Category Archives: Guides

The one thing I keep thinking that gets busted nearly every time.

“pfft, she wouldn’t eat that”

Leave a hose head on the grass, pillow on the couch, lawnmower manual on the floor. The last thing I think as I leave the room is “nah that’ll be fine, why would she eat that?”. Jump forward to 10 minutes later when I’m trying to piece a lawnmower manual back together so I can find out how to turn the damn thing on.

Don’t underestimate dogs, no matter the breed, but especially Huskies. I know everyone probably has a story about weirdarse stuff that their dogs have eaten. Usually this isn’t a danger to their health, Logan stole the ‘a’ key from a friend’s keyboard once and I don’t believe that affected him in any way other than a newfound appreciation for keyboards.

The danger, of course, comes when something like this happens;

Continue reading The one thing I keep thinking that gets busted nearly every time.

Training and Distractions

There is one thing we’ve found when taking Logan for walks, and at obedience school there are always other dog owners saying similar things.

“My dog sits and drops perfectly at home but when I come to school he won’t do it.”

“My dog ignores other dogs at school, but when on the street she goes crazy whenever another dog comes close.”

It sounds like a great excuse doesn’t it 🙂 But it is a big problem when trying to train a dog. One reason for this could be the level of distractions in the area. Training your dog to heel in your backyard can be completely different than at school, and different again for walking on the street. A good way to help this is to progressively expose the dog to more and more distractions during training.

In the home

Work in your own backyard, with minimal distractions.

Driveway

Work in your front yard, or driveway. This will expose the dog to some small distractions, such as cars or people walking past, but should leave enough distance for your dog to be able to focus.

On the street

Work on the side of a street, somewhere the dog has been before. Perhaps take the dog for a walk and stop every now and then to do some training. This will expose your dog to more distractions, at a slightly closer distance.

A field or oval

Work on an oval or in a park, preferably with people and maybe some other dogs in the area.

A dog park

Work in a dog park. This is clearly going to be one of the highest level of distraction possible for your dog.

We’re on the third step at the moment, working on the street during walks. Seems to be working pretty well. Tayla will be starting training soon, which means starting right back at step 1 😛

Boredom Busters

In a little over a week I will be going back to work. A week after that Andrew will be returning to work and Logan and Tayla will be left to entertain themselves during the day.

The basis of this post is the fact that a bored Husky is a destructive Husky. Digging, chewing, destructive behaviours and escape attempts are all symptoms of a bored dog.

Exercise

The best way to keep your dog from getting bored during the day is to make sure they don’t have an excess of energy. Keeping the dog well exercised will keep energy reserves away from destructive levels.

Keep in mind, leaving an anxious or energetic dog in the morning pretty much guarantees returning home to a destructive dog.

Playing in the yard

A key to keeping dogs entertained in the yard when you aren’t home is to keep dogs entertained in the yard while you are home. Playing and training in the yard can help develop a good relationship between the dog and it’s environment.

If your dog needs exercise, don’t just take him for a walk. Think about playing in the backyard for a while instead.

Toys

Well now, this is a rather obvious one isn’t it? Make sure that the dog has toys that interest him, things that he enjoys playing with. Logan for example doesn’t like hard or rubber toys, so we need to supply him with soft toys or ropes.

While this is an obvious thing to do there are a few rules:

  • Make sure not to have too many toys available. This may cause the dog to get bored with them much faster.
  • Make sure that you change the toys regularly. Huskies get bored of toys easily, this can be avoided by changing the toys every day or so. We have a couple boxes of toys so that we can rotate the toys that are available. If Logan hasn’t had his monkey for a while then he goes crazy when it emerges from the box.

Treat givers

There are a lot of toys on the market that make the dog work to get treats. This keeps the dog’s mind active during the day. Some examples of this are Kongs, treat balls and food cubes.

The balls and cubes have one hole on one side that dispenses treats. The dog needs to move the treat giver around to make the treats fall out. The hole usually also has a device you turn to make the hole smaller or bigger.

A cheaper option than the balls and cubes are plastic bottles. Logan’s vet suggested this when we took Logan to his first check-up, and Logan loved them. Just get an empty 600ml bottle, make sure to remove the label and any plastic bits, and put some treats inside. The dog then needs to throw the bottle around to get the treats to fall out.

One issue with the treat balls is that smarter dogs can outwit the ball, and Siberian Huskies are notoriously cunning dogs. Logan figured out that if he pushes the ball into a hole, with the treat dispensing hole pointing down, he can get all of the treats out with very little effort. Logan also figured out how to turn the opening to make the hole bigger.

