I’ve had dogs my whole life. I’ve trained them, even showed one when I was in my high school years. I’ve been around dogs most of my life. Several years ago, my son (23 at the time) came home with a puppy he found on the side of the road, one he had almost run over. As puppies go, this one was cute, even compared to other puppies. We did our customary vet visit to make sure he was OK and brought him into the house. At the time, we thought he was a Husky and German Shepard mix. But almost immediately, we noticed some differences with this little guy. He liked to bite, first of all. He was young, too. Possibly not even weaned yet.
We worked on the biting, making sure he knew that biting was not a game we wanted to play. I learned that you have to teach them “bite inhibition” early before they’re three months old. Otherwise, they will bite when they’re older, too, but not realize the strength of their bite. Our little guy got better with a lot of work.
We notice some strange things
But there were some other behaviors that were odd. First of all, he liked to talk back. As we trained him, he was fine when he wanted to do what you were asking, but as soon as he no longer wanted to behave, he would snap and growl at you. He was talking back. Worse, if you tried to correct him in this mood, he would get flat-out aggressive. He wasn’t even ten pounds at this point, so it was easy to control, but I had a vision of a fully-grown Husky acting like this – we had to get control of the situation. We started to use positive methods with him, and it started to work – mostly. He still is the only dog I’ve ever had who really doesn’t seem to care if he pleases you.
Then there is the eating. He was/is finicky, to say the least. Some days he wouldn’t eat. Others, he would eat some, but only if you hand-fed him. Still others, he would guard his food bowl against you after he had eaten. There was no rhyme or reason to his moods. I did a little research on his behaviors and noticed a fair amount of Husky owners reporting similar problems. Turns out, most of his issues were standard Husky problems. We had to get a harness for him because he would fight violently against a standard training collar. He was going to hurt himself. We continued by attempting positive feedback training because correcting him simply made him aggressive. He became a challenge some days. He demanded constant attention. If he didn’t get prompt attention, he started eating his own tail. Husky owners call it “becoming a hairdresser.”
If we forget to take his harness off when we put him in his “bed,” a dog crate he loves, he eats the harness. We’re on our third and have a backup “just in case” we forget one night.
We have cats – if they run, prey drive kicks in, and he gives chase. If they bring out a toy, he stuffs it in his mouth like a child who’s been told they can’t have more cookies. And then pukes it up some hours later – his record is 8 hours. Conversely, he snuggles with one of the older cats. He even uses her as a pillow.
Do sled dogs sunbathe?
As we went into summer, we noticed him enjoying the hot weather. Odd for something that was clearly a sled dog. We started taking him outside every day at around the same time. Letting him play on a long lead seemed to calm him down. At this point, he clearly had more energy than my wife and me. And in standard fashion, while the child had brought him home and wanted to keep him, he was never around to help in the duties. I did more research on Huskies and found that Texas Huskies can handle the heat, but only if they’re born in Texas – very strange. But if you brought a dog from the north to Texas, they struggle in the heat. I remember reading that as I watched this little guy stretched out in the sun in 100-degree heat, sleeping, sunbathing, for lack of a better description.
About this time, we grabbed one of the Wisdom Panel DNA tests. We had to figure out what he was to know how to keep him under control. The test came back surprising. 37% Husky. We knew that. I was shocked it was only 37%. 25% Alaskan Malamute, 12.5% each German Shorthaired Pointer, Chow Chow, and Rottweiler. Not a lick of German Shepherd. That made sense and the Chow Chow accounted for some of his more devious behaviors. Although the most challenging of his behaviors are definitely Husky-induced. He would and will chase anything that he sees as prey. Huskies have the highest prey drive of any dog, and most trainers recommend never letting them off a lead. I can attest to this. We have a long lead he gets put on when we take him to the backyard. If there are deer in the yard, he goes crazy, but not in a barking dog’s normal way. He jumps like a gazelle and wants to run off to join them; I think he thinks they’re his true family, and he wants to be part of the pack.
This dog needs to work
With the knowledge that most of his DNA is made up of working dogs, we realized that he needs exercise to wear him out. We started taking him on his long lead into the backyard and playing various games with him. He has a few that he really likes. Chasing a ball is the best, and it gets him worn out well. He needs at least two sessions each day. We stumble on new things he likes by doing something once, then him telling us he wants to do that same thing the next day. That’s how we found out he likes rides in the truck.
His first truck rides were always to the vet. But like our other dogs, he wasn’t keen to get into the truck because he would always end up at the vet. So we started taking him on non-vet drives, hoping to limit his fear. It would be nice to have a dog we could take anywhere with us, we thought. And our other dog at the time could barely get into the truck and hated going, so we hoped to solve this problem. So one morning, we loaded the truck and took him with us. We went downtown in our little town, and we cracked the windows so he could get the smells of the area. He loved seeing people on the street – he loved the chickens (this was BEFORE the chicken sanctuary was closed). He enjoyed the whole experience. He loved it so much that the next day, he stood at the door and barked at us in a way he does that implies we are bad dog parents. Figuring he just needed to relieve himself, I took him outside, and he proceeded to drag me to the truck. He went on one ride downtown with the windows down, and now he wanted it as part of his daily routine. Years later, he gets rides on most days that end in “Y.” And if he doesn’t, he lets us know that he’s not happy.
He’s smart – yet there’s one more thing
It was also about this time that I noticed that he was smarter than other dogs we’d had. I’ve had some really clever dogs, including one King Shepherd who knew that when we got on the tractor to mow the yard, she had to gather up her “toys” and put them on the deck – these were the sticks she liked in the yard. We’d say, “Go get your toys,” as we got on the tractor, and she would gather up about 10-15 branches and put them on the deck, where they’d be safe from being destroyed by the Bush Hog. We never trained her to do this. She just got the idea all on her own. But the Husky is a little different. One time, when I was playing with him in between working, I told him to get his ball. He returned with a bone, and I told him, “Not your bone, your ball,” and I started working again. He dropped the bone, turned around, scanned the room, and brought me a ball. I was floored. He can distinguish the two and knows the difference. Couple this with his stubbornness at doing basic obedience and his love of talking back and biting, and I started to see the whole picture. This dog is an asshole.
I Googled “My Husky is an asshole.” There were a lot of hits. This is clearly a thing. It’s why you came here today. Videos, testimonials, etc. In all my dog training years, I had missed this. I had always heard that Huskies were “a challenging breed.” Now, I know what that means. He can be a complete jerk when he doesn’t get his way. He insists on routines, which melds well with my life when I’m home. But, he tells us to go to bed at night when he’s tired. He tells us when he wants to go out in the morning – not too early. Don’t try to get him out of his crate before he’s ready. And he still gets fed on a plate we must hold for him. Otherwise, he won’t eat. He eats off china, by the way. Don’t ask.
That being said, he’s the most housebroken dog I’ve ever had. I attribute that to the Chow Chow in his blood. When he’s being good, he’s a great dog, and now that he has a friend, he’s calmed down a little – at least he bugs his doggie pal for attention more than he bugs us, which is definitely a good thing. But at heart, he’s just an asshole. A cute and furry asshole, but an asshole nonetheless.
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