My Siberian Husky digs constantly and is destroying the yard. What can I do?
Digging can be a very difficult problem to solve. It is the nature of the breed to dig cooling holes to lie in. One method that has worked occasionally for me is to provide the dog an area in your yard in which he is allowed, even encouraged, to dig and train him to dig there. A sand-box, of sorts, with soft cool dirt with an occasional treat buried there can work. There are other methods of solution to this problem, but I have not tried them.
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My Siberian Husky howls all day long, annoying the neighbors. What can I do?
This too is a simple problem to solve. This problem should be approached in a series of stages. Stage 1 is use simple negative reinforcement when the dog makes unacceptable noise. This must be done repeatedly, every time it happens, for several days. Stage 2 is to step it up by employing a willing, perhaps the annoyed, neighbor to help. Have him squirt the dog with water when the noise happens. Most Siberian Huskies do not care to be sprayed. You could also employ any number of devices on the market designed to apply a squirt of water when a noise happens. I have never used one, but it should work. Unfortunately, it will not be able to distinguish between your dog making noise and a loud car, so your dog may receive negative reinforcement when it is not warranted. All of these methods, if applied with patience and vigilance, should work. I have not tried stage 2. I have had stage 1 work most of the time, but occasionally have had to jump to stage 3, the bark-activated shock collar. These deliver up to eight different levels of shock to the dog when barking occurs, at adjustable levels of sensitivity. The shocks are similar to electric fences. I have used such a collar on one of my dogs, and have never had to go above level 2 on the collar. The problem was solved with the first shock. This may sound harsh, but it can save your dogs from the legal system if you have a sensitive neighbor. On a side note: I was VERY worried about a shock collar hurting my dog, so I tried it out on myself, first. It gives no more than a startling "zing" similiar to putting your tongue on a 9-volt battery.
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What should I expect when training my Siberian Husky?
Training Siberian Huskies can be a challenge. They are an extremely intelligent, energetic, and stubborn breed, and one must be ready for the unexpected. Training should start when the dog is young. You should work to establish the rules of the house early, and make sure that the puppy knows that you are in charge. For example, if you do not want the dog on the bed as an adult, do not allow it as
a puppy and never give in, even once, or the dog will think that all rules are flexible. The rule of thumb is that if you train a dog to do something, expect him to do it. Therefore, if the puppy learns that certain things are allowed, it will be difficult to train them not to do them as adults.
Since the dog is pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog will respect you and training will be much easier. It is very important to understand the distinction between establishing yourself as alpha and bullying the dog into submission. These are NOT the same thing! The former is simply a communication that the dog needs and expects, while the latter is very negative and detrimental to the dog's well-being. By establishing yourself as the leader of the pack early, your dog will
learn to respect you and look to you for guidance and will know where the boundaries for acceptable behavior lie. It is best to enroll in a puppy training class (or puppy kindergarten training as they are commonly known) soon after your dog is home and has all of its vaccinations. This training is good for the dog and for you as the owner, as it will help you understand your new puppy and establish you as alpha very early in the puppy's life, which is important with this breed. Once you have completed the puppy class, and have been working with the dog for a few months, a basic obedience class is in order.
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Should I take obedience classes with my Siberian Husky?
Absolutely! Very young puppies (about 12 weeks old and complete with their vaccinations) should atten a puppy kindergarten class.
Further obedience training this breed can be very interesting and extremely challenging. Many owners will complain that their dogs act perfectly in class, but will not obey at home. This breed is intelligent enough to differentiate situations very well, and will apply different rules of behavior for different situations. You must stay on top of the dog and maintain control, which is easier to do while the dog is of manageable size than with a stubborn, energetic adult that has been allowed to get away with undesirable behavior for a long time.
It is VERY important to remember that the Siberian Husky is a "working breed". His heritage has endowed him with the desire to run and his conformation has given him the ability to enjoy it effortlessly. Because of this, it is important that no Siberian ever be allowed unrestrained freedom. In addition, most Siberians have a strong predator drive that can translate into trouble. This is usually
directed toward neighborhood cats, birds, rodents, and other small animals. For his own protection, he should be confined and under control at all times.
