The Siberian Husky is a truly unique breed of dog with very special requirements. This dog will want for many, many things over the course of its life and you as its owner must provide those things to keep it happy.
A happy husky is a pleasure to own and if you’re looking for more ways to keep your husky happy, we’ve compiled a list of ideal ways to achieve this.
Here they are, our fantastic 15 ways to make your Siberian Husky happy!
1) Give Your Husky More Exercise Outside
Your Siberian Husky is at its happiest when it is outside, running. However much you entertain it inside, whatever you do and whatever awesome ideas you come up with, it just can’t beat the enjoyment it gets in the outside world. It’s where it belongs.
So, the best way to ensure you have a happy husky is to spend more time outside with it! I won’t say this is the easiest way, as it’s not always that easy to find time in our lives to do this enough.
How much time your Husky needs to spend outside to get the right amount of exercise varies. It depends on how old they are, their general health and their personality.
The general consensus seems to be that your Husky should be taken outside twice a day and for at least an hour, each time. Not only that, but the exercise shouldn’t be a gentle stroll. It needs to get their heart rate up so they should have at least parts of the session when they are running.
The problem usually is an obvious one. They are fitter than most of us! These dogs can run at speeds of up to almost 30 mph and can canter along at around 10 mph for hours on end.
Now, my treadmill at home doesn’t even go up to 10 mph and this is more of a sprint than a jog for me. I might be able to maintain it for a few seconds but much more than that and I’m falling over!
So, to make your Husky happier and give them more exercise, you need to become fitter and give them more opportunities to run when they’re outside. If you’re feeling very generous then see if you can get up even earlier than you do at the moment and squeeze in an extra cheeky half-hour for them.
I asked 138 Siberian Husky owners how much they exercised their dogs each day, the results were interesting:
- 81 of the 138 owners (58.7%) exercised their Husky between 1 and 2 hours a day.
- 37 owners (26.8%) exercised their Husky between 2 and 3 hours a day.
- 14 (10.1%) owners exercised their Husky between 30 and 60 minutes a day.
- 5 owners over 3 hours a day
- 1 owner less than 30 minutes a day.
So, the vast majority of owners surveyed (85.5%) exercise their Husky between 1 and 3 hours a day.
2) Give your Husky More Exercise Inside
The next best thing to make a happy husky that you can do if you can’t squeeze any more time for them outside is to try and top up the exercise inside! But how can you do this? I’m not talking about the normal play-time activities you engage them in, but solid exercise.
Well, perhaps surprisingly, most people didn’t even know this was a ‘thing’ but if you need to give your Huskies more exercise and can’t get out, then why not consider a doggy treadmill? Seriously, click on the link to check out my article on these and look at some prices – you may be surprised!
I know you might think I’ve lost the plot and for many breeds of dog there just wouldn’t be any point to this but for the Siberian Husky, they are absolutely perfect. There are also perfectly acceptable reasons to use one of these.
For instance, let’s say you’ve injured yourself or have become disabled. You may be able to get out for a walk or even get someone to take them out occasionally, but you’ll know it won’t be enough for your Husky. The treadmill can’t replace the thrill the Husky gets from running outside but it is the next best thing.
It will take a little time to get them accustomed to it and you need to make sure you have it positioned correctly, like not having it facing a wall as they will think they’re going to run into it! Have it facing a window if possible so they can see out and have lots of ventilation.
If you can get a fan directed at them also to give them the impression of the wind rushing through their fur, even better. I’ve not heard of anyone who hasn’t been able to get their Husky on the treadmill, quite happily, within about a week. Seriously, consider it!
3) …But Don’t Let Them Overheat
A Husky, despite being quite happy running around outside, shouldn’t be pushed too hard. Yes, they used to run for hours at a time but very rarely would need to sprint. Like us, when we go for a gentle jog without exerting ourselves too much, this is how Huskies will want to exercise. Let them run at their own pace and don’t force them to go faster if they don’t want to.
Don’t forget they have a double coat and even with their thinner summer coat showing, they can overheat easily. In fact, the Husky can overheat at 0 °F, which is a temperature most of us haven’t even experienced.
The breed originated, of course, from the harsh Siberian climate where temperatures were frequently dropping down to −50 °C (−76 °F) and lower. The vast majority of locations they are seen in these days are far greater than this and this poses a risk to the husky.
When you’re taking your Husky out for exercise, just because they originally were able to run all day doesn’t mean they should. Take plenty of water for them when you go out, especially on longer trips and just give them a lot of breaks.
