A Complete Guide To Husky Body Language

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This article has been fact-checked by Dr. Dilber Hussain, DVM, to ensure we're providing the most up-to-date guidance. READ MORE

Huskies communicate with other dogs and their humans. Of course, they can’t speak with words, but they do have their own language.

Understanding husky body language can allow you to understand them and their feelings, which can strengthen your relationship.

Types Of Husky Body Language

There are many things your husky can tell you through their body language. You can learn how they are feeling in many situations, simply by observing them.

Types of Husky Body Language Include: 

  • Happy Signals
  • Stress Signals
  • Fear Signals
  • Aggression Signals
  • Appeasement Signals
  • Play Signals
  • Submission Signals

Happy Signals

Hopefully, you are already familiar with your husky’s happy signals. They may smile at you. Their entire body will be slightly relaxed. They may wag their tail, or hold it up slightly.

They may look at you, but their gaze will be soft. Their ears are also relaxed, and typically up without being stiff. They may also lean towards or into you.

Stress Signals

When your husky is stressed, they will use calming body language. These gestures can help them settle themselves, and show other dogs that they aren’t a threat.

In addition to stress or nervousness, huskies may use calming signals when they are playing with another pooch and need a rest. It’s also a way for them to cope with over-excitement.

Stress Body Language

Signs your husky is stressed or attempting to calm themselves include:

  • Licking, yawning, panting
  • Stretching
  • Whale eyes
  • Tucked ears and tail
  • Avoiding eye contact

If your pooch is stressed, you’ll see it in their mouth. You may notice that they are licking, yawning, or panting.

They may have whale eyes, which means their eyes are wide and the white is showing.

If they are very stressed, they will tuck their ears and their tail.

They may also avoid eye contact, which is a sign that they are being submissive or trying to avoid conflict.

Fear Signals

Some of the signals that your husky is scared are the same as stress signals. However, there are other signals to be aware of as well.

It’s important to note that fear is typically linked to aggression or submission as well. Like humans, dogs will typically have a fight-or-flight response to fear or extreme stress.

This means if you notice fear signals, you will likely see some signs of either aggression or submission as well.

A fearful dog may lean away, lean back, tremble, crouch, lower his body or head, or roll onto his side or back. Often, his eyes will often be fully open with large pupils, his forehead will be wrinkled, and his tail will be lowered or tucked.

Fearful Body Language

Signs your husky is fearful include:

  • Leaning away
  • Trembling
  • Crouching
  • Wrinkled forehead
  • Whale eyes
  • Tail and ears tucked

If your husky is scared, they will typically lean away from the source of the fear. They will wrinkle their forehead, and lower their ears and their tail. If they are extremely fearful, their tail may be laying against their stomach, or close to their stomach.

You may also notice them trembling or crouching. Their eyes will be very wide, with a lot of white exposed.

They may have a flight or freeze response as well. They may attempt to run away or escape or freeze.

Submission Or Appeasement Signals

Submission or appeasement signals can be linked with fear, but they aren’t always. When your pooch is displaying appeasement signals, they are communicating that they aren’t a threat.

They may also be acknowledging their place in a pack hierarchy. If they display these signals with you, it’s unlikely that they are scared. They are likely simply telling you that they recognize you as the alpha.

Some huskies are naturally more submissive than others, which makes them more likely to display appeasement signals.

Submission Or Appeasement Body Language

Signs your husky is being submissive include:

  • Low tail
  • Ears against their head
  • Tight mouth or slight grin 
  • Slight crouch
  • Licking at air or lips
  • Lifting paw
  • Rolling over to expose the stomach 

If your husky is being submissive, they will have a low tail, which may wag slightly. They aren’t extremely fearful, but they are anxious. Their ears will be pinned to their head, and their mouth will be tight. Their mouth may lift at the corners, which is known as a submissive grin.

They may lick at the air, or lick their lips. A slight crouch and tense body language is common.

They may lift their paw as if they are trying to shake hands. They may also roll over, exposing their stomach.

