For most breeds fetch is an instant winner, but for huskies, the answer is a little different! This article explains why your husky might not be willing to play fetch as much as other dogs are.
Do Huskies Like To Fetch?
The simple answer is well, not really! The majority of huskies will be confused and unconvinced when you throw the ball for them. You can always teach your husky to play and enjoy fetch, but it’s not a game that comes naturally to them.
In fact, there are more videos on Youtube all about how huskies can’t play fetch, rather than can play fetch. And they’re hilarious. I’ll link some at the end.
Whether they get bored, confused, or give you one of their hilarious “I’m not entertained” looks. The last reaction you seem to get from a husky is them actually chasing the ball and bringing it back.
Why Most Huskies Don’t Like To Play Fetch
So, why is it that such a classic game that all dogs are supposed to enjoy, just doesn’t sit right with a husky?
The answer is that huskies are not retrievers. They are sled dogs that were solely used for pulling loads and running long distances. They have never been used in their history to retrieve things (unlike hunting breeds).
So, when you through the ball, they don’t understand that they need to go and retrieve it. That kind of behavior isn’t ingrained into them.
This is why other breeds like labradors, spaniels, poodles, pointers, jack russells, and many others LOVE to play fetch. One way or another these breeds were either used to hunt, chase, or retrieve.
No generalizing here… Of course, there will be some huskies who naturally take to fetch, understand it, and love it right away without training.
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How Huskies Play Fetch: Typical Reactions
Let’s run through some typical reactions you can expect when trying to play fetch with a husky, for the first time.
1. When you throw the ball, your husky turns around and looks at you, in order to say, “okay, you go and get it then”
2. Your husky temporarily runs after the ball, but then in a split second gets completely confused about what he’s doing and runs in the opposite direction.
3. As you throw the ball your husky looks the wrong way and doesn’t even see it.
4. Your husky runs to the ball but picks up something else to bring back to you.
5. Your husky initially chases the ball but then just keeps running off into the distance. 😂
6. Your husky uses fetch as a way to play tug of war.
7. Your husky plays fetch properly. Phew!
Although these reactions were hilarious to write, they’re actually true and have happened to myself and my friends with their huskies. You might have even experienced some of them yourself. lol
But, not all hope is lost, you can still train your husky to understand, play and enjoy fetch. Let’s get into that below.
How To Teach Your Husky To Play Fetch: 5 Steps
Once your husky knows how to properly play fetch, he’ll enjoy it. Besides, the learning process will involve treats, plenty of praise, and positive associations. Before long fetch will be one of his favorite forms of entertainment and exercise.
⭐ What You’ll Need:
● Your husky’s favorite toy (doesn’t need to be a ball to start with)
● Some very high-value treats
● A husky that’s already been fed and exercised
● No other distractions
1. Get him excited with his toy
To initiate the game, you’ll need to grab his toy, wave it around, and get him in the mood to play.
Once he’s excited and focused on his toy, have him assume a sitting position, reward him, and get ready to throw.
2. Throw his toy a very short distance
It’s crucial that you only throw the toy literally a few yards, more like a toss. If you throw the toy too far away, he’ll instantly disengage.
By keeping the toy close, he should be inclined to chase it and grab it. Once he makes contact with it encourage him back to you using a single command “come here”.
3. Have a treat ready for him as he comes back
After he grabs his toy and starts coming back to you, use the “come here” command and make him aware you are getting another treat ready for him. Maybe jingle the treat bag so he can see it (for example).
Not only will this encourage him to come straight back, but he’ll also be inclined to drop his toy if he knows you have another treat in your hand ready for him.
4. Command him to drop, and reward
As he knows you have a treat ready for him, it makes it very easy for him to drop the ball. Once he does, reward him for that and take the ball.
The fact that he knows he gets a treat for carrying out the commands is perfectly fine and is part of the positive reinforcement that’s required for him to learn the game.
In the beginning, being liberal with treats will make the learning process easy and fast. But to ensure your husky doesn’t become completely reliant on them, you can use them more spontaneously as he becomes more reliable at coming back and dropping the ball.
5. Start to increase the distance you throw
Only once he masters fetch at close distances, should you start throwing further. And even then, keep it gradual.
This sounds overkill, but if you start throwing too far away from you, the chances of him disengaging from the ball dramatically increase. And the work you’ve done thus far might start to unwind.
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5 Tips When Teaching Your Husky Fetch
These extra tips will ensure the training routine runs smoothly and actually works.
1. Don’t use boring treats
I’m guilty of this one… Using pieces of kibble as treats. Sure, it’s sensible, but damn, it’s boring!
To really get your husky alert and interested in playing fetch, get him some brand new peanut butter Zukes Mini Naturals (low calorie treats). Or just something that makes it worth his attention!
2. Use a toy he LOVES
Fetch doesn’t need to be played with a ball, although eventually, that does make sense.
In the learning phase, use his favorite toy (whatever that may be) to ensure he pays attention. Or, even better, get him a brand new toy that you only use for games of fetch. This would double up to be a neat little positive association trick 😉
3. Make commands and don’t change them!
One of the worst things to do is add confusion to the game. This is easily done by changing the commands you use.
If you want to use “come here” and “drop” that’s fine. But don’t then start using “bring the ball here” and “give me the ball”. This isn’t the same! and to your husky sounds really different. Always condition him to understand one single command/phrase. This is an essential tip for ALL training.
4. Start training with no distractions
In the beginning, when he’s first learning, you’ll need his full attention. If you don’t have it, he’ll find it really difficult to learn anything, and that’s not his fault.
The ideal place to learn is a private yard when no one else is around. Or, start inside your home (short distances of course).
5. Keep lessons short
It’s just a game of fetch so at the end of the day, keep the lessons short, fun and if he really isn’t into it, just try again another day. No biggy!
⭐ Does your husky like fetch? Let me know, I would love to hear your stories!
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