Category: Free Training Tips

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash – Easy Loose Leash Training

Walking in the Woods with Husky

In my opinion one of the best things about having a husky is they’re a great excuse to get out of the house and go for a walk! Our husky Aura is much calmer than most but she still enjoys the adventure of new sights and smells that come with exploring our neighborhood and nearby parks.

At the time of this writing it’s the middle of summer here in Phoenix, Arizona so it’s usually too hot to go outside for long stretches of time, but when fall rolls around the weather will be more accommodating. This gives us plenty of time to teach Aura some good leash manners. Enjoying walks with your best friend is much more enjoyable when they’re not constantly trying to pull you to the ground in pursuit of the countless distractions of the world.

We’re currently going through a six-week training course through Petsmart and this week we’re learning about loose leash training. This is essentially getting your dog to walk next to or slightly in front of you while keeping slack on the leash. As usual I’ve done the research and assembled the best tips for how to train your dog to walk on a leash.

First we’ll cover the necessary things you’ll need to purchase before getting started, then we’ll go over loose leash training, troubleshooting some typical challenges that might arise, and finish with some additional parting tips.

Loose Leash Training Supplies

If you used our new dog checklist you should have everything you need already but if not don’t worry because I’ll cover that information here as well.

The first thing you’ll need is a suitable collar for your husky. I recommend a martingale collar as this is what we have for Aura and it works wonderfully. Martingale collars have an extra loop in them that tightens just enough to be uncomfortable if the dog pulls on it but can’t tighten so much that it damages their throat like a choke chain collar can. This functionality also keeps your dog from slipping out of the collar.

Pink 5 Foot Leash

Next you’ll need an appropriate leash for your pet. For loose leash training purposes a length of less than 6 feet is ideal. Any longer and it’s possible for your dog to get enough force running that they can hurt themselves. We have a pink leash that matches Aura’s collar and is just about 5 feet long.

The last thing you’ll need is something to help you hold your dog’s attention. In most cases dog treats are great but you can also use a favorite toy if your husky responds well enough to it. If you’re planning on purchasing treats from a store check out our top recommendations or if you’d rather make your own look into our recommended homemade recipes.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Here is a step-by-step process for loose leash training your husky.

  1. Put the collar and leash on your dog. If your dog knows how to sit make them sit calmly before you put their leash on. If your pup isn’t used to wearing a collar or leash just let them hangout inside with both on, leash trailing behind, to get used to the sensation. Giving them treats and praise at this time will associate positive emotions with the leash and collar.
  2. Decide which side of you, left or right, your dog will walk on. It doesn’t really matter which side you choose, just that you’re consistent with it. Traditionally working dogs such as police and guide dogs are taught to walk on the left.
  3. With the dog on your preferred walking side, give the command ‘let’s go’ and begin walking forward. You can also use ‘follow me’ or any other string of words you’d like but again, remain consistent.
  4. As soon as your dog gets too far ahead and pulls on the leash, immediately turn around and take two steps backward. Careful not to yank on the leash, pull gently. You can also give an audible ‘uh-uh’ as soon as they pull on the leash to help them know what they’re doing wrong.
  5. Lure your dog back to your preferred walking side with a treat or toy. Anytime your dog looks up at you give them a treat or toy. This will teach your dog that they are rewarded for staying near you and for keeping slack in the leash.
  6. Again give the command ‘let’s go’ and begin walking in your original direction. From here you’ll simply repeat the last three steps until you reach your destination. This can take a long time depending on how persistent your dog is on pulling at the leash. Stay even more persistent with it though and your dog will learn that they need to pay attention to you to know where to go.
  7. Give your dog treats every few seconds if they are walking near you to reinforce the good behavior. As your pup gets the idea of what’s expected of them you can give treats out less and less frequently.

Some Typical Challenges And What To Do

Walking Husky in the Woods Short LeashFor some people their dog may trail behind or stop altogether during a training session. If this is the case try to lure them into catching up with a high value treat. If that doesn’t work bend down to your dog’s level and many times they will naturally want to come closer to you.

Some dogs love to bark and huskies especially tend to have a unique howl language they speak in. We’re lucky that Aura doesn’t howl too much, she does just enough for it to be ridiculously adorable. Some dogs are more talkative than others though and if you find your dog likes to howl or bark a lot simply stop where you’re at and don’t move until they stop. You can also give them a treat as soon as they do stop to reinforce the good behavior of not barking.

