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 Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?

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MartianHusky
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PostSubject: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:50 am

I find it frustrating that there are so many in-depth books about the behavior of other breeds; German Shepherds come to mind, but there seems to be a paucity of in-depth information about Siberian Huskies.

There are some books like Siberian Huskies for Dummies and Barron's Dog Bibles that only tangentially touch on their personality traits and quirks relative to other breeds.

Does anyone know of any in-depth studies done on the breed with regards to their behavior or anyone of authority on husky temperament I could correspond with?  

If not, I would think veteran mushers probably would have more in-depth knowledge. I am interested in this for practical applications in training huskies. There is just not much information on how training can be applied specifically to suit their quirks of huskies. I hypothesize that many folks obtain huskies mainly for looks and either they have no interest in truly training them or they fall in-into the self-fulfilling prophecy that huskies are too stubborn and independent to be trained propagating the cycle. So one of my interests is understanding to how effective training can be modified to take account of huskies breed quirks while at the same time understand that breed generalizations can be overly broad.


Last edited by MartianHusky on Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : syntax)
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:50 am

We do have a couple members who show and mush their dogs. I imagine those quirks are a large reason why there's no a ton of books out there like you are interested in. No two huskies are alike (same can be said for other breeds too) but of all the breeds I have had I think the greatest difference I've seen has been between my two huskies. My female trains by your normal textbook training methods you could get from any general dog training book, you just have to work at it a tad longer to solidify her at it. My boy doesn't follow any training norms. In my mind if someone tried to lump all huskies into one book of training methods they would be setting themselves up for failure or at least a large level of backlash. There's also a large difference between a common pet grade husky and a husky someone who is working their dog. Original intent of breed was to pull sleds a long way. Not hunt or guard, both things which require a level of obedience. GSDs original intent required more obedience so it's still a little more deeply ingrained in their DNA to learn and observe which I think lends itself a little more to being able to put together a more reliable definitive guide for training. Plus, as much as we see huskies, they still aren't terribly popular breeds, though game of thrones has made a dent in that not necessarily for the better, so books on them are unlikely to sell well. That's kinda my take on why there aren't many well known books that are recommended often.

There is a book called siberian husky training guide by Ian Watson but I haven't read it. Fairly new publication. 2016. Also in 2016 Paul Allen peace came out with know your dog: train your siberian husky. I assume all these came out in response to the GOT popularity so I am unsure of their accuracy.

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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:08 pm

I know of no books.  Personally I think it's a matter of flexibility..Not being married to a specific training phiLosophy.  Know your dog, use what works and abandon what doesn't work.  All based on a bit of understanding of basic learning theory, whether dog or human.
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Misty Mia Husky
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:08 pm

I'm not a Husky expert, but I did once work for a publishing company that specialized in pet books. No, there isn't a lot of literature on Husky behavior, because one thing that's consistent with Huskies is that they're inconsistent. The trick is to find the one thing that motivates each individual dog and use that as your training focus -- and even then, there's no guarantee the dog will remain consistent in its interest. They get bored easily, and when they're bored they're easily distracted by other things.

Most books on dog behavior are written by general (multiple-breed) dog trainers, and most general dog trainers do not like working with the Spitz/Nordic breeds. There are individual exceptions, of course, but for the most part, Huskies and other Spitz/Nordics are NOT eager to please, which makes them hard for most trainers to deal with. Even if a publisher wanted to publish a book on Husky behavior, it's hard to find someone willing to write it. Whole volumes could be devoted to every little Husky quirk.
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lepp1892
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:59 pm

I could see it now... Multiple books trying to incorporate husky behaviors.

Book 1 - Training for Huskies that are Food motivated
Book 2 - Training for Huskies that are Toy motivated
Book 3 - Training for Huskies that are Affection motivated
Book 4 - Training for Huskies that are not motivated to please even if their lives depended on it.
Book 5 - Training for Huskies that are sort of motivated by food, toys, affection.
Book 6 - Training for Huskies.... You can try...

All of them having the same disclaimer... Huskies are strong willed dogs and may or may not listen to you on any given day because they don't feel like it.
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Misty Mia Husky
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:54 pm

Hahaha, yeah, you're right, Kyle! Another issue with these dogs is that they are often PROBLEM-SOLVING intelligent. Just when you think you have them outsmarted, they prove you wrong. They are grade-A experts at finding workarounds from what you expect them to do. All you can do is hope that they get bored with trying to find workarounds!

