Introduction to the Siberian husky
Siberian Huskies are a high energy breed from a strong working background known for intelligence and sometimes falling into the 'naughty' category. They aren't the easiest breed but if you put the effort in with them they are an AMAZING family dog.
Huskies are a robust dog bred for cold, harsh climates and the ability to run pulling weight for a prolonged period of time. They are a pack animal that likes to be around other dogs or its humans and work well integrated into a family unit. Despite their striking good looks there is a LOT more to this breed than meets the eye...
Breed Traits the good, the bad and the HUSKY!
Extraverts Huskies are outgoing and friendly, they LOVE people and you will often see them excitable, energetic and sometimes jump up when meeting new people / dogs.
Pack Animals They thrive in larger numbers and LOVE to be around their families. Due to this they often have separation anxiety when in single dog house holds - husky left alone can develop undesirable behaviors such as eating your carpet.
Athletic Huskies are an active breed that NEED daily exercise rang approx 2 hours, depending on age. Their favourite thing to do is run so why now look at training them on a bike, rig or scooter! Check out the Sled Dog Activities section for more ideas.
Escape Artists They can clear 6 foot fences, dig under or even go through fences if they see a opportunity to do so. Minimum fence WE ask for is 6 foot.
Shedders They have a dense double coat which require weekly brushing. Your best friend will become the vacuum cleaner BUT they do have self cleaning coats which means bath times are only needed when absolutely necessary and they don't have that 'doggy' smelling fur when wet!!
Gardners Huskies LOVE to dig!!
Intelligent Huskies are a THINKING dog and will often weigh up what you are asking them to do first - no one is saying they will do it unless it is worth their while.
Predators The breed have naturally HIGH prey drive meaning that off lead is NOT an option. They will bolt if they see small furries or game and your calls will become insignificant. They don't usually do well with smaller pets in the home, only a select few.
SLED DOGS Although they are bred in warmer climates, they are a cold weather dog which means hiking in summer months is out of the question. Remember their first job is to PULL if you don't like to be pulled on a lead maybe they aren't the breed for you.
Deaf or just ignorant? Huskies don't always respond well to instruction and momentarily deafness is a real risk - especially with recall.
Opportunists Give a inch they will take a MILE! They know how to work around weakness with you, set boundaries and get into a GOOD routine. Sometimes you just have to be as stubborn as a husky to win.
Destructive they are very well known for their destruction if they become bored from digging holes to destroying a sofa... You have been warned.
Owning A Siberian Husky
Training, Socialisation and Life At Home.
Siberian Huskies aren't always the best dog for novice dog owners. They are very intelligent dogs, independent thinkers and need consistency in boundaries / training throughout their lives. A husky, given half a chance, will push boundaries of owners especially around adolescence.
They NEED a owner who will practice living with boundaries, routine and a firm but fair attitude. We advise that first time dog owners seriously consider ALL aspects of the breed, read as mush as you can and speak to husky owners to get hands advice of the day to day role you will need to play.
Socialisation of your husky from a young age is essential around children, people, dogs and a variety of experiences. Like any dog, exposure to this at a young age prevents dogs from having issues in the future. Huskies are a robust, playful breed and when socialised correctly make great social family pets.
A lot of husky owners attend 'Pack Walks / Meets' with other sled dog owners to introduce their dogs into new situations. As huskies are pack animals they do well in large numbers and will benefit from socialising and husky play to tire them out.
Huskies are a pack animal and do very well in large numbers of dogs in the home, this is rarely considered before taking a husky home which means they often develop separation anxiety when their owners leave them to go to work.
Follow the link for more information on how to train a dog with separation anxiety.
Life at Home
Siberian Huskies are a domesticated dog who were originally bred to work in freezing climates and lived a majority of their lives outside, huskies were made to WORK pulling sleds for miles on a daily basis. Here in the UK we like our pets to stay indoors in our homes and be integrated into our domesticated lives. What we do forget is that they STILL have drive to be a working dog, to be outdoors and live a fulfilled life.
