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 Using the prey drive to train?

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GeorginaMay
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PostSubject: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:49 am

Hi All Smile
I was thinking about my arsenal of training rewards for Orion this evening and decided to put this question to you all...

Has anyone successfully used their Huskies prey drive to train them? and if so how did you do it?

At our various classes all of the instructors reiterate that the most success you will have is when you use what motivate your dog. Issue being Orion is not like the nice little borders that work ever so hard for a pat on the head Very Happy
He is motivated by moving objects; large, small, near or far although preferably alive...
He is motivated to run - far away at impressive pace
and most of all he is motivated to do whatever he damn well pleases when and how he wants to do it. Oh and he may be motivated by food if it is especially good (and I make him skip breakfast) although this is very hit and miss.

What motivates your dogs?

I know I'm attempting to apply training that working dogs thrive on to a dog with prey drive not working drive which is asking a lot of him but I feel like there must be something I am missing, some opportunity that I am not taking advantage of.

I must say though, while I am struggling to find his motivator - his focus is excellent, I am really surprised especially considering his age and attention span. Once he decides to work he really excels, its motivating him to want to...
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wpskier222
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:52 am

OH I LOVE THIS!!! This is something I've been exploring myself, and have found a method that is focused on using prey drive energy. In fact, in August, I'll be going to a two week train the trainer workshop and I'm so excited! The first site is a little easier to understand and a little more practical and down to earth, but he bases his training on Natural Dog Training. On the natural dog blog, read the article, Dog Training: How to be calm, assertive, AND relaxed – be the moose! It basically flips alpha theory upside down and talks about creating a feeling that your dog sees you as prey. Not necessarily in the way we think of prey, but in a way that you understand his most natural drive (prey drive) and allow him to express that drive toward you in a way that you shape. Also, I would argue that ALL working drive, IS prey drive. I do the pushing exercises with Dizzy and I feel like he is so much calmer and more focused on me in general. This type of training is very new to me, but it really speaks to me on a deeper level, and I feel like reaches Dizzy on a deeper level. Let me know what you think!

Here are some great places to start:

http://www.naturaldogblog.com/learn-the-basics-of-natural-dog-training/

http://naturaldogtraining.com/
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:52 am

I'm really lucky - Ami will work his butt off for even 1 little piece of kibble! When he's loose in the backyard (fenced - I'm still paranoid about losing him), he stays within 40 ft of me, knowing my pocket has a baggie full of kibble. And thus, his recall is superb - when he hears that baggie rustle Laughing I made a whole qt. of boiled and frozen chicken livers to train with - loves them but is no better than just grabbing a piece of kibble.

He does have a high prey drive, too. Just not sure how you would harness that? But is really great for keeping the deer away from my plantings - since Ami came along, the deer have totally changed their browsing route bounce 
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wpskier222
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:55 am

You harness it by 'becoming' the deer (metaphorically obviously), so you are the MOST attractive thing to him. When he sees you, he feels 'deer.'

Edit - most owners constantly repress prey drive, so huskies become pent up, crazy, easily set off dogs. The natural dog training theory talks about how when a dog represses his drive, it starts to build up. This is a very natural survival behavior, when prey is denied, that energy/drive is stored up (think potential energy). When another opportunity presents itself, the dog has that increased drive to allow him to capture more difficult prey. If we never allow our dogs to express the drive, they will boil over at some point and find their own way to let it out (zoomies, etc.). If we become his expression of that drive, we become the most powerful and attractive component in their lives.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:17 am

@wpskier222 wrote:
You harness it by 'becoming' the deer (metaphorically obviously), so you are the MOST attractive thing to him. When he sees you, he feels 'deer.'

Edit - most owners constantly repress prey drive, so huskies become pent up, crazy, easily set off dogs. The natural dog training theory talks about how when a dog represses his drive, it starts to build up. This is a very natural survival behavior, when prey is denied, that energy/drive is stored up (think potential energy). When another opportunity presents itself, the dog has that increased drive to allow him to capture more difficult prey. If we never allow our dogs to express the drive, they will boil over at some point and find their own way to let it out (zoomies, etc.). If we become his expression of that drive, we become the most powerful and attractive component in their lives.

