From my archive: Raising huskies, November 23, 2015


I suppose you wonder why I write all these observations. To tell you the truth I’m not sure, maybe it will help someone who is brave enough to get a Husky. Maybe it will help dog owners in general. I don’t know but for me it is a record of my trials and tribulations.

Today’s observations are about the pack. Yes, the pack is a social network that only dogs understand. It’s in their DNA and no matter how much you’d like to do away with it, you can’t.

Observation 1: I’ve watched a hundred videos of Huskies howling and chomping at the bit to be selected to be attached to a sled. The funny thing is when I get out Coopers harness out he puts his ears flat and absolutely does not want his harness put on him.

I had a hard time understanding this behavior and wondered what I was doing wrong. Then after looking at the videos I figured it out. Huskies that work for a living are chained to a stake with a dog house nearby.

It’s not cruel but a necessity because if you let a Husky off his lead he is gone. The free spirit in these dogs is strong. They want to roam, hunt, and do the things wolves do. It finally made sense to me. They are a working breed and not all huskies live in the house.

Chained dogs want to escape their bonds and run. Anything is better than being tied up and I don’t blame them. So, when I compare Coopers somewhat freedom of a huge fenced property it makes sense to me. Once he is hooked up to my bike he loves it. He runs, and he does what Huskies have done for thousands of years. He loves to run, and it’s just getting started that is the problem.

Observation 2: This is the one that won’t win me any new friends but it is…what it is. The biggest mistake people make with their dogs is they fall into the trap of believing they are humans. I admit it is easy to fall so in love with your dog that you think he has the same brain power that you do.

Dogs do not have the same emotions that we have. They have a very structured society with its own rules. They are not PEOPLE! This is the thing you must remember above all else. If your dog has problems it is probably because you forgot he/she is a dog and not a person.

So, this part will not be taken well by those of you who think dogs are people. If you follow my posts you know that I love my dogs to death! But I remember they are dogs not my children.

Huskies are rough, tough, and have a spirit to dominate. That is what made them capable of surviving in the harshest climates in the world. They have a huge prey drive and are quite capable of killing smaller animals in order to eat. To a Husky, anything smaller than they are, is a potential meal. Cats, squirrels, yes and even dogs are on the menu.

Huskies want a structured pack. Having served in the Military I understand this more than those of you who have not. There is a chain of command and the leader must lead or all hell breaks loose. Huskies want to know where they stand, who the boss is, and who is not.

Cooper is feeling his oats and is almost a year old. He wants to lead and dominate the girls. He can’t take Sammie yet, and she is the Alpha female and will put him in his place even though he outweighs her. She is a tough girl, and won’t take any shit from him.

That leaves poor Nikki, barely 10 weeks old trying to find her place in our pack, and live another day. For the most part Cooper loves her and they play nice, but sometimes he forgets how huge he is. Nikki is a pup and not ready to hold her own yet.

That’s when I step in and remind him that what every he is doing is enough. I don’t do it out of hate, or some strange power trip. I do it because it’s required to keep order and my dog’s safe from each other. This is the part that people have a hard time dealing with. They forget that these are dogs and not people.

Dogs do not hold grudges, plan to burn your house down, or kill you in your sleep for applying discipline. They expect discipline, because that’s how it’s been for thousands of years. Someone has to lead, and as an owner that is you.

No human in my family will be subservient to our dogs. That is not acceptable if you want to have a great relationship with your pack. Human’s first, dogs second. The pack hierarchy below that is up to the dogs. But human rule is a must. Not for every little thing but for safety of all.

So, for today’s lesson: Cooper and Nikki are enjoying a healthy play session. I’m standing there running interference for the small one. Cooper has never been around puppies before, and for the most part he does really well.

But just like two siblings who start out wrestling, it can quickly escalate into a dangerous scenario in which someone gets hurt. I’m right there and Cooper has his giant alligator jaws around Nikki’s neck. Usually he controls himself but in the heat of dog battle he forgets and squeezes enough to make her squeal in pain.

This is the dog’s way of telling the offender, “Too Hard!”

I grab him by the scruff and yell, “NO!” And give him a good shake, not hard enough to hurt him, but it makes him jump back and look at me. Does he hate me now? No, thirty seconds later he comes over and licks my face.

This discipline is probably less than he would have received from another dog in the real world. He probably would have received a painful bite.

He’s learned that I’m in charge and that what he did was not acceptable. Most people say you should never man-handle your dog. I would agree if it is done in anger, but when you have big powerful animals. Just yelling “please no baby” does not faze them.

Nikki survived, and was back jumping in his face a minute later. She has lessons to learn also, and sometimes Cooper reminds her that she has gone too far. In the real world, this would play out to its natural conclusion.

Nikki might go too far, and receive a terrible bite. I won’t allow that to happen, so I do what is needed to maintain order, without disturbing their natural tendencies as much as possible. So, disagree with me if you want, but that is how you raise dogs. Especially dogs powerful dogs full of independence.

Sometimes you have to be the boss no matter what is going on. Just remember they are not people. It’s not cruel to maintain discipline in your dogs. They are stronger, faster, but not smarter than you.

Do your dogs a favor, apply the amount of discipline they need. Be the leader but fair at the same time. Don’t let your dog’s rule your life. It’s a partnership and all of you have to do your part.

You are the leader, be a good one.


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