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Hi all,
I'm new here and am in need of some suggestions for some issues I'm having with my 7 month old husky. He's an absolute sweetheart and so eager to please... But he is extremely attached to my two Austrailian shepherd females. Both females are fixed, but he is not and we will not be making that decision until he is two years old.

He loves them to pieces, especially my younger 7 year old Merle female... and it's becoming a problem when trying to handle him separately from them. He just seems to panick when he can't be with them. Or if I attempt to walk him seperately, he will whine and cry and just want to go home. It takes a good 30 minutes to get him to focus and calm enough to walk on.. But it's still so clear he's anxious and worried that his other two pack members are at home. My Aussies are both fine on their own and no issues with being separated. It's just him that thinks he'll die if he isn't with them. He literally will flip around on leash, scream bloody murder(with no hands on him at all), and just act so distressed. I try calm reassurance that everything is okay. I don't panick with him. I try to let him just work it out on its own.... But as he grows bigger, I worry he'll only get worse. My fiancé recently moved to VA and was able to help me with him a lot before then, but the same problems were there Even with him. I'm 103 pounds and 5'2... So you see my dilemma of trying to fix this before we lose complete control. I've had a husky before and this was never an issue before. I know the breed and know their stubborn tendencies. He just seems to have developed an anxiety from being away from my two Aussies...

Should I start to keep him seperate from my girls and work with him completely seperately? He knows sit, come, wait, lay down, paw, and speak. Even says 'I love you' if you say it to him. He's a very vocal boy. All other training was so easy for him to pick up. I walk him daily and he has access to a large back yard to run at his hearts content... So exercise isn't an issue. I have thought maybe a schedule of alternating dogs in and out with him inside and then outside... Vice versa. Just so he learns to not depend so much on them. Is there any suggestions some might have on this issue?

Also, I was looking into 'no pull' harnesses and wondered what has worked for everyone else? He currently wears a standard harness and has that lovely husky pull going on despite stopping him.. Facing him to me and making him sit till I say to move off. But he ALWAYS goes back to pulling. Granted it's not like he's pulling my arm off and straining, but he does walk with lots of tension and will lean into his walk. Both my females walk at my side on a loose leash, but of course... They are Aussies and were much easier to correct this issue on. Emoji(husky) is from a sled dog line bred for pulling, so it's kind of built into him... But I want him to understand the difference when we do start working on pulling a scooter. As we plan to start him on urban type mushing. Seeing as we live in FL until the move to VA in a year, we don't get snow for sledding! Lol

I want this to be a positive experience for him. It breaks my heart he is so dependent on my girls. Dogs are pack animals... But I feel he has taken it to an extreme that causes him too much distress. I want him to feel comfortable with just me and not feel like he has to be with them constantly. I've had him since 10 weeks old and just want to help him!
 

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How much separation was there between him and the other two dogs when he was growing up? Has he consistently been worked separately from them, or have they mostly always been there?

This kind of anxiety when separated is something that is sometimes seen in littermates who have been raised together- they never learn to be alone, and rely overmuch on the littermate to help them navigate the world, and so trying to separate them results in an extraordinary stress response. I have heard of littermates actually injuring themselves when crate separately because of it.

Given that he is from working sled lines, I would guess he is a naturally highly aroused dog (which usually also lends itself to a dog being more sensitive to stimulus/more easily anxious) and also perhaps has a higher than average attraction to other dogs (vs people), especially if he is from kennel bred lines and produced by dogs who mostly bonded to other dogs instead of people. Thus, he may be perhaps a bit predisposed to this kind of behavior (anxiety caused by high arousal, focused on other dogs because of a presumably higher than average attraction to other dogs/higher "pack drive" focused on other dogs, as some old school trainers might call it). Less separation than might have been advisable during his early months could easily have then exacerbated the issue.

I would definitely suggest increasing separation. That said, I wouldn't necessarily jump right to going for walks without the other dogs or having Emoji-only exercise in the yard. Instead, start in small sessions. Go at whatever pace he sets and build slowly on that. Treat it like you would separation anxiety with people, and teach him that throwing fits isn't what makes the other dogs come back. You also don't want to exacerbate the anxiety by doing too much too soon, however, because you also want to be teaching him that 1) nothing bad happens when the dogs aren't there, and 2) they always come back or he always goes back to them. If you jump right to a 20min walk alone, bad things are happening, because he is really, really stressed- even if we as humans can look at the situation and see that he is fine, not in danger, and not being hurt. Psychologically, he is in enough discomfort for you to be worried about controlling him in that sate. I might start by, a few times a day while inside, putting the Aussies in another room for a few minutes. Or bring him outside alone and leave the Aussies behind for a few minutes. If he can handle 5 or 10min without freaking out, start there. If he freaks out the second he can't see them, wait it out and when he is calm, even if he is only calm for a moment, open the door and let the Aussies come to him or him go to them. Build duration slowly. When he can handle that for 5 or 10min, maybe move to leashing him, leaving the Aussies inside, and just standing outside your front door for a little bit. When he is calm, go back in. Then, build duration for a little while. When you have duration in that, you can start adding distance into it.

As for leash walking- how are you teaching it right now? I would definitely recommend using something other than a back clip harness for it, because 1) back clip harnesses often incite dogs to pull more because pulling can be fun (and for huskies it is fun), 2) because they give the handler terrible leverage to control the dog, and 3) if you want to teach him to pull for a jorring sport then you are going to have a harder time distinguishing between the back clip harness for walking and the back clip harness for pulling unless you already have a flawless loose leash heel before you introduce the pulling harness (at least IMO/E).

