There are many fun games you can play with your Husky to keep them mentally stimulated.
In this guide, let’s go through some great games you can play with your Husky as well as look at how each game stimulates your Husky.
Benefits of Playing With Your Husky
Huskies, like all dog breeds, love to play. Even though they are technically classified as ‘working dogs’, Huskies, like any other breed, enjoy playing games and spending time with others.
A Husky’s curious and playful nature, coupled with extreme bursts of energy means that if they don’t play, they quickly become bored.
This can lead them to destructive or negative behaviors to keep themselves entertained.
When a Husky starts escaping or digging up holes, it could be a sign of a lack of mental stimulation.
Playing games, either with humans or other pets, can ease that boredom, help them expel energy, and help strengthen any bonds they share with others.
If your Husky has been digging holes, check out this guide to deal with it properly.
What Games do Huskies Like to Play?
Huskies like to play all sorts of games that involve human/dog interaction or mental stimulation. Being an extremely energetic breed, they also enjoy games where they have the chance to run around or be active.
Huskies like to play games like tug-of-war, hide and seek, bubble chasey, and other games that involve running around.
Of course, every Husky is different, so it may take you a few failed games before you figure out what your Husky enjoys.
For example, my Husky Sasha loves it when I chase her around the backyard. While she’s obviously much faster than me and I could never catch her, she enjoys circling around and sprinting.
Once you find a game or two that your Husky loves, you’ll find it easy to keep them mentally stimulated.
Let’s go through a few games you can play with your Husky.
How to Play Tug-of-War With Your Husky
Tug-of-War is a great game to play with your Husky and is an easy way to incorporate some training into their routine.
Because of the rough-house nature of the game, some people misunderstand it and think that it encourages aggression.
But if you follow some simple rules, you will see that it is a fun game for all, that will improve overall fitness (for you and your Husky) and help enforce training commands.
Follow these steps to play Tug-of-War with your Husky:
- Hold out a tug toy to your Husky (check out recommended toys here) and tell them to take it (this is assuming you have already taught the ‘take’ command).
- Move the tug toy from side to side to keep their attention and make encouragement sounds when they ‘tug back’ to keep their interest and encourage them to continue. Make sure you hold on tight otherwise it won’t be much of a game!
- After a little back and forth tugging, ‘freeze’ the game by stopping all movement. By doing this, the tug toy is effectively ‘dead’ and your Husky should lose interest. This is a great way to stimulate their prey and working drives without risk to smaller animals who may become victim to the game.
- Tell your Husky to drop the toy and give them a food reward when they do so. This enforces the obedience training and impulse control and keeps your Husky’s mind stimulated. If they know that they will be rewarded for such behavior, they are more likely to listen to and obey the command.
- Pick up the toy immediately and tell your Husky to sit so that they can recover from the excitement of the game and reward.
- Once your Husky is calm, you can continue the game by repeating the above steps. Gradually delay the food reward for dropping the tug toy as the game progresses, and eventually faze it out, giving verbal encouragement instead.
For this game to be successful, there are a few things that you should note.
Be aware that only you should initiate this game. If your Husky wants to play Tug-of-War and is instigating it (in that way that only Husky’s can), take note that they’re interested but do not engage.
Wait until they have ‘lost interest’ before starting a game. This will press the point that you are the one in charge and that the game will only happen if you want it to.
The point of doing this is to prevent your Husky from thinking it’s okay to start tugging at anything you’re holding. You want your Husky to learn that this game can only be played at certain times.
Also, make them aware that any contact with your skin will mean the end of the game. If this happens, you need to walk away with the tug toy to show your Husky that the game is over. The only thing your Husky should come into contact with during this game is the tug toy.
On ending the game, always make sure you take the toy with you. The tug toy is only for playing Tug-of-War and is not an ‘everyday’ toy. Only bring it out when playing this game with your Husky.
Can You Play Tug-of-War With a Puppy?
While most Huskies will enjoy playing this game, it is probably best to wait until your Husky is at least one year old before introducing this game to them.
Their bodies will still be growing and developing, and you don’t want to risk hurting them (or putting unnecessary pressure on their teeth) at this age.
Younger Huskies will also have less knowledge of the commands involved, so it might be better to wait until they are a bit older to play this game.
How to Make a Fun Agility Course for Your Husky
You’ve probably seen videos of dogs that have been trained to run obstacle courses- competing to finish the course in the best time and with as few mistakes as possible.
These competitions often involve a lot of dedication and commitment from both trainers and dogs to achieve the best results possible.
But this can also be a fun game for your Husky if you have the space and a little bit of time and patience. You don’t even need to buy any equipment- you can just use items you find lying around the house or yard.
This game is great for mental stimulation and expelling excess energy, and the course possibilities are endless- check out some videos for inspiration on how to turn your household items into a fun agility course for your Husky.
Here are some household items that can be used for different tasks:
- Logs, sticks, PVC pipes, or broom handles can be used to jump over.
