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As a husky owner, I expect to get in “arguments” with my dog on a regular basis. If I tell her to get off the bed or to drop her sister’s bone, I know I’m in for a full conversation about it.
Across the internet and throughout the dog community, huskies are often referred to as drama queens. Whether you’ve seen viral clips of husky tantrums or you own one of these mischievous dogs, you may wonder why are huskies so dramatic?
Huskies are dramatic due to a combination of genetic traits and human feedback. As a naturally vocal and stubborn breed, huskies are genetically predisposed to communicate vocally when they don’t want to do something or are feeling something strongly. Humans reward this dramatic behavior with attention, so huskies do it more.
This article will go over how huskies are dramatic, the roots of their unique personalities, and how to prevent excessive theatrics from your dog.
How Are Huskies Dramatic?
Huskies are an unusually expressive breed, but the thing that truly distinguishes them from similarly reactive dogs is that they show their emotions loudly. A scared husky will “scream,” a sad husky will howl, a frustrated husky will grumble, and an excited husky will often “talk.”
When husky lovers describe their dogs as the drama queens of the dog world, they’re usually referring to the noisy and theatrical ways that huskies communicate when they can’t get their way. Although the specifics of these “husky tantrums” can vary from dog to dog, it’s important to distinguish them from genuinely problematic behaviors.
What Are Husky Tantrums?
When a husky wants something and are told they cannot have it, they aren’t afraid to show their frustration. The best way to explain what these tantrums are like is to just show you one:
As you can see, a tantrum-throwing husky will loudly vocalize by howling, barking, whining, and making other strange noises. Often, this is accompanied by stomping, staring, and pacing. In many cases, a husky will lay down and refuse to move or look at their owner. Of course, the more their humans interact with a tantrum-throwing husky, the more intense these behaviors tend to get!
How Huskies Show They are Upset or Scared
Huskies have a naturally adaptable and outgoing temperament, so it’s rare that something scares them. But when that odd thunderstorm hits or a vet visit is in order, a scared husky will wail, scream, and thrash like their lives depend on it! For instance, the dog below is clearly not enjoying getting groomed.
Displays of fear like this may be unintentionally funny for the average bystander, but it’s important to desensitize dogs toward their fears.
How Huskies Show They are Excited
Just like any other dog, the best part of a husky’s day is when their owner comes home. They may jump up and put their paws on your shoulders, wag their tail quickly, run in circles, and lick your hands and face. And as a husky, you can expect your dog to make all sorts of sounds, from howling to whining. In the case of my husky, she does her best to say “I love you!”
What Shouldn’t Count As Being Dramatic
Most of the time, huskies are lovingly referred to as dramatic. Behaviors such as mild protests or the occasional wailing when a husky gets nervous are annoying at worst, but generally harmless.
On the other hand, inexperienced husky owners often experience genuinely problematic and maladaptive behaviors. Because they are so intelligent and reactive, separation anxiety and destructiveness are common issues for huskies not given the proper care or training. As the highest returned shelter breed, huskies are incredibly misunderstood and unfairly labeled as “problem dogs.”
Although some might say destroying the carpet is just their dog being dramatic, it’s important not to trivialize unhealthy behaviors like this by claiming they’re part of the breed.
Why Are Huskies Dramatic?
Husky “temper tantrums” are the outcome of several inborn traits combined with our reactions to their behaviors. Huskies are naturally expressive, and when these behaviors are rewarded, they become more prominent.
1. They’re Naturally Strong-Willed
For as affectionate, and loyal as they are, the average husky won’t be a grade A student at obedience school. It isn’t that this breed isn’t intelligent either– huskies are very smart, but they don’t have the drive to obey certain commands.
While many breeds, such as German Shepherds, have an innate desire to please, huskies are known to be independent and headstrong. A husky who wants to do something, such as stay outside or play with a certain toy, may ignore commands outright or throw tantrums to express their stubbornness and frustration.
The average dog may not make a big deal out of doing something they don’t want to, but this independent breed will loudly protest when they are not getting their way.
2. They’re A Reactive Breed
Simply put, a reactive breed is one that reacts strongly to things. In many breeds, this is often in the form of seemingly aggressive behaviors like pulling on a leash or barking. For huskies, however, reactivity is a matter of having intense reactions to everyday stimuli. A siren may cause your husky to run around the house howling or a weekly bath may lead to your dog wailing like the world is ending.
While the exact reason some dogs are so reactive is unknown, it has been proven that the anatomy of a dog’s brain is significantly different based on its behavioral specialization. Just as a herding dog is wired to be acutely attuned to movements and visual patterns, it may benefit a husky to be able to act and communicate on a dime.
