The Outdoor Witch Blog

Pack Dogs VS Single Dog

Pack Dogs VS Single Dog

What I’ve learnt from working with huskies

What is the difference between being the happy owner of one or two dogs…versus living with a dog pack of 12 dogs? What having adopted 10 huskies has changed in my perception of dogs and my relation to them?

5 things I have learnt

In spring 2020, I adopted my first husky, Bobby, a then 4 years-old mix Alaskan-Siberian husky. He was to be rehomed as he couldn’t work anymore as a safari sled dog due to high stress. Six months later, I went back to Finland to adopt his twin brother Quint. (there’s a video about Quint by the way). Fast forward to spring 2022: my husband and I have created a charity to rehome huskies and have 10 of them living with us, in addition to our older home dog, Sparta, Milwyn the witch cat and Ola my mare. I have become a Husky Mom, I’ve learnt how to mush (still learning of course) and am working daily with some 12 dogs.

What did I learn from living and working so-called pack dogs? How different is it to have one dog vs many?

Here are 5 things I’ve learnt from living with pack dogs:

Pack dogs, like huskies, are… dogs! 

I remember thinking the first time I spent time in the running fence with a group of huskies: “but they are just like any other dogs!” This thought caught me aback. Indeed, there is kind of mild fear or apprehension around pack dogs, working dogs, huskies that they are dogs…but not quite the same. Aggressive, afraid of people, don’t look them in the eyes, and so on. So many prejudices and outdated perceptions. And even I had fallen in the same trap! So yes, pack dogs are just like any other dogs! Their behaviour towards other dogs and humans will depend greatly on how they were trained, educated and treated by their people. Just like any dog.

Bad behaviour, aggressivity, wariness, etc has nothing to do with breed, pack vs single dog. 

Most pack dogs are often very social and friendly with other dogs. 

I was so impressed how Bobby and Quint are also willing to cheer all the dogs we pass on the street. They never bark or growl at other dogs. They are so curious, and genuinely go to greet them, see if they can play with them, in the most natural way possible. Bobby now understands better that he cannot do it with every dog kept on the leash, unless he is told to. Quint still has difficulty yielding to such a human-made rule!

A pack is made of individuals

Our pack is made of 10 individuals. 

It is extremely important to consider both aspects of them. It is important to take time with each dog individually as well as spending time with all of them together or in smaller groups. They need as much attention, love, and care as any individual dog. 

They are not as impacted, as affected by our human emotions. 

I’ve found them more balanced, more authentic, more “dogs” than pet dogs who are living mainly with humans since they are pups, and are often humanised, sometimes to the extreme…Yes, they are genuinely dogs! I had never noticed this so strongly and it is very refreshing. Of course, our presence influences them - as I mention further, yet their fellow dogs are as important. I find them more balanced and they will naturally move away or not interact as much with us when our presence isn’t beneficial to them. They preserve their integrity. 

The pack reacts to you

The harmony within the pack depends mainly on the people who are spending the most time with the dogs. 

In other words, their persons, handlers, owners, caretakers are responsible for the vibe within the pack. The pack will not react the same way depending on which human is there with them. Again, think of the young children in school when they have a new or supply teacher. The dogs are very sensitive, they pick on our real emotions and state of mind, we cannot lie to them. And they will react to it when you interact with them. It can show up as sudden growling between two dogs, over-possessiveness towards you from one or two dogs…and create tension with the others, etc. It is very delicate. You need to be aware of yourself, of your real state of mind and emotions when you interact with your dogs, and on how it can impact the harmony of the pack that day. Some days, when I feel a bit off, upset or too preoccupied, I’d rather take only smaller groups together to the fence. Follow your intuition. The clearer and more neutral the mind, the better.

A quiet mind leads to a harmonious and peaceful pack. 

Being, playing and working with many dogs at the same time is incredibly enriching. I find it fascinating and very beneficial. I cannot be somewhere else in my mind. I must be there with them, fully. When I’m too lost in my thoughts, it changes their behaviour and usually shows as growling, discomfort or over excitement between them. My husband has noticed the same. This is also the case with one single dog. Yet, with many at the same time, it takes it to another level. I truly love this interaction and connection with our huskies.

Dogs are wonderful friends and teachers.

Catch you later with another article!

The Witch

pack dogs, husky, rehome dogs, sled dogs


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