Breed: Siberian Husky
Behavior Challenge: Leash pulling, inattentiveness, reacting to other dogs on walks, anxiety
Blade’s owners were very active and were diligently getting him out on regular walks for the all-important exercise that Huskies desperately need. However, he was walking on the end of a tight leash most of the time. They had a prong collar that was reducing his pulling intensity somewhat by making it more uncomfortable for him, but he hadn’t really learned how to walk on a loose leash. As a result, when he saw other dogs approach, his excitement turned into unwelcome over-stimulation, the tension would build and eventually he would react. He also had some separation issues and would whine in the crate.
Our training plan included teaching the owners how to use their prong collar more effectively to give Blade helpful feedback to allow him to walk on a loose leash and heel. We also implemented a place mat command as he could work on his separation issues by practicing impulse control (staying on a mat) even as the owners might walk out of a room. Eventually, we proofed Blade’s commitment to the training by practicing with another dog present.
Blade and his owners did beautifully with the training. They achieved heel and loose-leash walking with an automatic sit upon stopping. His reactivity towards other dogs was significantly decreased, but most importantly, his owners knew how to read him and put him in a successful situation when he become stressed. They continued to work with him diligently and eventually even transitioned to e-collar so that he could really experience the freedom to run and romp safely while the owners enjoyed peace of mind. They put in many more hours of working with him on off-leash reliable re-calls and during all that time, their relationship became one of trust, cooperation, and mutual respect. Blade’s story is a perfect example of how seeking out the right training and tools and putting in the time and effort really can yield amazing results.
In Their Own Words – Our Client Experience
When we adopted our 5-year-old Siberian Husky named Blade from a local rescue organization, we knew well in advance that we were getting a dog with some incomplete history and a few obvious behavioral issues. His main issues have been separation anxiety, excessively vocalizing in public and when anxious (husky yodeling!), extreme leash pulling, and reactivity to other dogs. Blade had already been crate trained, so from day one it was easy to begin working with the separation anxiety. That issue has subsided quite a bit over time with the everyday routines and desensitization we have been doing. For the leash pulling and manners in public, we had consulted with a couple of other trainers and received guidance on clicker training, training with treats, using head collars, etc. We trained with these tools for around six to eight months with almost no improvement; rather we saw increased anxiety, increased vocalizing, reliance on treats, and horrible damage to the fur on Blade’s face from the head collar rubbing. (Yes, even with the correct fit and usage).
After months of struggling and various horribly embarrassing public incidents, I was referred to Sarah of Paws n Motion by one of the rescue volunteers we worked with during Blade’s adoption. I consulted with Sarah over the phone, and she came to our home for the free consultation. We came up with a training plan and had four more sessions after the consultation.
The difference Sarah and Paws n Motion made was almost immediate. I must mention that Siberian Huskies are not the breed for everyone and do not necessarily respond to training in the same way a lab or terrier might. As an arctic working dog, bred for sled pulling, the high energy level and instinct to PULLLLL is undeniable and can be difficult to manage. However, even after the first training session with Sarah, Blade was able to walk on a loose leash! After the second session, Blade knew the “heel” command and could comfortably heel for over a block! These are behaviors we never imagined to be possible, and they have continued to improve along with many other new commands.
Because we have achieved loose-leash walking, much of the tension and reactive outbursts toward other dogs has improved. Sarah’s dog, Andy, came over to help us out a couple of times, too. It was such a huge benefit to work with Blade in the presence of another dog we could trust.
What we like most about Paws n Motion is that the work is done in your home, in your own neighborhood, in situations that are entirely relevant to you and your dog’s everyday life.
Blade is no longer “that dog” who is a loud, annoying, nuisance to the neighborhood. He is certainly not perfect, yet, but we now have the tools, confidence, and structure to continue working towards that perfection in a fun and positive way. We feel confident now with the new tools and methods we are using, and Blade is much more confident, attentive, and responsive as well!
Thank you Sarah, Andy, and Paws n Motion!
2 Years Later…
Just wanted to check in and let you know Blade has been doing stellar off leash! We are in the middle of being at our cabin for about five days and this is the most free we have let him be. He is off leash up here almost all day except for after dark or if we go into town. He’s hiking the trails right along side us and isnt distracted by the 4-wheelers or the swamp or chainsaw.
Amber and Jason, Shoreview