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Understanding Husky Body Language: Full Guide

Understanding Husky Body Language: Full Guide

Have you ever looked at your husky and wondered what he’s trying to tell you? Although your husky can’t exactly speak to you, he’s actually giving you non-verbal cues all the time through body language.

If you want to know exactly what your husky is thinking or trying to tell you then you just need to understand the basics. This article will run through classic husky body language signs and what they mean. This is definitely worth your time!

Husky Body Language: Explained Simply

Body language is a way of communicating thoughts and feelings through a range of physical behavior.

Your husky could be telling you something which is indicated by their facial gestures, body positioning and posture, ear movements, tail movements, and much more.

By understanding body language gestures you’ll be more aware of what’s going on with your husky and how he’s feeling. You’ll know when he’s calm, relaxed, happy, nervous, scared, and even if he’s about to become aggressive.

Knowing how your husky is feeling puts you in a better position to help him if he needs help.

The great thing is that body language is extremely reliable. Once you know the physical cues, they rarely change. Not all physical behaviors will be identical for each individual dog, but they will be similar.

Once you begin observing your husky you’ll be able to match the postures, gestures, and signs that I’m about to explain.

The last section of this article will contain a few commonly seen behaviors seen specifically in huskies. Be sure to check them out.

Body Language Gestures

One important thing.

Your husky will often use multiple gestures at the same time to convey how he’s feeling. This is coupled with his immediate environment and what’s happening around him.

Body language must be taken into context. His immediate environment and his entire body (not just one part) all play a part in conveying a message.

Below the image, I will go into more detail regarding the signs to look out for and what they mean.

This is a helpful infographic made by PawMaw.com

husky body language

Understanding The Gestures

As well as using the photo above to identify body postures and gestures, you can also read the descriptions below for a more detailed analysis.

Happy / Relaxed / Playful Body Language

Thankfully, being happy and relaxed is usually easier to detect than other feelings. Clear signs of a happy, relaxed or playful husky will include:

  • His tail will be naturally hanging down or wagging.
  • Head tilting is a classic sign of showing interest and concentration. Head tilting is often shown when listening carefully to owners or trying to understand something.
  • Bouncing and pouncing is commonly seen in huskies and indicated a playful excitable mood. This usually initiates playtime.
  • An upright standing or sitting posture without tension.
  • His body weight will be evenly spread across all paws. This shows that he’s confident and relaxed in his surroundings.
  • A relaxed mouth that may be slightly open with or without panting.
  • Ears will be upright or in their natural position.
  • Laying down, playing, or rolling on his back indicates a feeling of safety. Vulnerable positions are never assumed unless feeling completely comfortable and safe.
  • Front pounce crouch position for initiating playtime with you or another dog.

Stress Signals In Huskies

There are many known gestures that indicate stress and discomfort in huskies, so this section will be broken down differently from above. Many gestures are shared depending on whether your husky is fearful, anxious, worried, or even aggressive. I will cover both shared and unshared body language gestures.

1. Nose or Lip Licking

Licking of the lips and mouth area when it seems unnecessary is a sign of stress. This stress can mean your husky is feeling uncomfortable with his environment or something is happening around him that he doesn’t like. Mouth licking can be seen when meeting a new dog or person that they aren’t quite sure of.

Lip licking is a very common and reliable sign that dogs display. Whenever you see your husky starting to lip his lips it means he’s uncomfortable with something. Anticipation, nervousness, and general stressful situations will invoke lip licking.

Excessive licking of the mouth or nose could even indicate dehydration or a range of other health issues. As always, to fully understand how your husky is feeling, all gestures must be taken into context with what’s happening around him.

2. Cowering or crouching low

A universally understood body language gesture is cowering. This is a very submissive demonstration and usually indicates fearfulness. Have you ever seen a dog who instantly cowers when being told off? This is a clear sign of fear.

Cowering is an attempt to make their physical presence small, as to not be any trouble to anyone or anything around them.

Cowering and crouching low can still be seen even when there has been no telling off. This is an accurate gesture that shows something is really wrong. Fearfulness and acting submissive in the presence of another dog or person who they are somewhat scared of will result in cowering or crouching low.

3. Yawning when it doesn’t make sense

Yawning when it doesn’t fit the situation is a good indicator of stress. If your dog is dealing with some level of anxiety or nerves yawning and lip licking are often paired together.

Although yawning will usually happen when your dog is tired, if you witness yawning when your husky is around another dog or an unfamiliar person, it will often be a sign he’s uncomfortable. Excessive yawning is particularly seen in puppies but can also be seen in adults.

Yawning may also be an indication of anticipation. Are you familiar with yawns that are followed by a high pitch noise at the end of it? Dogs do this when they’re anticipating something to happen. Maybe your husky is waiting for something, or a daily event is soon to happen like dinner time or the arrival of someone back from work.

4. Tail positions

The behavior of your husky’s tail will give away a lot of information. Tail behavior will often match any of the other following behaviors. This helps to give you a more accurate reading.