Since he is a working dog, he must be given something to do. Exercise may be obtained in the leash, at play, and best of all, through mushing. Siberians make wonderful hiking companions, and with a dog backpack, can carry food and water. Above all, if you feel that it is inconvenient or cruel to keep a dog confined and under control like this, then the Siberian Husky is not the breed for you.
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My Siberian Husky puppy is very noisy, particularly at night. What can I do?
This is not particularly common to the breed, but since I get asked this question occasionally, it is worth repeating the answer. The noisy puppy at night is simply lonely. He needs to be near his "pack," which is you in this case. It used to be his littermates. Over time, your puppy will learn what I would call "pack permanence," borrowed from the term "object permanence" in which a human infant learns that objects that "disappear," i.e., a dropped toy, a parent leaving the room, return. They do not vanish from his or her "universe," that is, they are "permanent." In the puppy, he needs reassurance that you are "permanent." One easy method is to use a crate at night with your puppy,
and put the crate next to your bed. When your puppy wakes and whines, you can easily reassure, or in some cases gently "rattle" the cage, to quiet the dog. Crate training is also an effective house training technique. See also the section on "Talking".
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My Siberian Husky puppy seems to be potty training very slowly or not at all. What can I do?
Some of the most common problems new dog owners have involve housebreaking issues and with their Siberian Husky puppy damaging their belongings when he/she is alone in the house. In fact, these are some of the most common reasons owners give for surrendering puppies and dogs to pounds, shelters and rescues. However, these problems are easily solved when the puppy or dog is properly crate trained. Crate training is by far the most effective technique for potty training your dog.
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I don't want to crate train my dog it's cruel to put him/her in a cage! Isn't it?
Using a crate is NOT cruel. It approximates a den, which dogs in their wild state slept in for hundreds of thousands of years. Modern dogs maintain the "den instinct" which is why use of a crate is so effective in housebreaking. A dog will NOT soil where it sleeps. This is a throwback to the days when dogs were predators in the wild and needed safe places to sleep and rear their young. If they eliminated in the den, other predators would seek them out through the scent and prey upon the young and infirmed. Thus, dogs will not soil their sleeping quarters IF they can possibly avoid doing so. The trick is to make the sleeping area small enough so your Siberian Husky cannot use one end as a bathroom and the other end as a bedroom!
A crate should be large enough so the dog can lie down and turn around in a tight circle. If it is big enough to lie down in, it will be big enough to sit in. Crates can cost anywhere from $30 to $200 and up, depending on your budget. I suggest buying a full-size crate and using a piece of plywood or other material to block off a section for puppy. This can be expanded as puppy grows. Some crate come with a "divider" just for this purpose!
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OK. I'm convinced. How do I crate train my Siberian Husky puppy?
CRATES MUST NEVER BE USED TO PUNISH! The dog has to look on the crate as his special place where he is safe and happy. Many breeders crate train their puppies from the time they leave the whelping box. Ask the breeder if the puppy has been introduced to a crate. Before bringing puppy home take a blanket or towel to the breeder and ask to put this item in with the litter at night. The blanket or towel will then be permeated with the litter/mother scent and will make those first few nights we all dread much easier. When puppy comes home it should take all of its naps in the crate and sleep there at night. The crate should also be used ANY time the humans in the house are too busy to keep an eye on puppy. The remainder of the time, the puppy should be in the company of its' new owners, being cuddled, played with, socialized and generally reassured that it is loved and cared for in its new home.
Keep in mind that puppies MUST relieve themselves BEFORE and within 15 minutes AFTER EATING, IMMEDIATELY UPON DRINKING ANY water, after PLAY and IMMEDIATELY UPON WAKING. TAKE pup outside according to this schedule at first. NEVER PUT PUPPY OUT BY HIMSELF! It just doesn't work. Let puppy walk where it wants and as soon as it relieves itself outside PRAISE IT! Bring puppy back in when you are SURE it has finished. Sometimes you KNOW puppy has to go but puppy is fooling around. WAIT! Don't bring puppy in before it has done its business - that is just asking for an accident and puppy will be happy to oblige! Each time you put puppy in the crate PRAISE IT and give it a treat.