Logan also eventually learnt how to get the treats out of the bottles, although it took him a while to perfect it. He pretty much picks the bottle up and a lot of the treats fall out.

Kongs and food cubes may be better for smarter dogs.

Hiding treats

Hide some treats around the yard or house for the dog to find during the day. Logan LOVES his treat hunts. It keeps them entertained, and keeps their keen sense of smell.

If you are worried about your dog gaining weight you can take the food out of the dogs meals.

Sandpit

Huskies love digging, and if they get bored it is the main ‘go to’ thing to do. Having a sandpit, or a designated digging area, will keep your lawn from getting destroyed.

This will take a bit of training to get the dog to dig in the correct area, but will be worthwhile in the long run.

Pools

Kiddie pools or small ponds will help to keep your dog cool, and keep them entertained during the day. Whatever Logan is doing in the backyard, it’s a safe bet that it will end with him digging in the corner of the pool, getting himself absolutely drenched.

Daycare

Taking your dog to a daycare clearly isn’t an everyday solution. But taking Logan to DogCity Daycare once or twice a week has been very effective for us.

Logan comes home so tuckered out that he sleeps and lounges around for the next day or two. This is a great way to combat boredom for the day he is at daycare, and the following days he is too tired to care. This effectively removes any destructive behaviour for a few days.

Does anyone have any other ideas for keeping dogs entertained during the day?

By the way I wrote this post with Tayla sitting next to me licking my shorts. That girl is a little strange 🙂

Keeping cool, with conservation in mind

As part of this years Blog Action Day, here’s a few tips for keeping your Huskies cool this summer, while staying conscious of water conservation. It is important to keep your Husky cool in summer, but keep in mind that all it takes is a little consideration to keep wasted water to a minimum.

Firstly, and momentously important, do NOT shave your Husky’s fur. Siberian Husky fur keeps them cool in summer, warm in winter and a general defence against everything in between. Shaving or cutting your Husky’s fur can seriously demoralise a Husky, as well as be a health risk in extreme weather.

It is important that your dog is acclimatised to the heat. Don’t keep your dog inside with the airconditioning until you go out, or until you take them for a walk. You need to acclimate your Husky, so that when they are stuck in the heat it won’t be as much of a shock.

Use the following tips to keep your dog cool while they are in the heat.

Shelter

Ensure that your Husky has access to a shelter or shade during the day. If possible, let your dog inside during the hottest parts of the day.

Last summer Logan had a dog sized gazebo outside that provided plenty of shade for the little Husky.

Huskies like to dig themselves little ditches to sleep in during hot weather. This is one of their innate ways to keep themselves cool. Logan has a little ditch down the side of the house, in the shade, where he whiled away the hot days.

Ponds and Pools

Last summer we got Logan a children’s clamshell pool, one half of which we filled with water for Logan to play in. It was quite a cool spot for him in his pool, underneath his little gazebo. However there are a few issues with using little pools like this.

Water saver: If the Husky doesn’t use it for a while then the water can start to stagnate and get dirty. This means that you need to refill it regularly to keep the water clean. If you are in for the long haul, and have some spare money, a better option is to get a little pond installed. There are small ponds that can be picked up at gardening stores that come complete with pumps and filters. This will reduce the frequency that you will need to replace the water.

These pools also look much better than a kiddy pool. Just be sure not to put any fish in it, although your Husky might like that sort of thing 🙂

Freezing Fruits

Freezing fruits in water is something that pet owners have been borrowing from zoos for years. It’s a great way to keep pets cool, while giving them something to play with. This involves using an empty ice cream or butter container, filling it with water and freezing an apple in it. This does however, waste a lot of water.

Water saver: One alternative to this is to just freeze the fruit by itself. Putting the frozen fruit in the pool or pond will help to keep the water cool and give the dog something to play with in the water. We did this for Logan and he spent over half an hour pushing the apple under the water and watching it bob back up.

Beaches

Water saver: This is an obvious one. Huskies to love to wade and dig in water. Rather than setting up sprinklers and waste a lot of water, a trip to the beach is a great alternative.

Be sure to always keep your Husky on a leash when at the beach, regardless of whether it is the law or not. Huskies can generally not be trusted off-leash, especially at the beach.

Brush Regularly

While it is important not to shave or cut your Husky’s fur, be sure that you still brush it regularly. Huskies should start shedding when the hot weather hits, so make sure to regularly brush your Husky to remove any excess fur that would keep them from cooling effectively.

Huskies need a lot of special attention during the hot months but if you keep an eye on them, try to keep them cool, they’ll be fine just fine.

