This is an on-line version of our "puppy book" we used to give to all puppy buyers. It's got good basic information but understand not everyone raises a puppy like we do - in the house and with it's pack. Many breeders raise their puppies outside, in kennels, away from mom and pack after a certain age. We hope owning your new Alaskan Malamute puppy is a great experience into adulthood and beyond. The cartoons are some of our favorites (copyrighted by the author). Please understand your experience may different if you do NOT have one of OUR puppies - the first 8-9 weeks are very important and if not raised properly you will problems not addressed in depth here. This is a manual for an INDOOR HOUSEPET Malamute that doesn't go home until the optimal 8-9 weeks. If you want to know how to raise a dog that lives outside, or is younger when you bring it home (I hope not!) you must go elsewhere.
for the carbon based canine units (aka raising a puppy)
for O'Mal Puppies
By Cindy O'Malley
Copyright © 1998-2009 by Cindy O'Malley
Why a Book?
Raising a puppy can't be THAT hard!
The Alaskan Malamute is a dog still evolving. It has only been a few years since he was taken from the arctic wilderness and a primitive existence and thrown into the role of "house pet". Malamute breeders have taken an essentially primitive nature and in a few generations molded a gentler, more obedient, and less driven beast than he was . . . but he is still not as "domesticated" as other breeds. Many believe Malamutes make terrible house dogs, but we feel the future destiny of most Malamutes is not on a team or even living in the arctic, but as a contributing member of the family unit or "pack" all over the world. To dog owners that enjoy a challenge, appreciate intelligence, have a sense of humor and most of all want to keep growing in their "dog knowledge" the Alaskan Malamute is the ultimate dog to learn from.
Most first time owners will eventually admit that they were not prepared for their first Malamute, so the purpose of this book is to emphasize how to raise your puppy properly to be a house dog and ways to handle problems encountered.
Table of Contents
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You have just adopted a happy, healthy Alaskan Malamute puppy that was bred with care, raised with care, socialized with care, and we hope, will go home your family that will care - loving and cherishing it forever. It is all any puppy ever wants and deserves. A Malamute is not a "cookie cutter" dog and each will be very individual in personality and needs. A temperament test provided by us can give you a general idea of your puppy's strengths and weaknesses but nothing is carved in stone. No one puppy is inherently "better" than another! You mold your puppy from here on. There will be times when his desires will conflict with your own, so here we've included training suggestions; things we've found helpful to know; and a primer on the uniqueness of the Malamute breed to help you over the initial bumps of this new, but wonderful, relationship with your Malamute puppy.
GENERAL HEALTH and VACCINATIONS
Your puppy will have received it's first shots and has been wormed. However, the first puppy shots are only a start toward providing the necessary immunity. Your vet will put the puppy on a schedule of vaccinations to protect him from many serious, life-threatening diseases. He will need several initial DHLPP shots and a Rabies at 4 months old, and boosters thereafter. Insist upon good protection and keep up with vaccinations. The new protocol says that DHLPP shots and rabies are needed no more often than every 3 years - if you are vaccinating more often than that, it may be too much and can compromise your puppy's immune system. Bordetella vaccine is good protection from Kennel Cough and if your dog is ever kenneled with other dogs, necessary. Lyme is a good precaution if you live in a woody area with deer ticks. Do not give vaccinations if your dog does not have that particular risk - and NEVER give more than one vaccination at a visit or you can cause problems by overloading the dog's system. Take a stool sample with you when you take the puppy for his first veterinarian visit to ensure the deworming we have done on your puppy is complete. You'll want to make an appointment with your vet for a checkup a day or two after you bring him home. Depending on the time of year, your puppy may have been started on heartworm preventative. Your vet may recommend a change of brand that is more convenient for him to stock, but most use a product with invermectin. Invermectin is also useful in that it helps prevent round worms as well as heartworm. Do not use the daily pill "Filaribits Plus" since some colloquial evidence suggests it has been linked to liver and kidney damage in Malamutes. Trifexis has been linked to deaths and seizures so do NOT use these products. The monthly regimen of invermectin with Plus ingredients has not been a problem. Be careful to keep puppy away from places other animals visit until he has all his shots. He could pick up an infectious disease from airborne viruses, stools or saliva, fleas, mosquitoes or from other dogs.
