Does this story describe you?
You spent weeks finding the perfect Husky to bring home. You spent days Husky-proofing the half of your house where your Husky will roam, and you made your back yard a Husky paradise no dog would ever want to leave.
You bring your dream Husky home, and she cries, and cries, and cries.
Even dog owners who have older Huskies need to know what is making their new Huskies cry.
But first, it is helpful to understand a few basic points and Huskies and crying/howling.
Crying in Huskies is Natural
If you were to peruse the pages of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, you would find out that veterinarians are a lot more concerned when Huskies don’t cry than when they do.
Siberian Husky puppies that don’t cry won’t grow up able to compete in dog sled races. In fact, they are likely not to grow up at all.
There is considerable writing in the professional literature of veterinary medicine about Siberian Husky puppies that have white markings on their faces, blue eyes, and odd collections of mucus in their nostrils.
These puppies don’t cry. They start having trouble breathing at about the age of six months, and many of them need an operation analogous to operating on a human to correct sleep apnea to survive.
When Husky puppies don’t cry at all, they need to visit the vet.
Especially if they have blue eyes and white markings on their faces, which are transmitted by the same genes that transmit this hereditary breathing problem.
But why do healthy Huskies cry so much?
You may have heard that Huskies howl because they are a dog-wolf hybrid.
This isn’t true. Huskies look a lot like wolves, but the Chukchi people in Siberia have been raising them, dog mating with dogs, for thousands of years.
The propensity of Huskies for howling has more to do with how they lived in Siberia.
Huskies were bred to pull sleds across the snow. That’s not a job for just one Husky, or two or three. Up to 30 dogs have to pull together to make the sled go.
Huskies in their pack need to keep up with the pace, or the whole team is in trouble.
Constant communication with yips and barks and howls lets the team know how individual dogs are doing, so the whole pack can pull together.
If you don’t live in the wilderness of modern Alaska, chances are that you aren’t going to be employing a couple of dozen Huskies as sled dogs.
You are more likely to have one Husky, or maybe two or three.
Your Huskies, however, have the same vocal skills that Alaskan or Siberian Huskies have.
Just as Huskies in a pack communicate with each other about how they feel as they pull their load, your Husky will “talk” to you all the time about things they want, things they like, things they don’t like, excitement, contentment, loneliness, and pain.
A Husky puppy you separate from its mother to bring home will cry because she misses her and her littermates.
Huskies of all ages can experience separation anxiety when their humans aren’t at home, especially if you have just one dog.
Huskies don’t bark unless it is to send the message “I’m the boss.” In your Husky pack, you’re the boss, so crying and whining are actually signs you have trained them well.
Huskies learn to imitate human speech (think Scooby-Doo in a wolf suit) when you reward them for it.
And Huskies cry and whine in these situations:
- Huskies howl when they are lost. They also howl when they think you are lost. Huskies do this to find out where their pack-mates are. You may be the “alpha dog” to your Husky (and you need to be), but your Husky will still expect you to “howl” back to assure him you aren’t lost.
- Huskies howl when they are scared. They get your attention because they think you can solve the problem.
- Huskies howl when they aren’t getting their way, and they are really upset about it. Howling is a loud complaint. Because it’s a howl and not a bark, your Husky is recognizing, OK, the human is the boss. But I want my human to do something different.
And sometimes Huskies howl because everything is going great. Some Huskies howl all the time. It’s just what they do.
Can you train your Husky to shut up already?
Keep in mind that although some Huskies are more vocal than others, a mute Husky typically has a serious health problem. You shouldn’t get a Husky unless you are prepared to deal with noise.
That being said, a good place to start when Husky howling is horrible is to notice what sets it off.
Do high-pitched sounds make your Huskies howl? Do you have an ultrasound unit in your yard to chase unwanted birds or rodents away? Do you operate drills or sanding machines?
If sound generators are the problem, you may need to:
- Expect your Huskies to howl when you use them or
- Provide some sonic insulation between the sound generator and your dogs
Huskies are howling-prone during thunderstorms and when fireworks are going off.
They get very, very upset about gunshots. You need to get them to the quietest room you can find when you know they are going to be exposed to these kinds of sounds.
But for everyday howling, training is necessary.
Huskies aren’t an easy breed to train, so you will need to spend a lot of time with them to get them both to learn and to perform the desired behavior, staying quiet, once they do.
To train a Husky, you have to be the alpha dog
Huskies live in a hierarchy.
They don’t typically survive in the Arctic north on their own.
They need people. But they are happy to boss their humans around if they can.
Learn to say no
To establish yourself as alpha, you have to curtail negative behavior when you see it.
