Are Huskies Hard To Train?
[Everything you need to know]

By kropek2021. • Updated June 28, 2021

It’s a special experience when you meet your first Husky puppy and one you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. Huskies are adorable overall – from the tips of their well-furred paws to their upright ears. So it’s little wonder that Siberian Huskies rank at 12 on the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds list.

Like all canines, Siberian Huskies have their quirks that first-time dog owners should look into before adopting one. As a dog owner, one common query I often encounter from husky owners is if they’re hard to train. And, I end up telling them – the answer’s not a simple yes or no.

Siberians need careful handling when it comes to obedience training. And that has more to do with how much time and effort you’re willing to expend rather than your husky’s personality. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for viable info on how to do right by your husky puppy and have it grow into a well-behaved adult – you’re in the right place. Stick with me as I break down exactly what’s required to train Siberian Huskies. Ready?

Siberian Husky History

Before we jump into the thick of things about training your husky, let’s talk about the breed’s history. The name ‘Siberian Husky’ kind of gives away the game about where the breed hails from. But, here’s a fun fact – did you know the Chukchi people bred Siberians as high-endurance sled dogs and companions?

Living in extreme weather conditions, the Chukchi needed help extending their hunting ground. Their solution was to come up with a dog breed that could handle harsh weather and run long distances in rough terrain. And boy, were they successful because the ancestors of today’s Huskies excelled at all of that!

Sebis (aka Siberians) started gaining popularity back in the early 1900s due to winning multiple sled races. They gained even more fame after making the ‘Diphtheria Runs’ to save the residents of Nome, Alaska, from an epidemic. Modern-day huskies may not be running across the snow-filled wastelands – but they are bred for it.

Oh, and here’s another mind-blowing fact – Huskies are pack dogs. Thanks to the breed’s sledding history, they’re wired to follow an alpha and obey all its commands. As a husky owner, if you want your pack dog to follow you – you’re going to have to brush up on your alpha skills.

That’s why Sibes need quite a lot of exercise to stay fit. And, like a German Shepherd, your Husky will be happiest when it has a job to do.

Are Huskies Truly Difficult To Train Compared To Other Dog Breeds?

Here’s how Veterinarian Dr. Pippa Elliot (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) describes Husky personality:

“…The Husky character is a blend of independence and intelligence mixed with a strong wanderlust. Thus, these dogs like to decide what they do and when. They are clever enough to play along and behave when at obedience class, but understand the difference when back home and think nothing of playing up.”

I don’t like saying huskies are a difficult breed as a trainer. The truth is training a husky simply requires a unique approach. How you train a canine has a lot to do with the dog’s temperament. Siberian Huskies were bred to be strong and resilient. 

That means it’s essential you understand how to handle your husky – right from the get-go. The good news is that you can choose from multiple training methods to help groom your dog’s behavior.

How To Train A Husky

Huskies are described as outgoing, mischievous, and smart dogs that listen to a strong leader. A sled team consists of around 22 doggos (including the lead). The lead dog needs to be strong-willed and resolute because if it shows any weakness – its position can be challenged.

You’re probably asking what any of that has to do with how you train your husky – the answer is – a lot. When you get your tiny puppy home, you’re going to have to assume the role of the lead dog before you kick off a training session. If you show any signs of weakness or hesitation, your doggo likely won’t pay heed to anything you say, and your position will be ‘challenged.’

Another aspect of training huskies is figuring out a practical way to give your pet the physical and mental stimulation it deserves to ensure boredom doesn’t lead to behavioral problems. More than anything else, finding enough time to help husky puppies burn off their energy is something dog parents find most challenging.

It’s essential to start training your husky about basic commands from around eight weeks of age. Like potty training, it’s important to make your new puppy understand who’s boss from a young age – so that bad behavior is avoided right from the start. 

So, here’s what your overall training scheme should look like after the first few weeks of bringing your puppy home:

  • Working on establishing on lead role (i.e., becoming the alpha)
  • Teaching your pupper basic commands
  • Training your husky to walk off-leash

Becoming A Leader

Appearing as alpha to your Sibe isn’t all belly rubs and playing fetch. You’re going to have to work on aspects like reigning in negative or violent behavior. That means telling your pup to stop with a firm and confident ‘No’ anytime your pup does something it’s not supposed to, like biting or posturing to ‘challenge’ your position.

Try to stay ahead of your dog – like a leader. Make sure your pet enters the door after you or gets out of your way, etc. Little actions can exhibit dominance and help you establish your position as a pack leader.

Teaching Basic Commands

The next step of the process is helping your dog learn and listen to your commands. The four basic commands you should start with include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Heel

Once your doggo has picked up these orders, it’s perfectly fine to start thinking about upping the training sessions to include more advanced skills.

Walking With A Leash

Huskies are born with an innate love for running. That means it’s imperative to teach your husky to walk with a leash – for its own safety. That may sound easier than it actually is and will require time and patience on your part.

