If your husky's relentless nipping behavior is starting to make you feel like you're partner to a piranha, or if he has gone to an extreme and bit you, you know you have a problem. You need to nip biting in the bud before your husky permanently blooms into a nuisance and a danger. Teaching Chewbacca to stop biting requires one of a handful of approaches depending on the underlying cause.
Determine what is causing the biting behavior in the first place. Observe what triggers the behavior and modify to resolve it. Continue to observe, noting whether your resolution has any effect on the behavior. If the behavior diminishes or disappears, most likely you're on the right track. If the behavior has remained unchanged or worsened, try a different approach.
Evaluate whether your husky's needs for exercise and mental stimulation are met. Huskies were selectively bred to run for miles at a time. As animals blessed with great endurance and a strong willingness to work, they require regular opportunities to vent pent-up energy. Fail to meet this breed's needs and you'll end up with a boisterous chewing and nipping machine. Keep in mind the saw, "a tired husky is a good husky."
Learn to read signs of trouble. Your husky's body can give out oodles of signals that suggest a bite is about to come. Watch his body language carefully. Most likely he will show signs of stress such as turning his head, yawning or licking his chops. These are signs asking for you to stop the interaction. As soon as you notice signs of discomfort, stop immediately.
Counter-condition your husky to the situation he doesn't like. This will help go to the root of the problem and change his emotional response. If, for instance, your husky bites or tries to bite when you trim his nails, work gradually on making nail trims pleasant by associating the nail trims with food, praise and games. If he turns into Cujo the moment you come near his bone, try dropping treats as you walk by so your snarling demon-pup learns that you won't remove his prized possession and that you make great things happen as you walk by.
Train proper bite inhibition. If your husky is a puppy, you can work on his nippy behaviors by teaching him to be a tad bit gentler. When he's playing with you and he bites, suddenly stop and make a loud yelp to let him know he hurt you. Separating yourself from the dog is another means of showing the dog he loses good things when he bites. With an adult husky, it's a good idea to train a "softer mouth" by hand-feeding treats. Close your hand in a fist and make the treat disappear if he tends to snatch food; open your hand and release the treat if he uses his soft mouth, suggests Pat Miller, owner and trainer of Peaceable Paws.
Redirect nipping behaviors. With a history of living in harsh conditions and fending for themselves, huskies have strong predatory drives and are predisposed to chasing anything that moves. If your husky puppy or young dog nips at your pant legs as you walk by or every time you move your hands, you'll need to redirect his behavior toward a more appropriate item. Keep a tug toy by your side and use it to redirect him.
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Siberian Husky
- Animal Behavior Network: What to Do About Play Biting
- Clicker Training: How to Survive Puppy Teething and Nipping
- Whole Dog Journal: Teaching Bite Inhibition
- Your Purebred Puppy: Siberian Husky Temperament What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
- Consult with your vet if your husky has started suddenly biting for no apparent reason. Some dogs bite when they're feeling under the weather and wish to be left alone.
- If your husky gets a clean bill of health, it's best to next seek the advice of a board certified dog behaviorist.
- Be persistent in your no-bite training; this breed has quite a stubborn streak.
- Don't scold your husky for growling. By doing so you may inadvertently train the dog to bite without warning.
- Consider that aggressive behavior is not easy to eradicate and tends to not go away on its own.
- Prevent your husky from rehearsing the biting behavior by avoiding putting him in situations where he's likely to bite.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.