High raised tail – This can usually be a sign of stress or even aggression. Dogs will often raise their tales when they are ready to challenge or defend their position. Raised tails can sometimes be witnessed in huskies when they throw one of their classic husky-tantrums and do not want to comply with your commands.

Tail low tucked between legs – One of the most easily recognizable tail gestures is when the tail is tucked between the legs. This usually means the dog is fearful, scared, anxious, or just generally uncomfortable. Tail tucking is often coupled with other negative body postures like cowering or crouching low.

Slow wagging tail / high or neutral position – A slow wagging tail that is either held high or hanging in a neutral position often suggests your husky is alert and concentrating more than usual. This is often displayed when listening to an owner or trying hard to understand a command. This is not necessarily a display of negative feelings.

Outward pointing – This is not often seen in huskies, partly due to their naturally curled tails. However, if you notice a tail that is erect and pointing out behind a dog, this often indicates a stressful or tense situation. This is sometimes seen in dogs showing aggression or dominance.

5. Ear Positions

Huskies and their big beautiful ears! Nearly all huskies have medium to large erect triangle-shaped ears. Huskies in particular offer less ear movement than other dogs due to having such a strong neutral position of being upright, but having said, still give away some classic ear gestures which we know of.

Erect upright – For the most part, this will be your husky’s natural ear position and won’t really change much even when they are happy, alert, or aggressive

Flattened or pulled back – You may sometimes witness your husky’s ears not standing upright like they usually are. Flattened ears will often mean something isn’t right. This indicates worry, fearfulness, general stress, and that your husky isn’t comfortable with his immediate surroundings. A dog that has just been reprimanded will instantly pull his ears back in a flattened position.

Flattened ears can also be a submissive gesture shown when in the presence of an authoritative owner or even another dog.

6. Looking away, avoiding eye contact

Looking away and avoiding eye contact can mean multiple things, all of which are negative.

One example would be when your husky is around another dog, animal, or person that he doesn’t want anything to do with. Looking away is a clear sign of disengagement and being uncomfortable with whoever or whatever is present. (This one is something humans do too)

Looking away can also be a display of submissiveness. This can be seen in dogs when addressed by an owner that is very dominant or even a little scary! Looking away matched with squinting, ear flattening are all indications of stress, worry, submissiveness, and fearfulness.

7. Hackles up

Another well-known sign is when a dog raises their hackles. This is a reliable sign that indicates aggression, fear, stress, and general reactiveness.

Hackles are often seen raised when in the presence of an unfamiliar dog or person, particularly if your husky gets spooked by the unfamiliar presence. Hackles can raise up instantly.

8. Whale eyes

Whale eyes are something that isn’t as well-known. Whale eyes refer to showing the white portion of the eyes. Usually, you won’t be able to see the white portion of a dog’s eyes, but if you suddenly notice that you can, it suggests worry, fearfulness, and that the dog is scared.

Although whale eyes can also be shown when under generic stress. Stress can be caused by things that aren’t necessarily negative, such as learning a new trick that the dog doesn’t yet understand, or when being brushed for the first time. If you suddenly notice you can see the white portion of your husky’s eyes, take a second to think about what has recently happened or still happening.

9. Panting out of place

Panting is of course usually seen after exercising, playing, or when too hot. But it can also be an indication of stress or anxiety too.

Panting that suddenly occurs out of nowhere is a good indication of stress. Sudden panting can happen when in the presence of another dog or other people. Assuming you aren’t out exercising, this panting will often be a sign that your husky is not comfortable with the situation.

Like with all of the body gestures, panting will be accompanied by other stress indicators such as lip licking, yawning, and avoidance behavior.

Here’s an extra video clip explains a little more 🙂

Appeasement Behavior and Why It’s Important

As dogs are social animals and have come from the wild, it’s always been vital for their survival to know how to interact, co-operate, and communicate with other dogs they come across. That’s exactly what appeasing is used for.

The main goal of appeasing is to avoid conflict and build a good relationship, it shows respect to the other dog or person and indicates that there are no issues. Dog’s show appeasement behavior all the time to both other canines and us.

Turid Rugaas, an international dog behavioral expert and accomplished author, has explained how dogs use over 30 different signs to show cooperation and to initiate a good relationship right from the get-go.

These signs are used to calm down the intense moment when two unfamiliar dogs meet each other face to face. Appeasement signals work to pacify not just the opposing dog, but also the dog giving the signals. It’s like how humans greet people for the first time with a genuine smile and politeness to get off on the right foot. It sets a good tone for the rest of the encounter.

Dogs will often show appeasement signals to their owners as a way to indicate their respect for them. This shows that the dog has accepted the owner’s social-ranking position to be higher up than they are. This is something very important to establish in order to train your dog effectively.

Recommended Read: Why Do Huskies Always Look Mad?

Appeasement Signals To Look Out For

Take a look at the following appeasement signals you may see on a regular basis. You’ll notice that nearly all of them have already been discussed above.