We suggest feeding a high-quality food, meaning those that include real meat or poultry (and labeled "nutritionally complete") instead of those with mostly meals, grains or milk products as the protein source. We suggest you go to Dogfoodadvisor.com and and choose a good quality 4-5 star food there. We strongly recommend going 'grain free' if possible. Quality foods may seem expensive, but overall are cheaper in the long run as you feed less and have less poop to pick up. Anything indigestible just comes out the other end, so why waste your time and money picking up massive droppings from poor quality foods? Avoid soft/moist type foods that are mostly sugar and water. If you intend to change to a different food, ask the breeder for a two or three day sample of the food your puppy has been eating. Switch over very gradually by mixing a little more of the new food each day until the change is complete. If you don't do this, your puppy may have a loose stool. Once a puppy's stomach is upset, it can take awhile to return to normal.
Alaskan Malamutes, when fed a high quality food, usually do just fine without any supplementation or extras. Malamutes do not need great amounts of food, because the breed, in general, has a slow metabolism. Feeding what the package says is usually overfeeding. Because of their thick coats, it is often hard to tell when a dog/puppy is too skinny or overweight. You should be able to feel ribs and backbone easily, but the puppy shouldn't't feel "boney" all over, especially in the hipbones. You should begin by offering your puppy food 3-4 times a day. Always have a dish of fresh water available. Young puppies are fed small meals 3 times a day (3-6 cups of puppy food per day), then at about 4 - 6 months, twice a day (2-6 cups of puppy food per day). Between 5-10 months your puppy's growth will slow. If you find he's beginning to gain too much weight on the puppy food it's acceptable to change to adult food. This can very quite a bit from line to line. You will want to consult your breeder for specific details (see, isn't it good you didn't buy from a pet shop?). Typically, full grown adult housedogs will eat between 2-4 cups of maintenance or light adult food daily depending on their activity level. (Females approx. 2 cups, Males approx. 4). As housedogs, that's all they need unless doing heavy sled work or are outdoors much of the time in winter. Adult dogs should weigh between 65-75 lbs. for females and 75-110 lbs. for males depending on body structure and muscle. If you live nearby, consult your breeder again to be sure the dog is not gaining too much or too little weight. He is the best judge of how his dogs will grow. A "wooly" coat or a dog with heavy coat may look considerably more than his actual weight. A well-muscled dog will weigh more than a couch potato of the same size only because muscle is heavier. "Dandruff" in the coat can indicate a need for a better quality daily food or possibly more omega fatty-acids (fish oils) and zinc added to the diet. "Linatone Plus" or "Lipiderm" are good supplements but are not needed unless the coat seems dry and listless. It is possible to get too much fat - a condition has come to our attention that is caused by a diet too rich in certain fats - it's appearance mimicks a cataract but instead of being cloudy and within the eye, appears as a film on the surface. Our veterinary opthomologist feels this is reversible and preventable by feeding a quality, less "rich" diet. So the choice is yours as to what you feel is best for your pet. Another alternative is to add some vegetable oil to the diet. It's best to maintain smaller twice daily feedings throughout the dog's life. Wetting food may slow a dog that eats too fast for his own good.
Many Malamutes are ravenous eaters and world class "moochers" eliciting the ultimate in "I'm starving" looks and sad eyes. If allowed to, most will eat until they are extremely overweight. Overfeeding can exacerbate any slight potential toward hip dysplasia or other growth problems in young puppies, and heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems in older dogs. Therefore, a lean dog/puppy is healthier than a fat one. Of course you like to spoil your pets as much as we like to spoil ours. We feel some table scraps, as long as they include mostly meat or vegetables and only a small amount of fats or grains are permissible. Some people would not agree that you allow it, but if your dog lives in the house with you, he will want to eat what you eat. A small taste now and then will not hurt him, and may possibly improve the quality of his coat (making it shiny and healthy looking). Table scraps shouldn't include more than 15% of your dog's total diet which means licking a pretty empty plate is OK if you allow that. (Just don't heap it full of leftovers!) A terrific supplement and special treat is the oil or water from a can of Salmon or Tuna poured over your dog's regular food. Mals just love fish in any form (ours will raid the flaked goldfish food if it's left open), but be careful of bones which can lodge in the throat if you feed anything besides canned fish. If you wish to mix some canned food as a supplement to dry food, Mighty Dog, Iams or Pedigree is good. If you want to use treats for rewards, buy the smallest size you can find. An inexpensive way to give treats is to use free dog food samples from a brand of food your dog doesn't normally eat. It will be different and tasty, and the tiny size is perfect. And NO FREE TREATS! Make him do something for that tidbit a sit, a handshake, a down, a trick, something. Integrate his training into your lifestyle. Be careful, it's easy to get him fat and hooked on expecting a treat for anything he does!
