The Old Trainer: Husky will be fine in the snow

November 10, 2012 

Dear Old Trainer: Buck, our 18-month old Husky, stayed in our room last winter as a puppy, but stayed outside during the summer. Now winter is here, but he still wants to stay outside. It gets cold at Dunsmuir, and snow is on the ground most of the winter, but he insists on going out at night. He has a doghouse, but I worry about him. Will he be OK staying out?

Lorrie, Dunsmuir

A: Don't worry. Buck knows what he is doing and will be fine outside.

Huskies originated in the harsh climate of Siberia. Thriving in cold and snow is part of their DNA. Buck's thick fur coat makes him impervious to winter no matter how low the temperature drops. He loves the cold, but there is something else at work.

Huskies did not change much as they evolved from the Russian wolf. The call of the wild deep in Buck's psyche reminds him that wolves rule the night. He does not fear the dark, he craves it. He listens to the wind and hears music his ancestors heard before there was music. The night whispers secrets to him as he slips without a sound through the shadows on the snow.

Dunsmuir is the perfect environment for Buck. Put a foot of straw on the floor of his dog house and replace it once a month. Don't use blankets. They get wet and frozen after a few days. Buck doesn't need a dog house to survive. He can sleep in a snow bank and do fine, but needs a place to curl up when he feels the urge to retreat to a den. The wolf thing again.

Let Buck spend the early evening inside with you before you put him out for the night. Huskies need interaction with the pack, and they enjoy the evenings when everyone is gathered around the fire more than any other time. Check his drinking water when you put him out to make sure it is not frozen.

It may be winter, but Buck still needs plenty of exercise. Huskies are as energetic as any breed and can cover 50 miles in a day with ease, so it takes a lot of exercise to keep them calm.

Dear Old Trainer: A Lab at the shelter had 10 Lab puppies, and I am taking my three kids out to adopt one of them. Any advice on how to choose one?

Michael, Chowchilla

A: Picking the right dog is an art, not a science. Take your time and watch them interact with you and your kids.

Which one is calm, which energetic? Which is most loving? Which one concentrates on you instead of playing with other pups? Which one will chase a ball? Which one looks and acts smart? Which one is a little shy (I like shy pups). Which one has an energy level that fits the family?

Don't worry, you can't go wrong. Any pup you pick will make a wonderful member of the family.

Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer711@yahoo.com

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