If you are getting a Husky or have just started training one, you might wonder whether Huskies are easy to train.
You may have heard a lot of varying opinions on Huskies and feel a bit unsure over how easy it will be to train your Husky.
Huskies are well known for being difficult to train. Huskies are intelligent and independent, which can come across as stubborn. So while your Husky will learn fast during training, you need to be extra careful with your approach to train them properly.
In this guide, I will explain everything you need to know about the basics of training a Husky and why extra care needs to be put in compared to other dog breeds.
While Huskies can be difficult to train, if you follow the principles in this guide you will make the job easier.
Can Huskies be Trained?
When our family decided to get a Husky, we would constantly hear that we would be in for a hard time and Huskies are untrainable.
While Huskies can be difficult to train, they are very trainable. With the right training approach, you can train a Husky to be well behaved and follow your commands.
Huskies being untrainable is a myth that reflects the poor training practices often shared around.
If a Husky owner doesn’t adjust their training method to account for a Husky’s independence, they’re going to have a tough time.
The reason people mistakenly feel that Huskies are untrainable is that Husky puppies go through good and bad phases during training.
At some point during training, your Husky puppy will go through a phase where it seems they can’t recall any of the training you’ve been working on.
As explained later in this guide, being perseverent and following best training practices will get you through any bad phases.
Why Huskies Are Difficult to Train
Huskies are difficult to train due to their mix of intelligence and independence. They are intelligent dogs, so they understand very quickly what you teach them. But their independence means they may choose to ignore you.
This means as a Husky trainer, you have an extra obstacle to overcome compared to many other dog breeds.
You not only need to train your Husky a command, but you also need to train your Husky to overcome their natural independence and to obey your commands.
A lot of Husky owners don’t understand this extra step required, so they end up believing that Huskies aren’t trainable or that they aren’t intelligent.
If you hear somebody say that their Husky never listens to them despite their training, it’s because they didn’t successfully overcome the independence barrier.
Do Huskies Learn Fast?
Huskies learn fast due to their high intelligence. This means they will learn your commands quickly, but it also means they may start ignoring you just as quickly.
This is why you need to train through a second phase when training your Husky.
Once you Husky learns a command, you need to spend extra time working on making sure your Husky obeys the command in all types of situations.
Later in this guide, I’ll explain useful training principles such as Generalization, Counter-Conditioning, and Fading you can use to help your Husky learn faster and make the commands stick.
In the right conditions, a Husky puppy will learn lightning fast. The key is to use the best training practices and avoid common mistakes as explained below.
Don’t Give Up On Your Husky
One of the reasons a lot of people feel that Huskies are untrainable is because they stop too soon.
Here’s an example of why so many Husky trainers fall into the trap of stopping the training too soon:
Imagine a person training their Husky to listen to sit, stay, and come. After a few weeks of training at home, their Husky obeys the commands every time. The owner thinks the training was a success and stops the training.
A few weeks pass and the owner decides to take their Husky to the park. Surprise, surprise, their Husky doesn’t listen to a single command.
The Husky runs around like crazy and seems to completely ignore the owner.
The owner mumbles to himself “I knew Huskies were untrainable”.
See the problem in the above example?
The owner in the above example only trained their Husky at home in controlled conditions. No time was spent introducing distractions or training in different environments.
This means the Husky only learned those commands in one environment and only in certain conditions.
That’s not enough. As you will learn when I explain ‘Proofing’, you need to train your Husky to obey commands in all environments and all conditions.
Stopping your training too soon can have a devastating impact on your Husky’s obedience.
Check out this guide to learn about common training mistakes and more tips on how to get the best results from your training sessions.
How to Train a Husky
To properly train a Husky, you need to have a plan to follow.
If you don’t follow a well-thought-out plan, it makes your job harder and you may not get the best results from your Husky.
Here are the basic steps to follow when training a Husky:
- Introduce a command to your Husky
- Train the command in a controlled and relaxed environment
- Reinforce and reward improved behavior
- Introduce distractions and train the command in different environments
The idea behind this approach is that you start off simple and gradually strengthen the behavior in more tough situations.
Let’s go through the four basic steps to follow.
Step 1: Introduce a Command to Your Husky
This first step is simple, you need to introduce a command to your Husky.
The key here is that you’re focused on a single command.
Don’t try to train your Husky to sit, lay down, and shake hands all at the same time.
Focus on one command at a time. If you want to train multiple commands, work on each one in a different training session so it is crystal clear to your Husky what the current focus is.
Step 2: Train the Command in a Controlled and Relaxed Environment
When you start to train a new command with your Husky, make sure you introduce it in a controlled and relaxed environment.
