I need help with a sled dog question any huskie experts???

Posted by KOPsBecks
Mar 3, 2009
Hey guys and girls, this post came up on the behaviour website and I thought I'd post it here as well to see if I could get any help in answering it as I don't have much experience with huskies and hear they can be quite different to train. Please if you have anything to add it would be greatly appreciated!!!

"My husband and I just added a 1 1/2 year old (husky mix?) to our family.
He was trained as a racing sled dog so he spent all his time outside chained to his doghouse amid 30 +/- other dogs or in harness. He was too timid to be a good racer so the owners gave him to a rescue. The woman (trained?) him using a prong collar an electric collar for about 1 month. Now I have him and once he learned he didn't have the electric collar he will not come when called. This is a real problem when we turn him and our 1 1/2 year old female alaskan husky out in the dog run. Also when in the house he either hides under the desk or in his kennel, only coming out to let us know he wants outside.

Can you give me any ideas how to proceed with socializing him?
PS. He will not accept any treats and he barely tolerates petting while shivering violently."
Posted by KOPsarah
Apr 15, 2009
Hi and thanks for your question. Huskys are highly intelligent and somewhat emotional dogs which can predispose them to nervousness. This can be difficult to deal with especially as it can be very hard to watch your pet upset. There are several ways you can help your new dog cope. It sound like your husky has been nervous for some time in a situation where other huskys were not experiencing stress. It may be worth taking your dog to the vet for a thorough check up to first rule out pain as a reason for long term nervousness. If the vet finds nothing in particular wrong or if you feel your new dog is not in pain the next step is to consider giving your dog something to reduce its overall anxiety levels. DAP or dog appeasing pheromone is a product that comes in a convenient plug in which slowly releases it. The DAP works to calm your dog by providing a comforting fragrance associated with nursing mother dogs, that only dogs can smell. Alternatively try placing a few drops of rescue remedy in the dogs drinking water. You could also discuss with your vet whether using a mild sedative may be right for your dog.

Along with these tools your interaction with the dog is very important. Try giving the dog one or two beds or areas that it can hide in when it is feeling particularly nervous. Ignore it when it is in the bed and any other time it is showing nervous behaviour. By giving a lot of attention during displays of nervousness you are telling the dog that its reaction to the situation is correct in other words you are saying “good dog for hiding when I approach you that is a good idea and that is how you should respond in the future”. On the other hand when the dog shows any sign of brave behavior such as leaving its bed and approaching you then reward it with love and gentle attention.

Keeping a good daily routine will also help your dog’s nervousness as it will be able to predict what is happening and what is expected of it at each time of the day. Include a good amount of exercise as this will also help reduce stress.

It is also important to continue to be the alpha dog in the pack so that the dog can feel secure. Also as the dog becomes more confident with you continue obedience training especially recall if that is a problem with your dog. Remember you can use the long lead method to teach or reteach recall. Being a calm confident and predictable leader will help your dog become a secure, confident member of its new pack.

I hope you find the above information helpful and feel free to send me any other questions you may have as your dog progresses.