Huskies love to howl at night, jump up on people, dig holes under the backyard fence to make a run for it, and bark at strangers to let them know they are on your property.
When you see bad behavior, you need to firmly inform your Husky “No!”
Don’t tell your Husky “No!” and then pet them as if to say, “I’m sorry I have to deal with you with tough love, here’s a noogie.”
Let your “No!” stand on its own.
Reserve expressions of affection and treats for when your Husky is behaving the way you want.
Have zero tolerance for violent behavior
One of the odder things about Husky puppies is they will try to establish themselves as the boss dog when they are still the tiniest member of the pack. They will push.
They will bite. They will knock other puppies over.
Punishing this kind of behavior won’t really work.
Your Husky puppy may not know why he is being punished even five seconds after the act. Swatting a puppy is never a good idea (and in much of Canada, it’s not legal).
But you have to separate Huskies of any age who try to establish alpha status by harming other dogs or people.
Thirty minutes in time out is enough, More than that and your Husky starts punishing you with a howl.
Never treat your Husky as an equal
Huskies do not live in democracies. It’s always the dog’s job to do what you want, not the other way around.
Listen to your dog’s pain, hunger, anxiety, and happiness, but always stay in charge.
Always show confidence
Whether you have 24 Huskies or just one, you must always project confidence around your dogs.
Expect them to obey, even if they didn’t last time. Never let your dog think maybe you don’t mean what you are telling them.
Don’t punish howling and crying – Reward silence
Dog lovers love to show their dog’s affection. It’s fine to be affectionate with your Husky.
Just wait until they have been quiet for a few minutes before you are. Then if your Husky revs up with howling again, let the physical expressions of affection cease until they quiet down.
Huskies love treats, and we love to give treats to them. Don’t try to bribe your Husky to be quiet. Let your Husky calm down, and then give a treat.
Or maybe not. Intermittent reinforcement of quiet time is an excellent way to motivate your Husky to learn to be quiet.
If you don’t give your Husky a treat after she’s been quiet for five minutes, she may think “Maybe I’ve got to be quiet for 10 minutes.
If you don’t give your Husky a treat for being quiet for 10 minutes, she may see if being quiet for 20 minutes works.
You can train your Husky to be quiet for longer and longer periods by extending the time between treats. It also helps to vary the kinds of treats you give your Husky to add to the anticipation.
Be loving. Just don’t be easy.
Now let’s look at some specific ways of training Huskies to be quieter
You don’t need a Ph.D. in canine behavior to train your Husky to be quiet.
But you do need to take time every day for training, be consistent about training, and have a plan for making it work.
In this section, we’ll discuss three different approaches to training Huskies to be quiet.
Jennifer Nelson’s Day to Day Method
Husky rescue expert Jennifer Nelson has a method of training Huskies to be quiet she calls the day-to-day method.
She calls it the day-to-day method because you never know whether you’ll be training your Husky or not.
In Jennifer Nelson’s method, you don’t set aside time to train your Husky to be quiet. You just reward them when they are.
Ignore your dog if he starts to whine. Don’t make eye contact. Turn around and walk away.
Don’t give your Husky any kind of attention for making noise.
Don’t give your Husky for being quiet, either. In this method, you are just trying to extinguish whining and cry as a way to get your attention.
This method is exactly what it sounds like. You give your Husky a time-out when it starts to whine.
This method works best if you also reward desirable behavior, that is, staying quiet, with treats on the intermittent schedule described above.
When your Husky starts to howl, cry, or whine, place her in her crate. It’s OK for their crate to have a blanket and their toys. You aren’t punishing your dog.
Just leave your dog in her crate until she has been silent for at least 15 seconds. Then open the door. Be consistent about crating your dog for a time out every time she howls when you are around.
Speak and quiet method
When you have had your Husky for a few weeks, you probably have gained the impression that it would be easier to teach them to howl than it would be to teach them to be quiet.
So teach your Husky to howl.
Choose a word that you will say every time to command your Husky to make noise, like “Speak.” When you say “Speak,” and your Husky begins to vocalize, give them a treat.
Then choose another word you will use every time to command your Husky to be quiet, like “Quiet.” Then when your Husky has been quiet for 10 full seconds, give them a treat.
You could also use a whistle or a clicker, but then your Husky wouldn’t be able to learn a verbal command, too.
This method only works if you and every other human in your home use the same command, in the same way, every time.
Even with that, you may have to teach this command from 25 to 40 times before your Husky learns it.
You may need a combination of these methods
One method might not work for you or your dog, and it is always okay to try a different method instead.
With a little training, your husky should be able to listen a little better, give you fewer headaches, and you can be proud of your success in training your Husky!
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