Get your Husky puppy used to going out with its leash gradually by starting in a safe space – like your backyard. Once your pet has the basics of walking with a leash down – venture out to parks. That can help get your furbaby used to the sights and sounds it will encounter when it goes out in public – making it an important part of socialization.

Once you’re certain your pet is obedient and mature enough to learn another new skill, you can start working on off-leash training – but only from your backyard or some other enclosed space where your pet can’t wander off too far and get into trouble.

Types of Training Methods

Now that you’re aware of your goals – let’s talk about how you’re going to achieve the objectives. 

This is where a suitable training method can come in handy. As a trainer, I only ever support positive reinforcement techniques to teach canines good behavior. 

So here’s what your options are in terms of types of training techniques:

Method One: Building On Trust

As the name suggests, this technique is designed to gain your pupper’s trust. To do so, you’re going to focus your energies on being confident and calm as you deal with your husky puppy. Expressing anger will only scare your pet and confuse it.

As your relationship of trust builds, you’ll notice your pup starting to follow you around. That’s the time to develop clear boundaries about what your pet can or can not do.

For instance, a sure-shot way of getting your alpha position across is by training your pup to eat once it has your permission. You can do this by pulling its bowl away until your puppy realizes your consent is required.

Another way to get your authority across is by setting up and sticking to a toilet routine once your pup has mastered potty training. Finally, if your pup barks or whines excessively to grab your attention when bored and play time’s over – ignore it.

Giving in to your husky’s attention-seeking ways will only make your puppy think it’s in control. Instead, try waiting for your pup’s barks to stop before you give it your attention.

Method Two: Building on Obedience

Huskies puppies may not be as easily trained as a different breed. This is why, if you’re a first-time canine parent or unable to grab your dog’s attention the way you’re supposed to – you can enroll your pet in a puppy school for obedience training classes.

That’s not cheating because one, not only will your husky learn how other canines respect and follow their owners. Two, you will be able to learn how to curb your husky’s independence by watching how trainers handle the situation.

Continue working on commands with your pet at home with the help of treats or toys for positive reinforcement. As long as you control your husky’s food and toys, you remain at the top of the pecking order.

It’s also a good idea to pick up on how to calm down your Sibe to a submissive or calm state, gently rubbing to stroking its fur. Remember, if you think a behavior is unacceptable – communicate with a ‘NO’ right away. 

Allowing your puppy to do the deed a few times and then suddenly stopping it out of nowhere will confuse your husky.

Method Three: Building on Leadership

Under this training method, you’ll have to focus on training your husky to understand and respect your role as a leader. For example, take your pup out on a walk before mealtime and wait until it’s calm before presenting its food.

Set up an area in your home that’s entirely your doggo’s – be it an entire room or a corner with your husky’s bed. Doing so will help your pet understand that every other area in the room belongs only to you.

The next step requires you to set up as your pup’s protector when it’s feeling distressed or scared. A pack leader is responsible for the safety of the pack. 

An easy way to let your pupper know you have its back is by stepping in between your pup and people your husky doesn’t know. It’s also a good idea to comfort your pooch if it’s scared by gently rubbing its fur or by removing it from the situation causing distress.

Finally, while having your husky sit and follow commands at home may take patience, be mindful you don’t ever punish your puppy. This will undo all you’ve done to earn its trust and respect and make it fear you.

Tips & Tricks To Help You Properly Train Your Husky

Compared to other dog breeds, Huskies do require pet parents to go the extra mile when training. But, our helpful resource section can help make your life easier with a few practical protips.

  • Unlike other dogs, Huskies are pack animals, which means leaving your pet alone for long periods can lead to your best friend developing problems like separation anxiety or behavioral concerns. Make sure you spend time with your pet outside training exercises. Going on walks in the dog park for leisure will help work off your pet’s excess energy and help with socialization.
  • Huskies have quite the prey drive and love to give chase to small creatures lurking around. That’s something you need to be aware of when going out with your pup in public. That’s why it’s essential to train your husky to accept leash walking before venturing out in open spaces – for your pet’s safety and your own.
  • If you’re a first-time husky parent, turning your pet into an obedient dog will require research and patience. It doesn’t matter if you’ve started training your pet; if it’s something you feel you can’t handle independently, you can rely on renowned programs like the Canine Good Citizen (CGC). Created by the American Kennel Club, the CGC is a ten-skill program open to all dog breeds and can teach your pet the basics of obedience training and manners.

Conclusion

Are huskies easy to love? You bet they are. Are they just as easy to train? Ahh..not so much. If you’re an old hand at training canines – handling one or even two huskies may not be a problem for you. However, the truth is, training huskies can get a little overwhelming for first-time canine parents.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get that husky rescue you’ve set your sights on and offer it a better life – but it’s best to do your homework about the care Siberian Huskies require. This will help you ease your new dog into its new lifestyle without too many upsets and lead to a deeper bond between you and your furry best friend. Trust that once your puppy dog learns who’s boss – teaching it new tricks will become easier.