Aggression Signals

Fear is a common cause of aggression in dogs. Aggression can also occur because they are protecting their resources, or trying to show dominance.

Huskies are naturally friendly with people, including strangers, and other dogs. However, any dog is capable of aggression under the right circumstances.

It’s important to know the signs of aggression, so you can diffuse the situation.

Aggression Body Language

Signs your husky is showing aggression include:

  • Stiff body
  • Ears up and leaning forward
  • Forward leaning posture
  • Tail up in the air
  • Staring 
  • Raised hackles

When a husky takes an aggressive stance, they will typically lean their ears, and potentially their entire body, forward. They may stand very tall, or crouch slightly.

Unlike a scared or submissive crouch, this crouch is stiff. Rather than trying to appear small or non-threatening, this type of crouch allows the husky to pounce on their adversary if necessary.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that a wagging tail always means your pooch is happy. However, a wagging tail can also be a sign of aggression.

Huskies who are showing aggression will also stare directly at the object of their aggression. They may show their teeth or snarl as well.

Of course, this body language can be accompanied by a growl or barking. However, it’s important to look at both their body language and vocalizations, rather than just one aspect.

Play Signals

Play signals can sometimes be confused with stress or aggression because all three are states of alertness.

One of the easiest ways to distinguish between play signals and concerning feelings is that when playful, your husky’s body will be slightly loose. They won’t have a stiff posture that can accompany fear or aggression.

A young black and white Siberian husky

It’s important to know the signs your husky is playing, particularly when interacting with other dogs. They can play roughly. You don’t want to break up a friendly play session, but you don’t want to let things get out of hand, either.

Understanding husky body language also prevents your pooch from being a nuisance. If they initiate a play session but the other dog shows signs of stress, fear, or aggression, you can redirect them to a more willing partner.

Play Body Language

Play body language includes:

  • Erect ears
  • Alert gaze
  • Play bow
  • Pawing
  • Wagging tail
  • Exaggerated movements
  • Panting

A dog who is playing or wants to play is excited and energetic. They may run, smile, or pant. It’s common for them to initiate play by running at their playmate and then running away.

The play bow can be a clear sign they want to play. They will put their chest on the ground, and their butt in the air. A play bow can also signal appeasement, so keep an eye on other signs as well.

Their ears will be erect, but not stiff. Their gaze will be alert and observant but without the hard stare of aggression. Panting or a lolling tongue are also signs your pooch is relaxed, and potentially ready to play.

You may also notice exaggerated movements. Rather than moving naturally, it looks like they are putting on a show.

They may put their paw out, or gently paw their playmate.

Key Examples Of Husky Body Language (And What They Mean)

The tail will always give you a quick indication of how your husky is feeling. However, tail signals are often misunderstood. Let’s take a closer look at husky tail body language.

Relaxed Neutral Tail

A husky’s tail can give you a quick indication of how they are feeling. A relaxed husky will hold their tail in the neutral position, which means it’s neither up or down.

Their tail may also wag slightly. You’ll notice that the tail appears relaxed.

Lowered Tail

Stress will cause the tail to go down. A husky that’s a little stressed or apprehensive will lower their tail. A husky that is very scared will hold their tail pointing straight down, or even underneath their belly.

Wagging Tail

A happy and excited pooch will hold their tail up, and often wag it back and forth like a flag. You’ll notice that there’s still a little relaxation in the tail.

If your husky’s tail is straight up and very stiff, this is a sign of aggression. An aggressive husky can wag their tail, which at first glance can make them appear happy.

However, the stiffness of the tail, along with other body language signals, reveals their true feelings.

Final Thoughts

Your husky can tell you a lot through their body language. Understanding their messages can help you support them when they are stressed or scared, prevent aggression from escalating, and let you know when they want to play.

It can seem complicated at first, but with a little practice, you’ll find yourself decoding their moods without even thinking about it.

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About The Author

Hi, I’m Carrie! I’ve always had a special connection with nature, and animals of all shapes and sizes in particular. I’ve been a writer for nearly a decade and recently joined the Malamute Mom team. I love providing information to other dog lovers.

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