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My wife and I are looking for a rescue dog - our first dog together and for both of us, our first dog since we were kids. We met a young lab/husky mix at the local shelter today. She is about 2 and was from the Northwest Territories, moved to a city shelter with her sister as the local ones had a very low adoption rate.

She was mainly an 'outside dog' but spent her nights indoors (likely in a back room). She has issues with jumping up and pulls on the leash. Today she had a diahrrea problem in her kennel but the staff thought that was likely due to stress, as her sister was adopted yesterday. When we were out walking her, she was quite excited and distracted, especially by the other dogs in the park. I had trouble keeping her attention and she was pulling a lot.

That's the bad.

The good is, even when we were in the park, I was able to make her pay attention and sit and lie down for treats. The staff said she is very food motivated and it certainly looked like this was true. She has an adorable demeanor, very friendly and obviously loves people. She was very interested in getting scratched behind the ears once we'd known each other for about 5 minutes. We didn't get her too close to the other dogs as we don't know her or them, but apparently she's good with dogs and has 'a healthy respect for cats'. We don't have any other pets but my brother and parents have dogs, so this is good for us. No cats in our family.

She is obviously quite intelligent and picks things up quickly. Once I got her out of the dog park and back on the sidewalk, she understood that I was trying to get her to heel, with a clarity I've never seen in a dog before. All of a sudden she just started looking right at me and intentionally staying right beside me, even though it was obvious I was going much slower than she is used to moving. I've managed to get an only somewhat trained border collie to heel before, and it took a lot more work to get any sort of positive response. I was pretty struck by this.

Now to us - we both work full-time but are very active. Both runners, and live near forest and trails for great hiking. Not worried about the dog getting enough daily activity - if anything we're going to have to bring her up to our activity level carefully. We live in an apartment, but a large one. We're both very interested in putting the time in to train our dog and are ready for the time commitment.

My main worries - I've heard that husky mixes aren't great off leash. Since we want a trail running buddy, at some point I'm going to have to trust this dog off-leash. Can I get there with dedicated, consistent training? She seems built for running in the mountains and she'd obviously love it - but I'll need her to stay close and not go traipsing off into the bush by herself.

I'm also worried about getting a dog that's been an 'outside dog' used to being an 'inside dog' that is alone during the day. We're willing to get a walker to break things up but we still work 9-5 so that's a couple 3-3.5 hour stretches where they'll be alone. We plan to crate train and have a space that can be the dog's larger 'area' until we've gotten to a good spot with the crate. I'm not thinking this is going to be insurmountable but it's still an issue.

As far as I can tell she seems a bit 'labby' in her friendly, happy demeanor, but obviously has the intelligence of a husky.

Can anyone give any thoughts? Been reading these forums since we 'officially decided' and they've been really informative.
 

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First, welcome to DF!

It sounds like you've picked out a confident, happy dog. I've found that a very food-motivated dog picks up on whatever it is you want fairly quickly. I guess I'd recommend starting the off-leash training slowly. Can you take her to a fenced-in area and test out her recall off leash? Crate training will also be easier with food motivation. Make sure you provide something long-lasting and tasty while in the crate, and the dog should be so busy chewing/licking that she doesn't care that she's stuck and you're gone.
 

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Well, I can't address all your concerns, but one thing you wrote struck me: "...she understood ... with a clarity I've never seen in a dog before." I think I know that feeling. A dog who can figure out what you're trying to do and what you need her to do, and do it without being told, is a sheer joy to own.

Obviously, you don't know her background, she may have some bad habits to overcome, but a great dog like that can learn anything, adapt to any situation. What dog wouldn't gladly tolerate a few hours of boredom during the week to go trail-running on the weekends? Seriously, that's about as good as it gets for a city dog!
 

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First, welcome to DF!

It sounds like you've picked out a confident, happy dog. I've found that a very food-motivated dog picks up on whatever it is you want fairly quickly. I guess I'd recommend starting the off-leash training slowly. Can you take her to a fenced-in area and test out her recall off leash? Crate training will also be easier with food motivation. Make sure you provide something long-lasting and tasty while in the crate, and the dog should be so busy chewing/licking that she doesn't care that she's stuck and you're gone.
Luckily we do have a fully enclosed field a block away that we can use for training recalll.

We're definitely going to feed her from a kong toy. Went and walked her around more today and she was much calmer this time and did really well. There was a bit of confusion about her age - as far as we can tell she's more like 10 months old, not 2. This makes more sense and puts my mind at ease a bit. If her lack of focus can be chalked up to being puppy-ish then that's a non issue in my mind.
 

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I actually have a mutt whos mom was a Siberian Husky and her father was largely Lab. Shes younger than yours, but they sound similar, so I can speak to a few things.

I take my HuskyxLab for off leash walks, but not in populated areas. She tends to bolt off into the grey blue yonder, but she recalls and knows "wait" when she gets too far ahead. Work with her on "come" and "wait", if you feel confident that she will return when called, and stay put and wait if she gets too far ahead, then I'm certain you can talk her out walking off leash in the wilderness. You could certainly try to teach her to walk as your side with or without a leash, and you may be successful - all dogs are different, mixed breeds especially :)

I can also speak to the issue of jumping up. Aura (my HuskyXLab) loves to jump straight up into the air, and she used to love jumping onto people when she got over excited. Dealing with jumping up on people is fairly simply - teach them 'down' and only give attention when all four paws are on the ground. She will learn :)

As for leash pulling - Huskies have an exceptional desire to pull, its very rewarding to them. I really believe that a dog can be taught anything if communicated with properly, but Huskies will prove to be an exceptional challange. I succeeded in teaching Aura to walk on a loose leash only while using a head halter (we hope one day to graduate to just a collar). If all else fails, a head halter is a gentle and effect way to get them on the right track, then using positive reinforcement to work towards no longer needing it.
 

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Aura looks impertinent to me :) Wag_more's advice and experience seem very pertinent. Labs tend to be distractable, and I think that huskies are prey driven, so you'll want to pay specific attention to a "100%" recall, maybe going to a professional trainer. Recalls at the level that you want take more time, so that you get a solid recall from a distance and in the face of all the wonderful distractions. BTW, as the temperature goes down, she'll grow more energetic. You might see if you can find a young Lab (or husky) for her to tussle with on the weekends. I've found that 30 min. of some high energy (but not over-excited) wrestling, tend to make the rest of the week a bit calmer. Plus, socialization is better.

You can also try another method that works with Labs, in a large enclosed area: When I first let my Lab mix off leash, he'd take the time to go run (eventually I learned he was running to something, not running away). He loved it when I chased him, so that wasn't smart. So I called his name, then ran the other direction, while he glanced my way. He turned and chased me... Might work with your girl. Let us know.

With daily exercise, your dog should do fine inside. And, she should be able to run onleash with you, in a near heel position.
 
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