Other good treats are Milkbones, Pig and Cow ears, Chew-Hooves and Raw Hides in moderation (they're great for cleaning the teeth). The colorful fancy "chipped" rawhides last about 2 seconds with Mals so we rarely buy those. If you buy the smaller flip chip rawhides be aware some dogs won't chew them, but will attempt to swallow them whole so don't buy a size too small. Very large rawhides may not work well in a multiple dog household as the Malamute may decide to scarf it down all at once or guard it from the other dogs. We don't buy "basted" rawhides because they stain the white fur (and carpet) and that goes for "chocolate" flavored ones too. A great low-cal treat is raw carrots or other raw vegetables. Most Mals love ice cubes on a hot day. Freeze a large plastic bowl for those really hot summer days. Your pup will love it. Even though you shouldn't much chips/cheese curls and toss the pup a goodie (and I admit we do it too), a very TINY piece will be just as appreciated as a whole chip. Too much "junk food" is no better for your dog than for you. You'll also notice that with more than one dog; proximity to you is a big deal when they're mooching. They may even rumble at each other and jockey for position. That's because higher ranked dogs exhibit their status by staying physically close to alpha.
ANYTHING FROM CHINA....don't buy it, don't feed it. It's not always easy to know which foods begin there because many are and then are packaged here. So do your research - you will have a healthier dog and no surprise 'recalls' if you avoid manufacturers that use Chinese ingredients because many of those ingredients are tainted with heavy metals and other poisons.
We haven't met a Mal yet that doesn't LOVE Pizza and the crust, but avoid large amounts of spicy dishes (like chili). Avoid large amounts of milk products, except yogurt, because some Malamutes are lactose-intolerant and can have gas or diarrhea problems from milk and ice cream. (No dairy cows we know of inhabited prehistoric Alaska). Also some well known dog foods use milk solids as the protein base and these foods could cause gas or diarrhea in a lactose intolerant dog and perhaps be life-threatening in a young puppy so it's best to avoid these foods. Many people don't realize chocolate is poisonous to dogs and onions may cause anemia. Be careful around anti-freeze it's very sweet tasting to dogs and less than a teaspoon can be lethal! NEVER give real bones of ANY kind unless RAW. And even then, in moderation unless you do it often as a change in diet can be upsetting to some dogs stomachs. (However, some Malamutes stomach's seem to be indestructible and nothing they eat dead critters, tennis balls and socks is upsetting in the least and just comes out the other end!). Some mushers swear by whole frozen chickens and other "natural" foods, but unless your dog does high performance work it's unnecessary. Cooked Chicken, Turkey and Pork bones will cause intestinal perforations. Even steak and other hard bones are dangerous to a Mal because they have such strong jaws so PLEASE don't give bones of any kind. The very large raw beef bones at the pet store present another problem some Mals will like them TOO much and tend to guard them even if they don't guard other treats.
A nylon web or leather, rolled or flat buckle collar is best for everyday wear. It tends to not get tangled in the coat as easily as other kinds of collars. We prefer a modified version of a buckle collar known as a "limited slip" it gives you the training advantage of a choker, without the damage to fur or danger of strangulation. The best kind of limited slip doesn't hang down when not being tightened. I usually buy them here. They have a nice big ring that's easy to find in heavy fur even with gloves on. Black Ice carries a nice sturdy and inexpensive version of this collar. Use a choker-type collar (chain or other material) ONLY when training and can supervise. Never use it when the dog is tied up, in a crate or on a trolley system. Dogs have strangled or broken their necks when tied with a choker on. Also, a choker chain collar worn as an every-day collar will eventually break the fur down right to skin, and possibly cause infection due to irritation.
