Five Things to Know Before Adopting a Siberian Husky
I was really surprised when I discovered how little I knew about Siberian Huskies before meeting my one-of-a-kind companion—Meika. In this article, I will include what you should know before taking the steps to adopt your own, as well as my personal account of adopting Meika.
Meika is a cherished member of our family, but there are still some things I should have been prepared for before adopting a Siberian Husky. Here are the top five things I wish someone had told me before I decided to adopt a Siberian Husky. (Be sure to check out her adoption story below!)
5 Things to Know Before Adopting a Siberian Husky
- Huskies Are Bred to Run, Run, and Run!
- Be Aware of Their Strong Prey Drive
- They Are "Independent Thinkers"
- If You Want a Guard Dog, Look Elsewhere
- Prepare for Shedding
It's important to educate yourself before making any major decisions involving another animal's welfare. You should feel confident that a Husky will be happy and healthy under your care. If you or someone you know is considering adopting a Husky, read on!
1. Huskies Are Bred to Run, Run, and Run!
Huskies cannot be trusted off-leash. Their drive to run is so strong, as that is what they were bred to do. These dogs are notorious escape artists—jumping over fences or digging under them. So far, Meika has gotten out of the yard twice. Both times took a lot of time and effort (and some ham) to get her back home.
Huskies do not come when called. They will come just close enough to be out of your reach, knowing that you can't catch them at that distance. As soon as you move toward them, they run again. Then they will look back at you with that mocking Husky smile—they know they can outrun anyone. It's a fun game for them.
2. Be Aware of Their Strong Prey Drive
Huskies have a strong prey drive and love to chase small animals. If you own any of the following pets, you may want to reconsider adopting a Husky, or develop a strategy to keep them separate.
Animals That Huskies Will Chase
- Guinea pigs
I have never owned a Husky before, and it was after Meika came home that I actually started doing some real research on the breed. I found many sources that confirmed that Huskies rarely live peacefully with cats. I got a message from one Husky owner who said that her Husky lived with her cat for seven years. Then she came home one day and the dog had killed the cat. Yikes!
Siberian Huskies have a strong prey drive, so they do not get along with smaller animals of prey. Before committing to owning a Husky, it is important to know that this trait is instinctive and cannot be unlearned.
A Successful Strategy for Keeping Your Pets Separate
We have quite a complex routine at our house that involves rotating the animals. Knowing the possible threat, we had to make some major lifestyle changes. During the day, the cats are confined while the dog is loose. At night, it's reversed. It's not how I thought things would be when I got a dog, but it's worth it to keep the peace (and keep the cats alive and healthy).
3. They Are "Independent Thinkers"
That's the phrase Meika's trainer used when I took her to basic obedience training. Huskies don't generally do very well in obedience training or competitions. I definitely don't think it's because they aren't smart enough. I believe that Huskies are actually so smart that they won't blindly obey commands for a mere Liv-a-Snap.
Don't Take It Personally
Originally bred as snow dogs, Huskies have retained their selective hearing and passion for pulling sleds. Nothing else compares, so don't take it personally if they don't listen to you.
Huskies think about each command and decide if it's worth it for them to obey. Sometimes they decide it's not. When this was pointed out to me, I suddenly realized that I've never seen a Husky serving as a police dog or participating in agility competitions on Animal Planet. Then I understood why.
Start Basic Training Early for Better Results
4. If You Want a Guard Dog, Look Elsewhere
I wasn't interested in getting a guard dog, but I guess I did expect my dog to bark when the doorbell rang. Meika doesn't even wake up when we come home or if someone she doesn't know comes over. She greets everyone as if they are her best friend. (Maybe the bond I thought we had when we first met was just her Husky friendliness.)
5. Prepare for Shedding
Siberian Huskies shed A LOT. Of course, I knew beforehand that Huskies shed. They have thick fur coats that can protect them while running through the tundra. It's not until you own a Husky and it "blows out its coat" that you realize how much fur they have, and how much of it comes out at once.
A Puppy Love Story: How I Met Meika
Six months ago, I fell in love with a beautiful girl. She was sweet and shy. She had the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen and a tongue that was as soft as velvet. She was a three-year-old Siberian Husky. I was at an animal adoption event for PAWS Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter where I had been volunteering.
Her name was Meika, and we bonded during that four-hour event. I petted her, brushed her coat, and took her outside for a walk. She followed me and seemed upset when one of the other volunteers took her leash from me.
A Case of Bad Timing
I was very tempted to adopt her that day, but I lived in an apartment that did not allow dogs. My husband and I had decided to move to a house where we would be able to keep a dog, but not for a couple of months. It was just a case of bad timing. One of the other volunteers said that he would be willing to keep Meika at his place for the six weeks or so until I could take her to our new home. I declined, thinking that it just wasn't the right time. I went home without a dog—unsure if I had made the right decision.
Taking the Plunge
One week later, I went to another PAWS adoption event, and there she was. Meika recognized me immediately and greeted me by wagging her beautiful, fluffy Husky tail. In addition, the same guy who had volunteered to foster her was there. Noticing the bond that had developed between the two of us, once again he offered to keep her for me until we had our house. This time, I agreed.
A Rocky Start
We already had three cats at home, and I was a little concerned about introducing Meika to them. She showed no interest in the cats that were at the adoption event, so I thought the animals would work things out on their own . . . . The introduction did not go well. Now, six months later, she and the cats are still kept separate.
Just the Beginning
Keeping the animals separate keeps the peace, and thanks to our routine, the newest member of the family is finally settling in. We are looking forward to all of the fun and joy Meika will contribute to the household.
I hope that reading about my experience of adopting a Siberian Husky will help you in making your own educated decision!
Your Own One-of-a-Kind Companion
I know I said there were five things, but I have to mention that Huskies are sweet, happy, comical, and friendly dogs. Sharing your life with a Husky means tons of fun. They are not "robot dogs" that do everything you say, nor are they low-maintenance dogs that require little grooming. Regardless, I wouldn't trade mine for any cat-loving, perfectly obedient, non-shedding, doorbell-barking, off-leash dog in the world!