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If Husky owners had a dollar for every time their Husky ran away at the sound of the word “Come here,” they’d all be millionaires!
If good things really come to those who wait, dog owners would probably be waiting for an eternity for their little Houdinis. 😂
So quit waiting, pick up that leash and the bag of treats, and learn how to train a Husky to come when called. In other words, let’s crack the recall code…
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How long does it take to build a good recall with a Husky?
A good recall can take several weeks or months to build.
When training a Husky puppy, we are able to start training on a clean slate. Thus, it is possible to start seeing positive results in a span of a few days or weeks.
When training an older husky, it is important to remember that the husky may have a history of practicing certain undesirable behaviors for several months. Training older dogs essentially involves making them unlearn certain behaviors and learn new, alternate behaviors.
The process of unlearning and relearning may be time-consuming and quite complex in certain cases. Depending on the age of the dog and his behavioral history, it may take several months of consistent training to build a reliable recall.
How to train a Husky to come when called
Here are 6 tips to train your Husky for a solid and reliable recall.
1. Have a strong motivation
Cues like recall work best when your dog comes back to you because they want to, rather than when they are made to. Having a strong motivation is a must as that helps build a positive association with the recall.
Motivation need not necessarily be treated. What excites and motivates your dog will be different things in different situations.
E.g., your dog may come back to you when called in an indoor setting for a few kibbles. But when playing in a dog park, your Husky may not respond to those kibbles.
Figure out what motivates your Husky in different situations so you can be prepared.
Not sure what treats to use? Read our guide to the best training treats for huskies.
2. Keep it positive, ALWAYS
Dogs are experts at making associations and learning from them. So while training them for recall, it is up to us to build a positive association so that our dogs quickly make that connection and respond to it favorably.
The end result of a recall must always be positive like treats, games, physical and verbal appreciation, etc.
A good way to keep it positive is to observe what your Husky is busy with at the moment and have a reward that is at least equally, if not more, exciting than that activity.
If your Husky is busy chasing a squirrel and you call him back to you and reward him with nothing but verbal praise, you have unintentionally set up a negative association. This is because, in this particular situation, the reward of verbal praise in no way matches up to the excitement of chasing a squirrel.
Read this study to learn more about reward-based training.
3. Less is more
When building a reliable recall, focus on quality over quantity. Having 3 successful repetitions is far more important than having 30 unsuccessful ones. When starting out with training, practice with low distractions and call your Husky when you know he will come back to you.
E.g., when your Husky is chewing on a bone, he is not likely to leave it for anything else. Calling him at that time would mean invariably setting him up for failure. Instead, practice recall beforehand and use the bone as a reward.
4. Practice in a variety of environments and distractions
Dogs are not really good at generalizing behaviors. When they start learning a particular cue, they don’t really know that it means the same in all kinds of environments. A classic example of this is that they may immediately come back to you when called in your backyard, but may not respond that effectively on a beach or in the dog park.
Start easy and train your way up to a variety of environments. Once you achieve a good success rate with low distractions, try the same thing in a slightly more distracting environment.
5. Use freedom as an additional reward
A Husky running around in an open yard digging and happily chasing squirrels is probably his happiest self at that point in time. When practicing recall during such situations, your Husky would value the freedom to go back to his adventures again more than the liver treat you have in your pocket.
So many of us call our dogs back only to put them back on a leash and take them home. This is a sure-shot way to build a negative association with the recall.
As an exercise, call your dog, reward them, and let them go back again to playing. Repeat this multiple times. This would build trust in your Husky’s mind towards your recall cue.
6. Use a long lead
A long lead which is around 20 to 30 ft in size would not only provide your dog with ample freedom but also ensure their safety. It is also a great way to set your Husky up for success as the lead makes sure that they will always come back to you when called.
A long lead is more like a pseudo-off-leash experience for your dog without subjecting them to the risks of off-leash freedom.
3 things to avoid in Husky recall training
As a Husky parent teaching their Husky to come back on cue, it is imperative for you to know what not to do when faced with roadblocks.
1. Never punish for non-compliance
A perfect recall is not really a Husky’s strong suit unless trained rigorously for it. But till then, avoid punishing your dog by scolding or yelling at them for not coming back to you. Being around you must never be intimidating for your dog in any way. It will only make the recall from bad to worse.
A Husky that is fearless around you and loves your energy is a lot easier to train to come back reliably every time.
Always opt for reward-based training, not aversive-based training (i.e. punishing for noncompliance). Studies also show that reward-based training is much better for your dog’s welfare than punishing them. This seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning!
Further reading: How to discipline your Husky
2. Do not poison the cue
Saying “Come… COME… Cooooommmeee…. Come NOW” repeatedly while your Husky continues to ignore you every single time is a classic way to poison the recall cue.
Repeating it over and over again with negative results only ends up teaching your dog that he has an option to easily ignore the cue successfully every single time.
3. Avoid chasing after your Husky
You approaching your Husky should never mean them running away from you; even as a game. Letting your Husky run after you is acceptable but never the other way around.
If you want to take care of your husky, it’s crucial to know that encouraging your Husky to run away from you while you’re approaching him can be dangerous in emergency situations.
Further reading: How to train a Husky to not run away
Final thoughts about how to train a Husky to come
A good recall may seem easy to teach but can be a little complex when done in reality. However, with the right mix of knowledge, consistency, patience, and rewards, it is really not that difficult.
Have you successfully trained your Husky to come when called?
Share your experience in the comments below.