Hmmm...I may have unknowingly succeeded at this. Husband says Ami is always aware of where I am, waiting for me...I know on our walks, my number 1 goal is to give Mr. Dog the chance to be a dog. Wander, stop, sniff, lay down in the middle of the road for a belly rub, run (a bit - I am 62, creaky and coming out of debilitation Very Happy ). Just as long as he doesn't go Pogo Stick and plop me face first in the ditch! It may be me. It may be the pocket full of kibble that I always have. And it's funny - I always let him win at tug of war - I want him to have FUN!
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wpskier222
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:34 am

It sounds like you are naturally doing a lot of the things suggested by the natural theory. I always think Ami sounds like a very fulfilled and lucky husky with all of the critters he gets to chase and carcasses he finds and investigates, plus the fun attitude you have with him. Smile
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:50 pm

I too find this really interesting and just in general I am really into the idea of fulfilling a dog by not suppressing or "training away" instincts and drives, but rather using them for your and your dog's advantage.

There was a section in Dog Training For Dummies 2nd Edition by Jack and Wendy Volhard that I read before I got Link and was preparing myself for training. I will post some photos. These are from the section entitled "Understanding Your Dog's Mind" Chapter 5 pp. 65-82







And just for good measure, here's my 2nd favorite dog breed because he was in cue next to these photos.



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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:59 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:09 pm

@wpskier222 wrote:
You harness it by 'becoming' the deer (metaphorically obviously), so you are the MOST attractive thing to him. When he sees you, he feels 'deer.'

Edit - most owners constantly repress prey drive, so huskies become pent up, crazy, easily set off dogs. The natural dog training theory talks about how when a dog represses his drive, it starts to build up. This is a very natural survival behavior, when prey is denied, that energy/drive is stored up (think potential energy). When another opportunity presents itself, the dog has that increased drive to allow him to capture more difficult prey. If we never allow our dogs to express the drive, they will boil over at some point and find their own way to let it out (zoomies, etc.). If we become his expression of that drive, we become the most powerful and attractive component in their lives.




This is so spot on.  

I have had so much success with Link off-leash out in the woods because, I feel, we incorporate him into our activities in such a way that makes him feel like he is working and he is needed.  

One grain of salt I always come back to over and over again when we talk about "essential" breed characteristics is the underlying assumptions involved beneath problematic behaviors, particularly for this discussion running for the hills when possible and escaping/destructiveness.  

These problematic behaviors have to be, in large, due to unfulfilled drives and needs.  If a dog (husky, whatever) runs for the hills whenever she/he came, I think the question "what is she/he running *from* ?" is just as if not more important than the question "what is she/he running *towards* ?"  

Same with escaping, just switch the word 'running' for 'escaping.'

What is often implied when we speak of problematic "essential" breed characteristics is that it has to be this way because it is just who they are.  I have always taken great exception to this implication.  

While I agree that the drives and instincts themselves are essential I do not agree that they need to manifest themselves as problems.  We, and our dogs, can learn to utilize them for our benefit and in fulfilling ways rather than fall victim to them in problematic ways.


Last edited by seattlesibe on Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:12 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : formatting italics, ugh.)
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:47 pm

When I ask Dizzy to repress his drive, I try to very quickly give him an outlet. For example, I ask him not to stalk or chase a squirrel, then I take off running with some kind of squeaky, tug, plush, or otherwise stimulating toy and let him chase me, then we tug and he wins, or I toss the toy ahead and he pounces on it, grabs it, shakes, it and then prances around with it. He is starting to look to me when those drivey feelings kick in. I can see a lot of room for improvement, but it's pretty amazing. A really clear example of this to me, is to watch bite training with shepherds. When they are working, their drive is ON and super high, and yet when they are not working, if trained correctly, they are calm, family pets. They are allowed to express their drive on a daily basis and have an incredibly deep bond with their handlers because of this partnership/relationship.