Fit the web buckle collar slightly snug so the puppy can't slip out of it, but be sure to check it often because your pup is growing fast and it can easily become too tight! NEVER use a pinch collar on a Malamute. In most cases it is not necessary and is merely a lazy substitute for making the effort to train the dog properly. Do your job and work with your dog and you will not need to use these devices. If you need extra control, Halti-type collars are much more humane for an exuberant young teen that pulls. Once a dog is used to the halti or gentle leader style collar, and no longer attempts to remove it, even a young child can control a wildly exuberant dog on leash. Unlike a pinch collar that uses pain for control, halti's are based on the principal where the head goes, the dog will follow. They work. A dog cannot pull if it's head is turned to the side! Try it!
Get AT LEAST a large (36 x 24 x 26") for a female and extra large (40 x 27 x 30") for a male. The bigger the more comfortable the dog will be. Puppies grow fast and anything smaller is just wasting your money! Although you may want to use something such as a few boards through the crate to divide a large crate into a smaller one for a small puppy to facilitate potty training. We prefer plastic kennels for the house since the dogs seem to prefer them (more cave-like?), and folding wire crates are nice for travel (easy storage). Do not invest immediately in anything pillow-like for your crate; just leave the floors bare. Until your pup passes that destructive chewing stage at about 18 months, he'll just shred it and may possibly eat the pieces (intestinal blockages). Once past that stage carpet squares that can be tossed out when dirty or the old rubber backed bathroom rugs that can be thrown in the laundry to be cleaned work well (dangerous if eaten and not for chewers, however). Our dogs love an old bathroom rug because it probably smells comfortingly like "alpha's feet". A cleaning tip: If a plastic crate gets odorous, try wiping the inside with a solution of the stain/odor remover used for potty accidents the enzymes will remove the smell better than anything. If you inherit a wire crate that has some rust, it is ok to sand off the rust and paint with non-toxic (no lead) paint. You may want to replace a rusty pan as repainting may tend to flake off and you would't want your dog to ingest the pieces.
Most Mals are content to use a tile floor, their crate, a table "cave", or be "draft doggies" and will soak up the cool air coming in under the door in winter, so a bed is optional. In warm weather he'll pick the coolest spot in the house such as a basement or air-conditioned rooms and may IGNORE the soft cushy bed you bought him! Many mals prefer tile to carpet since he already has that nice thick coat for padding and it's cooler. He'll probably sleep everywhere EXCEPT the bed! But do show him a place he can call his own, in an out-of-the-way place, where nobody will bother him.
Anything you like is fine, we prefer stainless steel because they're indestructible and easy to clean. For a large male we recommend elevating the dish if possible. (Measure and buy a small bathroom wastebasket the correct size and set the dish inside the top edge or check out the various options from catalog suppliers). It helps prevent the swallowing of too much air when the dog eats especially if he gulps down his food. In lines that have a problem with bloat (gastric torsion) it is a small thing, but may prevent problems some day. Like anything, there are opposing opinions that feel a raised dish is MORE likely to cause bloat. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers and future research will tell. We had Homer and Hoover's raised as they seemed to be more comfortable with them up.
I like ½" wide, 6' leather leads like they require for obedience classes. The leather is easier on your hands and they last forever! Nylon works too, but is harder on the hands. Retractable Flexi-leads (they can be 20' and longer and retract into the handle) are nice too because your dog can wander a little further and still be under control but be careful you don't get it wrapped around a leg or finger - they can cause terrible cuts or burns. Be sure to get one strong enough for the dog your puppy will be when it grows up. Most of all, USE IT.
A shampoo formulated for dogs is excellent, but a gentle pH balanced baby shampoo is fine too. If you check catalogs there are dog shampoos of every kind and style all of which are also very expensive. If you want to order one of those, the kind formulated for "whites" work well with the Malamute coat. However, there is really no need to buy expensive dog shampoos unless your dog develops a skin or coat problem. In that case you'll want a specially formulated shampoo based upon the diagnosis and it's best to consult your veterinarian for suggestions. A normal coat will be just fine with a gentle baby shampoo - add a little laundry bluing and it really spruces up the whites!