Was a short post, I know, but we’re getting ready to go on holidays tomorrow so life is a bit too hectic. When we get back we are picking up Tayla, and then life will be turned completely upside down. Sounds like fun 🙂

Things to do for Puppy Prep

With the impending new arrival only a few weeks away, I thought it only fitting to write a list of things to do before your new puppy arrives at your doorstep. This list assumes you’ve already done the research on the breedthe breeder and picked out a puppy.

The first weeks are crucial for a puppies development and relationship with you and it’s environment. There are some things you will want to do right away, and some training that you need to get right in this important time.

Take time off

Make sure that you will have time to dedicate exclusively to the puppy. Depending on the type of dog this could be anywhere from three to four days up to a few weeks. With Huskies it is generally recommended to have a few weeks to get your dog settled and comfortable. In this time you can start the toilet training and start setting boundaries. Young pups also need to have three meals a day, so you will need to be home to do this.

When Tayla arrives I am taking 2 weeks holidays, and Andrew is taking 3 weeks.

Pick a name

Decide on a name for the new puppy so that you can start using immediately. Try to decide on this a few weeks before the puppy arrives. This will give you plenty of time to mull it over, and think of a new one if you change your mind.

Buy food

Huskies are notoriously fussy eaters. Try to find out from the breeder what they have been feeding the puppy, and do your best to prepare the same. Once you have the puppy you can start to transition it to different food, but it is important not to drastically change it’s food without any transition.

Put some thought into what the treats you will get, what they are made of and what they are going to be used for (training, walking, day to day treats, etc).

For puppies, nutrition is very important. Find out what ingredients are in the treats and, if possible, keep it all natural and highly nutritional. There are specialist stores around, like The Woofery in Adelaide, that make all natural dog treats that would be great for growing puppies and their delicate stomachs. Just be sure to give the puppy a small tester to make sure that; A: they will like the treat and B: the treat won’t mess with their stomach.

Puppy proof the house and yard

You can be guaranteed that your puppy will get into every nook and cranny of the house and yard. This means that anything you don’t want your dog to get needs to be put into a cupboard, or up on a shelf far out of their reach.

Logan has stolen dishcloths from the sink, socks from the bedroom, towels, vacuum attachments, remote controls, and the list goes on. We hear Logan run outside, look out the back door and he is standing in the middle of the yard, staring back at us, with a fishbowl in his mouth.

The backyard can also be a dangerous place for dogs. Ensure that any plants you have are not poisonous if eaten, make sure there are no weeds with prickles or thorns and clear the yard of any spiders and other dangerous insects.

Decide the house rules

Decide where the puppy will be sleeping, what he will be eating, where the puppy is allowed to go in the house, what commands you are going to use for sit, no, drop, etc.

Puppies need consistency in these matters. Make sure that you make these decisions and make sure everyone in the household knows the rules. Children are far more likely to slip food off of the table for dogs, let them on the couch, etc. Make sure you explain the importance of these rules to everyone in the house.

Pick a vet

Find a vet in your neighborhood. Go and talk to them before your puppy arrives. This vet will be an important part of raising your dog, so make sure you talk to them and make sure they know their stuff.

It’s best to also find a vet that also runs Puppy Preschool classes, as this is a great way to get your puppy to enjoy going to the vet. Logan went to Puppy Preschool at our local vet, and now he loves going there. Find out when the classes are being held and, if possible, reserve a spot.

Toys

First up, don’t be disappointed if you buy the puppy a toy and they sniff it and walk away. Puppies, and more specifically Husky puppies, can be very picky. For no apparent reason they may fall in love with one toy, and completely ignore another.

Try to find some stronger toys that won’t fall apart as soon as your puppy gets their teeth into them. Unless you are sure that the toy will last, I wouldn’t bother spending a lot of money on them. Check out our post on the lifespan of toys to see what Huskies usually do to toys.

Keep in mind that while the toys need to be strong enough to withstand the puppy, they still need to be soft enough that they won’t damage the puppy’s teeth. Some toy brands, like Kong, have specialised puppy ranges with toys specifically designed for puppies.

For more detail about preparing for the new puppy, check out the page in our Husky Guide.

Anyone else expecting new puppies soon?

Guidelines for Dog Parks

First up, when I talk about dog parks here I am talking to the fenced off areas in parks where dogs are allowed to go off leash at any time. I make this distinction because when I search for a list of dog parks on the internet I get all sorts of results.

We’ve only recently started taking Logan to dog parks. There is one next to Logan’s obedience school, which is a great reward for him after a good class.

Dog parks are a great way to relieve a dog’s energy. Even high-energy dogs like Logan are worn out after half an hour of running around with other dogs in a park.

But on the flip side, if done improperly dog parks can also be a bad experience for a dog. Because of this, there  some guidelines that you really should follow when going to a dog park.