Before committing to bringing a Siberian Husky into your life you must consider how they will fit into your daily routine. EVERY dog, like us humans, benefit of a daily routine from waking up, feeding, exercising and going to bed at night, Without this you find a dog can be restless, develop behavioural issues and in the sled dog world soon find that your dog is ruling your lives.
Sled dog breeds in particular need to know what is coming and when, as their leader it is YOUR JOB to ensure they are trained, socialised, exercised daily for up to 2 hours, or more in some cases, have a good diet and boundaries in the home. This routine isn't just as they are puppies, this routine will set you and your sled dog up for LIFE.
Remember dogs like us like to be fulfilled, this should be both physically and mentally.
Health, Diet and Fitness
metabolism to run for hours without burning energy and preserving their fat stores for later. Huskies were bred to run and pull sleds over long distances on minimal calories. Therefore they break down food more efficiently than other dog breeds. My husky will leave food in his dish when he’s had enough.
Equipment tried and tested by Husky Owners...
WALKING BELTS Huskies LOVE to pull but it does take its toll on our human arms. Due to their strength we do recommend using a walking belt so you can use your weight to slow them down. it is also a great idea for multi dog house holds so you have more hands free when needed AND a lower risk of you dropping the lead.
Recommended brands are: SASS
COLLARS There are a lot of collars which are great for huskies, one we do recommend is a semi-slip collar. Not only are these built for strength but they are great for those escapees to prevent them backing out of their collars, if fitted correctly. You can purchase these from places like Snow Paws Stores and SASS but we highly recommend our friends over at Willows Leads who support the SSDR dogs with their bespoke webbed collar and leads (tried and tested with sled dogs!).
LEADS As with dog collars there are soooooo many lead designs which are fit for purpose. The main thing when looking at leads is that they are made for strength as seen as our dogs like to pull they MUST be strong. You can get webbed leads with a regular handle, duel-clips called police leads for dogs who need a double attachment, ladder leads with additional handles that come in handy when you need to pull them in by roads (also known as traffic handles).
For dogs who PULL LOTS we recommend bungee leads to take the impact off your body, these are also used in cani-x, bikejor and other recreational activities to take impact off the dogs as well as the owner.
For dogs who like to RUN we recommend the Flexi-Giant tape retractable which can hold up to 60kg (depending on size) by Furplast. These are tried and tested with SSDR dogs which we highly rate for their robust design. Alternatively, You can also use a training lead which you can have made by Willows Leads to ANY length, from 5 meters to 50 meters! This is great to use in open spaces to let them run without the worry of them not coming back to you (no recall after all). Please note, training leads DO get very wet and dirty so keep a carrier bag spare to carry it home in.
Our recommended retailers for sled dogs leads are: Snow Paws Stores, SASS, Willows Leads, Artic Paws, The Happy Go Lucky Dog Co.
HARNESSES It is important to have the correct equipment for the job, especially when it comes to powerful pulling dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes. Some people prefer to use harnesses to walk their dogs to help with pulling, please be aware that some harnesses actually ENHANCE the pulling power of dogs and can make it more difficult to walk sled dogs on them. There are a LOT of different harnesses out there so do your research before purchasing, some harnesses can actually harm your dog restricting movement and putting pressure on areas of the body that shouldn't. For some good advice and harness information visit SNOWPAWS STORES or CANI-FIT.
STAKE OUT LINES Don't make the mis-stake (see what we did there?) of purchasing cheap equipment especially when camping or racing. Short cutting can be catastrophic if a dog gets lose! You want to keep your dogs safe while out and about so make sure you use stake pins and lines equip for the power of the Husky and Malamute.
BIKES/RIGS & SCOOTERS Sled dogs LOVE to run and seen as our human legs can't always keep up the pace Bike-joring, scootering and rigging is a FANTASTIC was to tire our dogs out and stimulate their needs to RUN! There is a lot of advice and equipment out there but we recommend SNOWPAWS STORES and CANI-FIT for their expertise and knowledge on the right equipment to use to keep you and your dogs safe.