Though they are fun to buy, they are a complete waste of money for a housedog. Before he will go in it, he'll ask to come in the house! After all, you are his pack and the house is his den. If you insist on still buying one, get one with a flat roof, as most Mals would rather hang out ON them than in them! Our dogs have no idea what that Dogloo is in the yard. The boys feel it is just the right size for marking their territory! In 25 years that's the only use it's had. Every so often someone will explore the interior but I have not had any of our dogs "hang out" there even in the pouring rain. They'd much rather stand as close to the back door as possible under the overhang cursing us to hurry up and let them in or walk around the yard oblivious to the pouring rain coming down in sheets. Dogloo? That's just a plastic hill you pee on!
SPAYING and NEUTERING
We have found before a female's first season (typically 5-9 months) is best and by 8-9 months in a male (before the hormones rage to 70 times adult levels, he discovers girls and gets an attitude). Research is starting to show there may be different alternatives. Male dogs will be more reliable family pets around young children if neutered early. Spaying/neutering can do a great deal for your puppy's health and personality which is why most breeders recommend it highly. Unless you are showing your dog or it is breeding quality, there is no reason for it to remain intact. Bitches will be less moody; it eliminates annoying "nesting" behaviors, false or accidental pregnancies, messy seasons, and serious diseases such as mammary tumors or uterine cancers. Males will not be as aggressive or inclined to roam when not driven by hormones, avoid testicular cancers, live longer and are less aggressive to other dogs and children. It will help relationships between other dogs. Many people wait to neuter until the dog becomes a problem, thinking that will solve his aggressiveness caused by lack of training and respect. Not so. It MAY help for same-sex dog related aggression, or hormone related seasonal aggression. But the truth is, if you fail to assert yourself before he reaches adulthood, he will never have enough respect for you to be reliable and neutering won't make much difference. Neutering is helpful if done early enough, before testosterone surges. However, you still have only about 4-6 months to lay the groundwork as a kind, fair alpha for the rest of his life.
After surgery, it is normal for your pup to be groggy for some time after anesthesia, since with a Malamute's slow metabolism it can take awhile to clear the bloodstream.
TATTOO'S and MICROCHIPS
If your puppy is tattooed or microchipped, in case of loss or theft, it's only acceptable legal proof the dog is yours. If your pet isn't identified with permanent ID the authorities won't get involved, and it becomes your word against another's if your pet is found or stolen and the holder doesn't want to return the dog. If the breeder didn't tattoo or microchip do it yourself. We did have a litter that couldn't be tattooed - whether it was the ink or their skin we'll never know but we tried 3 times and it flaked off each time. So, at this point, until we can find a tattoist that has better luck, we are microchipping and registering the pups with Home Again. Home again is a national registry run by the AKC so it is well known and well-supported. The negative side of chips is without a reader, or with a different brand of reader they may not be visible. It is inexpensive insurance your dog will have a chance to find it's way home should it ever become lost. The advantages and disadvantages of tattoos and microchips have been hotly debated. Some microchips may migrate to other parts of the body in a young dog. Microchips do not fade and become unreadable with time (besides, with a Mal, the area must be kept shaved clean to see it). Neither is the only answer. Best of all, keep identifying tags on your dog at all times that state it is microchipped or tattooed. Studies have shown most dogs are found by "neighbors" and few people will go to the trouble of flipping a strange dog over to look for a tattoo or taking the dog to a vet or shelter, which may or may not have the proper scanner. They will look at tags. In a rural area the vet or shelter may be some distance away.
In some states it is a felony to harbor a tattooed/microchipped dog more than 48 hours without contacting authorities and such identified animals are kept longer in shelters before being euthanized. It is also illegal in some states for shelters to sell tattooed animals to research laboratories. Malamutes are a hot item for theft because of a high pain threshold, strong desire to live, and are not a "barky" dog. This makes them very desirable for laboratory experimentation. There are unsavory characters out there that will steal your Malamute so it can be sold to a laboratory. Don't give them the opportunity.
