The Pack and I enjoyed being out at our local dog park this weekend. We have been going to this same park since Kaya was a puppy so every weekend I see a lot of the same faces there with their dogs. I enjoy going to this dog park because it is smaller and less exciting than some of the larger parks. It is less exciting because many of the truly thoughtless dog owners and their problem dogs tend to frequent one of the other larger parks leaving this park quiet and uneventful.
This weekend I did see a new face. It was a man who appeared to be in his early twenties. He had with him a young silver and cream coloured Husky. Sadly, as I watched him make his way over to our group, where we had eight Huskies and Malamutes already playing together, I could see that our pleasant afternoon visit was about to come to an unfortunate end.
The Stranger And His Husky
The young man was loud and brash. His young Husky arrived and immediately began jumping on every dog. He was throwing flying wrestling moves, headlocks, and he got into every dog’s face. It was very apparent that the dog had never had any obedience training nor did he receive any kind of guidance from his clueless owner. The dog had no idea how to greet politely.
The young dog’s owner stood there with his hands shoved down deeply into his pockets and he seemed completely oblivious to the ripple of irritated energy that was now running through the pack of dogs. Many of the dogs were beginning to get visibly annoyed at the rude social behaviour of the young dog. We began to hear soft rumblings emerge as some of the dogs tried sending warning signals to the young hooligan in an effort to stop his over the top behaviours. But the little dog ignored all the signals, as did his owner.
Finally, most of us felt the need to intercede before the agitated energy turned truly physical. I called my dogs to leave it and return to my side. Many of the other people made efforts to remove their dogs from the middle of the activity too. None of the humans were saying much in the way of words but the look on people’s faces said it all. They were clearly miffed by the actions of this pair, though the fault lay completely with the dog’s owner. This poor Husky was a product of his owner and lack of training.
The young man clearly had no idea why everyone was calling their dogs away from his dog. He muttered something half under his breath about how his dog was just “trying to have some fun”. Some owners did try to initiate a dialogue about why his dog’s behaviours were improper but the young man clearly was not hearing what was being said. He debated and argued each point so people just gave up talking to him. Gratefully, he and his dog did not stay for very long, mostly because his dog ran off to find some “fun” at the other end of the dog park.
My heart ached for this poor little dog because I can pretty much guarantee that this dog ends up being dumped off at shelter when it reaches full size and his behaviours are too hard and inconvenient for the owner to handle. Unless this poor dog manages to get very lucky and finds a new owner who will have the patience, skill, and love that it takes to rehab a mature formerly untrained Husky, he may even get euthanized if he is deemed unadoptable.
After the young man left, the conversation turned towards how it is this type of owner that causes our breeds to be painted with the same brush in the eyes of the public and the media. When a Husky or a Malamute behaves in an inappropriate or out of control manner, in the eyes of the public, suddenly all of these dogs are deemed vicious and uncontrollable.
The Face Of Growing Discrimination
The sad reality is that, due mostly to irresponsible ownership, Husky and Malamute attacks are starting to become more common and the media is right there to report on the attacks. In the USA, these dogs are starting to make it onto the BSL (Breed-specific legislation) lists along with the Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers. House insurance companies are refusing to cover new clients if they have a Husky or Malamute and there are insurance companies that dropped long time clients when they became Snow Dog owners. These days it seems that all you have to do is to walk down the street with Snow Dogs and you watch the look of fear and horror creep into people’s faces.
I know that quite often when people see me walking my leashed and in-control dogs down the street they are quick to cross the street and scoop up any small purse sized dogs that they may have with them. My dogs do not even have to act aggressively for them to start worrying about being attacked by them. At the dog park, my Herd now wear the bright green friendly dog collars, signalling to people that they are indeed friendly to people and other dogs.
Over the last five years I have often heard people remark that they have never met Huskies who were this friendly and their behaviour was this controllable. Considering that Huskies and Malamutes naturally love people and are not aggressive by nature, how and why did their reputation get so tarnished and tainted?
The Thoughtless And Ignorant Owner
Unfortunately, for the rest of us, owners like this young man and his out of control young Husky are going to be what sticks in people’s minds when they hear the name of Husky or Malamute mentioned. It is people like him who are making it more difficult for the rest of the responsible owners. If you are not part of the solution, then you are indeed part of the problem.
How To Be Part Of The Problem
- Make sure that you do not research the breed before getting one so you have no clue if one of these dogs fits into your lifestyle. Let it be a total surprise.