The trainer for Dizzy's class on Saturday said that if her dog doesn't do something she asks, she tries to figure out why, and then used an example of how she intermittently rewarded too soon and trained the dog to ignore her. I have always felt that seeing dogs as simple stimulus response machines is so much more shallow than what is actually happening between an owner/handler and their dog. The natural dog training philosophy comes closer to hitting the mark of how I feel about the connection I have with Dizzy.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:52 pm

Right, because the assumption that all they want is treats is misleading and unfair as well.

They are capable of being conditioned response machines but that's not all they are all the time.

I've always thought that treat-based positive reinforcement training alone is a little lazy.

I love the idea of knowing the why behind them doing what they do. Dynamic being require dynamic training.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:57 pm

There's a great worksheet in the book that asks you to score your dogs response in certain situations and this allows you to formulate a personality profile based on drives. This, of course, sets you up to train your dog and interact with her/him with a regiment specifically catered to her/his uniqueness.

Link's totals were Prey-61, Pack-51, Fight-32, and Flight-17, the so-called "Hunter" personality archetype.
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wpskier222
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:02 pm

I also think that starting with no distraction and then working up to high distraction doesn't necessarily create a reliable dog. There will always be a distraction that hasn't been proofed.

The point of using the prey drive in this way is that the state they are in when chasing a squirrel, is going to be their highest drive state. When training in this manner you are creating that state and teaching them to work, respond and think in that state.

A recent example I experienced with this with Diz, was pretty amazing for him and me too! We were in the dog park super early in the morning, and there were no other dogs inside. There were a few off leash outside and he used to bolt to the fence and stand there and woo and yip at them. So anyway, here we are alone in the dog park and he spots a dog outside the fence and bolts. I say his name and is recall word, and he stops dead in his tracks I say his name again and he takes off toward me as fast as possible, so I run as fast as I can in the other direction as he reaches me I encourage him to jump on me and let him take my wrist in his mouth (I had a thick coat on). He grabs my wrist, and shakes and we wrestle for a bit and play chase some more and then I give him some treats. He had such a smile on his face it just made me melt. After that he followed me around all day with the lovey eyes lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:05 pm

That reminds me of the one time I dropped his leash in the city.  He ran about 1 block and stopped, turned to look at me as if to say "draw first, I dare you."

I know his personality and his drive, so I neither panicked nor chased after him.  I ran the opposite direction from him and he chased me, caught up to me, jumped up and mouthed my arm, and then leaned on my leg with goo goo eyes.  

He too, like Dizaster with you, was in love with me that day.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:12 pm

I feel like that look says, "you finally understand."
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:14 pm

@wpskier222 wrote:
It sounds like you are naturally doing a lot of the things suggested by the natural theory. I always think Ami sounds like a very fulfilled and lucky husky with all of the critters he gets to chase and carcasses he finds and investigates, plus the fun attitude you have with him. Smile

Carcasses...let's see - last night I yanked a huge bird out of his mouth at midnight and this morning on our walk, I pulled what I thought was garbage but actually a dead mouse out his mouth. My gloves are beginning to really stink!

Yeah - this is dog heaven out here. Lots of critters, open spaces. Nice people - most everyone we meet on our walks will take a few moments to scratch his ears or under his chin. My only worry is the road - even though we say its a traffic jam if we see 2 cars at once, its a country road and people travel fast (they do slow way down and go over to the other lane when I'm walking which is really, really nice). A couple of years ago people down the street let their lab out let at night to pee - he dashed into the road and was killed. Traffic at night may be only 1 or 2 cars an hour but it only takes 1 car in the wrong place. Once the snow is gone, we'll be putting in an invisible fence around the 5 acres we keep mowed - hopefully, Ami will respect it. I think he will - he's learned the boundaries of his trolley, even when I undo his shackle from the trolley I have show him he can leave the trolley boundary and the first thing he does when we visit a dog park is survey the boundaries so I think he'll be responsive. Would love to let him romp free while I'm outside.