If you tattoo, never use a social security number, AKC number or phone number as they are not permanent or traceable. An AKC number would allow an unscrupulous person to send for and get the papers proving ownership for YOUR dog! Ideally your registry will be well known and issue a unique number from any other dog, and have some coding that makes it identifiable to OTHER national registries. (What if the finder calls the wrong one?). Depending on what your breeder has done, you will need to transfer that registration into your name as directed. Be sure to keep the registry informed of any changes of address or phone number. This is crucial. If possible, leave the breeder's name and address as an alternate contact. Once we had a call from our registry that was supposed to be in Indiana! His home phone was disconnected they had moved. Fortunately I had other numbers for the family and we found his owners. They hadn't notified the registry of a change of address. If you wish to register your dog with a national registry, we would suggest the National Dog Registry (NDR) or the AKC's Home Again (they will register tattoos as well as microchips). If your pet is lost, however, don't depend only on the tattoo to get him home. Many Humane Societies don't automatically look for them, so you'll still need to keep a collar and tags on the dog at all times and keep the tattooed area trimmed and visible.
PUPPY-PROOFING THE HOME
There is no such thing as a "bad" puppy. It is up to the owner to be sure that the puppy understands appropriate behavior and that the house is safe and secure. Walk around on your hands and knees and look for electrical cords, low books (chewable), small toys and stuffed animals (chewable and swallowable), plants (digging and eating leaves), and other hazards. Our puppies in the past have had a penchant for paper from bathroom wastebaskets and like to eat soap. Temptation is food left on countertops/tables, accessible garbage, potted plants (which could be poisonous) to dig in or chew. Keep strings, yarn and thread away from puppies. A string obstruction of the intestine is a very serious surgical emergency) and other tiny swallowable objects (children's toys, needles, pens and pencils, pennies (toxic), safety pins, cotton balls, etc.,) and low open windows and screens that can be jumped through. Of course, don't forget the valuable breakables (we had a puppy once accidentally break a $400 Lladro, but they still love him! And we know a puppy (not ours) that chewed a $2,000 porcupine quill box). Don't leave this stuff out! Malamute puppies can have expensive tastes!
INTRODUCING YOUR PUP
TO OTHER DOGS
Before the puppy comes home, begin giving your first dog slightly less attention (so he will not resent the attention lost when the puppy comes home). Take home something with the litter's smell on it, so when the pup arrives, your older pet will recognize the puppy as a familiar smell. And if you've sent us something with the older pet's smell, the puppy will be familiar with him as well. All that's left is the introduction. It's best they be introduced on neutral territory. Have someone help, keep both on leash and go SLOWLY. Allow them time to sniff each other and make overtures to play. A Malamute puppy will usually submit (roll over on h is back or lick the older dog's face). The puppy is saying "I'm a baby, you're boss, don't hurt me". Most dogs will respect this and just sniff the puppy's anal area, ears, or other parts, possibly even offering a play bow. If there seems to be aggression keep the puppy crated where the older dog can smell it in your home, but can't get to it, taking introductions more slowly. Rarely are dogs aggressive to puppies but never leave them alone together unless puppy is safely crated. With more than one dog, each should have his own dishes, toys, and rawhides although it is normal for the dominant dog to take or steal from the nondominant dog (usually the puppy). This is OK. It should be allowed. Don't feel sorry for the puppy he understands what is happening and has no problem with it. Usually it's the owner that "feels sorry" for the "picked on" dog. You shouldn't. This is dog language establishing the dog leader and will prevent fights later on when the puppy grows up. If the adult dog(s) become truly obnoxious or you fear they will seriously hurt the pup by bullying, you can put limits on his behavior (use "enough!" and a muzzle hold). Mostly though, you should stay out of it. Your job is to allow them space to establish their pack order. The rule you need establish is "No Fights!" and ENFORCE IT. Male-male and female-female fights are most common. Male fights are usually a lot of show (and the alpha male may tend to bully), but female fights can be silent but deadly and are more serious. Bites to the muzzle are a "correction" but bites to the front legs are more serious. If there is even a hint of a fight, always correct both dogs. (We use "No Fights!") Be a raging ogre; use your dramatic acting. Pull the dog on top off by the tail or if possible the scruff/collar. Someone else may have to grab the other dog by the tail. Mals love a good fight and hate it to end. Your goal is they should be more scared of YOU than each other if they fight. Usually any disagreements will be minor and over food or toys. If both dogs get along well, it's typical for them to sometimes "trade" toys or rawhides. (You hand out rawhides and at the first opportunity they switch!) Always give the older dog/dogs preferential treatment (treats first, feed first, walk first, go through a door first, etc.), but be fair (everyone should get a treat eventually). Never give the pup more privileges than you give the adults and don't let him get away with things just because he's little or your older dogs will resent it.
