It is best to work things out and be prepared long before you’re puppy arrives on your doorstep. Work out the rules of the house, so that everyone will be clear on what the puppy is allowed to do (couches, jumping, etc).
Remember not to let the dog do anything as a puppy that it won’t be allowed to do when it is older.
Collars, leashes and ID tags
There are many different collars available for use, such as buckle collars, choke collars, head collars, etc. It is up to you what you feel will work best for you and your dog.
As a new husky owner I tried out a range of collars.
- Standard buckle collar – is good for around the home, making sure the dogs id tag is attached at all times. Not the best for walking in as it sits to low around the neck.
- Choke chain/collar – I am not an advocate of these, huskies love to pull a choke chain used in effectively sits low on the neck and just tightens around the dogs neck making an uncomfortable walk for everyone. It you decide on a choke chain it is important to learn how to use them correctly. Never leave a choke collar on an unattended dog.
- Half choke/collar – this has been the most effective collar, it can be worn high up on the neck allowing control of the head it can only tighten to a set position and can be ‘touched’ to get the dogs attention without choking them. We will explain this method later
- Halti – extremely effective as they control the dogs head, if you control the dogs head you control how they walk. These can be great at setting the correct behaviour but are not the best long term.
You will need a leash for your husky, it is important from an early age that they learn to walk alongside you, not in front or too far behind. Huskies quickly begin to work out their boundaries and whoever walks out in front is leading – it is important that you are always the leader. Buying a short leash can be a good idea so you are not tempted to let them walk out in front. When you first put a leash on allow them to walk around the house with it attached for a while. Offer lots of praise and encouragement.
Many councils require you to have ID tags attached at all times, some people fear their dogs collar will get caught, the option to have a microchip inserted under the dogs skin may be better.
Food and Water
The best food dishes are made of stainless steel or chrome, weighted ones that can’t be pushed around are good. Stainless steel and dishwasher safe bowls are much easier to keep clean than plastic ones. Heavy stoneware is usually ok, but can chip or develop miniature cracks. These small fissures can become hiding places for all sorts of bacteria. Outdoor dogs should drink from plastic or ceramic ones in the wintertime, their tongues could stick to metal ones.
Siberians are happy to sleep wherever they are comfortable. It is good to provide a comfy bed in a place of their own.
Some people who are not used to working with crates have an aversion to them. This may be because people see them as a prison and people do not like to keep their pets locked up. For a dog, a crate is his den, a comfortable place where he can go to get away from it all and feel safe whilst sleeping. Dogs will go into crates and dens naturally. Many people keep a crate with the door open in the house at all times.
Crates have many advantages, they are an excellent housetraining tool, they help to dog feel comfortable should they ever need to travel, if your dog is ever injured keeping them quiet and calm is easy in a crate.
Crates should never be used as a form of punishment, a dog should never be placed in a crate after doing something wrong. The crate must be a happy and comfortable place where the dog wants to go. Keeping a dog in a crate for a long period of time is also not good, e.g. whilst away at work.
Siberians are intelligent and need constant mental stimulation. If a Siberian is stuck in a house or yard with little to entertain him he will undoubtedly make his own fun. Make sure he has toys available and alternate them frequently so he does not become bored of them. Praise your dog for chewing appropriate toys.
Never give your dog an old shoe as a toy – unless there is some way he can identify this shoe as his. You can not expect him to distinguish old shoes from new ones. Socks never make good chew toys, for some reason dogs love them, but they should not be allowed to play with them a sock can become impacted in the digestive system if chewed/swallowed and could require surgery to be removed.
Toys that can be filled with treats are a great way to keep a Siberian entertained, something as simple as a 600ml bottle (without a lid) filled with biscuits can provide some short entertainment. Kong toys are great to stuff with food and are extremely durable. Be careful of hard toys, especially with puppies, as they can cause tooth breakage. Never give your Siberian a ball that can fit in his mouth. Siberians can crush and swallow tennis balls and can be difficult to remove.
A kennel with a run is a useful item for Siberians, especially if you have a fenced yard. A wooden/plastic dog kennel with a flat roof is good for a husky – don’t be surprised if they sleep on top of it rather than inside it though. Make sure it is not positioned near any fences as they could use it as a launching pad.
Huskies are by nature extremely clean dogs. Your husky actually wants to be housetrained, he does not want to mess up his living quarters. Remember that puppies have very low bladder control, sometimes its just too hard for him to wait. Housetraining should never involve any physical punishment, puppies between 8-10 weeks are extremely sensitive to any painful experiences and if you use physical punishment at this stage you may have a fearful dog forever.
This is where using a crate can be extremely beneficial. Keep a favourite toy in the crate and have your husky sleep in there. He will soon treat his crate as his bedroom. Because huskies have soiling their sleeping quarters you should take him outside as soon as he wakes up – he will soon extend this idea to the whole house.
You are responsible for taking your puppy outside to eliminate at the appropriate times, in the morning, after naps, after a meal, and before bedtime. Very young puppies may need to go in the middle of the night as well. Remember house training is trying but the effort now will save you a lot of aggravation later.
If you actually see your puppy having an accident, yell ‘outside’ in an alarmed voice, not angry, and race outside with him. If you say ‘no’ he may think that eliminating is wrong and that is not the message you want him to receive. If he happens to use the bathroom again while outside praise him.
Timing is everything, you will quickly recognise the ‘signs’ that he needs to eliminate – when you see him start to do this take him outside. If you don’t actually see him make the mistake just clean it up without comment. There’s no point in telling him after the fact, he won’t know what you are talking about. Make sure he is out of sight when you clean up after him, if he sees you ‘playing with his pee’ he may think he has pleased you.
- Do not drag your dog to the mess and rub his nose in it, this means nothing to the dog.
- Use the same door every time you take your dog outside until he is thoroughly trained.
- Select a particular area of the yard for his bathroom duties.
- Take your puppy to this place to eliminate, do not let him wander or leave him alone.
- Praise him greatly when he has done the right thing.
- At first leave some of his poo in the area you want him to use. This will remind him where to go next time.
- Stick to a schedule, most puppies should go every two hours, adult dogs eight or more hours. Dogs have a ‘clock in their head’ and will be inclined to wait for their usual time to go outside and eliminate.
- Use an odour removing spray on mistakes inside to prevent him going in the same place.