Mostly, I find siberians to be very much like 2 year old kids - my favorite age and I just respond the same to both, kind of an easy-going camaraderie with a very firm boundary based on what's safe and what is not. As my husband says with kids - if it's not going to hurt them and I can afford/do it - why not? Of course, I have the luxury of time since I don't work any more and husband has been cutting back.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:33 pm

After I wrote that experience I read through it and started analysing it (as I'm prone to do) and here is how I sort of see it:

So anyway, here we are alone in the dog park and he spots a dog outside the fence and bolts.

Prey drive activated by dog moving outside of the fence.

I say his name and is recall word, and he stops dead in his tracks.

Prey drive momentarily repressed/interrupted.

I say his name again and he takes off toward me as fast as possible, so I run as fast as I can in the other direction

Prey drive redirected toward me at a higher intensity than it was originally. He's 'hunting' me.

as he reaches me I encourage him to jump on me and let him take my wrist in his mouth (I had a thick coat on). He grabs my wrist, and shakes and we wrestle for a bit

Prey drive is being released because he has caught his prey (me), and allowed to do the behaviors associated with catching and killing an animal, biting, shaking, taking down (wrestling).

and play chase some more and then I give him some treats.

Prey drive re-activated (prey escapes) chase ensues and is ultimately caught and satisfied with the final result of being fed and feeling satisfied.

He had a need to chase and get that other dog, it may have been a playful desire to 'get' the other dog, but ultimately what is triggering his reaction to run to the fence is prey drive. So instead of trying to bribe him with treats, I taught him that his most primitive desire can be satisfied by interacting WITH me, rather than ignoring me or running to something else. If I only repress the drive, he is going to run from me when he needs a release, as Jeff said. It was a pretty powerful experience for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:44 pm

Reading between the lines:  you've fulfilled his natural drives and his animal needs and therefore he deeply bonded with you.  You're not just a source of food or water or treats at this point you are connecting with him on a level deeper than "Dizzy" or "Husky".

The redirection is the key.  Don't train the drive away train the drive towards your relationship with your dog.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:58 pm

Yes, exactly, and he responded to me when I recalled him because of the foundation work that we've done with this.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:09 pm

Hmmm, there is a lot here that I need to consider and I think I need to make a compilation of current commands and how I am training them so I can look at the area's that I am having success and those I am not. Unfortunately I don't think I have trained with a clear enough strategy and I think I have caused some confusion in Orion...
For example I have trained all of his basic commands and those in his comp obedience class with both verbal and gestural command - these he responds to the best. Rally Obedience I have trained verbally because he is always positioned to my left and gestures cannot be effective in this position - these he does not do so well with. Agility I have worked on verbal, gestures and essentially "chase" I set him up and do not release him until I am a good distance through the course, then I run like hell while calling the verbal commands for each obstacle and directing him with my gestures aiming to keep ahead of him. This he has awesome fun doing although he can get a little overstimulated if I'm not careful and he has issues if he gets ahead of me because he will turn to watch me rather than listen to my direction. In a lot of our "household" commands that I use with him I have not verbal commands at all many of them are gestures.

Last night one of the other owners at training made a comment about Orion "the way your dog watches you is creepy" I can't say that it had ever really crossed my mind that this was abnormal because ever since he was a puppy he has centered himself to me. After that I started watching the other owners and their interaction with their dogs and I realized a distinct difference on how they were operating. Myself and another lady had almost constant contact, interaction or awareness of  our dogs and our dogs responded in kind - we are the two that are in class for "comedic relief of others only" meaning we have breeds not commonly trained in competition and we have no intention of competing we're just there for our dogs. The other owners focus primarily on the trainer and only seemed to focus on their dogs during exercises and even then it seemed to be on the execution of what they were doing, it almost felt like their dogs were tools. This unsettled me a bit and then I thought well I don't know the ins and outs of their breed so whatever works for them is fine, but it really struck a chord and I know I don't want my relationship with Orion to get to that. Hence the reason I brought up prey drive. I feel I need to make what I am asking of him more fulfilling for him which I am sure will make our bond stronger.

