Teach Your Husky To Walk On The Leash

Husky Loose Leash

Dogs pulling on their leash is often misinterpreted as dominance based behaviour, when the truth of the matter is, it’s much more simple than that. Your dog just wants to explore the different smells and whatever might catch his eye. At this moment, these things are much more stimulating and interesting than you are.

Other Reasons Why Huskies Pull On Leash

  • Huskies and Malamutes were bread to pull, so it comes naturally to them. That’s why pulling them back, often results in the dog pulling even harder in the other direction
  • Pulling gets him exactly what he wants, for you to walk more quickly to get him to where he desires.
  • Some dogs pull merely because they have never been shown otherwise.

What Exactly Is Loose-Leash Walking?

Loose-leash walking, (LLW), is not the same as heeling. A HEEL requires the dog to walk with his nose at his owner’s leg at all times. While this procedure is necessary in obedience trials and it comes in handy when walking across a busy street or in a crowded area, it is too restricting for most casual strolls around the neighbourhood.

Long leash walking requires your dog to walk on one side of you, usually on your inside, away from the road. In the UK this would be on the left and the US on the right. This will also prevent the husky from switching sides, often causing the owner to trip. While LLW is not easy to master, it’s definitely one you should begin working on from a young age, the earlier the better. Start as you mean to go on.

Why LLW Is Challenging For Dog To Learn

  1. LLW is not a singular behaviour like SIT or DOWN. LLW is a group of behaviours that create a certain outcome that results in your dog not pulling at his leash. This makes the concept of LLW much harder to teach and to learn.
  2. The big outdoors is full of distractions. So while practicing LLW in your home is a good idea, once outside it becomes more difficult/

Stop The Pulling

As I said earlier, pulling on the leash accomplishes something for your snow dog, it gets them to where they want to be, faster. The key to stopping them from pulling, is to stop them from accomplishing it. You can either stop in your tracks or make a sudden turn in the direction you’re walking in, showing him that you’re leading the walk, not him. While this is sound, logical advice, you’d be amazed at how many people will instead yank at their huskies collar hoping one day he will magically stop pulling.

This corrective behaviour is key to prevent pulling. Because when the dog pulls, you either stop or change direction, he will never get to where he wants until the leash is loose. Don’t expect instant results, but eventually he will learn that to get what he wants, the leash must be loose.

Huskies are well known for needing motivation during training, and what better motivation than their favourite treat. Once the desired behaviour is achieved and he receives a treat, this acts as reinforcement that he’s doing the right thing. The treats also cause him to pay closer attention to you rather than the cat across the road or the leaf blowing in the wind.

How To Prevent Leash Pulling

  • Never reward your dog’s leash pulling behaviour. What that means is that pulling must never get your dog to where he wants to go. Getting to go where he wants to go is the pay off for this behaviour.
  • Always have consistent expectations around loose leash walking and be prepared to enforce them. Also everyone in the household who walks the dog needs to be on the same page with rules, expectations, and reinforcement of the rules. Dogs cannot generalize. For them it is always the rule or it is never the rule.
  • Develop good leash walking habits early. The earlier you start proper leash training the better. Starting early ensures that you develop good behaviours and habits in your puppy or dog. Prevention of the problem is much easier than trying to fix the problem after it has been allowed to be an issue for a while. However, even if your dog has developed bad habits, it’s never too late to start leash training your dog. Just understand that re-training a dog takes more time and more patience.

Body Positioning For Loose Leash Walking

You want your dog to be walking on your inside, the opposite side from the road. Pick a side and be consistent, this will prevent the dog from constantly switching sides. Hold the leash in the hand opposite to the side of your dog e.g. if the dog is walking on your left, you want to hold the lead in your right hand. Adjust the leash so that theres no tension, you want to create a loose leash. The hand holding the leash shouldn’t move and should be held against the side of your waist. Keep in mind that is the hand moves, the length of the leash will be adjusted, which in-turn alters the boundaries.

Have your treats in the opposite side to your dog, otherwise they will cause way too much distraction. Remember the treats are only an incentive, ultimately you want him following you, not the treats.