I have used both Sensation front clip harnesses and Easy Walks. I have also used Gentle Leaders a bit, but don't love those for dogs that are pulling. Personally I prefer head collars for dogs who are reactive (but whose reactivity is under control and who aren't lunging messes) and who having more control of the head is necessary, but who otherwise have a pretty good loose leash heel. Of the Sensation and Easy Walk front clip harnesses, I prefer the Easy walks because they have a martingale strap in the front. That said, in either case you should have some kind of backup on the dog in case he gets out of the harness- I would suggest either a strong caribeaner attaching a flat collar to the harness, attaching the leash to both the harness or a flat collar (my least favorite option with the easy walk because then you lose the martingale of the front strep), a larger slip collar worn as an emergency backup and attached to the leash, or one of those dual leash clips attached (separately of the leash) to the flat collar and harness to connect them.

It is important to note that the real usefulness of the "no pull" harnesses that are front clip isn't in the fact that dogs won't pull in them. Most still will. What I like about them is:
- better handler leverage/control (you can control the dog better in a front clip than a back clip harness, though often not as well as in a collar and definitely not as well as in a head collar)
- easy for the dog to distinguish between them and something used for a jorring sport; also good equipment to use to signal to the dog that we're doing something that requires a bit of attention to the handler vs just going for a hike or something
- when the dog pulls, they turn towards you instead of being able to move straight out; the way I teach loose leash walking inititally involves teaching a dog to yield to leash pressure as well as to move back towards me when I stop (because when a dog pulls, I stop, and we don't move forwards until they have relaxed the tension on the leash) and this is much easier to teach with equipment that makes the dog more likely to move towards you and to face you
 

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He has always been with them. We have taken them seperately to the vet as well as on walks and hikes. Generally, he will go right out the door without a care in the world, no questions asked... No looking for my Aussies. Nothing. Once you're away from the house, he begins to wonder ''hey where are the girls?' And he will look around and clearly start to tense. His focus will faulter a little and then he'll throw several tantrums before he calms and figure out it's okay. When we actually turn around and head for home, he'll start to lean into his harness a little heavier. He knows he's going home. I try to walk him the full circle of the neighborhood, but recently I was in the hospital for a weekend due to crohns and my body isn't as up to the whole circle yet. His meltdowns are usually around the time of him seeing the house and he gets too excited to go in. Or whenever I take him out on trails... It's when he sees the car. He will rush it... Jump, etc. He knows the sit and wait command, but sometimes he just loses it and his focus will drop to the point where I will be standing there with no pressure on the leash, staring at him as he's twisting.. Screaming and demanding to go in the car. I get some weird looks. Like he sounds like I beat him. And he has never been abused in his life. But oh boy does he sure throw some dramatic fits. During these moments I let him get it out of his system, and then calmly ask him to sit. But as soon as you go for a door handle or anything he will stand and rush at it again.. Thus starting the cycle over. He only does this when he is ALONE. If he is with my girls, he will wait with them.... Which is why I started working with him alone on this. I have worked with him individually as far as his basic commands go, seeing as my girls will get excited and that takes his focus off me.

From 10 weeks till now he has always been with them though. They all go outside together, sleep crated next to each other, and then come inside together. I just want him to know and feel safe without them. It breaks my heart that he feels like if they leave his side(in the house, outside, or in his crate), the whole world is falling apart. I will work with him in the increments you suggested and see if that works. So I should keep him crated next to them and just when they go out without him, just wait till he is done throwing a fit? Cause he can hold out on me. Also. He barks and howls at me. I have a hard time differentiating between when he's being naughty and when he's just talking to me. Cause like I said, he will have a full conversation with you. You say a command, he does it and barks at you. Tell him 'no' or 'bad' and he barks at you. I can tell when it's a distressed bark because it gets high pitched... But none of his barks are aggressive. He just likes to voice his opinion... As most huskys do. Letting him out in the morning is an ordeal, as he can hold it forever...but should I wait for him to quiet down and stop his demanding before I let him out, or just open his crate with a wait command regardless of his barks?

Leash training I have done with the simple, sit and face me method of he begins pulling. He will stop and face me, wait for a bit and then move off. But he ALWAYS goes right back to pulling. Now, if my girls are with me, oh lord... The world is ending. If he has to stop and they walk on, he will throw his huge for of screaming a twisting... Then he will sit and whine, pay no attention to you and watch as my Aussies 'leave him'. There is almost no bringing his attention back to you when he hits that point. It's why I almost never walk them together... because he gets so distressed and it can turn into a 3 hour walk depending on how far we've gone. At which point I believe that's just too long of a time to be working with him because he usually checks out... And that's just a long time for him to be stressing out.

The harness he has currently is a simple mesh Harness that comes around him and clips at the back. I have looked into the easy walk harnesses because a friend of mine with a Doberman had awesome success with that. They also use a head collar as back up. I'd been meaning to go get him one, but wanted to see what other people thought before I tried it. I feel he might need the easy walk because he does whip his head around a lot during his tantrums. The head collar would probably just cause him more distress until we work out his tantrums, correct? His current harness I feel would just confuse him when we do work out his leash issues and move on to jorring when he is older.
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