Ensure your dog has been socialised, and is friendly with other dogs

You can be sure that within seconds of entering a dog park your dog will be sniffed all over by a variety of different dogs and breeds. If you have a scared or timid dog, that isn’t use to being examined in this way, they may bark or snap at the dogs.

Being let off leash at a dog park is not a good way of socialising your dog. It may traumatise your dog and ruin future visits. Better ways to socialise your dog include:

  • Being kept on leash for short periods of time at a dog park
  • Obedience school
  • Doggy Daycare
  • Puppy Preschool

If your dog is overly dominant, aggressive, or fearful of other dogs, do not take your dog to an off-leash park.

Be active with your dog

Attending dog parks are a great way to bond with your dog. Don’t just take your dog into the park and then sit on a bench. Play with the dog, run around the park, be active and bond with your dog.

Be aware of what your dog is doing

Watch your dog. Try to stay close to your dog. If anything occurs between yours and another dog you will need to be close to break it up.

It’s easy to get distracted socialising with other dog owners, but you still need to stay aware of what your dog is doing.

Keep an eye on other dogs

Sorry, but it’s not just your dog that you need to keep an eye on. If other dogs seem aggressive, overly dominant or fearful then it may be a good idea to keep your dog on a leash. If you think it is best then do not be afraid to leaving the park.

Do not correct other people’s dogs

Is it acceptable to tell off another persons child in a school? In the same fashion, it is not acceptable to correct another persons dog in a dog park. There are many reasons for this:

  • You do not know how the dog will react to your correction. It could react aggressively and you could make matters worse.
  • You do not know how the dog has been trained. Your correction could have an adverse effect on it’s training.
  • The owner of the dog could react badly and take offense to your correction.

Below are some of the photos of Logan’s dog park time today. Anyone else take their dogs to parks like these?

The Lifespan of Toys

As all dog owners know, toys are a big part of a dogs life. Picking the right toy is a careful process, especially for a breed that is so adept at taking toys apart. We have gone through many, many toys in the year that we have had Logan. There have been a few that have lasted over a month, but the average lifespan before a toy is retired has been about 2-3 weeks.

Huskies look at toys a little different to a lot of other breeds. When Logan gets a soft toy with a squeeker inside, he generally spends quite a while determining exactly where inside the toy the squeeker resides.

I thought I would give you all an example of what Logan has done to his toys in the last month or two. This is just a small pile of toys that were still around the house.

Click each image to see a bigger version.

It is important to remember that you should take the toy away from the dog as soon as any rips like this are seen. Huskies will get inside the toy, eat the stuffing and any squeekers they happen to find inside. Buying a new toy is much cheaper than letting them play with ripped toys, and the subsequent vet trip to get the stuffing removed from their stomach.

Below is the newest group of toys that Logan has at the moment. Some of them are duplicates of older toys. Logan was ecstatic to see the monkey back, without realising that it wasn’t the same monkey.

How do you guys handle toys? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make toys last a little longer?

3 tips for feeding

Feeding is really something that you need to get right from the start.

I’ve seen far too many dogs that get aggressive at feeding times. When I was young our family dog would growl and snap at anyone that came within a metre of her food at tea time. This is an easy thing to avoid if behaviour is set right while they are puppies.

These tips are most effective if they are enacted from a young age. Use caution if you are going to start trying to reduce aggressive feeding behaviour for grown dogs.

And this isn’t just for huskies either, these tips are useful for most breeds of dogs.

Before giving the dog food

Before you give your dog the bowl, or at least before you allow the dog to start eating, make him sit and look at you. Sitting will start to enforce the command from a young age, and make the dog learn some patience instead of going crazy for the food.

Looking at you creates a better connection between you and the dog. This puts you into the relationship between the dog and the food. This helps to keep the dog from getting territorial around food time and helps to increase the relationship between you and the dog.

Sitting with the dog

Every time you feed the dog, sit with them while they are eating. Pat them, talk to them, play with their paws, pretty much just annoy them.

This will keep the dog from getting to focussed on their food, which will keep them from getting surprised or startled when people are nearby and helps to decrease any territorial behaviour later in life.

Play with the food

Sounds a bit gross, especially depending on what the dog eats for dinner, but this is a great tip to avoid snapping later in life. When you are sitting with the dog, put your hand over parts of their dinner, pick a bit up and hand feed it to them, take the bowl away from them briefly and give it back to them.

This will keep the dog from getting territorial with their food. Let them know that they don’t need to guard the food, that if you take the food it doesn’t mean they’ve lost it and that the you are the boss.

Anyone else have any good tips? Let me know.