Siberian huskies are independent, intelligent dogs who quite cheerfully own their humans unless properly trained. While your husky might feel he knows best all the time, it is your job as a responsible pet owner to teach him all the basic social graces, like "sit," "stay," and "heel" so he can safely go about in society.
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Training with a husky should start early, ideally when he is a puppy, and once he has learned the basics, you can have a little fun by teaching him some show tricks. One such trick is howling on cue, a skill that makes use of his natural instincts at canine communication.
At what age do huskies start getting vocal?
Your husky pup won't start vocalizing until around 4 weeks of age, becoming more vocal in the subsequent weeks as her vocal cords develop. Most of the sounds she learns come from her mother and her siblings, which is how she learns to communicate. One such form of communication is the howl, a common vocalization for this particular breed.
In fact, howling is one of the main forms of communication for these wolflike dogs. They'll produce this long, doleful cry as a way to get attention, to alert you to danger, to let you know they're not feeling well, and as a response to a high-pitched sound or another dog's howl. Fortunately, you can take advantage of your pup's instinctual urge to respond to a howl in your training.
Prompt your husky to howl
To trigger your husky's howl, simply howl yourself, whistle, sing, or play a video of a husky howling online. See how your husky responds. Reward your puppy with a treat and affection if he replies to your prompt with a howl. You can also reward your husky for howling on his own with a treat and some lavish praise.
Most importantly, you'll want to associate the act of howling with a command so your husky won't simply start howling all the time to please you. Just after your husky howls, say a command, like "howl." Then treat and praise him. Practice this several times. Eventually, you'll remove the prompting howl and just give the command. Only treat and praise your dog when he responds to this command with a howl.
Refine the howl on command
Once your husky is reliably answering your command with a howl, you'll want to start refining what you want. What this means is that you want to start rewarding your husky when she howls once. If your husky goes on a howl fest, she doesn't get a reward. This will deter nuisance howling.
Give the command, let your husky howl only once and say "good!" Then quickly treat her. If she continues to howl, wait until she stops and repeat this procedure. Allow a few seconds after the one howl before treating and praising her, lengthening this each time you train. Eventually, your husky will howl only once when you say the command.
Add a nonverbal prompt
You can easily add a nonverbal prompt for the "howl" command. Choose and use a hand sign when offering the vocal howl prompt, such as touching your ear or tapping your nose. Make it a gesture that you don't use commonly so the dog realizes it is a prompt and doesn't get confused. Reward with food and affection when your puppy recognizes the nonverbal prompt by himself.
Train your husky to be quiet
Teach a cue for silence at the same time you teach your puppy to howl so you can control her vocalizations. This prevents excessive howling that can disturb your neighbors. Give the command to howl. Once your dog stops howling, say "quiet!" Then, reward your husky.
Alternatively, you can wait for your dog to be quiet, hold a treat in front of her nose, and say "quiet!" At first, give the treat immediately, gradually lengthening the time when you give the command and then the treat with no vocalizations from your dog.
- American Kennel Club: What Do Different Types of Dog Sounds Mean?
- American Kennel Club: “Speak!”: Training Your Dog to Bark On Command
- American Kennel Club: Why Do Dogs Howl?
- K9 of Mine: How to Teach Your Dog to Howl
- Dogviously: The Developmental Stages Of Puppy Growth
- San Francisco SPCA: Dog: Quiet Command