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Training your Husky According to your rules.

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Aloha Husky and Malamute owners! If you have signed up here on the Husky Owners Forum, You will be so glad that you did! There are people and dog lovers from all over the US and the UK. I have been a member of the forum for less than a year and everyone here is glad to help with questions and tips.

The reason I have started this topic is that In Hawaii I have noticed that not only are there many litters of Huskies being born recently but there have also been many slightly older pups that are being rehomed...and i suspect that this has something to do with the fact that it is hard to find help and support in raising these fun, energetic and sometimes very naughty puppies...lol.

While I am definately not the foremost expert on all things husky I would like to share my home training knowledge with you as I have spent many years of my life with huskies...to include my dog Chewbacca.

(I am the lady who does our local Husky Play Day Meets here on Oahu and posts ads on craigslist and Kijiji.com.)

Please feel free to read my training threads and ask questions. Most of us on Oahu have small apartments or small homes so the most important things we can do for our huskies is establish rules for inside and outside the home.


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The first thing I would like to cover is things you should NOT do to your husky...as establishing confidence and trust with your husky is very important...and fear will destroy your bond with them and make it very difficult to train them.

It is my experience that huskies respond very well to their owners if they are kind, loving, nuturing and trustworthy. Yes, being firm and being the leader is a must but doing it in a way that causes fear will be very bad for you and your husky in the long run.

Things not to do:


Keeping them chained outdoors all alone, crated all day and night, starving them or being abusive will not accomplish anything.

Please do not just buy a husky pup and immediately make it an "outside dog only!!" These pups can be taught to go potty outside and are very capable of being indoor companions who spend time in the home being with you and your family.



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The very first thing YOU NEED to do!

Before you bring your puppy home you need to know what rules and boundaries you need to establish with your husky.

Will they be allowed on the sofa?

Will they be allowed upstairs?

Are you going to let them sleep in your room, on your bed??

will they be allowed bits of human foods as treats? (such as cheese cubes, turkey, etc)

will you be crate training them?

What method(s) of training have you researched and/or decided to use?

Do you have the supplies for the new puppy? (food, chews, leash, collar, bowls, crate, fenced in yard??)

You should always consider these things before you bring your Husky pup home.

Having a pre-thought plan of training and all the supplies to care for them properly will make everything alot easier...especially if you have children and a busy life.

Be ready to put in the time and effort to teach your husky how to behave in your home. Brining them home hastily and being unprepared not only causes confusion for you but for them as well. Boredom, confusion and anxiety are all things that cause puppies to do naughty things...LOL.

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Training your puppy#2

If you have recently brought home your cute little husky (congrats) or if you are about to...here is the best rule that the new owner should follow! LOL

POTTY TRAINING MUST COME FIRST. As cute as it is to teach them to sit, lay down, shake, or play fetch- these things can all be taught in conjunction with potty training- in between trips outside to potty and you should not be pausing to teach them to sit before teaching them where they are allowed to pee and poo.

Before you let the puppy explore your home (after a ride in the car to get home) you should always take them directly to the place where you always be taking them to go potty...NO EXCEPTIONS! If you dont want their first accident to happen in the house within 5 to 10 minutes- keep their leash on and take them out back to relieve themselves. Take them to a specific spot in the yard, and dont just let them roam around.

The key to success here is that the spot you take them to, is the same spot they will be using every single time they go outside....and this lets them know that there is ONLY one place where they are allowed to potty. In the begining, allowing them to roam and potty all over the yard can set the idea that they can "go" whenever and where-ever they want, so you should set a pattern so they get used to how things work...and quickly.

The rule of thumb for how often the pup should go out to potty is this...they should at least go out once every 2 hours. However, it is a very good idea to take the puppy out within 20 minutes of eating, playing actively, and within 20 minutes of waking up from a nap. This is key to early success with potty training.

If you have trouble getting your puppy to go potty...then feel free to tell them to "go potty." this often does help them know that you are expecting them to do something. even if you never give the command be sure to praise them for going potty outside when they go. If you decide to use treats to praise you MUST give the treat BEFORE they come back in the house.

For the first 2 to 4 wekks your puppy should not go out to his spot to potty without a leash on, you should always be leading them during this time so that they know to pay attention to you and so that they always go to their spot to eliminate.

If you are not prepared to clean up steamies or puddles in the morining when you have just woken up then you may want to crate train your puppy to stay in a crate at night. In the first 2 to 4 weeks the puppy should still be taken out at night to potty at least 3 times so set a few timers. If your pup is up at all hours howling, whining, crying, yipping and barking...then when they do it they should go outside then be placed back in the crate....and to help keep them calm I reccommend putting a blanket or sheet over their crate as this often has an immediate calming effect. Once your puppy stops waking you up at night, then you can test them to see if they will hold it all night...if they do hold it all night...feel free to stop getting up at night.

Once your puppy is consistently going potty in their spot everytime you take them out, and gladly following you outside on the lead, then you may chose to test your puppy by taking him outside to potty without his leash. with this you go stand by his spot and see if he follows you. If he does go to his spot without any trouble, then you may continue taking him out this way- making sure to stand by his spot every time for about another week. Once your pup has consistently had no accidents for 3 to 4 weeks then you can stop going out to stand near his spot, because he has already shown you that he KNOWS where to go.

The other good thing about this training is that you will begin showing your puppy the ropes because he is on his leash...and never unsupervised in the home. The only time that someone will not be at the other end of his leash is when he is napping in his crate, so he will learn to walk around nicely on his leash, follow you and pay attention to you.

Yes, doing it this way can be alot of work but if you do they are often potty trained in weeks instead of months. When you have to leave or need a break he can be placced in his crate for rest or even for food

(although feeding a husky inside the crate can get really messy). Just be sure not to leave your husky in their crate for longer than 2 hours without getting them out to go potty...this is bad for the potty training and bad for them emotionally.

Potty training (or lack there of) is the #1 reason why pups are not kept by their origional owners and end up being shuffled from home to home in their first year or two. If you do not begin potty training the day you come home (and try to keep putting it off) you will have a harder time the longer you wait...so dont wait...start showing your puppy that you care about them when they first get home.

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Training your puppy#3

Now that we have covered potty training at length and about what NOT to do to your husky. It is time for us to talk about the rules of your home and how this ties directly to training them and being their leader.

The best thing you can do for your husky puppy is to have set rules for him or her that NO-ONE in your home strays from...inconsistent training in the home will lead you to trouble with your husky as they are quite well known for challenging authority and they will be more than happy to continually challenge that one person who decides to break the rules for him just because he is CUTE! Even a well trained husky will challenge you if they really want something badly enough...take my word for it...or dont...lol...ask anyone here.

For these dogs the problem habits are these: Digging, nipping, jumping, stealing, begging, chewing, pulling at the leash, ignoring their owners, and my personal favorite "clobbering"...meaning that they will be all too happy to run head-long into you and/or push you out of the way to get where they want to go. The reason I covered the potty traing first is also because I have also known many male huskies to challenge by marking (peeing) in the house, and I have even lived with one who "smiled" at me when he was getting in trouble for it...lol.

What rules have you set for your home?? think about these rules and train them accordingly.

My rules were: No jumping on or nipping , no pulling on the leash, no sleeping on beds or going upstairs, no stealing, and no pushing everyone else around or malling them when we had something to give to him, no malling/bullying to be patted, and absolutely no going potty in my home or doing damage to the house or furniture. Later I decided that I didnt mind him laying with me on the sofa but that he must get off the couch when he is asked to.

What training method did you decide was best for you and your home??

I personally went with NILIF...or "nothing in life is free." This does not mean that he doesnt enjoy his life fully it simply means that when he wants something or needs it that he must earn it, because I ask him to. He must give something to get something in return.

For Chewy (my husky/malamute mix) this means that he must be willing to pay attention to me and do something to show me the manners we have been working on.

Here are my basic commands for him:






Leave It




Go Get it

Be Nice

He is still learining... but has already learned that following these commands earns him patting, treats, food, walks and playtime...all the things he most enjoys.

In 7 months (which seems like alot of time to most people) We have gone from: Nipping (fearful nipping), stealing (food, toys, and shoes), clobbering for food, pulling excessively and pretty much complete unsocial behavior...to having no nipping, walking away when told to leave it, playing and taking treats from hands nicely, waiting calmly for meals and attention, sitting and waiting to be invited inside/outside,walking nicely and paying attention to changes in speed and minor corrections for stopping, and meeting people and other animals with enthusiasm and curiosity instead of fear. Oh and my personal favorite, getting OFF the couch when he is asked...LOL.

He also is quite gentle and respectful with the cats and I have been able to get him to do successful recall. He has not had an accident in my home for 5 months or marked anywhere and spends about 80-90 % of his time in the house with us.

This is why I said not to automatically believe all the MALARKY that you will probably read on the internet..

Im not a licensed trainer and I dont do it as a professional, but I have alot of knowlege that I am happy to share about raising a husky as a companion.

I will be covering how I taught Chewbacca to follow all the commands that I have listed...in the next post lol.

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Training your puppy#4

Ok so now Im going to teach you the 4 things you will be using as tools with your puppy.



DOWN (lay down)


COME is not only a command but a display of affection to your dog as they interpret this as you wanting them to be close to you, so use it positively. Yelling COME to a puppy makes you scary and intimidating and you will not be able to get them to do it. If they will not COME close enough without turning tail and bouncing away or backing away...then sit with your bottom on the floor with the side of your body facing them and your hand laying open at your side. This posture means hey look, I want to play or hey come get patted. You can use treats but I just called in a fun way and patted Chewy playfully when he came up to me.

The SIT command is a very useful tool...it is not just some random trick. Some people will say oh thats just some programmed response...to that my answer is this- "It is a Healthy Response that every owner should teach both for safety and discipline." SIT is the easiest command to teach to a dog.

Before I go further I would like to recommend that if your puppy responds to you pretty well without food treats then you should try to teach commands without treats, by using friendly/enthusiastic patting as their reward. Huskies are well known for getting hooked on treat training and then refusing to pay attention unless they know you are giving treats...LOL.

In any case, SIT is so easy you could probably teach it in your sleep. Get your puppy's attention, place your hands directly in front of their nose so they think you have something for them, Say SIT, and then slowly move your hand forward until its above the back of their ears. This causes a natural tilt of the head and body because they are curious about your hand and often times they go into the sit position all by themselves. If you do have a treat, then praise and give the treat.

If you have a bounce and grab puppy you goes from sit to lunge as soon as you get ready to give the treat then you will want to teach them to wait until you say to take the treat. You can do this by not ever giving the treat if they move from the sit position...if the second you move your hand to give the treat they get up bring your hand to your chest and have them sit again. Once they sit long enough for you to get the treat to their nose, say "be nice" and then you give the treat.

In Chewy's case I didnt want a 65 pound puppy to be lunging forward as my 2 or 6 year old kids were trying to play with him or give him a treat. This really comes in handy for playing tug-o-war as well.

Next, DOWN (lay down). DOWN is also not just some generic trick, it is VERY useful...especially with high energy puppies like huskies. This position helps to teach the to be patient, calm, or to rest/relax. If done correctly It can do all three of those things at the same time.

For teaching the DOWN position. Get your puppy's attention by placing your hand directly in front of their nose. If you have a treat tuck it between your thumb and index fingers and bring your hand down flat on the floor in front of them. Most puppies not only naturally follow your hand and go into the DOWN postion but do it quite playfully. For stubborn puppies you might try tapping the floor to get their attention back as you tell them DOWN. Once they have gone into the down position wait breifly and then give the treat if you have one. As I said before if they are lungers, do not give the treat if they get up before the hand is in front of the nose...bring the treat hand to your chest and use the other hand to get the back to the down position and try again.

Now, with these two basic commands and even with commands that come later...remember that sometimes puppies react quickly to a command and sometimes they may take up to 45 seconds to react...so dont be too quick to correct them.

after you practice these commands for a week or two a piece the puppy should be having a very quick response and should be following the commands at least 60% of the time...if not be patient some puppies take a little more time. Once they are doing the commands correctly at least 8 out of 10 times then you know you are doing a good job and that you can add another command to your arsenal.

Ok so lets talk a bit about body language. for this I want you to think about your size in comparison to the size of your puppy. Think back to when you were a kid and how much bigger things seemed to you then. Also consider this: when another member of a pack of dogs corrects a member they will use very precise body language and will not back away until that member does what they are supposed to do.

As your husky pup gets bigger they will challenge you to see if you will back down and do or give them what they want. This is where body language comes in. Huskies will ignore their owners if you let them, simple as that. Body language is not about being mean it is about using movements and signals when vocal commands arent working.

Here is an example of what I mean.

One day (at about 5 months old and 45 pounds) Chewbacca decided he was going to jump on my two year old and challenge her to get a piece of cheese from her hands. My reaction at first was to stand up straight, tell him NO, and tell him to SIT. He did sit briefly but then decided he would challenge me by running toward me then go back to harrassing my daughter. So, then I used body language. I told him NO and DOWN, and when he made a move to turn away and ignore me...I straightened up and took 2 big steps toward him. I stopped just short of him, put on the "I know you didnt" face and stood there until he layed down. He layed in that very spot until I told him he was allowed to get up. Making yourself look bigger and using the body language that says "I MEAN BUSINESS" is often more effective than verbal commands alone.

On the opposite side, body language can also let a puppy know that you are not scary and that you are not trying to be intimidating. If you have a fearful puppy...please feel free to ask me how to use positive body language...I would be glad to help if I can.

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NILIF Test Demo With Chewy

This is a short Demonstration of a test that you can do with your puppy. After doing other kinds of training with dogs before chewy and even after starting him on another method...and realizing that it just wasnt working for us...this is why I chose NILIF. Not only can you teach your puppy to earn every reward they get, but eventually you can teach them to complete more than one task to get a single reward.

While Chewy gave me some "guff" in this video, you will notice that he did several sits and downs for me without getting anything in between...just to get that 1 tiny piece of cheese. Then at the end..for that last SIT he only got the verbal reward.

You will also notice he didnt bother to lunge at me or steal the treat...although he probably did consider it lol.

YouTube - chewbacca test demo use this

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Hi Erika,

You said you taught Chewy not to nip... well we have a bit of a nipping problem, Nukka will nip especially at my husband whome I do try to tell him to be consistant and firm with her but he has abit of trouble and when Nukka is over excited she will even hava nip at me, this is unusal as Im her alpha I do the majority of the training and Im the person she spends most time with and listens to most consistantly.

I know I need to train my husband better loL! But if you had any specific tips we could try to stop her nipping then it would make it easier on my husband! We do tell her No and have tried both the ignoring her teqnic and the holding her mouth closed firmly but this doesnt always work... what did you do?

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Making Training Fun and friendly!

The next thing I would like to talk about is Making training more than a ritual. If you are not enthusiastic about your puppy's training then they will not be very interested.

Training doesnt need to be a long drawn out ritual that brings on a case of the blahs!! LOL.

With young pups training doesnt really need to last for more than a few minutes at a time, and shouldnt last that long as they get bored very quickly and will turn their attention to something else that they feel is more exciting...especially if the owner becomes bored with it as well.

What exactly did I do with Chewy? Ok, Ill tell yah...LOL :) .

Number one: I NEVER just set a specific time of day to do training exercises and I never did any sessions that lasted more than 5 minutes, until he got older and I wanted to start doing a little more with him. If you take a look at the timer on the video in my last posting...you will notice that it is less than 2 minutes long, and that I did it spur of the moment so he was excited and his tail was wagging the whole time...and he was smiling throughout! I did this alot with him in the last 7 months. I would just be walking around the house and he would be following so Id put on my "happy voice" call him to me and do 2 to 3 minutes of training exercises. I call this Practice training...because I would just invite him to practice the skills that I want him to be ready and able to do whenever I ask him throughout his very long life with me...LOL.

