A magnificent, highly coveted pure breed, loved by many for its wolf-life appearance. Huskies are very energetic and so require a lot of exercise and attention making them perfectly suited for the more active among us (they make excellent jogging partners). They don’t, however, make very good watchdogs as they are just so darn friendly and affectionate to almost everyone they meet. Huskies can become mischievous if not trained correctly as all Arctic dogs can and so require dominant, strong ownership.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Siberian Husky Owners
My Purebred Siberian Husky
My first purebred Siberian Husky was a gorgeous red and white named Katie. I took one look at her ice blue eyes and was instantly smitten. She soon became my instructor in all the various quirks and charms of this marvelous breed.
The Husky Temperament
I quickly learned that huskies are fun, friendly and incredibly stubborn. I couldn't just give commands and get obedience from her like I could with other breeds. Huskies prefer cooperation instead of obedience. As long as I made training seem like a fun game, she was willing to cooperate. However, if she didn't feel like doing what I asked, her stubborn streak would soon kick in.
Housebreaking a Husky
Housebreaking was a perfect example of this. My puppy was smart and loved to explore outside. However, it took almost a year before she accepted potty training. She loved going for walks but was easily distracted. So it took a long time for her to realize that she needed to get her business done during her walks.
I found that keeping her on a schedule helped a lot. I also gave her the command, "hurry up" to keep her focused on going potty instead of chasing butterflies. This eventually trained her and there were no more accidents in the house.
Exercise for Huskies
Huskies need more exercise than you would ever dream possible. This breed is full of energy and was designed to run at top speed for miles. I learned that if I didn't run her for at least an hour three times a day, she would find her own way to release her energy. Her way was usually destructive so I had to provide her with a constructive outlet for that pent up energy and intelligence. That involved a combination of exercise and obedience training.
Huskies go through a period between puppyhood and adulthood that is known as adolescence. This occurs when the dog is between seven months and two years of age and is the time when most huskies are surrendered to shelters.
I learned about this as my darling puppy began to grow and became very difficult to handle. She was teething and loved to chew on furniture, clothing and people. She was not aggressive at all but was very mouthy. She challenged my leadership almost constantly during this phase. I had to be very firm and patient with her. I also had to increase her exercise. I knew that I had exercised her enough when all she wanted to do when she came in was get a good drink of water and lay down. When she turned two, she moved out of this phase and transformed into the most wonderful dog I have ever had.
Grooming a Husky
Other dogs lose hair but Siberian Huskies shed! Huskies are double coated dogs and twice a year they go through a phase known as blowing their coats. In the fall, they lose the outer coat which consists of flat guard hairs. In the spring, they shed the soft fluffy undercoat that insulates them throughout the winter. It gathers on the floor and floats through the air. I realized that wearing dark clothing was no longer an option as long as I lived with this breed.
Huskies should never be shaved. This ruins their ooat and it may never grow back properly. They also have delicate skin under all of that fluff and should not get a bath more than once or twice a year. The best way to groom them is with a groomer's rake that digs down deep into the fluffy undercoat. A slicker brush is a good tool to finish the grooming to bring the oils from the skin onto the hair. Since Siberians seldom have that "doggy" smell, a good brushing is sufficient to keep them clean in between baths.
That being said, this is also an area where that famous husky stubborn streak can show up. I have had one purebred husky and two mixes. None of them liked to be brushed. I could usually only get halfway through a grooming session before they would have enough and take off, trailing clouds of fluff behind them. So I had to just do the best I could whenever I could.
Crate Training for Huskies
Katie was the first dog I had ever crate trained and I highly recommend this for huskies. Crate training helped with housebreaking. It also kept my pup safe and the house safe while I was at work.
It took her a few days to get used to being in the crate. I used a kong and stuffed it with high-value treats and put it all the way in the back of the crate. I never gave her the kong at any other time so she quickly developed a positive association between going in her crate and getting the kong. Eventually, she would go in the crate on her own even when I was home and the door was open. It was like her den where she could rest.
Huskies are Drama Queens
Something that I didn't know about huskies before I had one is that they are the drama queens of the dog world. For example, I would take Katie into the vet for a simple nail trim. She'd greet all the nice people with a smile and a wagging tail. Then when they took her back to trim her nails she would scream as though they were pulling them out by the roots. It was downright embarrassing.
Huskies are very vocal but they are not yappy like other breeds. Katie was a conversational howler. She would greet me each morning and when I returned home from work with a howl. But she was never one to bark excessively. In fact, they are known as the world's worst watch dogs. They love people so much that they greet perfect strangers as if they were dear friends.
Huskies as Personal Trainers
Your husky will be the best personal trainer you've ever had. By the time she was six months old, my cholesterol level had dropped so far that my doctor thought I was taking a supplement. Nope, it was all the exercise that made the difference.
The worse the weather is, the better the husky likes it. They don't care if you're sick or tired, if they want a walk they will pester you until they get it.
They also pull hard on the leash. This is something that is bred into them and there's only so much you can do about it. You can look at it as a good way to build your biceps and there are harnesses that will help. What worked best for me was a prong collar. I took Katie into a local pet store so they could fit it to her neck and show me how to use it properly. When she pulled too hard, the collar would give her a correction. Since her fur was so thick around her neck, it didn't hurt her.