  • Tail wagging. Tail wagging mixed with a relaxed mouth and soft eyes is a friendly, positive signal
  • Soft eyes. Soft eyes typically mean eye contact is relaxed and easy-going. No hard fixated staring or total avoidance. Light squinting can also indicate “soft eyes”
  • Slow movements. A commonly seen behavior when approaching another dog is to slow all of their movements down. This helps to physically calm the situation down simply by avoiding abrupt or fast movements.
  • Playful bows. An interesting gesture that doesn’t just signify a willingness to be playful and friendly, but also gives the other dog or person respect.
  • Yawning and licking. Yawning and licking is a signal of stress, but it’s also a signal of appeasement. Dog behavioral experts have revealed that a way to help an anxious dog is to start yawning yourself. This gives the other dog an appeasement signal, and a chance to help them calm down. Fascinating, right!
  • Breaking up. When there are at least 3 dogs, you may see one dog frequently walking in between two other dogs. This is essentially breaking up two dogs. Much like when a fight breaks out between two people, another person may get in the middle to separate them.
  • Laying down and rolling on to their back. An easily recognizable sign is when a dog lays down and roles on their back to expose their vulnerable belly area. This is showing complete submission and is telling the other dog they mean no harm and respect them as having higher social status than them.

Using Appeasement Signals To Help Your Husky

The reason I’ve included a whole section dedicated to appeasement signals is that they work both ways. Simply put, you can use them to help your husky in any moment he or she is displaying signs of discomfort.

I mentioned earlier that appeasement signals are pacifying, meaning they ease situations and help to calm things down. If your husky is showing you that he’s anxious or stressed, you can act out a few appeasement signals to help reassure them.

Now, I’m not suggesting getting on the floor and laying on your back! that’s more drastic and wouldn’t fit the situation, likely making your husky more freaked out. Instead, try yawning, easing your gaze, and slowing down in general. This will be picked up by your husky and may help them feel comfortable in any given situation.

Behaviors Commonly Seen In Huskies

I’m now going to run through some behavior often displayed by huskies. As you likely know huskies are full of character and they often show their emotions through actions and behaviors.

Due to huskies being such a social breed, they seem to display behaviors that other breeds don’t show. So let’s take a look at them

Pouncing

Huskies often pounce. In most cases with huskies, pouncing is to initiate playtime and is an excitable act. But it’s driven by an instinctual behavior deeply rooted in their genes.

Pouncing is seen when playing because it’s used as a way to grab a toy. Much like in the wild when wolves and felines catch prey. Pouncing is a universal predatory behavior to strike and take hold of prey.

Huskies have strong prey drives and this is an example of that coming through, regardless of whether your husky is playing fetch or chasing your neighbor’s cat.

Head Burying

Head burying is commonly seen in huskies and usually indicates they are seeking comfort. A classic example of when you might see this behavior will be from sitting on the couch. Your husky may sit next to you and bury his head into your side or between your legs.

The feeling of safety and security will come from keeping his head buried into you. This may be triggered by being fearful or anxious, but that hasn’t been proven.

Huskies often display many weird behaviors and this could just be something he enjoys without any negative reason attached.

Hand Holding

Your husky may try “holding your hand” or putting their paw on top of your legs, hands, or arms.

This usually falls into two categories. This could be a sign for attention, and it’s an instinctual behavior seen in young children too. One of the most direct ways to gain your attention other than from barking is to offer you their paw or put it directly on top of you. Your husky may want to play, need to be let out, or it’s past his usual walk time.

The other reason which may happen is to gain dominance. Dogs who are allowed on couches often try placing or resting their paws on top of you when laying beside you. It’s entirely possible this is an act of dominance. Having their paw physically on top of you is displaying a certain level of power, and if you oblige and allow it, it signifies your compliance. This may not always be the case, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Related Articles:
6 Reasons Why Dogs Lay on Your Feet
Why Your Husky Follows You Everywhere
Why Your Dog Eats Cat Food

Summary

So there you have it! Your complete husky body language guide that you can now put into practice.

Please always remember that seeing one body gesture on its own is never a reliable way to determine a feeling or emotion. You must take into consideration everything that’s happening and watch for multiple clues.

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If you would like to support My Happy Husky directly and have an easy to read and entertaining guide for training your husky puppy, check out my book The Husky Puppy Handbook on Amazon. All purchases are greatly appreciated.

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Disclaimer

The advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice in any context. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here


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Allegra Ainsley Connor

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

My 2 year old husky Mango has some interesting behaviours. She wiggles her bum while walking when she's happy and excited, like if me or my fiance come home or we've told her a trigger word that she likes (e.g. "do you want to go swim?" - she is crazy for swimming, and she enjoys making splashes with her paw as she swims and then trying to eat the splashes with an open wide mouth). She also makes high pitched noises after yawning. It's almost like she's asking a question in dog language by her intonation (it's a gradually rising pitch, like a drawn out "huh?"). And she makes declarations with her paw. It started out as putting her paw on her food fish meant she wanted food, but I guess the positive reactions she got from us (it's so adorable) has led to her putting her paw on any object on the ground or even the ground itself and it means she wants something. Not usually to pee or poo because we trained her to bark for that. Usually it means she wants to go to the dog park or go swim (or swim in the snow in winter). When she puts her foot down, it's like "the paw has spoken."

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