Day by day social media (at least in German speaking areas) are heavily buzzing with discussions like How to Work Out My Husky. People argue that Nordic dogs are very challenging, particularly huskies, and that you have to really really wear them out. Daily. Scenarios of maximum performance are propagated, consisting of hours of running and mushing on a daily basis, often adding other dog sports like agility, flyball, hiking etc. And they claim that whoever does not live up to a husky’s insatiable thirst for running and pulling, should never get one.

Well, apparently we are doing everything wrong that could possibly be done wrong. 😉

Next, the same people who urgently claim those workouts, proudly present photos of broken furniture, frazzled pillows, garbage spread all over the carpet and moonscape gardens, claiming huskies to be like that and if you cannot cope, go get yourself a plush toy!

Actually, yes, we did.

plush husky

But we also have two huskies, Sisko and Kira. And last winter we raised our first litter, three pups who found their furever families. None of them frazzles, scratches or crashes furnishings.

Well, apparently we are doing everything wrong that could possibly be done wrong. 😉

To be blunt, the term “workout” has become a kind of red rag to me. No human being can really work out a dog, particularly not a husky. Caninae do have an inexhaustible hardiness that sometimes can even get fatal for them. It is true that mental activities can be tiring, but a lot of thinking upsets as well.

From a dog’s point of view, humans are slow and easy to exhaust, they are boring. They don’t scuffle. They don’t dig. They don’t really care about odors (they usually scold and drag you away). They don’t go after squirrels, mice, roe or boar and they don’t want you to do that. In a word, they are quite stupid. But they control all ressources. They are in command. And they have petting hands. And sofas, too.

Ressources, that means food and water in the first place. But also the places to stay, dog beds and crates, dog lawns, gardens, woods, tracks and country lanes as well as sidewalks and streets. And activities. And – never ever to be underestimated! – snugness: sleeping, dozing, lounging, droning.

All animals spend a lot of time sleeping and dozing, particularly predators. Cats spend up to 20 hours lazing around, dogs between 14 to 18 hours. Overmotivated owners break their dogs of this natural need for rest by taking them to extended workouts. In the end the dogs are too excited to calm down, furnishings are shattered, owners are frustrated, sometimes they even brawl and bite. Many huskies are abandoned in shelters  simply because they are restless.

The second-important thing a pup has to learn in his or her furever home is the answer to the question “Where and when do I sleep?” He needs one or more spots to live out his natural need for rest. Without any disturbance – do not invite him to play nor offer food or treets. He is supposed to rest there. In quiet. Just like a human baby.

Kira and Sisko
Kira and Sisko resting

If that lesson was left undone, you have to make up leeway and “un-squirrel” the dog by allocating a resting spot to him, where he is supposed to stay for a while (so ou have to send him there, whenever he leaves). Starting with 10, 15 minutes, then more and more. That’s how his mom did it.

If the dog is crate-trained, the crate can easily serve as a kind of lair. And yes, you may lock up the crate from time to time (as if going for a ride in the car). You can use a carton for a small dog, a canvas crate or a kennel or cover a simple crate with blankets. Once again: This is a refuge for the dog (or maybe two) where they can lounge, sleep, dream and drone. And they need that to deal with all the impressions they got while walking, playing, sniffing, romping, digging, and eating.

That is a start to learn staying home alone. For then the dog sees the crate as a safe place, not as a dungeon. Because he relies on his two-legged can openers. But please do not lock him in for most of the day, and what is more on a daily base. If the crate turns into a dungeon, the calming effect goes down the drain!

The purpose of teaching a dog to calm down (which of course comes along with activities appropriate for the breed and the age of the dog) is the dog feeling safe and sure his humans will return, no doubt, and he will take advantage of their absence to live out his need for resting, dozing and lounging.

So, you can train a daily routine with the dog resting, while his can openers go hunting food, and being ready for sports, games and fun with the two-legged slowpokes and other dogs during human leisure time.

Sisko, Sari and Kira
Sisko, Sari and Kira

Experience tells me that this is the best way to protect your furniture and your nerves.

By the way, no musher takes all of his dogs to run a whole stage of the Yukon Quest every day! Just like no competetive athlete effects peak performances in every training.  😛 


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Siberian Huskies of Kahnawake