Often you’re not in a position to control outside distractions while walking your dog. They may become infatuated with something or someone outside of your control and in this case you will want to walk in the opposite direction of whatever the distraction is. Walking at a brisk pace will often help prevent your pup from getting distracted in the first place.

Final Tips

  • Before you begin your training session try to get your dog tired by playing with them or letting them run around in the Man walking red huskybackyard. A tired dog is less likely to pull and also less likely to bark.
  • Keep the leash short at first, forcing your dog to your preferred side. If your dog is progressing well and not pulling, gradually let out more slack.
  • Try a short walk that lasts about 5 minutes at first and then gradually work your way up to 15 minute sessions.
  • As you anticipate your dog about to pull on the leash, give an audible ‘easy’ to let them know they’re about to do something you don’t want.
  • If your husky is especially difficult to work with consider getting a chest-led (aka no-pull) harness or head halter which are more restrictive on the dog, inhibiting pulling behavior. If you go this route you should also consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer.
  • I mentioned it before but it’s worth repeating; be consistent and reward good behavior.

Further Reading

Hopefully by now you have basic knowledge on what it takes to loose leash train a dog, everything from the necessary training supplies to dealing with some typical challenges. For more information on training your dog to walk on a leash check out these resources from WebMD and The American Kennel Club.

 

 

Crate Training Huskies The Easiest Way – Free Dog Crate Training Tips

Crate Training Huskies Sleeping Husky

Dogs are den animals which means they naturally seek out small places that are easily defendable, giving them peace of mind, a feeling of safety. Purchasing a crate for your husky is a great way to satisfy this instinctive behavior and doubles as a great training tool. Our husky Aura suffers from separation anxiety so it was necessary for us to crate train her very quickly after we brought her home. After doing some research on the topic I have assembled some of the best tips for crate training huskies.

It’s Not a Jail!

There are many people that have an aversion to crates because they are reminded of jail cells looking at one. You should never use the crate as a punishment device though and if trained correctly your pup will see the crate as a safe home base and not a prison sentence. A crate is much more like a playpen is to a child than a prisoner in a jail cell.

Benefits of Crate Training Huskies

Here are a few of the benefits that come with crate training your husky.

  • Creates a sanctuary for your beloved pet to retreat to in times of stress.
  • Keeps your dog from making messes or chewing things while you’re away from home.
  • Greatly accelerates potty training because most dogs will avoid going potty where they sleep.
  • Traveling with your dog is much easier as many establishments require that dogs be confined in a crate.

Crate Training Supplies

Here is a list of supplies you’ll need to most effectively crate train your husky.

  • An appropriately sized crate for your husky that allows them to turn around and get comfortable. We have a 42 in L x 28 in W x 30 ‘fold and carry dog crate’ by Grreat Choice and it’s the perfect fit for her.
  • Towels and training pads for any accidents.Crate Training Huskies Aura's Kong Toy
  • Water bottle with a water and vinegar mixture to clean the crate.
  • Dog toys, a KONG is a great option.
  • Dog treats to help your dog associate training as a positive experience.
  • A sheet or some sort of cover to put over the crate.
  • Some sort of bedding or soft material to make the crate comfortable.

Crate Training Huskies

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to crate train your husky.

  1. Put the crate in a room where you will spend most of your time. Dogs are social creatures and want to be near you so this will make training much easier. We have Aura’s crate in our bedroom.
  2. Prepare the crate by putting a soft material down inside. For puppies if possible getting a blanket that smells like the mother is very helpful. You can also put a sheet over the crate which will make it feel safer and cozier to your dog.
  3. Decide on a command to give your dog when they enter the crate. We tell Aura to ‘go to your room’ when we put her in her crate. Whatever you choose, be consistent with it.
  4. Entice your pup into entering the crate by putting a toy or snack inside. If your dog tries to take the treat out of the crate then take it from them and put it back in. This will teach them that they only get the treat if they’re inside the crate.
  5. Reinforce this behavior by giving your dog a treat every time they completely enter the crate when giving the command. This can take a long time or not much at all depending on your dog. Just remember to be patient with them while they’re learning.
  6. At first sit in front of the crate with the door open to help your pet get comfortable with it. Pet them while speaking in a calm voice to help them acclimate easier.
  7. When your pet has become more comfortable with the crate, then close the door and wait a few minutes.
  8. Repeat this process and each time leave your dog in the crate a little longer. Start with five minutes and work up to half an hour, an hour, etc.
  9. Begin to leave the room once your dog can stand to wait more than five minutes in the crate. This will teach them to be more independent and that you’ll always come back.
  10. Slowly your husky will come to associate their crate with good things and will start to enter of their own accord. This is a good sign and you should further reinforce this behavior by praising them.

