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Huskies in the north live outside year round, pull sleds hundreds of miles, and do it all without batting a frozen eyelash! So your Husky can stay outside, even in cold weather, as long as he is acclimatized and his internal furnace well stoked (that means well fed) and his fur coat full and prepared for the weather.
Huskies have two coats, a top coat made of guard hairs that trap air and keep snow, wind, and water off their thick insulative undercoat. These two coats keep your Husky snug as a bug in a rug! In Alaska and Canada, Huskies frequently live and sleep outside in temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. But it is not a matter of simply kicking your Husky outside. If he is used to living inside you will need to take some steps to ensure he has what he needs to live outside and that he is gradually acclimated and prepared to tolerate cold weather.
Although Huskies can live inside with their families and in warmer climates, they often are not comfortable in those conditions. Huskies were designed for the great outdoors with heavy double coats and big furry feet. A Husky that lives inside will develop a less dense coat to keep himself comfortable inside, so if you want to move your Husky to outdoor living you will need to do so gradually to give him time to develop a thicker coat to protect himself from cold weather. You also need to consider that a Husky that has developed a thick coat for living outside will not only be comfortable in a warm house, but if constantly brought inside and then put out he will have trouble regulating his temperature and maintaining his thick warm coat. You need to consider your Husky’s living conditions and be consistent.
Huskies should have a shelter from the elements outside, but often choose to curl up with their nose under their tails or dig a hole in the snow for a den. A curled up Husky with snow on his back is doing just fine; his coat is functioning as it should and keeping his body heat in. If your Husky has a wet coat or ice buildup on his coat his natural insulation has become compromised and you will need to get him dried off and kept protected from the elements until his coat and internal furnace are working properly.
Even Huskies need shelters to stay out of wet conditions, like rain, which can make their thick coats damp and impair their insulative abilities. Many Huskies prefer to curl up or dig a hole in the snow, but providing a shelter with straw so your Husky has an option for shelter is ideal. A shelter should be large enough for your dog to move and turn around comfortably in, but small enough so that his body heat can stay trapped around him. Straw for bedding should be changed frequently to keep it clean and dry, your dog's body heat can introduce moisture to bedding over time. Huskies should be provided with water when housed outside so they don't dehydrate, and a heated water dish or frequently providing water throughout the day may be necessary in cold climates if water is likely to freeze.
The Acclimatize to Outside Method
Spend time with your dog outside
Get your Husky used to staying outside gradually. Put your dog outside and spend time with him outdoors, let him nap, eat, and play outside while you spend time outdoors with him. Garden, read or work outside while your dog gets comfortable with his new surroundings.
Leave dog out during the day
Start leaving your Husky outside for a few hours at a time on his own during the day when there is plenty to entertain him, birds, bugs etc.
Leave out during the night
Start leaving your Husky outside for a few hours at night, let him in part way through. Do not respond to barking or whining, only let your Husky in when he is quiet so as not to reinforce vocalizations.
Keep him well fed
Make sure your Husky is well fed a high protein, high energy diet, that allows him to maintain a good metabolism and keep himself warm with his inner furnace when living outside.
Let coat develop
If you live in a cold climate, put your Husky outside in the summer, and let his coat adapt to cooler nights as the summer wears on into fall. Your Husky's coat will fill out and be adequate to keep him warm in the winter if allowed to develop naturally. Do not put a Husky that is used to being indoors outside full time in the winter without adequate coat protection.
The Comforts of Home Method
Give your dog a good insulated shelter that is big enough for him to walk in and turn around in, but small enough to trap body heat and be cozy. Line it with clean straw and change the bedding frequently to keep it clean and dry.
Make sure your yard is fenced with a secure high fence, or use a dog run to ensure your Husky does not run out onto roads or other hazards.
Provide water and food outside
Provide food and water outside and ensure that water doesn't freeze. Use a heated water bowl or provide water frequently if necessary.
Provide toys and chew items
Provide favorite toys and chew items or puzzle feeders to keep your Husky entertained when he is alone outside.
Visit your Husky frequently, spend time with him outdoors, take him for walks, and give him a job like pulling. Just because your Husky lives outside does not mean he should not get lots of attention and time spent with you.
The Canine Companionship Method
Find a friend
Dogs are pack animals and Huskies that live outside in cold climates frequently live in groups with other dogs. Other dogs your Husky lives with outside need to also be acclimatized to the cold, so other Huskies or suitable outdoor breeds need to be selected.
Introduce the dog your Husky will be living outside with in a controlled setting, with both dogs on a leash. Allow dogs to investigate and sniff each other and take the dogs on initial walks together to “pack up”.
Introduce dogs off-leash in an enclosed area and supervise to ensure they get along and establish a healthy hierarchy.
Ensure shelter is accessible
Provide a shelter with two entrances so one dog does not block the entrance in or out of the shelter.
Double the body heat
Allow dogs to play together for entertainment and cuddle up together for body heat when cold.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 03/21/2018, edited: 01/08/2021