NEVER let puppy out of the crate when it is making noise such as whining, crying or barking. Correct it by saying "NO! BAD PUPPY!" and ONLY when it has quieted should you let it out, with a "GOOD PUPPY!" If you let puppy out while it is making noise you are teaching it that making noise will get it attention and companionship, which is what it wants in the first place! This "mixed message" will be particularly difficult to straighten out in the middle of the night, when YOU want to sleep and puppy wants to PARTY! So be firm right from the start.
Let puppy out ONLY if it is quiet and NEVER once you have put it in the crate for the night. Remember that puppy is going to be missing its Mom and littermates NO MATTER WHERE IT SLEEPS and this includes YOUR bed, which I don't recommend unless you sleep on rubber sheets in a boat! So, keeping in mind that puppy will be upset whether he is in the kitchen, piddling on the floor and chewing the cabinets; or in the crate. PUT HIM IN THE CRATE! At least he will only be making lots of noise and not redecorating your house in Early Destructo!
Many people put the crate in their bedroom where they can reassure puppy during the night. Some people prefer to put the crate, for the first few nights, where they won't hear puppy crying. There is nothing wrong with either plan. However, once you have put puppy in the crate for the night, do NOT let him out unless you are fairly certain he has to eliminate. If puppy starts to cry shortly after being placed in the crate and you know it has just eliminated, give it a verbal correction at once (NO! BAD PUPPY! QUIET!). Repeat if necessary until puppy settles down. If you let puppy out of the crate every time it cries, it will never learn to accept the crate.
When preparing puppy for being crated all night it is best not to feed puppy or give anything to drink (unless it is during a very hot summer) after about 6-7pm. It takes 2-4 hours for puppy to digest food and water. Exercise puppy LOTS in the evening. Wear puppy out. Take puppy out as late as possible (11pm works well). Take your time for this last outing of the night. Be absolutely certain puppy is EMPTY before putting it in the crate. Put puppy in the crate with toys, the security blanket and the old stand-bys - a loud ticking clock (old wind-up clocks work well and immitate the beating of puppy's littermates' heartbeats), a hot water bottle (for snuggling up to something warm) and stuffed animals with eyes, nose, etc. removed first. Praise puppy, say goodnight and go to bed.
As a general rule DO NOT GO BACK TO PUPPY UNTIL AT LEAST 3:30 OR 4AM. By then puppy probably will have to go out for real. Puppy bladders and bowels are just not mature enough to hold it much longer than that. However, some puppies simply cannot go longer than 2-3 hours, even at night, without urinating. If the puppy persists in crying and has been crated for at least 2 hours, assume it has to eliminate and take it outside. Keep these sessions short and quiet. Do not socialize with the puppy and once it has eliminated, take it right back inside and crate it again. The EARLY mornings come with puppy territory, like 2am feedings and babies.
By about 5 months the puppy's bladder should start to mature and puppy will start sleeping later. But for now all you can do is grin and bear it! When you take puppy out at this uncivilized hour do so with a minimum of conversation. Puppy should know that this is NOT playtime. When he does his business outside PRAISE HIM as usual and bring him right back in, put him back in the crate and go back to bed. Don't go back to him now, either. Puppy should be fine now until you are ready to get up at your regular time. Just remember: Once you have put puppy in the crate don't go back to him for at least 2 hours. If you do, you are teaching him that making lots of noise will get him what he wants - your company. Puppy must learn that nights are for sleeping and his sleeping place is the crate. Once he learns this lesson - and it will take about 2-4 nights - he will begin to look on the crate as his special place. One day you will look for puppy and find him, curled up in the crate where he went by himself to catch a few Z's!
Once you have used the crate properly - NEVER TO PUNISH! - your house will be safe from "puppy destructo raids" and your puppy will be safe from the myriad dangers that lie in wait for lonely, bored and curious puppies such as: chicken bones or other inedible "treats" from the garbage; chocolate left in reach of dogs which is a poison to dogs; electric wires that could electrocute a puppy if chewed; cleaning solutions; toilet bowl cleaners; poisonous house plants; small toys or socks that could be swallowed....I could go on and on! So please, use that crate! You will wonder how you ever survived without one and your puppy will have a SAFE place to be when left alone.
Please remember that puppies are like babies when it comes to bladder and bowel control. Don't ask puppy to "hold it" longer than is physically comfortable for puppy and try not to leave a dog crated longer than 5-6 hours at a time during the day if you can avoid doing so.
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