a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

Someone told me again yesterday how well-trained my huskies were. I have actually been told this a LOT. And I smile each time because well…they are not well-trained. This I can say pretty honestly. What they are is well-mannered.

When we got Angelus, I signed him up for puppy kindergarten immediately. I found what was supposed to be the very best one in our area and was very excited! We went every Saturday morning. They suggest you bring your puppy in unexercised so that they are getting the “real” puppy. Not worn out. Umm…..sure. Angelus woke up at 5:50am every single morning as a puppy. Class was not until 8am. There was no possible way he wasn’t getting his walk before class. Angelus was VERY energetic. Almost 9 years later, Angelus IS very energetic. But as a puppy he was a bouncing ball of fluffy energy. So I absolutely took him for his walk before puppy class!

He did very well in puppy class. But this class is really more for puppy parents. And to start socializing your puppy. The teacher/trainer of this class was known as a phenomenal dog trainer. Big believer in praise and treat-based training. She introduced her dog to the class and said “your puppy will not complete this series of classes and go home like my dog. This is kindergarten. And my dog has graduated college. So do not be discouraged!” She was very funny in class and you could tell she loved working with dogs and they responded very well to her.

Now, I had bought and read the puppy training books before we even picked up Angelus. And the Siberian Husky training books (these are really just written as jokes I think) and, of course, the books by The Monks of New Skete (the ‘new puppy in your life’ bible.) But as I think it goes with human children, your puppy raising doesn’t always go “by the book”.

Lisa, the teacher/trainer spoke with me and confirmed that huskies (and all sled/northern breeds) were different than other dogs. With most dogs, you train them to walk next to you and never pull on their leash. Huskies are born to run and lead their team. So she said unless that REALLY bothered me, let him walk ahead. That doesn’t mean pull my arm out of my socket, but gently lead. And that’s all Angelus wanted to do. He never pulls hard (spotting cats doesn’t count.) He just wants to walk in front of me. This isn’t an alpha/pack issue – this is a “my genetics say pull the sled and go!” issue.

But it was nice to have her tell me this too. Validated what I thought. She said I would drive myself crazy trying to get him to walk at my side all the time. She also agreed with me that the “choke collar” was a bad idea for huskies. She suggested the prong collar which works wonders. The choke collar applies all of the “stopping” pressure in one area whereas the prong collar applies it evenly and with no choke point. It looks scary at first but she pointed out that the neck muscles on a dog are like thigh muscles on people. Very, very big and strong. Plus their thick fur is a natural buffer. And Angelus’ neck fur is thicker than a lion’s mane. It saved his life once (pit bull attack.)

So we graduated puppy kindergarten – certificate and all :) But that was the end of any formal schooling for Angelus. I worked with him at home on sit, stay, etc. But there was no way he was ever going to be an off-leash dog (huskies are NOT meant to be.) We did work on his COME command for dog parks, etc but I never had the illusion it would 100% of the time. He is a stubborn boy – just like him Momma :)

So he sits on command, shakes, lays down. Will generally come when called but if there is a cat or deer or something fun to chase – he thinks about it. You can see him thinking. And the fun thing to chase will win out. So I don’t let him off leash in areas where he can just run away from me.

Storm was an even crazier puppy. His name applied to him for sure – Storm! He was a spaz. His basic puppy training took longer. He didn’t want to sit just because we told him to. he wanted to be the boss and didn’t understand why we didn’t see that! He tried to challenge Angelus as he got to be a teenager but Angelus quickly showed him that was not going to be the way it went. He would “ah-rooo” and complain all the time when telling him to sit, come, etc. He’d even do it if you were giving Angelus a command!

But he will listen now. To me. And husband. And for you if you have a treat in your hand. But if a non-family member asks him to sit with no treat? Yeah…good luck with that. He is more of a Momma’s boy than Angelus so he will come to me when called even off-leash. If both he and Angelus that are running around and I call him but Angelus keeps going – you can see is his face “what to do? Angelus is going that way but Mom says go back? What to do?!” When he was younger, he followed his brother after this mental dialogue. But as he has grown up, he generally comes back to me. But again, if cats or critters are involved. All bets are off.

So see – not so well “trained”. But guess what? I didn’t get a dog to have a circus monkey who performed for me. I wanted dogs to have fluffy friends and family members in my life. I know their “training” limitations. But they do have good manners. And I think what people respond to with my guys is that they aren’t intrusive. They have been going to work with me since they were puppies. And driving around me with everywhere since they were puppies. And going out in public with me. So they have been raised around people all the time. So they are not big, excitable, slobbery dogs who jump on you, run at you, whine with excitement, etc. They actually will barely acknowledge your existence unless they want something (a pet, treat, etc.) When we have people over at our house, they will look at the door to see who is coming in. They might come up to you and sniff. And then they walk away.

This is when people are like “Wow, your dogs are so well trained.” I guess a lot of dogs are crazy when people come over. I definitely know dogs like this. They want you to play with them, throw the ball, pet them, they follow you around, etc. Or cry and whine at the door to go with you some place. or whine excitably in the car….the WHOLE way to the beach. My boys do NONE of these things. Whew…

They love me unconditionally. Always greet me at the door. Wait for me when I leave. And they listen to me. They love their dad (not as much as they love me though-as it should be!) and listen to him too. They also love some people who they have known all their lives (they love my brother in-law – I think they think of him as another dog.) And some people they just respond to (they love their auntie Melon.) But the general populace? They might let you pet them. Will always take a cookie from you. But don’t expect them to run to greet you or get excited to see you.

So thanks people, for thinking I have such well-trained dogs. But really, they are just well-mannered family members. And well, you are not a pack member so they really don’t care about you too much. No offense! This is a husky trait. And really…it’s a husky Mom trait too :)


  1. i love the buddies. :) i watched them grow up!

  2. I am realistic in that I know the buds love me primarily because I give them treats :) But it’s okay. The one time when I was feeling really, really poorly…and was sitting on the ground, Angelus came over and sat next to me & put his head on my leg. Made me feel 100% better. They may not be smushy wushy dogs, but they show their love when it counts.