There are few breeds as good at expressing their opinions as Siberian Huskies. Owners know they have a strong personality. This personality, while amusing, can also be frustrating when it comes to training. “Sit” is a basic behavior that almost all owners want to teach their dogs. And while it seems simple, a lot can go wrong in the training process that can result in a Husky that only responds some of the time. But don’t worry, here is an easy and effective way to teach your Husky to sit on the first cue, every time.
Capturing The Behavior
You are going to use a form of training called “capturing.” This is when you wait for your Husky to offer what you want and then you mark it (with a click or a verbal word such as “yes” or “good”) and then reward. Capturing is a great way to train because it makes your Husky figure out what you want. We all know Huskies are smart, so make them use that brain! Plus, behaviors taught through capturing are much stronger than those taught using other methods.
To capture your Husky performing a sit, have your reward (toys, treats, etc.) ready and your clicker if you use one. You can keep your Husky on leash at first to keep him from wandering. Now, just stand still and wait. Most dogs will eventually sit when you ignore them long enough. As soon as his bottom hits the floor, mark and reward. Toss the reward a short distance away so your dog has to get up to get it – thus resetting him for the next sit.
Do short training sessions, just 5-10 minutes, a couple times a day.
If your Husky is high-energy, waiting for a “sit” can be tricky, as your pup would rather run circles around you or jump on you. If this is the case, you may find you have to start by shaping the “sit” behavior. To do this, start by marking and rewarding your Husky any time she keeps those feet on the floor and then when all those feet are still. Once she is standing still, you can go back to waiting and see if she will offer a “sit” by delaying the click. Eventually, she will start trying other behaviors, including a “sit.” Mark and reward with lots of treats, then try again.
You can also play a game of fetch or go on a run first, so she gets some of that energy out before you ask for a calm behavior like “sit.”
Adding the Cue
Once your Husky is sitting without any “extra behaviors,” he’s figured out what you want. At this point, you can add the cue. Adding the cue—”sit”—is easy. Just say the word as your Husky is getting into position, then mark and reward.
Do a few repetitions of this and then test the cue by saying it while your Husky is standing. If he promptly sits, he’s got it – reward heavily! If he doesn’t, that’s okay. Do nothing and just wait for him to sit, saying the cue during the sit a few more times and test again.
Fading the Treats
Once your Husky is sitting beautifully in multiple places every time you say “sit” just once, it’s time to fade those treats. You can use other rewards – verbal praise, toys, petting, etc. – anything your dog likes.
If your Husky doesn’t sit when you say the cue once, too bad, no reward. But this won’t happen very often with this form of training. If it does, your Husky may be distracted by his environment or even nervous or stressed. Use it as information and assess the situation before you ask your dog again – you may need to put some distance between him and an object or leave the environment altogether if he is really nervous.
Now you’re ready to move on to “stay”!
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