Play Fighting

Play Fighting Section 1

Siberian Husky play fighting takes place for a few reasons! Firstly, it's a way for them to socialize and bond with other dogs or humans. Play fighting allows them to practice their natural instincts and improve their coordination and reflexes. Additionally, it helps them burn off excess energy and provides mental stimulation.

High Energy Levels!

Siberian Huskies are intelligent and active dogs, so play fighting helps satisfy their need for physical and mental engagement. These dogs were bred to work long hours in harsh conditions, and often have a near limitless pool of energy! Play fighting can help work out much of that pent up energy.

Why is Siberian Husky Play Fighting so Rough?

Have you ever really watched your Siberian Husky play fight? Have you looked into those faces and snapping jaws? It can look incredibly violent to an outsider! No one wants to see their beloved pet hurt.

Siberian Huskies have a natural instinct for play fighting, which can sometimes appear rough. There are a few reasons why Huskies engage in rough play fighting:

  1. Breed Traits:

Siberian Huskies were originally developed as working sled dogs, and their endurance and strength enabled them to work in a challenging environment. This temperament can manifest in their play style, where they may use their physicality and energy during play.


          2. Working Dog Mentality:

Huskies have a strong working dog mentality, which can show in their play behavior. Playing rough can be enjoyable for them as it allows them to engage their instincts and utilize their energy.


            3. Physical Play Communication:

Dogs often communicate through play, and some breeds, including Huskies, may have a more physical play style. They use their bodies, including nipping, wrestling, and growling, to establish boundaries and engage in social interaction.

  • Physical Fitness and Coordination: Through play fighting, Canines develop their physical strength, agility, and coordination. It helps them hone their reflexes, balance, and motor skills, which are crucial for survival in the wild.     
  • 4.Lack of Socialization:

If a Husky hasn't had proper socialization or exposure to other dogs during their early development stages, they may not have learned to moderate their play behavior. This can result in rough play.

  • Social Bonding: Play fighting helps build and strengthen social bonds within their pack. It allows them to practice cooperation, coordination, and communication skills necessary for hunting and living together.

However, it is important to distinguish between play fighting and actual aggression. Play fighting is typically accompanied by play bows, relaxed body language, and reciprocal behavior. If you are concerned about your Husky's behavior or believe it may be aggressive, it's a good idea to speak to either a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance.

If both dogs are play bowing, bouncy, or seem to exaggerate their movements and vocalizations, it’s likely a play session. Another good indication of play is sneezing. Dogs sneeze as a way to communicate to their play partners (human or canine) that they want to keep things safe and fun.

McCawley, Jessica. 3/14/2019. Metro East Humane Society. Dog Behavior 101: Playing or Fighting.

Be sure to read both sections below before forming opinions regarding pack behavior!

Play Fighting Section 2

Social interactions and Siberian Husky Puppy Play Fighting

Socialization is incredibly important for puppies because it is absolutely crucial to their psychological development, helping them become well-adjusted adult dogs! During the early stages of a puppy's life, they are highly receptive and impressionable. Socialization exposes them to various people, animals, environments, and experiences, helping them develop positive associations and adaptability.

  • Veterinary Behaviorists recommend not separating puppies from littermates prior to 8 weeks, 6 at the earliest.

This exposure helps shape their behavior, reducing the likelihood of fear, anxiety, and aggression as they mature.

From around two weeks, when their eyes open, until they go to their own homes, they spend almost all of their waking hours wrestling with each other. It’s a critical time for social development because it is when they learn bite inhibition and good dog manners.

4/30/2021. American Kennel Club. Are Dogs Playing or Fighting? How to Evaluate Rough Play.

 Confidence Building:

Socialization helps build a puppy's confidence by introducing them to new and potentially challenging situations. It teaches them to navigate and adapt to different environments, noises, surfaces, and objects, making them more resilient and less prone to anxiety or fear in unfamiliar situations later in life.

Positive Interactions:

Through socialization, puppies learn appropriate social skills, including how to greet and interact with other dogs and people. They develop the ability to read and respond to social cues and body language, properly interpreting situations and avoiding potential conflicts. Positive interactions during this critical period lay the foundation for healthy relationships with humans and other animals.


  • Your Siberian Husky is more likely to continue engaging in this play fighting behavior if he’s learned this as a puppy!


Environmental Familiarity:

Exposing puppies to various environments, such as parks, cities, car rides, and different surfaces, helps them become comfortable and adaptable to different settings. This decreases the likelihood of them developing fears or anxieties related to specific environments or stimuli in the future.


Handling and Veterinary Care:

Socialization includes getting puppies accustomed to being handled, examined, and groomed, which is essential for their well-being throughout their lives. By familiarizing them with these experiences, including nail trims, brushing, and vet visits, puppies will be more cooperative and less stressed during necessary procedures.

Socialization should be done gradually and in a rewarding, positive, controlled manner to ensure the puppy feels safe and secure throughout the process.

Signs of Aggression in Dogs

Are you having trouble telling the difference between simple play fighting in Siberian Huskies, and actual aggressive, harmful behavior?

Signs of aggression in dogs can vary depending on the individual and the situation. It's important to note that aggression is a complex behavior and can be caused by various factors. Here are some common signs of aggression to watch out for:

  1. Growling and Snarling:

Vocalizations such as growling and snarling can indicate aggression. Dogs may growl when they feel threatened, uncomfortable, or are trying to assert dominance.