3. They’re Talkative
Huskies are talkative dogs in many senses of the word. For one, they vocalize a lot, with barks, yips, howls, whines, and even the occasional purr. For two, many huskies famously mimic human tonal patterns to “talk.”
But for a dog that makes so much noise, this breed isn’t much of a watchdog.
Instead, the desire to communicate through sound is rooted in nearly 10,000 years of use as sled dogs in Siberia. Whether on the long relay trips that brought huskies into fame or a brief daily sled ride, huskies rely on howling and other auditory cues to stay coordinated with one another.
This tendency to communicate audibly with their pack is strong for even household huskies. And as a member of their pack, a husky’s owner gets talked to whenever a husky is feeling just about anything. So when it comes to asking a husky to do anything it doesn’t want to, you can expect an earful!
4. We Reward It
Most husky owners respond to their husky’s caterwauls with amusement of some sort. Whether you talk back to your husky like I do, or you just laugh it off, dogs are highly aware something makes us happy. As far as many huskies are concerned, having a bit of a temper tantrum lets them communicate their frustration, put off obeying, and best of all, make their humans laugh!
If the behavior gets reinforced enough, many dogs will act “dramatic” based on their cues from their owners. For instance, in the below video, the husky clearly “talks” with intentional or unintentional cues from their owner.
Clearly, “dramatic” behavior leads to plenty of positive attention!
5. They Have High Energy
Centuries of breeding to run hours on end would make any breed a little energetic. The average husky has abundant energy and requires plenty of exercise, whether its in the form of long walks, short sprints, digging holes, or vigorous games of fetch.
With all this energy to be spared, a husky can put a lot of effort into throwing a dramatic tantrum. Plus, a high-energy breed who doesn’t receive enough exercise is liable to be easily bored, frustrated, and high-strung.
How Do I Make A Husky Less Dramatic?
Trying to get a husky to not be dramatic is like trying to turn a Labrador into a guard dog- you’re working against many core aspects of the breed. Part of owning a husky is embracing and working with their quirks and oddities, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that a more mild-mannered breed is a better fit for you. Relaxed breeds like bulldogs deserve love too, after all!
That said, there are many ways to reduce the intensity of over-reactive behaviors if your husky’s conduct has become unmanageable.
Don’t Reward the Behavior
Rewarding your dog doesn’t just refer to saying “good dog” and giving them a treat– there are may ways to intentionally or unintentionally reward a behavior.
One easy way to reward a husky for their tantrums is to give in. If your husky doesn’t want to come in on a snowy day and you give them 5 more minutes after they whine and howl, they’ll try it again next time too. Worse, your husky may learn that the louder and more dramatic their protests, the greater chance they have of working.
It might seem backwards, but another way to reward the behavior is to get angry at your dog. Yelling and fussing are high-energy reactions that can be entertaining to a bored husky, and a lonely husky may crave any sort of attention.
Finally, praising your dog or giving them a treat when they stop doing something is an incentive to engage in it again. After all, how can they be rewarded for stopping something if they don’t start up again?
Providing your husky with plenty of love and attention when they are behaving well in the first place is the key to keeping your dog happy and calmer, as is not giving in to their tantrums.
Develop A Training Relationship
Huskies may be stubborn, but that doesn’t mean they are impossible to train. As long as you are patient and consistent, this intelligent breed can respond well to positive reinforcement training. Often times, the greatest challenge of all is identifying how to reward your husky (hint: this energetic breed is often motivated by activities like walks or play rather than food!)
Developing a training relationship can create a sense of mutual respect between you and your husky and be excellent mental stimulation.
Desensitize Them to Triggers
If your husky’s dramatic behaviors are the result of anxiety or fear, desensitizing them to their triggers is just as important to their well-being as it is to yours.
Using desensitization and counter-conditioning are two key ways to teach your dog that whatever they are afraid of isn’t actually scary.
Dog owners are often successful using these methods on their own, but consulting a certified dog trainer can come in handy with this reactive breed.
Exercise Your husky
Simply put, a properly exercised husky is a happy and healthy husky. Even if you don’t have an acreage for your pup to run laps around, it’s a basic necessity for this breed to be able to get all of their energy out. If you don’t give your husky a job or activity, it will make one for itself, often in the form of destructive or loud behaviors.
In other words, if your husky is worn out from a long run, they won’t have the energy to argue about staying outside for another 10 minutes.
While every dog is different, most husky owners can agree that their dogs are certified drama queens. Huskies exhibit over-the-top behaviors due to their naturally vocal, stubborn and expressive personalities. This combines with how humans react to them to produce amusingly dramatic tantrums.
This expressive, vocal breed may not be a good fit for everyone, but their theatrical personalities are beloved among many. As with any breed, huskies are amazing pets as long as you give them the love, attention, and exercise they deserve.