Things to Consider Before you take on a Siberian Husky, Malamute or Sled Dog
There is no doubt that huskies and other sled dogs can be a joy to own.
They are beautiful, intelligent dogs with wonderful temperaments and friendly dispositions.
On the other hand, huskies and sled dogs are not the easiest dogs to own.
The husky's appealing nature and striking good looks are a curse as well as a blessing.
Many people buy their first (and often only) husky based on the breed's striking appearance, without knowing how much of a challenge husky ownership can be.
Those with experience of the Siberian husky and other sled dogs summarize things well when they tell us...
'These aren't dogs that fit in with your life - You have to fit in with theirs!'
Below you will find a list of attributes and characteristics of the breed. We have tried to give an honest indication of some of the ways in which owning a husky will affect your daily life, and the changes and adaptations that you may need to make.
- Huskies are Boisterous
- Huskies mouth and nip as puppies while they establish boundaries.
- Huskies play roughly and bounce around your house if you let them (and sometimes even if you don't)
- Training your Husky takes Time and Effort
- Huskies need a firm but fair hand, and respond exceedingly well to POSITIVE training methods
(positive training is basically training through rewards and encouragement when a dog does something good, rather than telling it off or punishing it when it does something bad).
- Huskies respond very badly to physical reprimand, quickly becoming very nervous and timid dogs
- Training your husky will be an ongoing task. It will take a lot of patience, perseverance and a sense of humor.
- Huskies can be Destructive
- Every owner we know has had at least one of their favorite shoes/bags/hats/books destroyed by their huskies.
- Mobile phones/TV remotes/kids toys/anything left within reach will be considered a 'chew toy' and eaten
- Products such as Grannicks Bitter Apple Spray
can help discourage your puppy or dog from chewing things that you don't want them to. If you own a husky or sled dog you will find some things inevitably will get chewed up and destroyed!
- Huskies Need Company
- Huskies are not dogs that are happy to be left alone for long periods of time.
- Huskies, particularly husky puppies, get very bad separation anxiety and may become destructive.
- If left alone, huskies often make A LOT OF NOISE.
- If you want to take on a husky, there needs to be somebody at home for the majority of the day to keep the dog company.
- Huskies Shed A LOT of Hair
- Huskies 'Blow their Coats' once or twice a year, when they shed all their fluffy undercoats over two or three weeks.
- During this time, your house and garden will be strewn with clumps of white hair.
- The rest of the year, huskies shed lightly - your home/garden/car and yourself will be still be covered in fluff, just slightly less of it.
- Huskies love to Dig
- Digging is a favorite pass-time of the husky. Their chosen spots are usually in the middle of the lawn or under your prize rose-bush.
- Huskies can dig a surprisingly big hole in a few minutes, and they can 'landscape' your garden while your back is turned.
- More importantly, they often dig under fences, and may dig their way out of a garden in ten minutes given the opportunity.
- You MUST either sink your fence at least 2 feet below the surface of the soil, or lay concrete slabs or other barriers on the ground around the inside of your fence.
- Huskies Need High Fences
- Huskies can easily clear a 4 or 5 foot fence from a sitting start.
- Your garden should be entirely surrounded by a fence at least 6 feet tall, and you should be prepared that it might well need to be raised higher than this (ours is 8 foot).
- Some Huskies can climb up 'weld-mesh' and other fences, and you may need an overhang to contain your husky if s/he is particularly agile.
- Remember that if you have a garden shed or greenhouse, your husky mey jump up on top to find an escape route.
- Huskies may also drag garden furniture over to a fence and use it to climb over - sounds extreme? We've seen it happen (and it's usually the most 'well-behaved' 'docile' pets that do it!)
- Huskies are Incredible Escape Artists
- Many adult huskies can squeeze through a 6inch gap in a fence.
- If a husky can get its head through a gap, the rest of it will probably fit too.
- Huskies will move objects around your house and garden, climb up them and use them as a means of escape.
- Huskies will jump through open windows while your back is turned for 2 seconds - ANY windows in your house left open are a way out.
- They may well learn to open doors, gates, slide bolts open etc. Some huskies will figure out how to open dog crates from the inside.
- Huskies will find their way into all sorts of places
- Kitchen cupboards and drawers are a favorite. This is often more dangerous than it sounds as your husky may find and eat poisonous foods such as onions, or find cleaning products and other harmful chemicals.
- 'Counter-surfing' is another favorite activity. Huskies love to get up on kitchen work tops and tables for a good nose around. This is also a great way for them to get access to kitchen windows that may have been left ajar.
- Pet gates can help prevent huskies getting into parts of the house you want to keep them out of, but they will be able to jump over them, so don't rely on them as a sole means of keeping your dog safe.
- Huskies Don't Do Recall
- Huskies CANNOT be let off-leash in open areas.
- Your husky may fool you into thinking that it is 'different' and can be trusted. Your husky may come back time and again, but there will come a day when it will spot something in the distance and it will be gone... and you will be lucky to see it again.
- If it does not find a sheep and kill it (this happens OFTEN), your husky may get run over (huskies have NO ROAD SENSE) or stolen (huskies are VALUABLE DOGS)
- Huskies Like to Pull
- Like collies who instinctively round up sheep, or retrievers who fetch things without being taught, huskies and sled dogs PULL.
- You can train them to walk to heal, but it takes TIME and PATIENCE
- There will always be instances when your husky gets excited or spot something up ahead and reverts to pulling.
- Huskies Eat Small Animals
- Cats, rabbits, squirrels, mice, birds are all fair game to a husky.
- As with recall, your husky may fool you into thinking it's not going to eat your cat - It'll even have you thinking they're friends. Then one day the cat will move too quickly or be running through the house and suddenly become 'dinner' in your husky's eyes (just like in the cartoons!)
- Again, as with recall, you might think that YOUR HUSKY is the exception to the rule. No, it's not.