I once met a trainer who DID like the Spitz/Nordic dog breeds, and he was of the opinion that the reason they were so independent and smart was because they were so "primitive." He didn't view being primitive as an insult, like some trainers do. He saw it as a sign that the Spitz/Nordics hadn't been "dumbed down" and still retained many of the survival skills that their wild ancestors had -- skills that have been lost by other dog breeds.
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jbealer
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:37 pm

Kyle, you have me cracking up! I think within those titles should also be age groups! Jack did not become amazing till about 3, before that we thought there was no hope, then one day he just got it.
Finn is proving to also follow that, he is to smart for his own good and he is keeping me on my toes, sneaky bugger. i think as long as i keep trying and stay on top of training even if it does not seem like he is getting it i hope one day it will click.
Sierra at the ripe age of 14.5 has just given up and does what ever she wants even though she knows better, and well we do let her slide on things because of her age.
i have the huskies for dummy book and enjoyed the read even if it did not have much for training.

what about looking at people who follow wild packs and see what they say about how they work and bringing that into some of the training?

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IamtheAlpha
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:54 pm

@lepp1892 wrote:
Book 1 - Training for Huskies that are Food motivated
Book 2 - Training for Huskies that are Toy motivated
Book 3 - Training for Huskies that are Affection motivated
Book 4 - Training for Huskies that are not motivated to please even if their lives depended on it.
Book 5 - Training for Huskies that are sort of motivated by food, toys, affection.
Book 6 - Training for Huskies.... You can try...

LOL! This definitely cracked me up. I think I need Book 4 and Book 6.

To be honest with you, I think if someone actually made these training books, they would be rich. Because huskies personalities change so often while they age that they might have to buy all the books just to try them all!
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lepp1892
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:49 am

@Misty Mia Husky wrote:
Hahaha, yeah, you're right, Kyle! Another issue with these dogs is that they are often PROBLEM-SOLVING intelligent. Just when you think you have them outsmarted, they prove you wrong. They are grade-A experts at finding workarounds from what you expect them to do. All you can do is hope that they get bored with trying to find workarounds!


So true. There was this thing we had taught Gabby to do in our first training class where she is supposed to do a slow loop around and come to our side and sit. Trainer called in by-heel. Gabby got tired of doing the slow walk in a circle to get by our side and just decided to come to our side and do a quick 180. We had been told by another trainer after that, getting a dog to do what Gabby decided to do on her own was extremely difficult and was amazed that she did it. Pretty funny how they work.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:50 am

Yeah, Kyle...hysterical. Z'ev has come up . With a mere wrinkle. When I want a long down, I send him to his mat tho lay down. He goes there alright, then he circles as if he's going to lay down. But then he stops to take a drink. Then he circles. Then he drinks. Then he stands there and looks at me...Then he sort of pouts like a sulking teenager and finally lays down. Brat knows I'm not going tho begrudge him a drink :p
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MartianHusky
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:13 pm

It seems like to me that the best training approach for the husky breed would be a balanced approach i.e. training new behaviors motivationally with food and then later proofing behavior with corrections.

It would seem to me and based on my personal experience that it would be impossible to train the vast majority of huskies to any level of competence in obedience with taking only a force-free or positive reinforcement and negative punishment approach.

I am curious who started this myth that huskies can never be trained to have a successful recall. My bet is that it is due to show dog people who don't need to have husky off-leash and need minimal amounts of training or due to people who have an agenda against using ecollars or other aversives in training.
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:34 pm

My thinking is that it probably started up more when huskies came south and you started seeing them being bought more by people who had only ever had "easy" to train dogs like hunting dogs. Even show dogs have to be highly trained. It might not be tricks but they still have to be able to heel pretty well, stay calm and focus, and stand still for a chunk of time which isn't something the breed is bred to do historically. The classic dog owner expects a dog to basically just pick up on what they want the dog to do without too much stringent training. I grew up with bird dogs. For the most part they are born knowing what you want them to do (if you get a good quality dog anyway) and you just dial them in. Trying to apply this kind of thinking to a husky will make a person think they are either stupid because it doesn't work or that they can't be trained. If the majority of first experiences to a region with the breed turn out similar because of repeated attempts at training them like you would a hunting dog fail then rumors start. And rumors are hard to kill. But stereotypes don't necessarily come about for no reason at all.

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MartianHusky
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:22 pm

TwisterII,

Interesting perspective. I would definitely say this about German Shepards. They are born with an inherent desire to please so I think a properly trained husky is really a reflection of a skilled trainer.

But it is my understanding that hunting dogs tend to be trained with a lot of compulsion. The forced retrieve comes to mind. Maybe I am wrong on this. I personally have nothing against using aversives, but I always like to train with plenty of positive reinforcement first before using aversives or compulsion to teach the dog that there are negative consequences for disobedience. And this last part seems very important for husky training due to their more independent mind set.
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TwisterII
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PostSubject: Re: Expert on Siberian Husky behavior?   Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:06 pm

We never had to train with any negative reinforcement. We carried liver which was higher value than the birds. Only time when dealing with bird dogs we have been tempted was one dog wanted to flush early. Broke her of it with a long line. I personally have witnessed more hounds receiving punishment training. They can be pretty dim sometimes and will run things they shouldn't which can be dangerous so more imperative to break that quickly.

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