- Make sure that you don’t spend your money on pointless socialization or obedience classes for your dog. Why spend money on something that they are perfectly capable of figuring out how to do on their own? Dogs are smart and really good at figuring things out for themselves.
- Make sure that you don’t saddle the poor dog with a bunch of pointless rules. Let them grow up free and “au natural” so they can have the maximum amount of FUN every day.
- Make sure that you never leash the dog, after all, who would like restrictions being placed on them? Let them run free. Make sure that he has plenty of “fun” running up to the other dogs and wildly jumping all over them because “that’s just how huskies play”. There’s nothing that you can do about it, right?
- At the dog park, make sure that you let your Husky do whatever he wants because he is here to have fun while you send those very important text messages on your cell phone.
- When you are at home, do make sure that you keep the dog chained up in the back yard without human companionship. I mean you have to keep him outside because you cannot let him into the house. Inside, he leaves hair every where, he pees everywhere, and keeps knocking the kids over making them cry.
- Make sure that you do not give them adequate daily exercise. After all, you have a busy life to lead. You only have so many hours in the day and you still need to have a social life too.
- Do make sure that you leave your untrained dog alone with young unsupervised children. After all, your dog loves children.
- Make sure that you do not spay or neuter your Husky. After all, you never know when someone will want to pay you some money to breed your dog. There is good money to be made selling Husky puppies.
- And when the dog fight breaks out, do make sure that you blame the other dog. After all, it could not possibly be the fault of your dog. He is a big “sweetheart” who would not hurt a fly, right? He is just a big friendly dog who just wants to have fun.
How To Be Part Of The Solution
- Don’t do any of the above things.
- That’s pretty much it!
Sadly, the responsible Husky owners have the task of cleaning up the mess created and left by the irresponsible Husky owners. All we can do is to diligently train our dogs so they are in control at all times, socialize them so they are comfortable in all situations, and exercise them so they are not a mass of psychotic and neurotic pent up energy ready to explode.
It is up to the rest of us to help to change the image of these breeds that has been created by the media, by public hysteria, and through public ignorance. Take every chance that you can to use your well behaved, well cared for, properly socialized dogs and educate the public about the truth of this breed. Let your Snow Dog be an ambassador for its breed.
It is very hard to argue the point that a dog breed is “vicious and dangerous” when the example that you have sitting right in front of you is nothing like that. The only way to effectively change the stereotypical image that has been created is to actively create a new image.
Choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem by being a responsible and dedicated Husky or Malamute owner.
As always, we welcome your questions, comment, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our wisdom and our stories we may be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.
16 thoughts on “Help Give Huskies And Malamutes A Better Name”
What a great site. I have a 6 1/2 year old male who is absolutely the most wonderful dog I have ever had.I have read most of your postings and was surprised at the one regarding seperating the puppy from its mother to early. I got my dog from a breeder in Arizona and we picked him up when he was six weeks (I thought seemed a little young), luckily he came into a home with a blue healer female who took on the role of mommy. This is the 2nd siberian I have owned, they are incredible animals and I basically raise mine like I raised my kids. Apollo is sweet and gentle and is loaded with personality. I have never experiened an agressive siberian, if Apollo feels threatened he runs behind me but you are right people don’t realize how passive and gentle these dogs are, I am much more agressive than he is! lol!!
Thanks for the site, you can never have too much information.
I have only just found this website and read this article horrified realizing that I may be “part of the problem”! Me and my half husky (half white swiss shepherd) have been working on correcting my and his behavior though :) What a wonderful website!!! I will make sure to read everything and LEARN! Thank you! :)
Karin, while it is never too late to train a dog, it is much more difficult and complicated to teach a mature dog. When we train a young dog, we begin with a clean slate. When we work with mature dog, we have to first break him of all the bad habits and then teach him new guidelines. Also remember, that I doubt this dog has had any of the required socialization to so he will not only act out of control with people but with other dogs as well.
As for what to do in this case, this case is extra challenging because he is not your dog. When we rescue a dog we also have to start from scratch but at least we have control over his environment. We literally immerse the dog fully into his new environment and new expectations. But in this case, this dog is not in your environment so he will not be having the same expectations placed on his behaviour. He will have one set from you and one from your cousin. This does not make for a very good learning environment.
This dog needs a daily source of vigorous exercise to drain years of pent up energy. He also needs rules and guidance for behaviour. If you try to take him out for a run ( which is a good thing for him) I am not sure how safe it is for you because of the danger of being dragged or from him attacking another dog.
