How to Train a Husky to Walk Beside You

How to Train a Husky to Walk Beside You
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Time icon1-2 Months
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Your gorgeous Husky is going to need lots of exercise and activity. He is highly energetic and needs to burn off excess energy with play time, running, and walking. You can take your Husky on walks with you for your own exercise and to keep him moving. An important thing to think about when you are taking your dog for a walk is how adept he is at staying beside you while you are walking together. Whether your dog is walking on a leash or off a leash, your Husky will need to be trained to stay with you and walk beside you. When your dog is well behaved on and off leash, he will remain safe, free from distractions, and will have an understanding that his expectation is to stay with you and not run after something of interest. And, in turn, this will protect other animals and people you come across while walking together. 

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Defining Tasks

Training your Husky to walk beside you will require some distraction-free walking time on or off leash. You will be showing your dog your expectations as you walk together and rewarding him for good behavior as appropriate. Positive reward-based training works well in teaching your dog to stay next to you while walking together because it's a constant reminder to your pup that he will get a treat as long as he stays near you. Expect to have some redirection as your little guy is learning. If at all possible, try to train leash manners, the 'heel' command, and your expectations while on a walk as soon as you bring your Husky home. Training puppies your expectations is certainly easier than training older dogs because they have fewer bad habits to break. However, you can train an older dog to stay with you on walks. 

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Getting Started

Decide what your expectations are for your Husky before you begin training. Will you expect him to walk on a leash or to walk without a leash and stay next to you? If you are using a leash, consider whether or not you will also need a harness or collar. Be sure to have these things ready for your walks before you begin training. Considering using high-value treats that are different for this particular training than any other basic obedience training you may be doing. High-value treats include cheese, hot dogs, or even a tasty jerky. If you plan to clicker train, be sure to have your clicker at every training session.

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The Off-Leash Method

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1

Know the rules

If you want your Husky to remain by your side as you walk together off leash, you’ll have to work closely with him. Be sure to familiarize yourself with municipality rules in your area.

2

Sit

Have your dog sit and face you. Give him a treat for sitting.

3

Treats in hand

Place treats in both of your hands and start walking. Your Husky will likely follow if he knows there are treats to be earned.

4

Rewards

Every now and then, give your Husky a treat. This will keep him by your side. If you Husky is distracted during these early days of off-leash training, you can put him on a leash but keep it loose. This way, if he pulls away, you can control him.

5

'Come'

Ask your Husky to come using a command and treats to get him to walk with you.

6

Practice

Practice walking with your Husky beside you, enticing him to stay beside you by using treats. Make these walks short at first and increase the distance over time.

7

'Sit'

If your Husky pulls away, goes too fast, or gets distracted, have him sit. Once you have his attention again, start walking, ask him to come, and give him treat to stay by your side. This will take time, so be patient.

The On a Leash Method

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Attach leash

Attach a leash to your Husky's collar. If your Husky is overpowering to you or highly energetic to the point where you can't handle him on a leash, you may consider putting a harness on him. This will give you more control and protect his neck from leash pulling injuries.

2

Treat

Give your Husky a treat when you attach the leash. This sets up your training session for positive rewards and good behavior. Make sure you have lots of tasty treats on hand ready to give to your dog as you walk together.

3

Excitement

He is incredibly high energy and cannot wait to get out and play. While you are getting his leash on and rewarding him for allowing you to do so, be excited. This will raise his energy levels and let him know that you want to be with him just as much as he wants to be with you. This sets the stage for him to please you and obey your commands.

4

Begin walking

Start by walking a few steps with your Husky at your side. If he gets too far ahead of you, your leash is too long and too loose. Tighten it up, bring your Husky next to you and give him a treat.

5

Several steps

Take several steps with your Husky on a tighter leash next to you and give him a treat every few steps. Let him see your continuous excitement. He needs to know that you are having fun and are as excited as he is. Continue to take these steps and reward him as long as he stays next to you.

6

Practice

Keep practicing with your Husky but extend the distance you walk before giving him a treat. This will condition him to understand your expectations while walking on a leash.

7

Loose leash

Over time, you should be able to loosen the leash and still expect your Husky to walk beside you. If he pulls away from you, tighten the leash and force him to walk by your side. Go back to basics if he needs redirection, walking him on a tighter leash and treating him every few steps.

The Sit, Stay, and Heel Method

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Leash

Attach a leash to your Husky and stand on his right side. The heel command is taught with your dog on your left, so keep him on your left side at all times during training.

2

Sit down

Have your Husky sit next to you on your left side and give him a treat for doing so.

3

Stay

If you have taught your Husky the basic ‘stay’ command, have him stay and take a few steps forward yourself.

4

Walk

Begin walking as your dog is in the stay position. Call him forward and say the command "heel". He won’t understand the command just yet, but since he is moving with you, saying it will start the word to action connection.

5

Treat

As your Husky is walking next to you, say the word "heel" every few feet and give him a treat. This good behavior, positive reward method will teach him to connect the command with the action.

6

Keep walking

Continue walking with your dog next to you on your left side. Increase the distance between giving the command to heel and offering him a treat.