You want to make sure there are no distractions and that your Husky will be 100% focused on you.
This means you should be alone with your Husky with nobody nearby.
If somebody else is within view, it’s a possible distraction for your Husky.
We want to have a controlled environment with no distractions to keep your Husky’s attention focused.
Step 3: Reinforce and Reward Improved Behavior
As you train your Husky, make sure you reward any steps towards improved behavior.
Whether this reward is a treat, clicker, or vocal acknowledgment is up to you, but the key point is that you want to reward your Husky for taking steps in the right direction.
For example, if you are training your Husky to stay, don’t expect your Husky to wait in position for a minute on the first try.
Start by rewarding your Husky for sitting for 2 seconds. Then if they stay for 4 seconds on the next attempt, reward them.
It might feel weird at first, but you want to celebrate any win – no matter how small.
If you make it easy for your Husky to succeed, they will learn faster.
Eventually, you will want to fade the rewards (explained later). But the key point at this stage is to focus on rewarding any improvements in behavior.
Step 4: Introduce Distractions and Train in Different Environments
This step is known as ‘Proofing’ and a lot of dog owners mistakenly stop training before this step.
It’s a big mistake to think your training is finished when your Husky regularly obeys your commands at home.
Having your Husky sit and stay at home is very different from sitting and staying at the park with other dogs running wild, at the beach, or in a busy city street.
While you may think it’s the same actions in all these situations, it isn’t for your Husky.
This means you need to continue to train your Husky in different environments with different levels of distractions.
As explained later, proofing can turn a Husky from “listens sometimes” to “always listens”.
Gradually introducing distractions to your training and training in different environments is the key to success when training your Husky. Don’t stop until you master this step.
Important Training Principles
If you follow the above training steps, you will be able to successfully train your Husky.
There are a lot of important training principles that can improve your training. Here are a few important principles to keep in mind while training your Husky.
You want your Husky to obey a command in any situation. Generalization is when you train a behavior in different environments and situations.
This is a crucial part of training as it teaches your Husky that it doesn’t matter when or where you give a command – it must be obeyed.
Husky owners who don’t train for generalization end up with Huskies that don’t listen half the time.
Counter-conditioning is when you train your Husky to behave in a way that is opposite to what is natural for them.
For example, if you are trying to train your Husky to stop jumping on you, you don’t stop this behavior by shouting “No!”. That actually reinforces the behavior.
You train your Husky to stop jumping by rewarding the opposite behavior of having all four paws on the ground or sitting. If your Husky learns that sitting gets rewarded and jumping gets ignored, they will stop jumping.
Counter-conditioning can feel hard at first, but with practice, it will feel like magic.
Read this guide on how to stop your Husky from jumping on you to get started with counter-conditioning.
Fading is when you gradually reduce using rewards such as treats.
This is important because you don’t want your Husky to expect a reward every time they obey a command.
When you gradually reduce rewards in the right way, your Husky will learn to obey the command whether they get rewarded or not.
Fading trains your Husky to intrinsically want to obey your commands instead of having extrinsic motivation.
Proofing is when you increase the level of distractions in the environment to challenge your Husky.
A common issue I hear with Husky owners is that they’re easily distracted and stop listening as soon as there is a distraction.
Proofing will overcome this problem.
Once your Husky grasps the basics of a command, gradually increase distractions. Start off with small distractions and gradually work towards bigger distractions.
Here are some examples of distractions to add to your training:
- Bouncing a ball
- Another person standing nearby
- Another person walking around your Husky
- Walking away
- Bring a friend’s dog over
Some of the above distractions are easy for your Husky to ignore, while others will be more challenging.
The key point is that if you can train your Husky to ignore any distraction, you’ll get the best results from your Husky.
Husky Training FAQs
Here are some common questions about how hard it is to train a Husky.
Can Huskies be trained to be off-leash?
You will often hear Husky owners say that they would never train their Husky to be off-leash.
This does not mean that Huskies can’t be trained to be off-leash. While it is difficult to properly train a Husky to be off-leash, it is possible.
Professional dog trainers are able to use proper training methods to train Huskies to be off-leash. If you are able to follow their training practices with consistency and discipline, you can train a Husky to be off-leash.
Are Huskies easy to potty train?
Potty training a Husky is simple and will be one of the first things you train your Husky to do. If you are consistent with your training approach, potty training a Husky is easy.
The key to success when potty training a Husky is to make it part of your routine. Be consistent and follow the same steps every day so your Husky can pick up on the routine and adopt it.
Check out these guides to get started with training your Husky: