Any Tips for Training Stubborn Northern Breeds?

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About a year ago my parents got a 2 year old husky/malamute mix. They didn't mean to adopt him – it was somewhat of an accident and the dog truly adopted them rather than the other way around. My mom has never owned a dog, and my dad had only a beagle mix growing up. So, having a large, strong, not well-trained dog was a very new thing to them.

I was obsessed with huskies and other northern breeds when I was younger, and so I read all about them and remembered their characteristic stubbornness. And, so my parents have neglected with training him more. He still hasn't gotten used to the cats and so they're generally locked up (which isn't fair to them!), isn't crate trained, and has poor recall. They've worked with a professional trainer a few times, but they can't afford to do more of it right now. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to be the one to train him since now I've moved back home, and he needs to get used to the crate and the cats ASAP. My family knows if he can't get used to the cats where they can at least roam free throughout the house again without being hurt, he should be rehomed (since the cats came first, and plus my parents are honestly not the best owners for such a large, strong, and active dog). They get frustrated by his stubbornness, as do I sometimes, but being as we're all used to cats, maybe we've been more blase about it than we should be?

Obviously, he has a ways to go. I know he'll never be perfect with his training, but I'm OK with that. I just need tips on managing his stubbornness as indicated by his breed background. He likes treats and is food-motivated, which is good, but he tends to only listen to you if you have a treat in your hand… and even then there are times he decides that he'd rather do X thing than have the treat, heh. I admire his temperament, and he's actually a fairly chill dog as long as he has had his exercise. Loyal and loving, but not overly clingy or hyper. Hardly barks. Not aggressive nor destructive. He's just a happy sap with us. The high prey drive concerns me because I don't want the cats to be hurt and/or killed, and that's the biggest thing that concerns me right now.

Sadly, a lot of info I find online of training huskies, malamutes, and other northern breeds is based on dominance theory, which I know has long been debunked. What are more modern and kinder ways to approach training with the notoriously independently minded northern breeds?

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