I think I am starting to ask for too much suppression and not allowing enough release. I'm sure I can implement more use of his drives in a casual and home environment but how do I achieve it in a formal one?

The idea of pouncing on then killing an object is perhaps something I could use. Maybe I could make a fur pouch and put treats in it then as a reward throw it and release him to pounce on and shake the treats out of the bag instead of just feeding him? Chase I utilize (and have done multiple times with him wandering away at class!) although probably not enough, dodging and rear tapping I'm sure I could use too especially after send aways.
Tug is not something he has ever been fond of, did any of you teach this in any way? Or is it something they either love or don't?

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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:16 pm

Personally I have never played tug. It just doesn't sit right with me. Link has excellent release with toys though and we don't ever have a competitive play style in that sense.

Instead, I engage him down on all 4s in a full green light to mouth and bump each other play that I think kind of releases the same drive and motive onto me and our relationship. His respect for me went though the roof when I taught him context-oriented mouthing play.

The comment from your classmate is priceless. Read: the way you and your dog are engaged in an animal sense is creepy.

Best. Compliment. Ever.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:24 pm

I don't think you've done a disservice by using some verbal and some non-verbal cues. I have several things with Dizzy that are totally non-verbal and others that are a mix, but like Orion, he definitely responds more to gestural cues/body language.

I do tug with Diz and he loves it, but I definitely made sure I trusted his release command before we started. I also do the wrestling on all 4s with him. He loves both. The latest game is to grab a squeaky to and run into the bathroom and shut the door, he comes and finds me, noses open the door, and I give him the toy and chase him. When I catch him I either grab and run again, tug, or wrestle, grab and run. It all starts with me 'stalking' him. I bend my knees, put my hands out front of me and freeze, then start walking toward him very slowly. He freezes and gets this excited glint in his eye and then waits for me to move. The second I do, he takes off in the other direction and chase ensues.

In terms of the watching thing I would take that as a compliment too. I feel like there is a thread between Dizzy and I, a string almost, and there is always a connection, even if he's ignoring me at the moment ha ha.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:30 pm

This conversation reminded me of one of the most potent points I took home from studying Cesar Millan's books.

He discusses the order of operations (not in those words) of how most people interact with their dogs and the order of operations of how people *should* interact with their dogs...which is essentially backwards from one another. I think this thread is echoing his prescription perfectly.

Most people interact with their dogs as Name--Breed--Dog--Animal : huge way in which we "humanize" dogs or, in his terms, burden them with human psychology rather than dog psychology.

We should interact with our dogs as Animal--Dog--Breed--Name : too much so we neglect the animal needs of our dogs OR we obsess over breed characteristics that we forget about their more fundamental needs.

This talk of prioritizing and utilizing drives echoes this idea of his.
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:39 pm

I must read the Cesar books, you have mentioned them a few times Jeff, they really do sound interesting. I love the idea of approaching interaction from a primal perspective rather than by preconceived notions.

I'm glad to hear that a mixture of commands may not be his issue Smile although really he doesn't have so much of an issue, I just want him to be happier and more fulfilled in what he is doing. I will give tug a try and see how we go, I've never really encouraged it though since I felt a release command was important. All 4s play is a great idea, Orion loves to wrestle with me! Maybe I'll try that in a reward situation and see how it goes. The others at training can't think I'm much more crazy than they already do Razz especially since I woo back at Orion if he's being chatty....

Yea I just had to laugh because she said it in such a snippy tone like "what they hell is wrong with you two"

Kinda didn't help that I started singing Creep by radiohead to Orion after that....
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PostSubject: Re: Using the prey drive to train?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:39 pm

Ha ha, in my opinion, dogs don't have psycology. To me, trying to understand a drive using dog psychology is like trying to understand need to eat with psychology. Past experiences, issues from childhood, etc., cause issues surrounding eating, like eating disorders, but the need to eat in and of itself is not psychological. Repression and twisting of that drive/need to eat is when it becomes psychological.
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Using the prey drive to train?

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It's a Husky Thing - Siberian Husky Forum :: Advice and Discussion Forums :: Training-