  1. Baring Teeth:

When a dog feels aggressive, it may bare its teeth as a warning sign, showing its willingness to escalate the situation if necessary.


  1. Lunging and Barking:

Dogs that lunge forward and bark aggressively towards a person or another animal are displaying signs of aggression. The intent may be to intimidate or defend their territory.


  1. Stiff Body Language:

Aggressive dogs tend to exhibit stiff body posture, with raised hackles (hair along their back), a rigid stance, and a tense facial expression. They may also hold their tail erect or tuck it between their legs.


  • A lowered, crouching posture, along with flattened ears and/or a tucked tail is/are signs of submission. Though the dog might still be preparing to bite, or otherwise defend himself, these body movements are meant to cause the animal to look as small and non-threatening as possible.


A dog displaying these movements doesn’t want a conflict.


  1. Snapping and Biting:

Snapping and biting can be more severe signs of aggression. These actions are attempts to inflict harm or protect themselves from perceived threats.


  1. Prolonged Staring:

Intense, fixed, or prolonged eye contact can be a signal of aggression. It is a way for dogs to assert dominance or communicate a potential threat.

It is important to remember that signs of aggression can be context-specific, and a thorough understanding of the situation and the dog's behavior patterns is necessary to make an accurate assessment.

How do Wild Wolves Establish a Pack Order?

Wolves establish pack order through a process called dominance hierarchy. Within a wolf pack, there is typically an alpha pair, also known as the breeding pair, which holds the highest rank. Other wolves in the pack are then ranked below the alpha pair based on their dominance and submission behaviors.

Dominance is established through various interactions, such as body posturing, vocalizations, and physical confrontations. Wolves display dominant behaviors like standing tall, direct eye contact, and vocalizations to assert their higher rank.

Subordinate wolves, on the other hand, exhibit submissive behaviors like crouching, averting eye contact, and offering their neck as a sign of submission.

Throughout their lives, individual wolves may challenge or defend their rank by engaging in displays of dominance or submission. This helps maintain stability within the pack and ensures that social order is maintained.

It's worth mentioning that while there are similarities between wolf packs and domestic dog hierarchies, the dynamics within domestic dog groups may differ due to human influence and breeding practices.


  • Establishing Hierarchy: Play fighting also contributes to the establishment and maintenance of a hierarchy within the wolf pack. It helps determine each wolf's rank and dominance by testing their physical abilities and social skills.
  • It’s important to remember domestic dogs aren’t wild wolves, and were bred to live among humans. Siberian Huskies play fight just like Grey wolves do, but pack dynamics are going to differ!

Has the Dominance Hierarchy Theory Among Wolves Been Disproven?

The concept of dominance hierarchy among wolves has been a topic of ongoing scientific discussion and study. While some early studies suggested that wolf packs have a strict hierarchical structure with an alpha wolf at the top, more recent research has challenged this view.

A study by researchers L. David Mech and David R. Macdonald in the late 1990s focused on wild wolves in their natural habitat and concluded that the term "alpha wolf" and the concept of a dominant "alpha" leading the pack was not accurate. Instead, they found that wolf packs are often family units consisting of an alpha pair, their offspring, and perhaps a few other related individuals. The pack operates more as a family or cooperative group rather than a strict hierarchy.

This research highlighted that the social dynamics within wolf packs are more complex than previously believed. It's important to note that wolf behavior can vary depending on factors such as habitat, prey availability, and pack composition.

It's worth mentioning that while the understanding of wolf pack dynamics has evolved, the concept of dominance and social structure still exists among wolves and other canines to some degree. The specific terminology and understanding may have changed, but hierarchical behavior can still be observed in social carnivores.

In Simpler Terms:

Many biologists believe a group of wild wolves functions closer to that of a family unit, as opposed to a dominance based hierarchical system (strength dominates). As animal science and wolf biology advances over the years, our opinions, observations and theories will continue to evolve!


Learning Appropriate Behaviors:

Wolves (and dogs) learn important social skills and boundaries through play fighting. They explore various behaviors, such as biting with inhibited force, controlling pressure during wrestling, and practicing self-control, which prepares them for interactions in more serious situations.

Disclaimer: Regarding the ‘Dominance Theory’ in Relation to Dog Training

The Dominance theory in dog training refers to an outdated belief that dogs are motivated primarily by a desire for dominance and that many undesirable behaviors are a result of them trying to assert dominance over their owners or other humans.

This theory suggests that to establish oneself as the "alpha" or pack leader, one must assert dominance over the dog through techniques such as physical force, intimidation, and punishment.

However, contemporary understanding of dog behavior and training has evolved, and the dominance theory has been largely disproven by scientific research. Modern dog training focuses on positive reinforcement, reward-based methods, and fostering a cooperative and mutually respectful relationship with the dog.

Using dominance-based techniques can have negative consequences and may even lead to increased aggression and fear in dogs. It can strain the bond between the dog and the owner and inhibit the learning process due to stress and anxiety.

Positive reinforcement training, on the other hand, emphasizes rewarding desired behaviors with treats, praise, and play, while ignoring or redirecting unwanted behaviors. This approach helps dogs understand what is expected of them and encourages them to repeat behaviors that are rewarded.

It is essential to stay up to date with the current understanding of dog behavior and training methods, which prioritize positive reinforcement and science-based techniques!