But if you are willing to try, here is what I recommend daily:
Running, rather than trying to walk him, will help to drain energy. I would do it at off peak hours of the day so that you don’t encounter other people or dogs for now.
Once you have him good and tired, you can try umbilical training with him. Spend the next hour with him tied to your waist. What this does is to make in roads to making a connection with this dog. You want him to start watching you for instruction.
Once the dog starts watching you, try incorporating some yummy high value treats to lure the dog into basic obedience positions like SIT, DOWN, and COME. Until the dog can learn to give you sustained attention he really cannot be taught any obedience.
If you do this, it will make a world of difference to the dog.
The other thing I would encourage you to do is to have a discussion about how your cousin is failing to meet all the needs of his dog. Being relegated to the backyard is no life for a husky. :( He either needs to step up or rehome the dog where someone else is willing to meet all the needs of this dog.
I came across your page as was Googling more on husky training. You see, I have a cousin who adopted a husky about a year ago, being the naive 18 year old boy that he is he thought the husky puppy was adorable but did not consider the time, money, and commitment a dog required. Soon enough the husky started growing and the frill of him being a puppy wore off, he was never taken to doggy school or properly trained, he was simply put in the backyard and occasionally played with. When I would come home from college and the puppy was younger i used to take him out to the local dog park since i was able to carry him and he was more manageable. I have since moved back and went to pay him a visit, he is no longer a puppy and has grown quite a bit, however he is so crazy and excited and just plain untrained that when i did try to take him out for a walk he was just all over the place. It breaks my heart to see him get to rowdy, because it seems to me that he is not getting enough attention. I really want to train him and take him out on my daily runs and just give him a better quality of life because I know he can be a good dog if he just had someone there to love on him and teach him what he needs to know. However, I am beyond lost on where to start should I commit to visiting him everyday? What do I do when I see him? I am by no means an expert and the last dog I had was a couple years ago, also a different breed (chow chow). It has been on my heart since i moved back that I need to help this dog out and just love on him. What would you recommend? Is it possible to train a unruly husky even after he is no longer a puppy?
So true for so many breeds. There are a lot of good tips here that ever new dog owner can use, and even some of us old dog owners. ;)
thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)
Once you know that the issue for the pulling is not just that the dog has too much pent up energy, then you start looking towards some more permanent fixes for the problem. The equipment helps but it only manages the problem of pulling without really addressing a more permanent solution. I am including the links to several articles that I have written that addresses this specific problem. I highly recommend that you include umbilical training into your day. It sounds simplistic but I promise you that when diligently applied, it can work miracles. https://www.snowdog.guru/using-the-umbilical-to-establish-leadership-with-your-husky/ and https://www.snowdog.guru/teach-your-husky-to-walk-on-the-leash/
Thanks for this wonderful piece! I do want to seek a bit of advice, since I fear people who see me walking my Husky down the street probably get an ambivalent impression or worse. But some background first:
On February 1, I drove seven hours to adopt my first Husky, a 3-4 year old male. He was at a high-kill shelter two states away and was slated for the needle within the week. I got him in time and he is a truly wonderful dog: a gentle giant, even if he sometimes needs to be reminded to chill out a bit while playing (he responds well to a reminder to be calm, so this isn’t the problem). Even my vet says that she’s never seen such a calm Husky. But neither any obedience training nor positive reinforcement training I’ve done (and sought professional help with!) have lessened his need to PULL me down the street. I’ve tried Easy Walk harnesses, Gentle Leaders, mesh harnesses, and now a ComfortFlex: everything on the market, from specialty stores and beyond. Nothing works. I understand that he is a Husky, and that he was born to pull, but it does give a rather poor impression when I’m being dragged down the street. And of course it’s not much fun for me, either. I give him a lot of exercise; he goes to doggie daycare for 9 hours once per week, and has 2 long walks a day with chances per day to run free in very large enclosed park areas. I don’t think exercise is the problem. He just wants to be lead dog and he can only see ahead at any given moment. Any ideas? I don’t want people to think I’m leading a wild dog down the street (even though he’s nothing but friendly), and I’d also like to avoid dislocating my shoulder…
Thanks in advance!