Techniques for Stopping Leash Pulling on Walks

1. The Stop and Go Technique

Take your dog out for a walk but don’t get him all excited by saying “walkies”, just get up and take him for a walk. The moment he begins to pull, stop walking. Don’t wait 5 minutes before your arm gets sore, stop the second he starts to pull. Some dogs will naturally sit down when you stop, especially if you’e taught them to stop at roads, which is fine. Other dogs will pull for a little while, but will eventually stop. Once your dog has stopped pulling, then you can start walking again. There’s a good chance he will instantly pull, at which point you stop again. Bear in mind, for the early stages of training you’re not going to get anywhere fast. You’ll spend the majority of your time stopping and starting.

This very effectively communicates to your husky, that you are leading the walk, you are making the choices and pulling isn’t getting him to where he wants. He will slowly but surely learn that in order to get to where he wants, he must cooperate with you and the rules you’re setting in place. Rather than pulling getting him what he wants, following the rules will.

In this case, actions most definitely speak louder than words. There’s no need to talk to him during these sessions as that will only act as further distraction. You want his focus to be on the lesson.

For the most part, trainers have been encouraging dog owners to stop moving when their dog begins to pull on the leash. While this works very well for young puppies and for some dogs, it does not work for every dog. The longer a dog has been pulling owners around on their leashes the less effective the Stop and Go technique tends to be. For that reason I will also present other methods for teaching LLW. Use whatever method to which your dog best responds.

2.“Random Walk” Technique To Stop Your Dog From Pulling On The Leash

Once you have practiced the Stop and Go technique, you can add this variation to your training. But I advise first mastering the stop and go technique first.

You want to position your husky and leash in the exactly as outlined above, but rather than stopping when he pulls, you’re stopping randomly. Stop for 10 seconds and walk in a different direction, at a different pace to before. You can also alter how much slack is on the leash too. This trains your dog to not only walk on a loose leash, but also that he must be paying attention to you.

During the first few sessions you’re inevitably going to feel resistance from your dog as he pulls in the opposite direction, largely because he isn’t paying attention to you. But you’ll find he will eventually begin to watch you more intently.

Don’t let these training sessions become stressful, as your husky will undoubtably pick up on your tension, which will in turn effect his behaviour. Your progress will be much faster if you take your time and have fun. Remember plenty of treats for desired behaviours.

3. Advanced Walking With Reinforcements Added

Once your dog has mastered the LLW and has started to look to you for instruction, you can begin adding in the reinforcers of verbal cues, praise, and treats to mark the desirable behaviours.

Start by placing your dog at your left side, leash draped across your body and held in your right hand. Begin walking with the dog. If the dog starts to pull forward, use a sound like “Uh-uh” and stop moving forward. At this point your dog should stop moving forward. Immediately mark this behaviour with a cue of GOOD or YESSSSS and give a treat. Begin walking again, and when the leash has slack in it use the verbal cue GOOD or YESSSS to mark the behaviour. With lots of consistency and practice your dog learns that the only acceptable way to walk on a leash is without pulling. When you work with Snow Dogs allow more time for their strong willed determination to do as they please.

When you consistently follow these routines for Loose Leash Walking, you are delivering two clear messages to your dog:

  1. If the leash is tight because you are pulling, you do not get to go there.
  2. If the leash is loose, you get to walk, get praised, and you even get yummy treats for your continued co-operation.

It is a win – win situation for both of you. You get walk a dog that is control and your dog gets to go for a nice outing. No yelling, pulling, arguing back and forth, and no getting pulled down the street by your Snow Dog.

Tomorrow I will be talking about the merits of Tethering your dog to you to not only to reinforce LLW, but also as a means for him to watch you for instruction as well as establishing (or re-establishing) yourself as your dog’s leader.

As always, we welcome your comments, question, and stories about this topic. When we share our stories we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping ALL Snow Dogs ….. one owner at a time.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Okay so after many tries and some tears I was fed up trying to teach my Husky puppy, Bruce, to somewhat walk with me. I came across this article. Well my God. I must admit I was sure this wasn’t going to work but it worked like an effing charm. The changing direction seemed to be key. My neighbours thought I was crazy and walking in circles for a few days. Bruce is now a pleasure to walk, not just with me but with the entire family. So thank-you thank-you thank-you and a big thanks from Bruce who gets plenty more walk time now!!!!