I never let her run free off leash. I know some husky owners think they've trained their dogs to do this well but I just could never trust her all the way on that. The few times that she managed to slip out without a leash became a maddening game. I was always afraid that she'd run out into the road and get hit by a car. So I decided against taking that chance and either kept her on a leash or in a fenced yard.
Sour Stomachs in Huskies
Katie was about four months old when she developed a sour stomach. This is very typical of huskies. They often have food intolerances and it can be very challenging to find a food that they like and doesn't upset their stomachs. Like many huskies, she was slightly allergic to chicken so I had to find a dog food that didn't have any chicken products in it.
They can also be finicky about their food. If they're tired of a certain brand or flavor they will stop eating no matter how hungry they might be. Fish based formulas are usually good to try. Huskies love fish and it usually agrees with their stomachs.
Another thing I learned is that when the weather is hot, my husky might have some tummy troubles. Heat can cause them to stop eating or even have an episode of vomiting and diarrhea. This usually settles itself in a day or two without involving a vet visit. Other than this sensitive stomach, huskies are generally very healthy dogs.
Huskies are Charmers
In spite of their challenging ways, there's no doubt that Siberian Huskies are charming. They greet perfect strangers with a big smile and wagging tail. Their crazy antics will keep you reaching for your camera. Like most huskies, Katie adored children and babies and was incredibly gentle with them. She was also a huge hit at our local nursing home when we would visit there. Her charm, striking good looks, friendliness and even her challenging behavior made me fall hard for the breed.
This Month’s Real Story: Anubis
In spring 2011, we discovered Anubis had mammary lumps. It turned out one was benign, but two were malignant (breast cancer).
I needed to remove all the tumors, of course, but that wasn't the end of it. I also needed to understand the underlying cause of the breast lumps so we could prevent a recurrence and return Anubis's body to a state of balance. Since breast cancer is linked to estrogen levels, the first thing I did after diagnosing the lumps was measure her estrogen. She was at toxic levels. According to blood tests I ran in April 2011 (page 3), Anubis had extremely high levels of estradiol (estrogen). Her number was 120.2 … the normal range for this hormone in dogs similar to Anubis is 30.8 to 69.9. She also had high levels of androstenedione (0.82 where the normal range is .05 to 0.57), the precursor for both estrogen and testosterone.
A phytonutrient and plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, with potential antiandrogenic and antineoplastic activities. As a dimer of indole-3-carbinol, diindolylmethane (DIM) promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism in both sexes by reducing the levels of 16-hydroxy estrogen metabolites and increasing the formation of 2-hydroxy estrogen metabolites, resulting in increased antioxidant activity. Although this agent induces apoptosis in tumor cells in vitro, the exact mechanism by which DIM exhibits its antineoplastic activity in vivo is unknown.
Spirit of a Racer in a Dog’s Blood
MASSENA, N.Y. — Like any athlete, Winnie has a race-day routine. Four hours before the beginning of her sled-dog race in this upstate town, Winnie, a Siberian husky, laps up meat broth. Two hours before, she submits to pats from spectators.
Forty minutes before, she settles into the snow for a final rest. But her co-owner Diane Baskin-Wright said not to be fooled. “She morphs into psycho dog when she hits the line,” Baskin-Wright said. There were about 200 sled dogs here on a recent Saturday, barking and howling alongside vehicles with license plates like Sib Box, Mushers, Haw Gee and Ondasly.
Winnie stood out not just for her calm race-day nerves — she is the lead dog on her team — and the spray of gray along her back. Unusual for a racing dog, Winnie is also a show dog, the top-ranked female Siberian in the nation. Her show name is Huskavarna’s Destined to Win.
She will appear at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show beginning Monday, competing alongside breeds that sat at pharaohs’ feet or hunted with Hungarian kings. Winnie’s breed does not have royal roots, but her lineage is fierce. It dates to what some consider the finest feat in dog-and-human history, a 1925 race to deliver lifesaving diphtheria serum to icebound Nome, Alaska.
The event gripped the nation and later became an inspiration for the Iditarod race.
Time to play!
The Siberian Husky is a natural athlete. They require exercise in some form. However, it is a misconception that the Siberian needs lots of open space. Adequate exercise can be achieved within a small fenced area or with daily walks.
Remember, though, that due to their strength, they should not be left solely in the care of a young child or less-than-physically-fit adult. Another great way to exercise a Siberian is to have two! With two Siberian Huskies, they can entertain each other.
While it isn't necessary to have two, it is certainly helpful to have another dog around that likes to play. Without a partner in crime for your husky, the humans of the house will need to be quick and ready on their feet for play.
Ask any multiple Siberian home about the wonder of their play. Watching huskies play is often equated to watching a hockey game. "He goes for the body check." "Hey, that's roughing!" Think of the fun you can have sitting back with a nice refreshing drink watching the games in your own club box—no crowds, no sticky floors, and no lines to the bathrooms. Another option for the Siberian craving person who only wants one dog is to adopt a mature companion. They certainly are still full of spunk, but they are not at the same level as the youngsters.
Click here to read more about the joys of owning a mature dog. Keep in mind that all Siberians will find a way to amuse themselves almost anywhere they go. That is why it is always important to find ways to keep them entertained. With their intelligence coupled with their power, they can be a handful for the unwitting home.