Do Huskies Play Rough? (Learn How Huskies Naturally Play)

Huskies can be intimidating to people unfamiliar with the breed, especially if they approach and try to play with another dog, but do huskies play rough, or is it all just superficial?

Huskies play rougher than many other dogs, but in most cases, it isn’t as rough as it seems – huskies have a lot of energy and love to jump and roll around while they play. Knowing the difference between this and aggressive behavior is crucial as a husky owner.

Luckily for us, huskies very rarely get aggressive. It’s still important to understand how they play, though, because it greatly impacts how other dogs might react to them.

What Does Playing Rough Actually Mean?

Playing rough is a vague term, but it’s often used when one dog plays with another with little regard for their personal space or triggering the other dog.

This can include jumping over the other dog, running into them, nipping at them, pushing them over, and more.

If you’ve ever owned a small dog, you’ve probably noticed this behavior when a larger dog full of energy comes over to play and knocks your dog around.

Playing rough doesn’t mean that a dog is necessarily being aggressive; it often happens without the dog knowing that they are playing rough in the first place!

Why Do Some Huskies Play Rough?

Many huskies appear to play rough because they have a lot of energy and are one of the most sociable dog breeds.

This means they can be prone to running up to other dogs and trying to play with them, often appearing quite rough as they do so because of how much energy they have.

There are other factors that affect how and when huskies play rough, though, so let’s take a look at them.

Young Huskies Vs. Seniors

Young huskies are much more likely to play rough than seniors simply because they will have much more energy.

Two husky puppies playing and biting each other
It’s completely normal for husky pups to play rough!

Asserting Themselves As The Alpha

Another common reason for huskies playing rough is when they are trying to establish themselves as the alpha of a pack.

This comes from their pack mentality developed through their background as working sled dogs.

This behavior is more common in male huskies than females, and it is also a common problem that some people face if they try to introduce a male husky to another male dog in the same house.

How To Stop Your Husky From Playing Rough

It’s hard to stop your husky from playing rough altogether because it’s in their nature to be overly excitable and energetic around other dogs, but you can do a few things to tone it down.

Give Them Lots Of Exercise & Mental Stimulation

The most important thing to stop your husky playing rough all the time is meeting their exercise and mental stimulation requirements.

Give them at least 2 hours of intense exercise every day, and supplement this with obedience training, puzzles, toys, and other forms of mental stimulation.

This will naturally calm them down, which helps when they are playing because if they have less energy, they are less likely to play rough with other dogs.

Avoid Positively Reinforcing Playing Rough

Another important thing often overlooked is not to reinforce the behavior yourself.

It’s natural to play with your husky, but don’t encourage them to play rough, even if you don’t mind it. You can quickly reinforce the behavior, and it will change how they play with other dogs.

The Difference Between Rough And Aggressive

Knowing the difference between playing rough and your husky getting aggressive is important for all husky owners to know.

Luckily, in most cases, your husky will simply be playing rough and not being aggressive.

Huskies are naturally very sociable and not aggressive, and we all know how much energy they have. This can lead to a very full-on attempt at playing with other dogs that can appear rough but actually isn’t.

A husky standing up and throwing a tantrum in a field

This can create friction with naturally defensive dogs, which may provoke your husky to be aggressive back.

You may also notice signs of aggression if your husky is trying to assert themselves as the pack’s leader, which can happen if you get another male dog, for example. But what are the signs of aggression to look out for?

  • If your husky starts bearing their teeth and growling, they are starting to get aggressive.
  • If they suddenly stop moving and try to hold their ground.
  • If the hairs on the back of their neck stand up and their ears go down.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you must step in to correct the behavior.

Tips For If Your Husky Starts To Get Aggressive While Playing Rough

As I mentioned, the most important thing is not to reinforce this behavior when you play with your husky.

Outside of that, here are a few tips you can use to keep your husky and other dogs safe while playing.

Watch Them Closely & Intervene When Necessary

If you notice your husky showing any signs of aggression, it’s best to intervene and take them out of the situation before things escalate.

It’s also a good idea to do this if the other dog they are playing with starts to show any similar warning signs.

Dogs can develop aggression towards unfamiliar dogs for several reasons, like a lack of socialization, so even if your husky is being friendly, you still need to protect them from a potential fight.

Prevention Is Easier

If your husky has been aggressive in the past while playing with other dogs, it is best to prevent this from happening by keeping them on a leash until you have addressed their behavior and corrected it.

Be Aware Of Prey Drive

Huskies naturally have a high prey drive and are prone to chasing after small animals.

This means that some huskies may chase after small dogs and see them as prey. This is very different from playing rough or even getting aggressive during playtime.

The first thing you should do is keep your husky on a leash if you are in an area where other small dogs will be running around that your husky isn’t familiar with.

A red husky running through a field

After that, you need to be aware of what your husky acts like when their prey drive kicks in. This isn’t how they would approach a dog if they were playing; they will show more signs of aggression and will not listen to recall.

If their prey drive does kick in and you haven’t got them on a leash, you need to chase after them and get your husky out of there as soon as possible. They will not listen to you, so recall is pointless.

It’s rare for domesticated huskies to have a high prey drive with other dogs, especially if they are well-socialized, but it is still important to know about.

Best Games To Play With Your Husky

Here are a few games you can play with your husky that won’t encourage them to play rough.


Fetch is a great game to play with your husky because it teaches obedience and doesn’t allow them to play rough.

Getting them to bring the ball back at first can be very difficult, so give them lots of praise and positive reinforcement if they manage to bring it back.

It’s also great for mental stimulation and giving them more exercise if you are tired yourself.

Tug Of War

Tug of war with a rope toy is one of my favorites because it allows your husky to get aggressive without learning to be aggressive toward other dogs or people. Instead, they can focus their energy on the toy itself.

It’s also great for tiring them out; you only need a rope toy. Put it in front of your husky; they’ll bite and pull the other end before you know it.

Just be warned that they won’t want to let go of it easily. Huskies are one of the most stubborn breeds for a reason!

In Summary

It may seem like your husky is playing rough, but in most cases, they have no bad intentions and are just energetic and overly friendly.

Learning the early indication of aggression, like bearing teeth, growling, or a sudden lack of movement, is important to prevent altercations between your husky and another dog.

Make sure not to reinforce your husky playing rough when you play with them yourself, and address any signs of aggression as soon as possible with a firm ‘No!’

Photo of author

About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

Read More

Leave a comment