  2. Thank you I have 3 beautiful huskies , all rescues and females . The 2 yr old love to try to run out front door and always pull when walking . Thank you and I will try this asap I sure hope it helps .

  3. I have a question I have a year old female husky & I know I should’ve put her on a leash..
    Now I am having trouble getting her to walk with the leash on.
    She can wear the body strap but when I put the leash so she walk with me she would sit down.
    She’ll refuse to walk or try and pull away from me.?/?
    HELP!!!

  4. Kelsey,

    I used multiple harnesses initially with my boy but he was able to back out of everyone at some point.

    I moved to a Martingale collar and that has been the only collar I can trust to keep him from escaping.

  5. Molly,

    If you have a treadmill I would put your girl on there before your run. If you don’t have one you can find a used one at goodwill/or ReStore pretty easily. have a 2 year old semi rescue male who was a nightmare when he first came to my house at 6 months. (I knew the prior owner who kept Jake in a crate and condo most of the time). He was scared of everything – people, noise etc. He couldn’t walk without pulling and run away several times. So I forced him on the treadmill – i straddled it and held his harness, once he learned how fast he could go, he gets right on it and I put him on the fastest setting 6 min mile. THEN we walk and he’s just tired enough to listen. I have always let Jake LLW and my thing is “no pee,” which he’s good about after his run. He also is far less destructive these days since he’s got the treadmill.

    Or do a quick play session in the yard – Jake likes to run in circles or jump. The idea is to find something they like that motivates them then go run.

    Best of luck.

  6. What kind of collar do you recommend for everyday walks/training? Because my husky is so strong I am scared she will break the buckle on a gentle leader/head collar.

  7. Thank you! Thank you! Thank YOU! …. My husky mix is developing some jealousy behaviors and Im planning on working with him with the umbilical training as well as the LLW techniques you have suggested. Your articles are well written and easy to understand and I am excited to make some changes with my big baby!

  8. There have been alot of great questions in regards to training, and people are asking for your advise, but haven’t seen a response from you (Margit Maxwell) since January of 2015. I too have a 7 month old Alaskan Malamute and some of these questions relate to my situation. So, I was wondering if you are planning on replying anymore or not.

  9. How can I start to correct my siberian husky’s behavior while continuing to run her? She runs with me five miles every other day and she needs that exercise to prevent her from getting into other bad habits. However her pulling has gotten worse. When she was a puppy we started loose leash training and it seemed to be working, but we messed up and stopped enforcing it. Now she pulls really hard at the beginning of the run and if we pass anyone. I can’t simply change directions or stop on a run…any suggestions?

  10. great advice going to try it asap!!! i have 3 1/2 yr old and 2 1/2 year old huskeys. they are rescues and leash manners were never attempted that is obvious. any advice on the older male putting paw on stove or counter in attemps to get whatever is there food wise

  11. I have a 5 month old black lab and recently got a Icelandic husky X malamute. He’s 8months old. Both get along well but suspecting the husky to be over protective with the young black lab. Any suggestion on how to fix jealousy and over protecting eachother?

  12. LLW. My huge challenge with my extremely strong sibe male, he is 7 months & man, does he pull. Always has. Been to puppy training, he will walk on a head collar & pulls like a train on his harness ( but why wouldn’t he, it’s in his genes, lol ) I like the way you’ve written this so am going to have a good go at retraining him, he does listen but everything is just SO exciting when we go out.. I am just a pain in his butt asking for things! My other big make sibe, who has never pulled, tootles along on LLW & is bemused by his younger ‘brother’ leaping about & pulling us all over the pavements, making me very sweaty & ultimately frustrated, as he must be too! Combined they are almost 70kg of dog, without pulling, so I need to crack this before he gets much bigger .. let you know how we do ! Xx

  13. Thanks for offering your advice. In your article you say that “other dogs will stop eventually”, but I’ve found that my 13 week old husky pup does not stop. She will stand there in the middle of the road howling at me, flipping around like a fish, and yanking with all her might. She never stops. I’ve even tried luring her with a treat, she doesn’t want it. Any advice?

