Ask any Siberian husky owner to describe their dog, and there are several words you’re likely to hear. Intelligent, energetic, mischievous, and then there’s the one word that always seems to make the list: stubborn. Why do Siberian huskies have such a reputation for stubbornness?
Siberian huskies are so stubborn due to the following 3 reasons:
- They’re bred to be this way.
- Huskies need lots of exercise.
- Huskies need a pack, and a pack needs an alpha.
Read on for more about why Siberian huskies behave the way they do and why it looks like stubbornness, as well as some things to try if your husky just doesn’t seem to be listening to you.
1. They’re Bred To Be This Way
Because of the extreme conditions under which they–and their human companions–lived in the past, Siberian huskies needed to be smart and independent. A human sled driver needed dogs who listened to basic commands but were also intelligent enough to know when to ignore them and use their own judgment instead.
Your dog isn’t intentionally being “bad” when it looks at you and then does the thing you told it not to. Instead, it’s thinking for itself. What is a useful–even life-saving–trait in some situations can be irritating in a less dramatic context.
Try not to react with anger when your dog disobeys your commands.
Instead, gently but firmly redirect your dog. It’s important to remember that training is a constant and lifelong activity with Siberian huskies, not something you can mark “complete” after the first year of your dog’s life.
Make an effort to keep your dog mentally challenged.
A bored or under-stimulated husky is a husky looking for something to destroy. Toys, games, and other intellectual puzzles will give your husky an outlet for all that extra brainpower–and leave less time for plotting. You can find a fun puzzle for your dog here on Amazon.
2. Huskies Need Lots of Exercise
The old adage that “a tired dog is a good dog” is especially true for huskies, who need lots of physical activity to be content–up to two hours a day of walking or running.
Your husky’s ancestors were pulling heavily-laden sleds through snow and ice for up to 100 miles a day. If all your pup is getting is a walk around the block twice a day, that’s not enough exercise. Your dog–like an over-excited toddler–may not be able to listen to your commands if it’s too full of unused energy.
Wear them out, then try again. You may be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
If you jog, cycle, or hike, try bringing your husky along. They love almost any strenuous activity and will happily lope alongside you for hours. As an added benefit, the extra time together will reinforce the bond between you and give you additional opportunities to work on your obedience training. My friends Husky loves playing fetch and this ball launcher on Amazon is a must have.
3. Huskies Need a Pack, and a Pack Needs an Alpha
Research indicates that huskies remain socially more similar to wolves than most other dog breeds.
The pack instinct is strong, and the need for companionship and a firm social hierarchy is real. If your husky spends a lot of time alone, it could have a negative impact on their level of obedience.
Apart from promoting boredom, too much solitude erodes your husky’s view of you as the pack leader. After all, in your husky’s mind, someone has to be in charge, and if there’s no one else around, it must be them!
If you want your husky to obey your commands, you have to constantly reinforce that you are the alpha, or the leader, of your dog’s pack. Being the alpha means not only issuing directions but also providing security and structure for your dog.
You provide food, play, attention, and safety–all things your dog needs. If you need help with training your Husky and reassure you are the leader in the family, check out Brain Training for Dogs. It’s 100% online and worth it. The best investment I have ever made as a dog owner.
And just as in a wild pack, you cannot afford to allow your status to slip. Your dog will test you. Again, it’s not intentional insolence. It’s about seeking reassurance that you are strong enough for your role.
React to challenges with firm authority, and try not to let your frustration show.
The History of a Siberian Husky’s Stubbornness
According to scientists from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Siberian huskies are descended from dogs bred by the Chukchi tribes, who lived in eastern Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula.
They were used as sled dogs, pulling heavy loads across the tundra during the long, cold winter. While they were working, they were fed by their human masters. In the summers, however, the dogs were set loose to fend for themselves in a pack.
The breed was first brought to the Americas in 1908 when it was imported to Alaska for use during the Alaska gold rush.
They became more well-known in 1925 after the famous “Great Race of Mercy,” when 20 teams of sled dogs traveled 674 miles in only 5 ½ days to deliver desperately needed medical supplies to the town of Nome.
Togo, one of the team leads, ran more than 200 of those miles himself.
Togo’s musher, in fact, reported that at one point in their journey, Togo was smart enough to grab a snapped rope in his teeth and use it to haul the rest of his team to safety after they were stranded on an ice floe.
That sort of initiative is bred into Siberian huskies, just as much as their thick fur or their curled tails. It’s not a phase, you can’t train it out of them, and it’s never going to go away.
Siberian huskies have an inspiring history. They’re smarter, hardier, and more resilient than many other dog breeds.
With those characteristics, however, come challenges. Huskies aren’t always easy pets, but for a diligent and dedicated owner who appreciates a spirited dog, they can make a wonderful companion.
Remember, however, that you’ll need to stay firm, yet gentle, and keep your cool when your Husky is misbehaving. When it is not misbehaving, take some time to give it positive attention.
- Alpha Trained Dog: 8 Amazing Tips on Training a Husky Puppy
- American Kennel Club: The True Story of Togo: Siberian Husky Sled Dog Hero of 1925 Nome Serum Run
- Annals of Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW. Animal Science No 45, 2008 Social Behaviors in Siberian Huskies
- Pet Health Network: The Benefits of the Tired Dog