7

Practice

Practice each day using the 'heel' command and treating your pup as you walk together. If he pulls on the leash, tries to go ahead, or becomes distracted, stop walking and get his attention again. You may consider high-value treats if he no longer cares to heel with the treat you are offering. Also, if he is distracted often, try to train indoors for a few days.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 03/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Lobo~meaning Wolf

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Siberian Husky

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3 Years

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How do I get my dog to not growl and snap at me when giving a treat to him and my other dog but then when he tries to take the treat away from my other dog I tell him no and try to move him away that's when he snaps at me? Secondly, How do I get my dog to not pull on the leash when we are taking a walk, he think's in charge. Lastly, how do I get him to stop peeing all over everything. Any tips, tricks and advice is greatly appreciated!

March 16, 2022

Lobo~meaning Wolf's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Brittany, It sounds like pup is resource guarding around the other dog a bit when food is involved. I would work on building pup's overall respect for you through a lot of proactive obedience practice. If pup protests the changes I would desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle also to keep you safe. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it When giving treats, practice what's called honoring - where one dog does a sit-stay a few feet away while you focus on the first dog. After the sitting dog stays put, then you have the one being rewarded switch and do a sit-stay while you reward the dog who was sitting initially instead. Essentially, you trade off who is doing a sit-stay out of reach with who is being rewarded - so both dogs work on self-control and waiting their turn. Practice Sit-Stay and work up to high levels of distractions without the second dog around first, before adding in a second dog. I would also tether pup with a long leash to something secure nearby so if they try to leave their sit-stay they can't make it all the way over to the dog being rewarded. This keeps the practice safe and helps you enforce pup staying - the back tie leash should be slack enough that pup only feels the tension from it if they disobey and leave Sit-Stay though. You want pup staying out of obedience and not forced by the leash - the leash is just backup. Pay attention to the Turns method from the article I have linked above for heeling. What training tool are you using to walk pup? (buckle collar, martingale, back clip harness, front clip harness, prong collar, choke chain, gentle leader, ect...?) Depending on what you are using, you might need to switch that out also. I would avoid a back clip harness (encourages pulling), avoid a choke chain (often not effective and can damage the trachea), and choose something other than a plain buckle collar until pup is trained better since pup is strong. If you use a prong collar, watch videos on how to properly fit it and train with it (about half the time it's fitted wrongly and used like a choke chain - which isn't safe or effective). A properly fitted and used prong collar should be high on the neck behind the ears, with all the prongs gently touching the skin but not digging in. You probably need a smaller millimeter size than you would think. Corrections should be via turns like in the Turns method, where pup is corrected naturally for not staying with you, and rewards for keeping the leash loose and pup focusing on you. For some dogs a prong collar works great, for others, a gentle leader or front clip harness are better options. Any dog who tends to bite or show aggression while training heel or something else should be desensitized to wearing a basket muzzle for safety while interacting with and training pup until pup's behavior improves. A dog who is showing aggression toward you around food is more likely to need that safety measures in other situations also if pup lacks respect for you. Listening: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you If things aren't improving, you feel you or your other dog are in danger, or things get worse, I also highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who will come to your home to work with you in person. Make sure you choose someone who is very experienced with behavior issues like aggression and resource guarding - many trainers specialize in obedience, tricks, and puppies and don't have a lot of aggression experience so check into reviews and referrals and ask questions to ensure they do in your case. https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericasCanineED/playlists Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 17, 2022

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Hudson

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Husky

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9 Months

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He pulls terribly on leash and lays down on the ground when he sees other dogs.

April 7, 2021

Hudson's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Sheila, It sounds like he would probably benefit from a lot of calm socialization. A lot of puppies will lie down when they are unsure about something new. Sometimes this is also stalking play behavior if pup springs to the end of the leash excitedly when the dog moves past. Pay attention to pup's body language and the environment. Pup may feel nervous around the other dogs. Work on helping pup overcome that fear first by using play and treats to distract pup and then reward pup for any confidence, calmness, or tolerance they show when another dog passes by at a distance. Practice this further away from the scary thing first and very gradually work up to pup being able to pass another dog as his confidence grows with your help. Simply spending time sitting outside with pup daily in the environment pup is uncertain of where other dogs may pass by in the distance - without expecting walking yet - can help the area become less scary or distracting. Next, if pup still won't walk, take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dog's have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, he will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. If pup is aggressive toward other dogs, you will need to train in a different way to address that. For the pulling, when other dogs aren't around, begin practicing the Turns method, working pup up to distractions like the method mentions. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel If pup is friendly with other dogs up close and isn't aggressive, work on calm socialization, and don't skip rewarding pup for calmness around other dogs once he is doing better on walks and is calm enough to reward it! That can help ultimately. For socialization, do things like joining obedience classes, trainings clubs, group dog hikes and walks, canine sports, ect...Your goal right now should be interactions with other dogs that have structure and encourage focus on you, calmness around the other dogs, and a pleasant activity with other dogs around - opposed to roughhousing or tense environments with tons of unpredictable dogs loose which increases adrenaline. Recruit some friends with well mannered dogs to go on walks with you and your dog, following the Passing Approach method and Walking Together method to help the dogs learn how to be calm around each other, while also continuing socialization. Passing Approach and Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs If pup is freezing and pulling toward another dog in an attempt to fight, the underlying aggression needs to be addressed in another way. In that case, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues to help you in person, instead of following the training I outlined for nervousness or excitement around other dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 7, 2021


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