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Winter is a Siberian Husky who is great with people and with the other large dogs in his home. However, when out on a walk with his owner, a little unleashed terrier comes bouncing over, barking and putting up a fuss. Much to his owner's shock, Winter lunges at the little dog, teeth bared. Fortunately, Winter's owner stops him before any harm is done to the little dog.
Winter's sudden aggression to the little dog came as a surprise to his owners, as he gets along well with other dogs in his house. But, any dog who is confronted with another dog invading his personal space or territory and presents anti-social behavior, can react with aggressive behavior. Because Huskies are large dogs, they can present more of a danger to other dogs if they don't get along with them. Also, Huskies are one of those dog breeds that has a high prey drive. Perhaps because indigenous populations that use them as working dogs have not breed this tendency out of them, as it is useful for hunting and defending against other predators in regions where Husky dogs are commonly bred.
Because Huskies are well known for being highly socialized with people and living in packs, it is often not anticipated that they would show aggression toward other dogs. It is possible though, even the usually laid-back Husky may not get along with other dogs if they are not introduced properly, feel threatened, or if their prey drive is triggered.
A well-socialized dog that gets along well with other dogs will behave calmly and not show aggression when introduced to another dog, or with other dogs in their home. Because Huskies are accustomed to living in packs and are usually calm, relaxed dogs, they usually can be trained to get along with other dogs without too much difficulty. However, introducing dogs in an appropriate manner to your Husky is important, so that he doesn't feel that his territory or space is being intruded on, and to ensure that he does not react aggressively or misinterpret the other dogs' behavior. A Husky is a large dog, and if they pounce on another dog or bite they can cause significant damage. Counteracting prey drive by ensuring that other dogs are introduced as pack mates, not prey or rivals, may be important when introducing other dogs to your Husky dog.
Introducing dogs to your Husky on neutral territory, if possible, will help reduce territorial behavior from either your Husky or the other dog, which could quickly escalate. If you are training your Husky to get along with other dogs, finding other dogs that are well socialized to model appropriate behaviors is extremely useful. Introducing two unsocialized dogs leaves a lot of room for errors in body language and communication to occur. Also, using very high value treats to reinforce positive social behavior with other dogs will be important, as you need a reinforcement that is more salient than any drive to be aggressive with the other dog. As gradual introduction is often employed, having barriers or markers to help introduce dogs slowly will be helpful.
The Be a Pack Method
Walk with another dog
Find a friend with a calm, well-socialized dog. Put both dogs on leash and walk them in an open area, several feet apart, to give your Husky space if he is not yet getting along with other dog.
Pull to side
As the dogs walk along, pull your Husky to the side to correct him for fixating or being antisocial with the other dog. Do not create tension by pulling back.
Praise your Husky for moving along and not focusing on the other dog.
Gradually move the dogs closer together, and continue to travel in the same direction. Talk calmly to the other person, other dog, and your Husky.
Continue to walk with the other dog frequently, until your Husky starts to relax and walk right next to the other dog calmly.
The Gradual Approach Method
Approach another dog
Have an assistant stand with a well-socialized dog on a leash. Proceed towards the assistant and dog with your Husky on a leash.
Mark when your dog notices other dog
As you approach, pay attention to your Huskies behavior. When your dog notices the other dog, mark the location place with an object, such as a rock.
Mark when antisocial behavior occurs
Continue approaching the other dog. When your dog starts to show signs of antisocial behavior, stop. Note the location just before behavior started, and place a marker like a rock or a cone there. The area between the two markers is your Husky's reactivity area.
Return to start
Go back to where you started and proceed to the first marker. As soon as your Husky notices the other dog, stop and give him great high value treats. When your dog focuses on you and the treats and not the other dog for several treats, leave the reactivity area and go back your start location.
Enter the reactivity area again. See if you can get closer to the other dog before your Husky reacts to him, then stop and give treats again. Repeat getting closer each time to the other dog, so the reactivity zone becomes closer and closer. With each progression your Husky should react less and less to the other dog, until you are able to get within a few feet of the other dog without your dog reacting in an antisocial way.
The Be Approached Method
Wait for other dog to approach
Put your Husky on a leash and have him sit next to you while holding a bag full of high value treats. Have an assistant approach with another well-socialized, calm dog on a leash.
When your Husky reacts to the other dog, have the other dog stop and sit. Wait until your Husky is calm then give him the high value treats.
Have the other dog leave and approach again, this time hopefully your dog will remain calm and social for longer while the other dog approaches closer. Have the other dogs stop when your dog reacts. Again, wait for your dog to stop reacting then give your dog treats while the other dog sits and waits.
Repeat until adjacent to other dog
Repeat as many times as necessary until the other dog is only a few feet away from your Husky, and your dog does not react antisocially.
Start practicing this exercise with other dogs of different temperaments when out on walks. When you see another dog approaching, ask your dog to sit and be calm. Provide treats if your Husky is calm and social. Remove him from the situation if your dog shows signs of anti-social behavior and go back to practicing with a calm social dog in a controlled environment.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021