Dear Dr. Diane,
We just rescued/adopted a 4-year-old Alaskan Husky/Malamute mix dog. He’s a very well behaved dog in most every way, but he seems to want to sleep outside every night- this due to the previous owners leaving him outside almost 24 hrs/day. We live in the northeast and it’s cold ( although Huskies can withstand the cold), but besides that, I fear other animals (fox, coyote) could enter our property and harm our dog or that he will escape the yard. If we try to get him inside, he’ll come, but then he’ll wake me up and howl continuously until I let him out again. Needless to say, I have an incredible lack of sleep and cannot continue to do this every night. I walk him 2- 3X/day and always walk him later at night (9-10pm) so that he can expend his energy – all to no avail. Is there any way to re-train a dog to sleep indoors at night?
There are several ways to address this issue. My husband and I have saved and adopted numerous Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. They are wonderful, clever, strong and resourceful. They can also be very independent and stubborn.
Many of my dogs have lived as outdoor dogs before coming to live with us. They usually adapt quite easily and happily to life in a climate-controlled environment. Air conditioning in the summer is especially popular as I live in Dallas! They also enjoy snuggling in a warm bed in our house during the winter.
I would gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends indoors throughout the day and night, and make it quality time during which you interact and play with him. I would pretend to take naps with him as well – simulating the conditions in which you want him to sleep at night. On a gradual basis, leave him alone for brief and then more extended time periods in the room and place you’d like him to sleep. Come back to check on him after short periods of time to make sure he’s all right and that he knows you are nearby.
I would also research the breed extensively. I know my Mals & Sibes are genetically engineered to love being outdoors in the cold, especially the snow. You have to be patient. Remember, you have had him for only a short while. Most of his life of four years has been spent living outside.
If he continues to refuse to sleep indoors, build him a confined escape-proof area of your yard with a roof which covers and shelters him from the elements and other critters, i.e. coyotes or foxes, etc. Place an outdoor igloo or (dog house) within this area facing away from the wind which features a thick paneled door or windbreaker on the entrance to act as some insulation with some hay, straw or wood shavings as bedding. The dog house should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down and stretch out comfortably. It should be waterproof and 2 inches off the ground. Clean, fresh water should be available to him always. You may even wish to electrify the fencing of this confined area so that he cannot get out and others cannot get in. At least you’ll know he’s safe!
I would also contact your local/regional or national Malamute or Husky Rescue organizations for their advice and recommendations regarding this situation. It would also help to consult an animal behaviorist who can visit with your dog in his surroundings to determine other options to resolve this issue.
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