Additional Crate Training Tips

Here is a list of additional crate training tips to take into consideration.Crate Training Huskies Aura in her Crate

  • If your dog whines or howls do not let them out of their crate. Huskies especially are known to be very vocal and I know it can be hard but do your best to wait for a lapse in the whining before letting them out. If you don’t you then you will teach them that bad behavior will get them out of the crate.
  • Consider feeding your dog their meals while they’re in the crate. This will further associate good things with the crate.
  • Always be calm and assertive when your dog enters and exits the crate. Acting too excited will encourage them to see the crate as a punishment which we want to avoid.
  • Praise your dog when they show good behavior and ignore them when they behave badly.
  • If your dog has a collar be sure to take it off before putting them in their crate as this can be a choking hazard.
  • Some crates come with a ‘divider panel’ so that you can buy one crate that accommodates a puppy into adulthood. As the puppy gets bigger you simply push the divider back until it is no longer needed because your dog now fits into the crate appropriately.
  • Dogs should not be left in their crate for too long. Puppies are only able to hold the contents of their bladder in for short periods of time and require frequent potty breaks.
  • Tiring your dog out with playtime or by going on a walk before trying to crate train can be helpful as your dog will be tired and more likely to calm down.
  • For faster training have your dog sleep in their crate. If you go this route you’ll want to put the crate in your room and expect some crying. Be sure to let the dog out if you think it needs to use the restroom though.
  • You’ll periodically want to clean the liner to your dog’s crate. A water and vinegar mixture will do just fine.

Last Notes on Crate Training Huskies

Crate training huskies is a fairly straight forward process and its benefits far outweigh any perceived negative emotions associated with it. Be Always very patient with your pet through the learning process and try not to get too frustrated if things aren’t working right away. It can take weeks to months to crate train your dog depending on a variety of different factors.

For further reading check out what the ASPCA and the Humane Society have to say about crate training huskies. Midwest Homes 4 Pets has a great video on YouTube about the basics of crate training.

If you had success or are struggling with crate training your dog please leave a comment below with your story! What was crate training your pet like?

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Separation Anxiety Solutions – How to Cure Dog Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety Sad Husky

We adopted our husky Aura through the Lucky Dog Rescue organization a few weeks ago and she has really made our home complete. She is so well-behaved, housebroken, rarely barks, and sometimes even comes the first time you call her name! However, there is one problematic behavior she has been displaying.

My partner and I work opposite schedules so most of the time someone is home with her, but when we do have to both be away she will take seemingly random items and chew them to pieces. Sometimes she even gets up onto tables to find things, something she wouldn’t dare do in front of one of us. I’ve done some research and this behavior appears to be a classic case of separation anxiety. Here are some dog separation anxiety solutions that you can use if your pup suffers from this condition.

To start off with I am going to explain what separation anxiety is, its symptoms, and what causes it. With that understanding we will then delve into treatments for the condition and ways to prevent your dog from developing it in the first place.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a condition where a pet experiences extreme negative emotions when left alone for even short periods of time. It can vary in severity from dog to dog and can sometimes be very easy to misidentify as bad behavior or miss altogether, especially in dogs with mild cases.

Our husky Aura has a mild case of separation anxiety which can be a common condition for a rescue dog that has experienced abandonment in the past. Aura’s separation anxiety makes life a little more difficult because someone always has to be with her or she will get herself worked up and cause destruction. I’m sure her experience is just as bad if not worse than our experience of coming home to shredded belongings.

It’s very important to understand that separation anxiety is not your dog trying to get back at you for leaving him or her alone. Your pet is truly terrified and being left alone is a traumatic experience for them so punishment will potentially make the condition worse.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

There are a number of different symptoms that could indicate a case of separation anxiety in a dog. These include but aren’t limited to;

  • Ignoring food and treats when left alone.Separation Anxiety Nervous Huskies with Owner
  • Attempts to escape their enclosure when left alone.
  • Constant barking, whining, and howling when left alone.
  • Urination, defecation, and even eating of feces when left alone.
  • Tendency to follow owners around the house when they are home.
  • Clawing and chewing at furniture and objects within the home when left alone.
  • Upon arriving home dog may act extremely over-excited, as if owner had been gone for ages.
  • Salivation and exhibiting other signs of stress (panting, pacing, trembling, dilation of pupils) when owner is preparing to leave.

A dog with separation anxiety may exhibit all or only a few of the symptoms listed above.