When my husky was about 6 months old, I started taking her to a local dog park. She had already “graduated” from training class. She was quite a handful from 8 weeks of age and I knew she needed further doggy socialization. She was fine with people, since we took frequent walks. Unfortunately our dog park visits frequently coincided with the visits of another husky. His “owner” and a friend would walk into the park, let the husky off his leash and then leave him on his own while they went off to play frisbee. That dog then proceeded to run around the park terrorizing all the dogs. My girl started following him and they were chasing a small dog and I could tell that their intentions were not good. I went and picked up the little dog and brought her to her owner, and then gathered up my husky and left the park. After that I signed her up for doggy day care, where the dogs are temperament tested before they’re admitted. She was still a bit of a wild woman at 8 months, but the other dogs quickly put her in her place. I worked hard to train her from the first day and she was doing ok, but it was that final nudge from more mature dogs that finally helped us turn the corner. She’s 8 years old now, and they love her at day care, because she teaches the newbies how to behave.
As far as the dog park, I knew that my training had finally taken hold when there was a sudden dog fight. All the other dogs ran over to see what was happening. My girl ran to me instead.
Mindy, excellent job!!! What a wonderful and dedicated Husky owner you are. How I wish we could clone you. And you bring up an excellent point – pay attention who your dog plays with or they could be learning some very bad habits from other dogs. In this case, it is not much different than raising children. Would you be cautious about the kind of children your 4 year old played with? Would you let him play with the kids down the block who you know had very little in the way of parental supervision and were left to practically raise themselves? Most likely you would prefer that your child played with children who had good social skills and manners because children learn from watching other children. So do dogs. If your dog spends time playing with a dog who plays overly rough and with no control from its owner, your dog will soon start playing that way too so pick your dog’s playmates and their play dates carefully. And if you have lots of people seeking you and your dog out at the dog park as a play partner, then you must be doing something right with how you are raising your dog. Great job :)
I have read the article but I forgot to mention that sky have problem with esophagus (she almost died 1.5 year ago) and she can eat just blended food…what can I use as treat?
Aleksandra, have you tried investing in a few jars of baby food? You can find some jars of meat based dinners and give let your dog have a lick from the jar as the treat. There are no spices or undesirable ingredients in the baby food and the consistency will be right for the special needs of your dog.
Making the jump from this young husky not being great at playing with other dogs to his owner having to give him away or bring him to a shelter is a very obtuse and judgemental leap. I know this is a problem with some husky owners but you should not make such quick assumptions
Matt, there is a huge difference in the Husky at the dog park who is still learning appropriate social skills. This owner corrects the dog and the dog learns. All dogs deserve this chance to learn. Sadly this was about the owner who has no interest in teaching his dog because he does not see the need nor the value in it. Sadly numerous years of working with second chance dogs, one only needs to walk down the corridor to recognize the pattern in most of the dogs there. A large number of the dogs will be between 1 and 3 years old and they are owner surrenders. People get these dogs but then do not put the time or effort into socialization or training them. Especially in the larger dogs, once they reach full size, they cannot be walked without a human being dragged down the street, they cannot pass by another dog without them breaking out in an aggressive attack, and they don’t tend to be allowed in the house because they are like a bull in china shop. So then they end up being kept outdoors, for the large part segregated from humans, no exercise or mental stimulation, where the dog digs, barks, and howls. Then at this point, the owner solves the problem by dumping the dog off at a shelter. Matt, I only wish this was not the pattern, but far too often it is. Again, this article was NOT referencing someone who is struggling with their dog’s reactive behaviour but is actively working on it. These people ARE trying to work with their dog. No, this was referencing the owner who seems to make no effort to produce a trained and socialized dog. It is these dogs who end up dumped off at the shelters once they become too much of a nuisance for the owner to put up with. Walk into any shelter and see this same pattern in the most of the dogs being housed there.
What is happening is that your dog now has a conditioned reaction when she sees other dogs. She relates the sight of other dogs being attacked so responds in kind. In order to stop the behaviour she had to be desensitized to the sight of the dogs and her response has to be counterconditioned. That means that you want the sight of another dog to be associated with new more pleasant memories. This can only be done while the dog us under the threshold for reaction. This article explains the process for desensitization and counterconditioning your dog https://www.snowdog.guru/fix-reactive-behaviours-huskies/
Hi! My sky is almost 4 years old. She always have been extremely friendly with other dogs and of course people, especially kids. Unfortunately she have been attacked by other dogs more than 4 times in last few months and I noticed that she have changed. She is not that friendly with other dogs anymore. It’s any way I can build that friendliness to other dogs back? Her attitude to the people and kids haven’t change and the same is with bunny which I have as well. They can be free together in the house even if I am not there.
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