Keep an eye on them, it’s okay for them to pant as this is their body trying to regulate their temperature but do stop frequently. Ideally, don’t exercise in direct sunlight (unless we’re talking about the Arctic sun) and let them rest in the shade.
4) Play with Them More Inside
This isn’t so much about the physical activity of playing, although this is definitely beneficial but about their mental state. The Siberian Husky needs a lot of attention from its owners to keep it happy and if it is deprived of this, it can eventually lead to signs of anxiety-related disorders.
So, just because you’ve ticked the box and taken them out for one of their mandatory daily exercise sessions, doesn’t mean you can put your feet up!
The Husky needs interaction from its owners, not all the time, just whenever it wants. If you seem to be more interested in the television or newspaper, then there’s a good chance it will just sit there looking at you, then it will start to howl. Basically, it will do what it needs to do to get your mind focused on what’s really important here, which is them basically.
If you’ve had the same toys for a while then maybe it’s time to freshen them up a bit and get some new ones. If you’re after some ideas then do take a look at my personal recommendations of the best toys (opens in a new tab, these are seriously the only ones I’d recommend). I’ve spent a lot of money on pet toys in general over the last few decades and think I have a pretty good idea of what works.
Anyway, I’ve only posted the three toys that have really, consistently worked well for me and they don’t cost much so do check them out if you’re after something new.
5) Show Authority
The Siberian Husky, being a pack animal, will, like all dogs, assume a position of authority unless made to believe it isn’t the boss. You are the person who will need to let them know who’s in charge.
It’s not mean and it’s not cruel to be this person and without this, your Husky will try and assume this role. This isn’t good for them and it sure isn’t good for you! A husky needs to know who the boss is and actually, once they know this, it will make them feel more happy and secure and suffer less from anxiety-related disorders.
When you need to provide commands to them, for instance when they need to get ‘Down’ or ‘Stay’, you will do so in an authoritative voice. You need to come over as confident and you need to come over as someone who knows what they are talking about. Don’t say it in such a way that you are pleading with them to do it. It is an instruction, not a request.
It’s hard to get over exactly how important a dominant figure is in their lives. This isn’t usually a problem for the Siberian Husky owner though. Husky owners just tend to know what they are doing, they’ve done it before, they’ve done their research and know what they need to do. If you don’t, then it’s time to start.
6) …and continue their Training
The Siberian Husky needs training from the moment they set paw into your home. They are to spend the rest of their life with you, in your home, and they need to know how to behave. You wouldn’t just let a child grow up and not provide any kind of training as to how they should behave so why is it such a big deal when doing so for a dog?
Experienced owners know that the Siberian Husky can be a stubborn breed of dog. They will get as much out of the training as you will. Dogs need discipline and it helps them to find their place within the group. So, start your training early and continue it throughout their lives. If you need any help then check out this article that will show you how to best train your Husky from home.
7) Spend More Time With Them
Well, this one is easy but deprive the Husky of human contact and it will become depressed. So, you know what you have to do. When you’re not exercising them outside or exercising them inside or playing with them, just spend time with them.
Sit down on the floor with them and groom them or let them up onto the couch with you and just let them sleep with you. They’ll occasionally open an eye to ensure you’re still there but it’s a great way for them to recover after a long run.
8) Keep Them Healthy
Obvious one this but don’t neglect their health. The Husky can suffer from a lot of genetic problems, like all dogs. You should know when you get a Husky whether they have inherited anything but if you haven’t bought through a professional breeder then you can get your own DNA test kit (opens in a new window).
Take a look at the link to find out my recommendation – they are not as expensive and complex as you may be thinking!
Assuming they don’t have any genetic diseases then as well as keeping a close eye on them (feeding habits, drinking, toilet routine) then a yearly veterinary check-up is a great idea.
They will take note of all the vitals and it’s a great opportunity for you to discuss any health concerns you might have. The key to curing a lot of the illnesses your Husky might get is early diagnosis and letting your vet take a look at your Husky gives you another opportunity to do just this.
9) Take Out Insurance
A healthy husk is a happy husky. This follows on from the last point really but having insurance can potentially add years to the life of your Husky. Why? It is a fact that owners with insurance are more likely to get their dog checked out earlier than those owners that don’t.
Veterinary costs can exceed $1,000 in only a couple of days and there’s probably nothing worse than having to decide whether you can afford a life-saving operation due to the amount it will cost you as you didn’t take out insurance. In my opinion, dog insurance should be mandatory, I know it can be quite expensive but I believe it is a price worth paying.