- Hula hoops can be used to jump through (as long as you can find one big enough!)
- Washing baskets can be used to jump over
- Old doors or planks of wood can be used as ramps (make sure they are sturdy so that they don’t collapse underneath your Husky)
- Small cones or upside-down bowls can be used to weave between
- Garden chairs or tables can be used to jump onto
Of course, if you’re really serious about the game, you can always buy tunnels for your Husky to run through, or ready-made hurdles for them to jump over. There are a lot of items available to purchase.
Be aware that if you’re taking the homemade option, you are careful that there are no sharp edges on the items you use. You don’t want your Husky to injure themselves if they don’t clear a jump properly, or if they fall onto a piece of equipment.
Once you’ve set up your course, you need to work through it with your Husky so they can learn how to complete it.
The best way to do this is to lead by example, walking through the course with your Husky so they can see exactly what is involved to complete it. Use treats as a way of leading them through each stage and reward them with the treat at the end of each section.
It is best to work through the course in stages, rather than all at once, as this makes it much more manageable to succeed without losing the interest of your Husky. Once they have mastered the course in this way a few times, see how they go with the whole thing.
It might take a little while, and there will be plenty of mistakes, but the end result (when they can complete the course successfully) will make it well worth it.
Of course, not all Huskies will be interested in a full agility course. The below video shows the challenges of training a Husky to focus on an agility course.
But you may find that even a simple agility prop is enough to stimulate your Husky.
How to Play Hide-and-Seek With Your Husky
Hide-and-Seek is an easy game to play that tests the problem-solving abilities of your Husky and is a lot of fun at the same time.
There are two variations to this game: you can hide a special toy or treat for your Husky to find, or you can hide and see how clever your Husky is at locating you.
Playing Hide-and-Seek with a toy or treat:
- Show your Husky the toy or treat. Allow them to sniff it so that they can recognize it. This works even better with a beloved toy or favorite treat because they will want to play with it/ eat it immediately.
- Command your Husky to ‘sit’ and ‘stay, while you go and hide the toy or treat. Make sure you hide it in a fairly easy spot to begin with (you can increase the difficulty as your Husky gets better at the game).
- Give your Husky the command to ‘find it’. Heap them with praise and encouragement when they do. If they have trouble to start with, ‘lead’ them in the right direction.
- Let them eat their treat or play with their toy for a few minutes as a reward for finding the item, then start the game again.
Playing Hide-and-Seek where the hidden object is YOU:
- Command your Husky to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ while you go and find a spot to hide in. It’s best to make this an outdoor game as there are likely to be fewer distractions outside than in a place full of household items. Make sure your hiding spot is easy to locate at the beginning (you can increase the difficulty as your Husky gets better at the game).
- Call out to your Husky so that they will start to search for you. If they are having trouble, let them follow your voice.
- When your Husky finds you, heap them with encouragement and praise, then start the game again, hiding in increasingly harder-to-find places. If it’s too easy for them, you can even try whispering to add an extra challenge to the game.
How to Play Fetch With Your Husky
Most dog breeds enjoy a game of fetch. The exhilaration of chasing and catching a fast-moving item stimulates their prey drive and encourages them to run.
I know someone with a Border Collie who absolutely adores the game and will wait patiently for hours on end if it means they will get the chance to chase a ball around.
At the same time (as is possible with all of these games) there is the chance that your Husky will have absolutely no interest in the game. This is the case with my Husky Sasha.
If you throw a ball for her, she will watch with disinterest and then find something else to occupy her time. Whereas our previous Husky, Q, would fetch the ball 5-6 times before losing interest.
It all really depends on the personality of your Husky and their interests. If they are not keen on a particular game, don’t try to force it on them. It’s best to try and find a different game that interests them and focus on that.
If, unlike Sasha, your Husky is keen on a game of Fetch, here is what you can do to make the game more interesting.
- Play a few rounds of normal fetch, where you throw the ball and your Husky retrieves it.
- Command your Husky to stay while you move a little distance away, throw the ball and then tell them to ‘fetch’. They will have to run a bit further to reach, locate, and retrieve the ball. This is a good test of their obedience and searching skills.
- Command your Husky to stay then tell them to ‘fetch’ as you throw the ball. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get a few mid-air catches.
If your throw isn’t as strong as you would like, or you want to give your Husky a bit of a challenge, there are ball-throwing devices available to buy that make it easier to send the ball further.
Alternatively, you could try tossing a frisbee or something more lightweight which will travel further.
How to Play Bubble Chasey With Your Husky
Who doesn’t love the magic of bubbles? Children blow them at birthday parties. Adults incorporate them into their weddings as they walk down the aisle.
Your Husky is just as likely to enjoy the thrill of chasing bubbles as they float through the air.