In my humble opinion...lol...Chewy has actually learned what I expect of him alot faster this way... compared to any dog I have trained before him using different methods...like scheduling 20 minute exercises that sooner or later become very monotonous for the dog and the owners.

Some days I do extra pratice training (remember it only lasts about 2 to 3 minutes at a time) and other days I just do 2 or 3 little sessions. Since he never knows when I might spring some practice training on him he pays more attention to me waiting for the next time that I might call him...which is a fabulous bonus with huskies...LOL.

The other thing that was so helpful was that I taught Chewy that he could earn all kinds of rewards not just treats.

There are many kinds of rewards vocal, patting, treats, walks, playtime, invitations to sit on the sofa, and their meals...all of those things can be made into a reward for their willingness to do as you ask.

Some examples of earning a reward include:

Coming and sitting or standing quietly next to you to be patted (which teaches them not to bully you into loving on them), Sitting calmly at the door to be let in or out and being rewarded with vocal praise, and the door opening faster (which teaches them not to clobber you or shove past you to get in or out the door), and my personal favorite...sitting to watch you fill their food bowl then quietly following you to the place where you put the bowl down, and laying down to wait until you say they are allowed to eat (which keeps them from knocking you or their bowl over to get their meals, and also often eliminates any food aggression issues before they can start).

These things do not need to become demanding or forceful and can actually be quite fun if you are willing to show a bit of enthusiasm.

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There are 3 things you can do saraandnukka,

1st Distract her using a treat, holding it high above her, and when she sits quietly for a few seconds without being naughty...give her the treat.

2nd...try having him (your hubby) get up walk to another side of the room and if she plays with toys have him offer her a toy. you do this exactly the same as the treat trick. You hold a rope high above her head until she sits calmly, then offer it to her and play. You would be surprised how often they nip just because they are bored and need some active exercise...and when she lets go of the rope do not give it back until she sits again to earn it.

and 3rd...as mentioned before try yipping LOUDLY at her when you know she is about to start nipping. when this fails...try piching her ear alittle...not too hard...and only until she makes a little yip herself.

I prefer the first 2 things actually as you are offering up another form of attention and having her earn the reward of play or treats to not nip you...meanwhile teaching her to sit to get attention as well.

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Breaking the habit!

I have touched alittle on this but i would like to give some more tips.

As you probably already know, huskies often like to ignore their owners. Dont let this get your goat. There are many ways to teach your puppy to pay attention to you.

First, try a few short sessions of practice training everyday. Dont always do them at the same time. Catch your puppy off his guard and encourage him to work with you. after enough times of being rewarded for paying attention, he will be watching and waiting for you to ask him to do things so he can get a reward.

Second, Huskies LOVE to play as many puppies do. This is exciting to them and they will pay attention if you are holding a toy in your hand that they like. If you teach them to play tug-o-war....this is a winner! If they love that rope toy, they will be right there within seconds because they want you to give it to them and play. Make it exciting, you will find that laughing and pulling on the other end really gets that tail wagging. A puppy who is excited to play with you will come to you with toys and ask to play- too.

Third, if you find that your puppy still gives you a hard time about paying attention and he will not respond to you as he should try this: get a bag of good smelling treats! Take one out and close your hand around it, and let him sniff your hand for a few seconds. Bring the treat hand up, and use it to tap your chest or forehead, and say "ATTENTION" as you tap. Once he has payed attention for 5-10 seconds without looking away or doing something naughty...give him the treat. Practice this until he pays attention without being given a treat and obeys you 8 out of 10 times. It may take a couple of weeks but in the end it will be worth every second of your time.

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Before we get on to more fun and challenging things i want to take the time to talk a bit about leash training.

Leash training is not just about teaching them about manners for daily walks, it can help you teach them ALOT more than that. Being on leash, and handling them well, also makes you the leader and makes it easier to supervise them and have the control to teach them anything. To some people this sounds horrible, but if done properly, your husky will learn to trust and follow you through just about anything. Dont think of the leash as just a leash, think of it as a connection that keeps your puppy close to you so that you can guide him.