Causes of Separation Anxiety

It’s important to keep in mind that every dog is a unique individual with his or her own past but here are a few possible causes that might lead a dog to develop separation anxiety.

  • Dog has been neglected.
  • Dog is moved to a new environment.
  • Dog is abandoned or has a change of ownership.
  • Death of a dog’s companion, human or another pet.
  • Dog has been coddled and relies too heavily on its owner.
  • Adopting a dog before it’s old enough to be away from its mother.
  • Change in schedule where dog is suddenly left alone for extended periods of time, often for the first time.

Dogs are complex creatures and while a few typical causes are listed above, other factors can potentially contribute to the development of separation anxiety in a pet.

Treatments for Separation Anxiety

If your pet is affected by separation anxiety the good news is that there are a number of dog separation anxiety solutions to try.

  • Desensitize your dog to signals indicating your departure. Do this by picking up your keys or putting on your shoes but don’t leave the house, just hang out for awhile. Doing this a couple times of day for a few weeks will teach your pup that these signals don’t necessarily mean you are going to leave soon.Separation Anxiety Nervous Husky
  • Exercise or play with your dog before you leave. A tired dog is less likely to get worked up so if possible try to get up a little earlier for work and go on a walk or run with your dog. Not only is this a great bonding experience but your pup will most likely be too tired to focus on their anxiety.

 

  • Train your dog to be alone in a different part of the house. You can do this by teaching them to stay and then walking into another room. Gradually increase the time you make your dog stay in the other part of the house from seconds to minutes, maybe even an hour if necessary.
  • Crate train your dog. By creating a space that is reserved for your pup where you can pet and give him or her treats you are creating a safe space that encourages independence from you.
  • When arriving back home ignore your dog until they greet you calmly. You want to project calm and assertive energy when leaving and when arriving home. Dogs are very intuitive creatures and will pick up on your emotions. If you make a big deal out of leaving by giving a grand goodbye this can exacerbate your dog’s separation anxiety.
  • Leave the house for short periods of time, gradually increasing the time you’re gone. The severity of your dog’s condition will dictate how long these short periods of time are. For some dogs you can quickly extend the time by minutes but other dogs need a little more work and these periods of time should be increased by seconds when starting out. Start with an initial goal of being able to leave for 5 minutes, then 20 minutes, then an hour and be sure to approach these goals with plenty of patience and love.
  • Leave background noise on when you leave. This can be as simple as a television or you can even leave an audiobook or YouTube playlist of relaxing music playing when you leave. Recent discoveries indicate that dogs can understand quite a bit of human language and love being read to.
  • Give your dog a special toy or treat reserved only for when you leave. This toy or treat should be durable enough to keep your dog’s attention for at least half an hour. This will also teach your dog to associate you leaving with something positive. A KONG® filled with something tasty is a great choice for most dogs.
  • Consider the use of medication for your dog. Some dogs have such severe separation anxiety that they need anti-anxiety medication like xanax or trazodone coupled with professional training to help get over their condition. In these cases it’s best to contact a veterinarian and a professional trainer for help.
  • Take your dog to a sitter or doggy daycare. Maybe there is a trusted neighbor you could leave your dog with during the day. There are many affordable doggy daycare options located in the Phoenix area.

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be a lifelong condition for dogs so the best ‘cure’ is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Luckily, many of the same treatments for separation anxiety can be used to prevent separation anxiety! Separation Anxiety White Happy Husky

  • Crate train your dog. It’s very important that your dog has a safe place and that they enjoy their time in it.
  • Get plenty of exercise. A tired dog is less likely to be destructive and get into trouble.
  • Reserve a special treat or toy for when you leave your dog alone. Take the toy or treat and put it away as soon as you arrive home. This will teach your pup to associate something good with you being gone.
  • Don’t make a big deal over arrivals and departures. When leaving don’t give a long-drawn-out goodbye as this can be a trigger for separation anxiety. When you get back don’t greet your dog until he or she is calm.

Can We ‘Cure’ Dog Separation Anxiety?

Unfortunately there is no sure-fire way to cure a dog of separation anxiety and some dogs will develop it despite our best preventive efforts. At least now you are equipped with the knowledge on what dog separation anxiety is, its symptoms, potential causes, and possible treatments for dealing with the condition.

For more information on dog separation anxiety check out these articles from the Animal Humane Society and the American Kennel Club.

Do you think your pet suffers from separation anxiety? Leave a comment below with their symptoms or what worked for you in curing it!

 

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