Walking nicely on a leash can be a real challenge for Huskies. After all, they were bred to pull. But a pulling Husky can be the cause of a lot problems. They may injure your back or neck, get loose and lost, or even injure other people if they pull you into them. All you want is a nice, calm walk, but what you get is frustrating pull down the street.
Never fear: while it does takes some patience, your Husky can learn to not take you for a walk. The following easy training tips will help make sure that your Husky doesn’t pull on the leash.
#1 – Start Young
The sooner you instill those good leash manners, the better, so start teaching your Husky puppy right away, even at just 8 weeks old. Why wait until he is over 50 pounds and a teenager to train him when you can do it while he weighs just 15 pounds?
#2 – Practice Attention
Huskies are a more independent breed when it comes to listening – they definitely like to explore and go off to do “their own thing,” which can cause them to pull you along on your walk. A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep your Husky focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say her name, offering eye contact without a cue, Leave It and Drop are important to leash training.
#3 – Don’t Start With A Harness
We all know Huskies were bred to pull. And dogs pull with their front shoulders and chest. Putting your Husky in a harness, then, actually encourages pulling because it makes it easier for them – hence why they use them for dog sledding. So, while I love harnesses because they are better on a dog’s neck, don’t use one on your Husky until he has learned nice leash manners.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your Husky is in Heel position – walking nicely by your side with a loose leash – be sure you to reward him. You can even turn this into a game – something Huskies love – by trying to move away from your dog and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and do faster/tighter turns as your dog learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Husky likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
Since dogs do what gets reinforced, make sure your Husky is not being rewarded for pulling. If your Husky pulls on the leash and gets what he wants (to sniff that bush, to greet that person, to play with that dog) then he will continue to do it and it will get worse. Instead, if you feel your Husky start to pull you in one direction, you can plant your feet and not move, waiting until he returns to you. Or, if he is stronger than you, turn and walk the opposite way. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way he wanted to. This teaches your Husky that if he wants to go somewhere, he has to keep that leash loose.