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Aggression is one of the most common behavior problems in huskies. In this article, we shall discuss how to deal with an aggressive husky. After all, huskies are considered one of the strongest dogs in the world with a powerful bite.
Also, this is serious, uncomfortable, and dangerous because it tends to get worse if it is not intervened properly. There is a golden rule to combat aggressiveness and several keys to reach a solution.
What Is Husky Aggressiveness?
There are many definitions for the word aggressiveness but, to approach the concept in a simple and understanding way, we will say that aggressiveness is:
- Above all, an expression of canine language. That is, a natural behavior in any dog. Of course, a behavior that we must pay special attention to because it usually indicates that something is bothering the animal.
- A threat or attack response that the dog uses either to protect or obtain a valuable resource, or to ward off a danger or threat.
Aggression is a natural behavior in dogs. However, it should be considered a problem when the aggressive response of the dog is excessive or does not respond to a real threat/danger.
Why Are Some Huskies Aggressive?
A husky can be aggressive because they:
- Protect or win a resource (something/someone) that they consider valuable (it can be a ball, a piece of food, or a certain territory). But it can also be that a dog is aggressive when someone approaches their owner or another member of the family or social group, even another dog in the house.
- Become afraid: Huskies can be aggressive because they are afraid. In these cases, the motivation for aggressiveness is to defend against something/someone that the dog interprets as a direct threat.
Signs of Aggressiveness in Huskies
There are signs of aggressiveness in huskies (from the growl to the bite), and much more subtle expressions such as fixed gaze, dilated pupils, and curling of the back (piloerection).
A husky that shows aggressiveness is not just one that bites. Aggression is also the set of signals that some huskies give as a warning to avoid having to bite.
The Big Problem of Husky Aggressiveness
Husky aggressiveness does not have a single solution, and, in many cases, it does not even have a definitive solution.
Aggressiveness poses two big problems:
- It is linked to the genetic load of the dog: some huskies have a genetic predisposition to aggressiveness. Fortunately, not all the responsibility lies with genetics and great results can be achieved with good management of the environment in which the dog lives and develops.
- It very easily becomes a habit: every time a husky is aggressive and thereby achieves what it is looking for (ward off a threat or gain a resource), it learns that this strategy works. Since aggressiveness is effective for them, they end up adopting it as a habitual behavior. Aggression can become an upward spiral that is difficult to stop.
How to Deal with an Aggressive Husky – The Golden Rule
In his book “A Treatise on Canine Aggression”, James O'Heare explains:
“There is no cure for aggressiveness. A husky that is aggressive will always tend to exert aggressive responses because aggressive responses create habits.”
So far, nothing hopeful. However, O'Heare not only poses the problem but also proposes a solution:
“When a dog experiences fear, frustration, or irritation, they tend to rely on their habitual behavior by default. Our goal will be to raise the thresholds for these emotions and train the dog to acquire replacement habits.”
The Golden Rule in any case of husky aggression is to eliminate, as much as possible, the conflicting situations that activate the aggressive and stress response of the dog. The fewer opportunities the Husky must convince themself that aggressiveness works for them regarding what they want, the better.
Most of the time, conflicts cannot be eliminated. In most cases, however, they can be reduced.
The Keys to Reaching A Solution
- Identify the dog's motivation (offensive or defensive?): Do they show aggressiveness because they are afraid or because they feel capable of competing for a resource? It is very different to treat a husky that has an offensive attitude than one that has a defensive attitude. If we do not understand the reason for the aggressiveness of that husky, we will never be able to redirect the situation.
- Do not apply aversion to solve aversion: if a husky is aggressive because they are afraid (an unpleasant sensation), understand that we will not advance if we try to redirect that behavior by applying punishment (an also unpleasant sensation).
- Do not correct but redirect: a husky that responds aggressively does so because it has not found another more effective or better response. If we do not want them to attack, we will have to offer them an alternative (teach them what we want them to do instead of attack).
Perhaps we will create a “safe zone” at home for a husky with fear of strangers where they know that no one is going to disturb them. We then instruct them to go there when visitors arrive.
Each husky is a different case, and you must tailor-suit each solution for each case.
Is There Hope?
Yes. After learning how to deal with an aggressive husky, the owners involved generally achieve significant advances in the treatment of aggression. Of course, each case is special, and the sooner the treatment is started, the better the results. But there is a common premise: Do not give up on your husky before trying.