There are many ways to give your husky more mental stimulation, but it starts with a basic requirement of meeting their exercise requirements. From there, you can introduce other things like puzzle toys, obedience training, and much more to enrich their lives.
In this guide, I’ll cover 13 proven methods for giving your husky more mental stimulation, as well as explain the reasons why it matters in the first place and what benefits it can have for both you and your husky.
Let’s get into it.
- Why Does Mental Stimulation Matter For Huskies?
- 13 Ways To Give Your Husky More Mental Stimulation
- What Are The Benefits For Giving Your Husky More Mental Stimulation?
- In Summary
Why Does Mental Stimulation Matter For Huskies?
Before I get into the list, you might be wondering why mental stimulation is important for huskies in the first place.
Mental stimulation is important for all dog breeds, but huskies have a bigger demand for it because they are very intelligent and have lots of energy, leaving them prone to boredom.
This is common across many working breeds – remember that huskies were originally used for pulling sleds and are still used for this purpose in many places to this day.
How Much Stimulation Do Huskies Need?
It’s hard to put a number on the exact hours of mental stimulation that a husky needs – as you get to know your husky, you will get a natural feeling for when they have had enough.
Huskies that are mentally stimulated properly will be less anxious and more relaxed; it’s usually straightforward to tell when they are satisfied mentally.
The bottom line is that huskies need a lot of mental stimulation and not just through intense exercise.
13 Ways To Give Your Husky More Mental Stimulation
Let’s look at some ways you can give your husky more mental stimulation.
Some of these methods are more hands-on than others, so hopefully, you can find a technique or two that work for you.
Meeting your husky’s exercise needs is the most basic requirement for their wellbeing and providing mental stimulation.
They need at least 2 hours of intense exercise per day, giving them most of the mental stimulation they require through sniffing, exploring, and meeting other dogs or people.
Assuming you are meeting this requirement, the other tips below will provide extra mental stimulation for your husky.
2. Varied Exercise
An easy way to provide mental stimulation for your husky is to vary their exercise type.
Huskies love to walk, so hiking can be an easy way to take them for longer walks in new places.
You can also take your husky for runs if you are into running, as this is a natural way for them to exercise. It can also reduce the total amount of exercise they need in terms of time as you can cover much longer distances.
One of my favorite things is letting your husky pull you around. You can use a sled for this if you live somewhere snowy or a skateboard or bike in places without snow.
Huskies are sled dogs by nature, so letting them pull you is one of the most natural things for them to do. It will tire them out quickly when you first start, as well!
3. Take Them To New Places
Taking your husky to new locations is a great way to boost their mental stimulation.
This doesn’t have to be rocket science. You can start small by taking your husky with you while you run errands or when you go to visit a friend.
New environments provide lots of new information for your husky to process, and it’s also an excellent way for them to socialize with new people and other dogs.
4. Puzzle Toys
If you haven’t heard of puzzle toys, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Puzzle toys are essentially toys that hide the reward (treat), and your husky has to figure out how to get them out.
There are many different types; some puzzle toys work by letting out a few treats when the toy is shaken, while others are more advanced and work when a button is pressed.
These obviously provide lots of mental stimulation, and with so many available, it’s easy to find one that your husky likes to play with.
5. Obedience Training
This one is a bit more challenging because huskies are notoriously difficult to train, given their tendency not to be interested in pleasing their owners.
You should still try to train your husky, though; they can learn commands if you have a lot of patience.
Start with the basics like sit and stay, and work from there. Even if you don’t have success during a training session, it will still give your husky much-needed mental stimulation.
Make sure to use positive reinforcement the whole time rather than negative. If your husky performs a desired command, reward them with a treat and verbal praise.
Our guide for teaching huskies how to sit has excellent examples of the steps involved if you want more details.
6. Play Games
Playing games can provide a lot of mental stimulation and tire your husky out quickly.
My favorites are tug of war with a large toy rope or hide and seek. I often have to get somebody to hold my husky in place when playing hide and seek; otherwise, they will chase after me if I wait too long to call them!
Pretty much any game can work, from the classic fetch to hiding somewhere in the house and calling them.
7. Frozen Treats
Frozen treats are a hassle-free way of stimulating your husky with minimal effort.