10) Don’t Have Cats
Contentious point this I know as many owners have enjoyed having both their Husky and their cat(s) living together in perfect harmony all their lives. However, as you most likely know, the Siberian Husky has a very high prey-drive.
No amount of training will be able to change this drive. There are stories of the dog and cat living together absolutely fine for years until one day, something snaps, they see your cat as prey and the outcome ends in extreme unpleasantness.
So, how can not having cats make a husky happy? Your dog may not be happy in the presence of a cat, although it may not show it. It will feel stressed that it is being forced to live with an animal that it sees as prey.
It will feel conflicted that its natural instincts are telling it to chase and destroy this animal yet there’s also this underlying feeling that it shouldn’t.
As much as people (including me) love dogs and cats, these types of dogs are not best suited to live in the same house.
11) Don’t Make a Husky a Guard Dog
Expecting your Husky to be a good guard dog is like expecting them to be content with a five-minute walk around the block once a week. They are not possessive, not aggressive and don’t like to be left alone so trying to get them to do this job is just a waste of time.
If you then reprimand them for not doing their job (yes, it has happened) then it’s just going to create stress and anxiety. So, the point here is don’t expect them to be something they are not. The Siberian Husky is many, many things – one of those things is not being a guard dog 🙂
12) Don’t Leave a Siberian Husky Alone
This is one of those points that if this list was in priority order would be somewhere near the top. A husky left on its own will not be a happy husky. There are many dogs that are a lot better with being left alone than the Siberian Husky. It is a social animal that needs human company to keep its mental state in a good place.
Having another Husky to keep it company can help, but it won’t solve the problem.
Leaving the Siberian Husky alone for more than around 30 minutes can create problems for you and for the dog. After this point, it will start to experience separation anxiety and become depressed.
When this happens it can quickly escalate into a destructive personality disorder and you will find your house has been turned into one big chew-toy by the time you come back. Repeating this, over and over again will just make your Husky sink into depression.
The Husky shouldn’t be left to roam your home alone if you’re going to be out for any more than 30 minutes. Even if you consider a crate (I talk about this next) then you shouldn’t leave them in it for more than around 3 hours. So, if you want a happy Husky, just don’t leave them alone.
13) …But If You Have To, Get Them a Crate
We all have lives to lead and sometimes things come up which mean we need to pop out for an hour or two. You’ve tried to get a dog-sitter but can’t find one, what are your options? Well, you can just leave them at home, in which case your home will be most likely destroyed by the time you get back, or you can consider putting them in a crate.
When I first heard about this technique, I wasn’t happy about it. To me, it sounded like we would be putting them in jail but it’s really not like that. I mentioned in my house training article about this – your Husky won’t see it as confinement. In fact, the crate is somewhere that they will feel safe and secure within and will reduce separation anxiety considerably.
All things in moderation though, the Husky should not be left in a crate for more than around 3 hours during the day or overnight for sleeping.
If you’re after a crate btw, there’s only a couple I recommend and they’re both available on Amazon right now if you want to take a look. If you’d like to know why I selected these two, check out my reasoning here (opens in a new window).
14) Keep Them Well Groomed
You should never trim a Siberian Husky’s coat. You may think you’re doing them a favor but you’re not. The Husky’s coat, as we know, blows twice a year and grows back either thinner or thicker, depending on what season it is. It doesn’t need to be cut. The Husky should, however, be groomed. Regularly.
But I’m not talking about how grooming on a daily basis will save your house from the millions of hairs that seem to form over that time period. It is truly a mystery how so many hairs can come from a dog that really isn’t that big.
What I’m talking about here is the opportunity grooming gives you, or any member of your family to spend a few minutes bonding with the Husky. There are only positives that can come out of this. You won’t have Husky hairs in your dinner, it helps to reduce anxiety in your dog and it helps you to bond with them, it’s a win-win all around.
15) Take Them on Holiday With You
When it comes to vacation time, what do you do? If you’re used to going abroad for a week or two for a summer holiday, you will have a decision to make. You can’t take them with you, so you only have a few options:
- Continue to go away for a beach holiday and put your Husky in a kennel.
- Go away as usual but have a house-sitter.
- Go somewhere else and take your Husky with you.
Now, dare I say it but most Husky owners are just a little bit different. They have the Husky for a reason and won’t be content to leave it in someone else’s hands for a week or two. So, let’s take a look at option 3. These days there are more and more options available to us.
Many hotels now accommodate dogs so why not take them with you? Give them a chance to explore new surroundings. As long as it’s not too far away then you won’t have the stress of worrying about them when you’re away and you really get the best of both worlds.