “proof” your Husky’s recall so that you can rely on it when you need it most.

Huskies are smart and willing to learn, however, you probably also already know, they can be a little bit headstrong! With a relatively high prey-drive, some Huskies can frankly never be fully trusted off-leash in the presence of cats or other small prey. No matter how much you train, know that your individual dog may have some limits as to when she is willing to obey a recall command.

This is not to say it is not worth training your Husky to come. In fact, this vital skill may even save his life in an emergency situation. Our guides will give you the information you need to train your Husky to come when called, and have fun doing it! 

Defining Tasks

When you think about training your Husky to come when you call him, make sure you are not expecting him to perfect this skill in a few short training sessions. Instead, plan to practice this skill with him for the rest of his life, adding challenges as you go to keep it sharp.

Here are a few more tips to keep that recall strong and sharp:

  • Don’t call your Husky over to you and then punish her, crate her, or take something away from her.

  • Make sure that you are teaching your Husky that when she obeys your recall command, it is always followed by something good.

  • Add distractions to your recall drills only as your dog is ready for them. This will keep him confident and also keep your recall command charged and powerful.

  • If your Husky has turned your recall training sessions into games of chase where you are doing the chasing, you have been outsmarted by your dog!

Getting Started

Equipment you'll need for training:

Long Line

This can be a rope or a leash that is at least 25’ in length. When you are ready to move your training sessions outside, this will allow you to safely put some distance between you and your dog without him being able to make an escape.

High-Value Rewards

It is not uncommon for trainers to start teaching new behavior using small pieces of food for rewards. The reason for this is that it is easy to repeat food rewards rapidly without disrupting training. However, once you have the basics of recall down with your Husky, you will want to switch to randomizing her reward – sometimes huge praise, sometimes a toss of her favorite ball, other times a tug. This keeps her guessing and strengthens the pull of the recall command.

Good Attitude

Okay, it is not officially equipment, but it is still necessary for great training! If you are frustrated, your dog will pick up on it. You want her to associate recall work with good things, so bring a happy vibe and some excitement to the table for your training sessions.

The Recall Basics Method

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1
Set up
If you are just starting to work with your Husky to come when called, start with this method to get the basics down. Make sure you bring some high value rewards to your first training session. Start in a familiar, low-distraction environment.
Step
2
First recalls
In the first stage of teaching your dog to come, you want her to be running at you already before issuing your recall command, 'come'. In order to do this, try running away from your dog, who will most likely be instinctively triggered into chasing you. Once she catches up with you, go ahead and touch her collar, then give her a big reward. Repeat 10-20 times.
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3
Further
Start adding some distance between you and your dog as she is ready for the challenge. You can also stop running every time, using that tactic only if she fails to come immediately. If your Husky is really on the ball, try calling her from another room and reward very generously if she comes right to you!
Step
4
Outside
You can take your Husky outside and use the long line to safely work with her in an unfenced area. This way you can add plenty of distance without worrying that she may run away on you. Make sure to keep touching that collar before rewarding. Repeat over the course of the next few weeks, a few times a day.
Step
5
Enforcement
Eventually you will need to decide that it is now time to add a consequence for failing to come when called. You should only do this once your Husky has lots of experience being successful with coming when called and really understands what is expected. Once you add the consequence, you have to be consistent and do it every time she fails to come when called. A good suggestion is a 3 minute “time out” for every failure to come when called.
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6
More skills
You are now ready to move on to the more advanced 'Proofing' method offered in this guide.
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The "Come!" Game Method

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Fun game
One of the secrets to success when teaching recall is to keep the tone fun and playful. You want your dog to associate recall with having a good time! Have a few friends help with this so that you can create a small circle. Make sure everyone has a some treats your Husky really loves.
Step
2
Take turns
Alternate who calls your Husky using their recall command. Have them say it in an inviting tone, and only once. It is okay if your dog needs a little extra encouragement or a bribe at first to figure out how this game works.
Step
3
Collar
Before she is rewarded, make sure the person that called your dog touches her collar. This will help her get used to having someone reach for her collar which will come in handy in an emergency situation.
Step
4
Expand
Make the circle larger when your Husky is ready for a bit more of a challenge. If he is really picking it up, try calling him from different rooms to make the most of this game indoors.
Step
5
Outside
If you want to really add some distance, you will need to move this game outdoors. Use the long line for safety if you do not have a secure fenced area. Keep the tone fun, and remember to touch the collar before rewarding.
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The Proofing the Recall Method

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Why proofing matters
If you have already followed the 'Recall Basics' method then your Husky has the basics of recall down. However, if you want him to come when called in higher distraction environments, you will need to do what trainers call “proofing” the new behavior. This means that you will deliberately and carefully add different kinds of distractions under controlled conditions. This gives you a chance to heavily reward a strong recall when your Husky ignores other stimulus.
Step
2
New places
The first way to add distraction is to take your Husky to new places to work on recall drills. Use her long line so you can keep control, and be sure to start close, adding distance as she gets more confident.
Step
3
New faces
New people are another way to add some variety to the recall drills and proof her recall. Ask friends to help do some back and forth recall drills so she knows that no matter who calls her, going quickly can end with a big reward.
Step
4
Distraction
At some point, once you have started proofing, you will want to be more selective with rewarding only the top 10-20% of the recalls from your dog. Make sure that you always reward in a new situation, but in more practiced environments, you can start to look for only the fastest returns to reward.
Step
5
Refine
At some point, once you have started proofing, you will want to be more selective with rewarding only the top 10-20% of the recalls from your dog. Make sure that you always reward in a new situation, but in more practiced environments, you can start to look for only the fastest returns to reward.
Step
6
When NOT to call your Husky
Finally, at some point in training a good recall with your dog, you have to draw a line in the sand and begin to enforce the recall every single time you use their primary recall command. If you are not going to enforce it, don’t use it. Instead, try to lure your dog with a whistle and some treats if it is not a critical recall. Every time you let your dog ignore the primary recall command, you are allowing it to become a less powerful command.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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