Teaching a Rambunctious Siberian Husky to Listen to and Respect Her Family

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 3, 2015

Mishka 1

Mishka is a three-month-old Siberian Husky who has started to show some dog aggression and has nipped at her guardians to disagree with them when they try to groom the her or take away high value objects.

I sat down with her guardians to discuss her day to day life, specifically the rules, boundaries and limits they had introduced to their new pup. Her family had been taking her to a puppy obedience class which is always a great thing to do for your dog. Unfortunately I learned that the instructor had been keeping her separate from the other dogs due to what he labeled as “aggressive play behavior.”

While we certainly want to disagree with any aggression in a training or socialization class and ensure the other dogs are safe, a big reason its important to participate in these classes is socialization. If a dog doesn’t get an opportunity to interact with new dogs and learn what behaviors are inappropriate, it makes it very difficult for the dog to understand what the proper rules, boundaries and limits are. An organized class with a trainer supervising should be a place where the dog can get this interaction as it allows the instructor to correct the unwanted behaviors and teach the dog’s guardian what to look for.

Because I knew that possessiveness led to a nip at one of her owners, I gave her a high value chew treat then took it away from her several times. Its important that we teach a dog that taking something away doesn’t always mean the dog doesn’t get it back. While she didn’t want to give it up, I was able to take the object away without any pulling or aggressive behavior from Mishka. You never want to snatch an item away from a dog, especially one prone to possessiveness. That sort of action can actually enhance and reinforce possessive behavior.

Next I showed her guardians a few different techniques to get the dog to give up objects voluntarily and suggested that they practice a “drop” exercise when the dog has one of her toys in her mouth. Because these are not high value objects, dogs give them up much easier. That lets us practice the dog successfully dropping items on command.

I practice the “drop” by holding a high value treat up in front of the dog’s nose then waiting. Because the dog has to drop the object in her mouth in order to get the treat, we simply need to be patient and have a really desirable treat. The second the dog opens it’s mouth, I told her guardians to IMMEDIATELY pop the treat into her mouth and repeat the command word of “drop” as the dog chews it.

I suggested they practice this exercise in the house when the dog and room are both calm. The more they practice this drop exercise, the better the dog will do with it. It also helps the dog understand that giving up an item can be rewarded which will be extremely beneficial for Mishka.

Mishka 2

Mishka is at an important stage of her development. We call a puppy’s first four months its Imprinting Period and many believe that a dog learns and develops more in this four month period than at any other time of its life. Socialization in this period is crucial and the more of it that Mishka has, the better adjusted she will become.

Mishka 3

By the end of the session, Mishka was exhausted. The new communication methods we went over combined with the exercises I showed her guardians should help Mishka develop a deeper respect for her family. She was already responding much better to both their commands and corrections. With regular application they will help teach Mishka the behavior her family wants from her. Add in a good dose of socialization for the next month and her family will end up with one well behaved dog.

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