This is probably the simplest game in this list, but it will help to stimulate your Husky’s prey drive and provide plenty of fun. Especially when the bubble pops and you see the look of surprise on your Husky’s face at its sudden disappearance!
While there are dog-friendly bubble mixtures available to purchase, you can just as easily make your own using a small amount of non-toxic dish soap and water.
Blow bubbles of different sizes, send them in all directions and watch as your Husky tries to catch them mid-air.
How to Play the Tidy-Up Game With Your Husky
Taking a leaf from friends who have incorporated this game into their toddler’s routine, this game is just as successful if you want to make your Husky tidy up their toys after a day of play.
This reward-based game sees your Husky pick up all their toys, one at a time, and drop them into the storage box where they are kept. Not only will this prevent you from having to tidy up after them, but it will help to enforce their obedience skills.
- Place their ‘toy box’ at your feet so that when your Husky comes to you and drops the toy, it will land inside it.
- Make sure your Husky has a toy in their mouth and command them to come to you.
- Tell them to drop the toy, so that it lands in the box, and when it does, reward them with a treat and praise them.
- Repeat this until all toys are in the box
Over time, this game will become easier to play and you can gradually reduce the treat until it is just verbal praise.
How to Play Water Games With Your Husky
Most Huskies enjoy playing with water (see linked article) so why not incorporate some water-based games into their routine?
Most kids (and adults) enjoy playing under the sprinkler on a warm day, and if your Husky isn’t afraid of water, they will enjoy it just as much. Some sprinklers have the option of changing the settings to spray jets of water at intermittent times, and it can be fun for your Husky to try and ‘catch’ these streams of water.
Alternatively, if you have set up a plastic sheet for a ‘slip-and-slide’, your Husky might enjoy sliding along the wet surface.
Or you can take your game of Fetch to a dog-friendly beach or lake and throw the ball or frisbee into the water for them to fetch. Just make sure that the path is clear first so your Husky doesn’t barrel headlong into another person or animal in their single-minded determination to retrieve the thrown object.
If you live near a beach or lake, consider teaching your Husky to swim. Many Husky owners mistakenly believe Huskies don’t like water. If you introduce your Husky to water in the right way you’ll find your Husky will love going for a swim.
What if my Husky Isn’t Interested in a Particular Game?
Like humans, dogs also have things that interest them and things that don’t.
As mentioned earlier, my Husky Sasha couldn’t be less interested in playing Fetch, but she enjoys playing Tug-of-War. She doesn’t enjoy water games in our backyard and is afraid of the sprinkler, but loves swimming at the beach (context is everything when it comes to Huskies and water).
It’s up to you to find a game that interests both you and your Husky so that you can enjoy the game together.
Don’t try to force your Husky to participate in a game that they don’t want to play.
The key is to try different things and see what works best so you can both enjoy yourselves.
How Do You Tell if Huskies are Playing or Fighting?
If your Husky is playing a roughhouse type of game (usually with other dogs), it is important to know the difference between playing and fighting.
Most of the time, a playful game between dogs will stay playful. But if either dog is getting riled up, it might not take long for playful behavior to turn aggressive.
As an owner, you need to recognize when the game is changing and end it.
The main thing to look out for is your Husky’s body language. There is a marked difference between a Husky (or another dog) that is playing and one that is fighting.
When playing, dogs usually bounce around each other and act silly. While they may sound aggressive with all the growling, this is usually just for show.
Your Husky will more than likely have a goofy looking ‘grin’ on their face as they wrestle, play-bite and chase their canine friend.
Both dogs will ‘fall down’ and expose their vulnerable bellies to one another while playing (showing that they trust each other) and ‘allow’ the other to catch them when playing chase.
A sure sign that they’re only playing is that both parties keep going back for more- they will probably take it in turns to play victor while play-fighting and if neither tries to leave the game, they are most likely enjoying themselves.
In contrast to this play behavior are signs of aggression that show your Husky is really fighting.
In these situations, it is best not to get in between the fighting dogs to avoid being bitten. Instead, have something on hand that can emit a loud noise (like an airhorn) to startle the dogs apart.
Spraying them with a garden hose should also work to separate fighting dogs. In the instance of a fighting dog, the hair on their backs (hackles) will be raised and their bodies will be stiff (in comparison to the ‘loose’ and bouncy body language of a dog in play).
When growling at one another, their lips will be curled, their mouths closed and they will make low warning growls. Rather than happy looking grins, they will have their ears pinned back and they will be snarling at one another.
Unlike with play, the ‘victim’ dog will show that they are trying to leave the situation, and will usually have their tail tucked. This is a sure sign that they are not enjoying themselves and do not want to be around the other dog/s.
As a responsible owner, you need to recognize the difference between rough-house playing and fighting. If it looks like there could be a fight, you need to break it up and make sure that all dogs involved are safe.
Unless your Husky is aggressive (which is not really typical of the breed) or socializing with an aggressive breed, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this. But it is always good to be aware and know what to do if the situation arises.