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How To Care For Siberian Huskies
The Siberian Husky is an impressive dog with its wolf-like features, and it has become increasingly popular due to similar looking dogs being exposed in pop culture; such as in the hugely successful screen adaption of the Game of Thrones book series. This can easily become an issue when prospective dog owners choose a breed based on looks rather than temperament and breed specific needs, which then leads to shelters becoming overcrowded with the unwanted Siberian Huskies.
The Siberian Husky is a fantastic breed, but it is not for everyone, and it is crucial to know what you are getting yourself into before considering a Husky as your new family member.
Personality & Temperament – What to Expect?
There is a lot to think about before getting a Husky; for example – what are they like, do they need a big backyard and what do Huskies eat? Getting the right dog breed is about so much more than just picking the cutes one, or one you’ve seen on TV, and you need to do your research, or you will likely be sorry once the Husky has moved in with you.
Many dogs end up in shelters every year, often due to ignorance on the part of the original owner, and you don’t want that to happen to you (or your new dog).
One of the first personality traits that come to mind when thinking about the Husky is their intelligence.
They are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, which becomes evident as soon as you open your door and your heart to a Husky.
Not only are they surprisingly good at problem-solving; but they are able to learn tricks within minutes (when working with someone knowledgeable), can memorize and recognize more words than many other dog breeds, and they usually know the exact time when you are supposed to feed them.
Intelligence in dogs comes with a price though; and an intelligent dog can be more difficult to please, as they get bored easily and need to be kept active both physically and mentally. While some dogs may be okay with resting a whole day on the couch, the Husky won’t, and failing to meet their needs can result in destructive behaviors like digging, barking, howling and pulling clothes off the clothes line outside.
These things can drive the unprepared Husky owner crazy; especially if the person in question has little experience with dogs. The Husky is not an indoor only dog, and they need to be stimulated properly to stay out of trouble.
Another thing the Siberian Husky is an expert at is escaping! It is connected to their intelligence and their need for activation, but it is also a good demonstration of their independence! Huskies are pack animals and thrive in the company of other dogs and people, but they are not that overly loyal dog that won’t ever let you out of their sight!
You need to make sure that your backyard is fenced in with a high and sturdy fence a Husky can’t jump, and the fence should preferably go all the way down and into the ground since a Husky that can’t jump out might resort to digging. Always keep an I.D tag on your Husky’s collar, just in case they would outsmart you and get out somehow.
Other than this, the Siberian Husky is a focused, fun-loving, friendly and incredibly agile dog, and they tend to get along with children. Kids and dogs should always be supervised, however, to prevent any accidents. They are high-energy dogs with a need for challenging physical exercise, and they might not settle with your average dog walks twice a day. It is a dog that suits an active person or a family and is not considered a good first-time dog for those lacking experience.
How to Train a Siberian Husky
Their intelligence and independent personality will often get the Husky in trouble, and it is important to start training and working with your dog already from an early age. Training should be adjusted to the dog’s maturity level, but you can start basic training (house training, sit, down etc. etc.) already when the puppy is 8 weeks to 3 months old. A good training book can help you.
Whoever hopes to successfully train a Siberian Husky needs to have a determination and patience, and an understanding of the stubborn ways of the breed. The Husky likes to train on his terms, and as a trainer or a devoted dog owner, you need to be ready to work with that rather than to expect an overly obedient dog that is always eager to please.
The Siberian Husky enjoys pleasing their owner as well but has a strong mind and will of his own and is more likely to test your patience than other dog breeds. Some believe that the Husky; due to their pack mentality, needs for you to demonstrate that you are the pack leader, but the truth is that Huskies are intelligent enough to understand that you are not a dog, and therefore can’t be a pack leader.
Instead, work on creating a strong bond where mutual respect is the center point, and don’t get frustrated if you don’t see the desired results right away.
Another option is to contact a professional dog trainer, for tips, suggestions, and help in finding balance in your training. Use positive reinforcement methods and try to make training fun and entertaining for your Husky, as it will speak to their intelligence and problem-solving skills.
Health & Life Expectancy
While the breed is a quite healthy breed; especially when compared to other breeds of a similar size, the Siberian Husky has a few degenerative diseases that you will want to be on the outlook for. Hip dysplasia and eye disease are two examples and tend to affect older individuals rather than those that are young. The best way to prevent this is to only buy Husky puppies from responsible and accredited breeders (avoid so-called “backyard breeders”), as they test their parent animals extensively before using them for breeding; hence the risk of heredity health issues is lower.
Regular preventive visits to the vet are also important, because if there is an issue with your Husky – you will want to catch it as early on as possible. It is a healthy dog breed though if you buy from a breeder that knows what he or she is doing. Don’t be fooled by that adorable puppy on Craigslist, because while all Huskies deserve a good home – you should avoid supporting irresponsible dog breeding and people who are in it just for the money.
The life expectancy of a Siberian Husky is about 12-15 years, which is considered normal for medium/large dogs, but it is a number that may differ depending on how well cared for a Husky is throughout its lifetime. Quality food, exercise, and general care are essential when setting a Husky up for a long, and healthy, life.
Husky Grooming Requirements
The coat of a Siberian Husky is thick and dense; developed to protect them from cold weather and rough terrain. They have what is referred to as a double coat – an undercoat and a top coat – and it needs regular grooming to stay in good shape. Huskies are known to be heavy shedders, especially during shedding season, and whole a weekly brushing might be enough for a part of the year, there will also be times when you need to brush a Husky daily and still be amazed by the amounts of fur coming out. A diet rich in omega-3 can help to reduce shedding.
An occasional bath with a quality dog shampoo is also recommended, as it provides nutrients, removes excess dirt and helps restore the shine. A good dog shampoo can be found in pet stores or online, or you can book an appointment with a local groomer for help.
The Right Food and Diet for a Siberian Husky
Prospective dog owners need to be aware of the following – owning a Husky is not cheap. While they are bred to go for a long time without food, they will, without doubt, eat large quantities when offered. A commercial supermarket dog food won’t do the trick either, since they are usually of a lower quality with far from enough protein to satisfy the high-energy Husky, and you need to be ready to set money aside every month for a quality dog food product. Got a puppy? See these dog foods for large breed puppies.
There are affordable options too, but for such a highly energetic dog, it is your responsibility as an owner to do the research required to find the perfect product.
Look for high-protein content and natural ingredients, and keep in mind that if you forget to feed your Husky at the same time every day – your pup will likely be quite vocal about it. They know what time it is, and they know when it is time to eat, so before getting a Husky, be honest with yourself regarding whether you can really provide for their every need.
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