  14. Hello!
    Thanks for the good tips. I have been trainig my two-years-old male malamute for LLW by several methods. During the last months it seems that he has forgotten it all. As we go on walks mainly on fields and woods, I bought him a flexi-leash.

    The main idea was that he would be able to get more exercise on our walks , when the leash is longer. I am not able to have him off-leash, so I thought that he would enjoy the freedom, which he seems to do.

    Despite of that, I am still dreaming about the LLW. Maybe I am just daydreaming, that I can utilizice the flexi for LLW trainig.
    If he pulls with a normal leash, I tell him “turn” and he turns back and walks around me. He is really good at that. Next I tell him to stop, which he doesn’t do unless I pull him back shortly. Next thing is that he had to look me in eyes to able to continue walking. I haven’t used any treats to do this. He takes a few cautious steps , but usually begins to pull again and hears agan the “turn”-command.

    I do the same with the flexi, if the leash gets tight. I have to admit, that he doesn’t need to turn around so many times during our walks. But I am still wondering, if I made a mistake by buying the flexi. If not, do you have any advices for the LLW training with a flex? I would be grateful for all the comments and advices!

  15. Mike, there could be a few reasons why this 8 year old husky is doing this behaviour.

    The most likely reason for the behaviour is it is a maladpative behaviour that he developed as a result of the stress of being confined at the kennel. It is also quite possible that his previous owner kept him chained up all the time. The only exercise these dog get is to walk in small circles.

    Does he always walk in circles going the same direction?
    Does he hold his head at an obvious tilt when he walks in circles?

    If he does this may be indicative of either an inner ear infection, usually on the side of the tilt. But head tilts and circle walking can also indicate a previous head and brain injury, once again, usually to the side of the tilt.

    If this behaviour is just a maladaptive behaviour from being penned in a kennel or chained up then once you begin to work with him, this behaviour should stop. Umbilicaling should help with this problem as he learns to watch you for cues and to follow you.

    If you have not already done so, consult a Vet to check for an inner ear infections of possibly a past head trauma or brain lesions.

    https://www.snowdog.guru/using-the-umbilical-to-establish-leadership-with-your-husky/

  16. My husky is 8yrs old and a rescue dog. He’s led in kennels on a farm for the last 8 months. The problem I have is that when is talk him for walks he circles a lot. He also did it in doors when isn’t doors fist got him 2 weeks also go and was told isn’t doorstep was stress. How can I cure this. Mike
    mikehewsonjones@gmail.com

  17. Awesome resource for information and help.
    The LLW tips above are exactly what I was looking for.
    I have been using the stop and go technique but maybe not as thoroughly as is needed.

  18. Hi there, first of all I want to thank for you great post. I found your site very interesting, instructive and helpful. I can´t wait to practice the LLW lessons, but I have a problem with my dog ​​and I found nowhere any tips for that. The problem is that when we go for a walk he very often stops just to smell and collect all the garbage on the street, bones, stones, papers, etc.. Our walk is an eternal fight between me and my dog​​. is a total mess, either he is in front of me pulling on the leash, or he is behind me and I have to pull him to continue walking, or he stops and lie down on the grass and did not want to go … I feel that he does not enjoy the ride as it should be and that it makes me feel sad. Please, any tips to correct this will be helpful. thanx

  19. I have 3 huskies. 2 are almost 6 years old and the third is just about a year and a half. Is it better to teach this all together or individually? I typically walk/run with all 3 together but they constantly pull so I really want to change that behavior. I currently use leashes that hook to their collar then loop under their stomach which decreases the pulling but does not eliminate. Should I continue to use the leashes as such or should i just connect to their collars?

    • It is a good idea to do some work separately with huskies so that you can give individualized attention to which ever dog needs it the most. If you find that your current set up is not working as well as you would like, you may wish to consider moving to a head halter that has a built in collar. The loop of the line goes up over the nose but it feeds back through the built in collar and comes out the back of the neck. I use these for my huskies and I walk all three at once.

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