I received an email today from a worried husky owner, after recently acquring one of these wonderful dogs. This is what she said...
"i noticed you have a beautiful husky and wanted to know if you could answer some questions for me? i got my husky when she was 6 months old...shes 11 months now and when we got her the previous owner said she ate wet and dry food. For a week Brina wouldn't wet food and barely ate the dry food. So I freaked cause she was already skinny as hell and tried all different kinds of things...warm water in the dry food, white rice mixed in the wet food, canned chicken mixed with the dry food. she would eat what i made her for about a day or two then would eat the next day so of course I tried something different. After a lot of money spent on just food, lol, my bf tried to giving her plain wet food again and she ate it. But of course shes right back to the habit where she only eats that for a couple days and then wont touch it. Am I doing something wrong with her food that is making her so finiky? She looks extremely skinny. But I've heard from numerous people that huskys usually are pretty skinny when there not in Alaska or snow? Do you know if any of this is true? Also potty training. She's not very good at it and shes almost a year old. my boyfriend and i are so fed up we are almost to the point we are about to give her away. in the morning before my boyfriend gets up at 7 she goes on the carpet in the hallway. and at night she goes in the kitchen. i am home all day. and take her out often in our backyard, she sometimes pees but 99% of the time shes running around trying to catch lizards and bugs and doesn't bother trying to go to the bathroom outside. we're pretty much at the end of the road here with her on this. any advice would be great. sorry this was so long..lol
This was my response to her...
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! ;-)
Huskies are really fussy eaters, as mine would love a particular food and then decide to hate it as soon as we bought a new 20kg bag, although we've now found a combination of dry food (Choice from Nutro, for sensitive stomachs) and wet food that he likes.
I'd first recommend having her checked by a vet, to make sure there's no infection or other illness (worms etc). It sounds like this might be related to her relocation though.
We feed Lupus twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Routine is really important to dogs, so you also need to make sure that she doesn't get food from other sources in between, at least until she gets in to a good eating routine. Huskies can look skinny, especially at this time of the year, as she should just have lost her winter coat for spring. I saw one yesterday that looked really skinny, but she was perfectly healthy.
Changing food often causes an upset stomach, so it might be that she's trying a food, liking it and then not feeling well enough to eat any more after a couple of days. It might also be that you've set a bad routine of rewarding bad behaviour (not eating food) by giving her better food every time.
You should check her stools, as they will be runny if she's unwell, but huskies are notorious for not only being 'picky' but also having very sensitive stomachs, so the slightest thing can cause upset. Try simple boiled rice with boiled chicken for at least a week and see what happens.
When huskies are working they can burn thousands of calories in a day (10-12,000) and will eat accordingly, so if you combine her eating routine with a good exercise routine it might help. Lupus has a 1-hour walk in the morning, after which he gets his food and nearly always eats it. He then gets nothing for the rest of the day (except a few treats during training) and gets his evening meal after we've eaten dinner... as it's also important for you to eat every meal before the dog (maintaining the pack heirarchy).
Another thing is not to leave the food down. Put it to her for 30 minutes and then remove it. Do this at exactly the same times each day and she'll get a routine for when food will be provided. Don't give in, just use the same food at the same times until she starts to eat it.
When changing food you should gradually start to mix an increasing amount of the new food with the old food, gradually changing the mixture over a period of 1-2 weeks until you're completely on the new food. That will prevent any shocks to the digestive system and should avoid any illness from sensitivity.
There's a good answer to someone having a similar problem on this web page, at the bottom:
This doesn't have to be too hard. As with any dog training, the mantra to remember is...
"Reward the good... ignore the bad..."
It takes a little time, but you need to reward every poo or pee she does outside, while she's doing it. This means you have to stay close and prevent her being distracted until she has been to the toilet (perhaps keep her on a lead to maintain her attention until she's got it). As soon as she squats to pee or poo say "good girl", and give her a small treat. This will reinforce that going to the toilet outside is a good thing to do. It's good to keep a specific area of the yard aside for this, and make sure it's cleaned up daily, otherwise she won't use it. After about a week of this remove the treats, so you're only giving voice reward, then she should be well on her way.
When she goes in the house DON'T REACT, as any reaction is rewarding her behaviour. Put Brina in another room so she can't see you and clean up the mess quietly and without any fuss.
If you keep rewarding the good behaviour (going to the toilet outside) and ignoring the bad behaviour she'll eventually catch on. Again, routine is important, so once she learns that she will be taken outside at certain times, and be rewarded for going to the toilet, she'll adjust her behaviour accordingly.
It's like having a child, where you quickly need to establish a routine. Boredom might come in to it too, so set-up a daily routine of exercise (2-3 times per day), basic training (up to 30-minutes a day of 'sit', 'stay', 'down' etc) and eating.
It takes a bit of time and patience, but you'll get there. You're not only training the dog, but also training yourself, so try and get hold of some books or go to a training class. One thing that is very important is consistency, so you and your boyfriend both need to train and treat Brina in exactly the same way, otherwise she'll get confused and you'll undermine any progress you make.
Huskies are challenging, but they're very smart and can be trained to eat and go to the toilet at times that suit you, providing you stick to the routine.
I hope this helps, but if you need any more advice just drop me a line. I'd love to see a picture of Brina too, if you have one.
If anyone has any other useful advice on this subject I'd love to hear it, and I'll pass on anything useful so we can help another beautiful husky to have a great life. If you know anyone else who might be able to help please pass this post on to them too.
Just leave a comment and I'll keep an eye out.