Bringing a dog into your life is a big decision and should never be taken lightly. It is a ten to fifteen-year commitment, encompassing training, exercising, and ensuring that medical needs are met. Regardless of these tasks, getting a puppy is always exciting, and getting a Husky puppy is an added challenge, not for the faint-hearted.
Huskies are notoriously independent, high-energy, determined, and mischievous. Well known for doing whatever they please and getting away with it because they are so adorable! For these reasons, you must start focus training with your Husky puppy as soon as possible.
The sooner you teach your Husky to focus on you, the easier it will be to build on that training.
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What is Focus Training
Focus training is the initial building block for any training you do with your dog. Basically, focus training is teaching your pup to listen to you, to pay attention to you. In addition, focus training teaches your Husky that it is more rewarding to focus on you than anything else around your pup. You are the giver of fun, praise, ear scratches, belly rubs, and yummy treats. You teach your puppy that good things happen when they focus on you!
If your Husky isn’t focused on you, it won’t be listening to you, and it won’t be learning anything from you. Therefore training won’t happen. All dogs need to learn to pay attention to their human for training to happen. If training doesn’t happen, you end up with an unruly dog, and when the teenage t-rex stage comes around, it will be carnage.
How Can I Get My Husky To Focus On Me
Huskies love to play; like all puppies, the easiest way to train a Husky is to turn it into a game. Therefore, you will want high-value rewards for training in focus games, such as little pieces of cheddar cheese, hotdog sausage, or cooked chicken. High-value rewards are rewards that aren’t used all the time. For example, my Husky will do anything for a little bit of cheddar!
You don’t need lots of treats, maybe around ten pieces per session, and the sessions only need to last around five minutes a couple of times a day, every day for about a week. The focus games should start inside the home in a low-distraction environment. You want to set your dog up for success.
When they can do it consistently inside, move it outside with a little distraction. Once they can do it with a little distraction, you can try it somewhere with a bit more distraction. Take it at your dog’s pace. If your Husky struggles to focus, go back a step or two and retry with fewer distractions. You will get a more solid focus in the long run if you go at your dog’s pace.
You can start your focus training right away, and you can do it while teaching your new puppy its name.
The Name Game
You want your Husky to learn its name, but you also want your Husky to associate its name with positive experiences. Your pup will be more eager to respond to its name if it has positive rewards and experience when it hears its name.
- Hold a treat in your hand near your puppy’s nose to get their attention.
- In a happy tone of voice, say their name when they turn toward you.
- When they look at you, mark it with a ‘yes’ or ‘good boy/girl’ (whatever comes naturally to you) and give the treat.
- Repeat this a few times, and always use a happy tone.
Whenever you say your dog’s name and they respond, always praise and make it a positive experience for them. It would help if you were consistent with the praise and rewards, as this will build trust and reinforce hearing, and responding to their name is a positive experience.
A common mistake is to overuse your dog’s name. For example, only use your Husky’s name when you want their attention; otherwise, it becomes white noise to them, and they ignore you.
Look At Me
This game follows on from the name game. Once your Husky responds to its name, you can then teach it to look at you. Practice this for up to five minutes daily in a low-distraction environment for a week or so.
- Hold a treat in your hand.
- In a happy voice, say your Husky’s name and mark this with praise and reward.
- Hold a treat in your hand and move your hand towards your nose; your Husky will follow the treat.
- When your Husky makes eye contact, mark and give the treat.
- Repeat moving the treat towards your nose.
- When your Husky makes eye contact, say ‘look at me’, ‘watch me’ or ‘focus’, whichever is more natural for you, mark it and give the reward.
When your Husky has mastered this, hold the treat in your other hand:
- Move your hand towards your nose (to begin, it might be helpful if your fingers smell like their favorite treat) and say ‘watch me’ or whatever your cue word is.
- When your dog makes eye contact with you, mark and reward.
When your puppy has mastered this in a low distraction environment, you can gradually up the distractions, as you did with the name game.
There are lots of games to play with your Husky that reward them for paying attention to you. Touch is another good game where you teach your dog to touch your hand with its nose to earn a reward. Again, this game gets them to focus on you, reinforcing that good things happen when they listen to and cooperate with you.
How Can I Get My Husky to Focus on Me While Walking
Getting your Husky to focus on you when it’s out walking on lead will take time. Huskies have a curious nature and love to explore new (and old) smells, other dogs and animals, and say hello to people.
Teaching the focus and look at me games in a low distraction environment and slowly building up their ability to focus on you with distractions around them will enable you to introduce these cues while they are on lead walking with you. It will take time, patience, consistency, and lots of little pieces of yummy high-value treats.
To begin with, try walking in a low distraction area and slowly build up the amount of distraction your pup will encounter.
I recommend a Y-shaped 2-point harness with a double-ended lead to help with focus and loose lead training. A Y-shaped 2-point harness doesn’t put any pressure on your dog if they pull or lunge, but it will turn them around to face you, which is the opposite of what they want to do. I love the harnesses and leads from Xtradog.com. However, Amazon sells some good ones too.
- When you are about to begin your walk, ask your Husky to focus on you, mark and reward, then start walking.
- When your Husky starts getting too far ahead of you, say their name and look at me, mark and reward if they focus.
- If they ignore you and carry-on walking, stop walking, stand still.
- When they turn towards you, to see why you aren’t walking, say their name, don’t move.
This can often feel like a stand-off between you and your Husky, but wait them out.
- When they come back to your side, praise them, and say something like thank you or good boy/girl, don’t give a reward right away; wait a minute until your dog is calm and focused on you before you mark and reward.
- Start walking again, and randomly ask them to focus on you, mark and reward every success.
- Repeat the earlier steps of stopping and waiting for your pup to focus on you if they ignore you and carry on walking ahead.
It is a time-consuming process, and it can’t be rushed. However, if you persevere, you will have a dog who can walk past other dogs, animals, and people without lunging. This method also helps your dog to learn to loose lead walk. This means lovely walks without your shoulder getting pulled out of its socket.
Can I Train an Older Husky to Focus
Contrary to the old saying, you can indeed teach an older dog new tricks. Of course, it will take a little bit of time because you have to help your dog unlearn any habits, but with patience, consistency, and many high-value rewards, you can retrain your older Husky.
Go back to the beginning with your Husky, start with the name game, and progress the same way you would with a puppy. Lots of praise and rewards for engaging in the new behaviors.
My Husky Is Too Distracted to Focus On Me
Take a step back if you have been working on the name game and the look at me game, but your Husky is still distracted. You have progressed quicker than your dog was ready to. You must go at your dog’s pace for these training games to be effective. Rushing the pace sets your Husky to fail and can cause you both frustration.
If you need to go back to the beginning of the training, then do so. The initial work will be in place, and you can move forward.
Final Word on Focus Training
I think that focus training is wildly underrated, especially for Huskies. If any dog breed needs to learn to focus on its human, then it’s the Husky! They are notorious for ignoring you and running off to go on their adventures.
There were days with my Husky that I seriously questioned my life choices. It felt like one step forward, two steps back. Especially during the teenage t-rex stage! However, I am glad I stuck with the focus training games. I have an adult Husky who loose lead walks and can go off lead.
Even though my Husky is now blind, she can still loose lead walk and go off lead. She has learned to listen to our cues and respond. I must admit that it feels slightly off when I ask my blind Husky to look at me. Luna will still turn her head and focus on me; even though she can’t see me, she shows that she is listening to me.
We hope you found this article helpful.