I taught Chewy quite alot in his first month just by having him follow me on his lead through the house so we could practice good manners in the most practical way...by using them when they are supposed to be used. He was not on the lead all day, but his first 4 weeks of practice training and potty training were done on the leash so i could lead him and he would follow automatically.

What was I able to teach him?

- to sit at the door before we went out

- to sit before we came back in the door

- to sit/lay down and wait calmly while I did tasks

- to sit and earn my attention

- not to steal

- not to jump

- and (last but not least) how to walk nicely- before ever walking outside

(and that he was not allowed to just walk away when given a command!)

Note: if you live in hawaii...use leash training! Since we cannot take our pups out before 14 to 16 weeks to be walked daily (due to health risks and by vet recommendation) teaching them manners in the home and on the lead is very useful. They still need active play and exercise...and walking your husky pup around the home and/or in your yard where it is safer for them is a great way to get them off to a good start both with training and socializing with you.

As you have most likely heard or experienced...huskies are PULLERS!! Its quite common that they will walk their humans if they dont learn about walking properly on a leash pretty early on. Having them on the leash early and often has a really profound effect on their behavior as they grow as it automatically sets a set of boundaries for them. The leash is a great and easy way to guide them and teach them about your expectations.

leash training can be a little monotonous but you can also make it fun for you and them just by rewarding them with patting and a happy tone of voice just for following you. It can also help them to have more confidence because you will not likely have to correct them as much and they get to have plenty of time where they feel close to you and can explore your world.

Leash training is easy.

Step 1: attach leash

Step 2: lead the puppy

Step 3: apply the rules and manners as you go, teaching the puppy exactly how to behave in all the situations that count!

Step 4: Give praise/rewards on the spot, and every time they follow the rules without skipping a beat...lol.

You dont have to do this forever, the most time you will likely have to spend on this is their first month to 6 weeks if you start early! Once they begin to show you that they are happy to earn rewards and do what you ask about 70% or 7 out of 10 times...you wont be needing that leash very often...unless you go for walks or want to do training outside.

The very first day you take your puppy out for a walk the rule is very simple...DO NOT GIVE ANY MORE LEAD/LEASH THAN THEY CAN WALK NICELY WITH. If they start hopping and making a menace of themselves or trying to dart away...take away some of that lead...and reel in as much of it as you need to...when they begin to walk with manners then you stop reeling that leash in and continue to walk calmly and at a comfortable pace. If allowed the room to continue bad walking behaviors, they will continue!

Im not saying that you should choke your puppy or have them walking on their hind legs, but if you must keep it tight, then only leave the appropriate amount of room for them to walk comfortably on all fours so that you control the pace. After a couple of weeks of this they will usually earn their way to another 6 inches of lead walking peacefully. Sometimes they do like to walk slightly ahead of you by a few steps...there is nothing at all wrong with this so long as they are not pulling heavily or trying to run you down the block against your will! LOL

Remember your husky was naturally built to pull, so that slight pull they give while walking is natural and if they are relaxed and walking nicely...then this is fine so dont fret about it. The most of a husy's strength/leverage is in the chest and legs, so they naturally lean forward to take their next step.

If you feel you dont have quite as much control over your puppy as you would like try this:

Go to ebay or amazon and look for something called the "Easy Walk Harness." easy harness is safe and effective, but please read the directions that come with them so you fit and use it properly.

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If you feel you dont have quite as much control over your puppy as you would like try this:

Go to ebay or amazon and look for something called the "Easy Walk Harness" they also have a "head harness" but I forget what its called...just type head harness into the search box. Both are very safe and effective, but please read the directions that come with them so you fit and use them properly.

Chewie, head collars are not very safe nor are they effective on every dog. They can cause serious neck and spinal injury and some dogs find them highly aversive. They should NEVER be used on a puppy.

Like you said, if you start on the right track with your pup you will need nothing more than a collar and leash :grinning-smiley-003

Personally I prefer not to walk my dogs on a tight leash, because it can create resistance and encourage pulling. I use a tight leash to teach the dog not to pull, by training them to learn that as soon as the leash goes tight they can no longer get where the want to go, usually by using the change of direction technique :D

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