All you have to do is freeze one of their favorite treats inside water. I like to use an ice cube tray to place small treats in first and then fill the remaining volume with water.
Make sure to use a treat that is a considerable size so the flavor can be absorbed into the water but not too big that it can easily be bitten out of the cube.
Once they’re ready, give them to your husky one at a time, and they will spend a fair amount of time licking the cube to get the treat inside. Alternatively, you can follow a dog popsicle recipe, which works well!
8. Scatter Their Food/Use A Slow Feeder
If your husky likes to devour their food, you can make it more of a challenge for them by using a slow feeder or scattering some of their kibbles on a clean surface.
Getting them to work for their food isn’t bad; it will keep them occupied for a while.
9. Let Them Meet Other Dogs
Huskies love being around other dogs as they are very social.
Letting your husky meet and play with other dogs is a great way to get them to socialize and get mentally stimulated.
Dog parks are great for this, as well as doggy daycare if you will be out for a long time.
10. Let Them Sniff And Explore On Walks
It can be easy to get carried away while walking your husky and continue walking the whole time quickly to tire them out, completely ignoring the fact that they should be given time to sniff around and explore.
It’s estimated that dogs can smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than people, and they use their keen sense of smell to build a picture of what dog (or other animals) has been in this area and much more.
This is obviously mentally stimulating for them, so when you next go for a walk, let your husky sniff around properly – you’ll notice a big difference in their behavior.
Don’t let them get carried away; you need to control how long they spend smelling an area rather than vice versa.
11. Nose Work
While we’re on the topic of smell, hiding treats for your husky can be a fun little game to play to keep them stimulated.
You can use anything for this, but I like to use a few pieces of their kibble or small pieces of chew treat broken up.
Let them sniff the treat first, then tell them to sit and stay.
Slowly move out of the room and hide their treat somewhere in the house.
You might need someone to help you keep them in place, and once it is hidden, give them a command like ‘Go!’ so they can head off and find the treat.
It doesn’t take much encouragement for them to set off and find the treat, and it’s a fun game for anyone in the house to be involved with.
12. Brain Training Toys
Brain training has become somewhat of a trend recently, and if you’ve seen the TikToks of dogs talking to their owners by pressing buttons, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Getting one of these toys for your husky can be fun, but don’t expect any miracles.
13. Get Them A Companion
The last thing I’d like to mention is getting your husky a companion if you haven’t already.
Huskies have a strong pack mentality due to their history as sledding dogs. While they don’t necessarily need another dog, it can be very beneficial and give them lots of mental stimulation.
Other huskies or similar breeds like Alaskan Malamutes work well – you ideally want something that can keep up with the energy of the husky.
Male-female or female-female combinations work best as there can be aggression between two males competing to be the alpha.
What Are The Benefits For Giving Your Husky More Mental Stimulation?
Giving your husky more mental stimulation will result in a range of benefits for you and your dog.
Improves Their Overall Quality Of Life
Huskies are a working breed; many people forget that when they keep them as pets.
Giving your husky lots of mental stimulation is natural for them, boosting their happiness and quality of life.
There’s a big difference between pulling sleds and working for food and being in the warmth and comfort of a house with nothing to do. Mental stimulation is one way to bridge this gap and satisfy your husky.
Huskies are prone to becoming bored because of their energy and intelligence, so giving them lots of mental stimulation will help reduce their boredom, making them happier and easier to be around.
If your husky is bored, you may notice them staring at you constantly or following you around because they have nothing to do. They may also become lethargic and even depressed (yep, huskies can get depressed).
Huskies who aren’t bored will have an easier time resting and enjoy spending time with you and showing affection.
Less Risk Of Destructive Behaviors & Separation Anxiety
Bored huskies are more prone to destructive behaviors, especially if left alone.
Separation anxiety affects most huskies, but those who are already bored are prone to more severe reactions like excessive chewing or howling.
If your husky is mentally stimulated, they will be able to handle longer periods alone when needed, and they will be less likely to exhibit other negative behaviors like chewing on furniture or howling constantly.
Giving your husky enough mental stimulation is often overlooked, and you’d be surprised at how much difference it can make to how they behave if you start implementing even one of the tips from this list.
Exercise is only the beginning – make sure you spend time with your husky outside of exercise to build the bond between you two and give them more mental stimulation.