The Malamute puppy respects this as you are reinforcing the status of the older dog as "alpha". Now reassure your older dog he's still loved with lots of extra attention. Also, two dogs are just two dogs, but three is a "pack" so the hierarchy and status so important to Malamutes anyway, is doubly important! The most likely time to have fights or arguments over food, toys and at stress times such as when you return home, company at the door, or when left alone. Displays of resentment by the older dog such as house soiling, chewing, and demanding your attention are common. He will get over it. You've just given him a "sibling" so some rivalry is normal! Each dog needs some attention alone so each can feel special and the pup doesn't become overly dependent on the older dog. Separate car rides or walks or staying home alone is a good experience.
Malamutes raised with cats will usually get along with them fine. When a puppy is introduced to a cat he thinks it's a littermate and may attempt to play-rank. Most cats will inform the Mal puppy (in no uncertain terms) "I am a CAT, don't bug me!" and the relationship is established. You'll need to supervise for awhile just to be sure the puppy doesn't harass the cat or the cat the puppy. He may enjoy chasing a cat he grows up with, but will rarely hurt it. If your Malamute puppy isn't raised with cats, it may always think of them as prey. Some people have found that Malamutes will love their indoor cats, yet hunt outdoor cats (because they aren't part of the official pack!) Feed your cat where the puppy can't steal his food and keep the litterbox inaccessible too as some dogs acquire a "taste" for cat poop if they can get at the litterbox.
FIRST NIGHT IN THE
If you didn't realize it before, you will now puppies take a LOT of time! They are like infants and need much attention, love and supervision in the first weeks after going home. You may not get much sleep the first couple of days. Ideally, if you both work, it is best if someone can be with the puppy full time for AT LEAST the first week, longer if possible. It's a good time to schedule vacation days. Your puppy will be confused and bewildered. For the first few days it's best to keep to immediate family ONLY. Sit on the floor and speak softly, avoid handling him too much and allow him to explore and discover his new surroundings. In the early days, a puppy's abdomen is delicate. Pick him up carefully, always supporting him with one hand under the rump, the other around his chest. Ideally your breeder will send home a toy that was played with by the puppies and has the comforting smell of "Mom" and his littermates. This may be comforting to your puppy if you let him snuggle with it. If you have children, keep their stuffed toys out of reach until he is old enough to know they are not his. A small cardboard box inside an adult-sized crate can be a comforting space for a young puppy. Expect a little crying or howling the first night, it's a big move to a new family! He is going to miss his littermates and may howl or chew to alleviate his anxiety. This is normal. Be patient and understanding, but firm. In a working family someone should come home at lunchtime (or more often) to let puppy out and play some. If you have another dog, you may be surprised to see her/him "mothering" the puppy. This is very common and a good sign. The adult may even seem to be teaching the pup some of the house rules. Then again, your other dog may ignore the puppy, and that's normal too. Keep older dogs apart from the puppy when you aren't home. Crate the puppy where the older dog can be near it. You might just find the older dog lying next to the crate watching over the puppy.
WORMING and COPROPHAGY (Poop Eating)
As your Malamute grows up, if you have not trained him to use a specific area, he may begin to use the perimeter of the yard. This is due to his wolf heritage of marking territory with feces. He is leaving signs to other dogs "THIS IS MY YARD NO TRESPASSING!" If you want him to use a specific area, you must take him to it (or carry him there if very young) EVERY TIME HE GOES OUT for several months. Also, if you move, you have to start over and teach all over again, he won't know where unless you teach him. If a previous dog used a certain area your Malamute may decide this is the best place to use too. On the other hand, some mals are fastidious and very territorial, preferring to potty where no dog (except perhaps their pack) has gone before! These dogs can hold it incredibly long and it's nothing to worry about unless it continues for more than a day or two.
Also, survival as a sled dog meant he used every available source of food. If feces are not picked up regularly, or he has access to other animal feces he MAY consume them. Not all Malamutes do this, but it is a trait present in all the northern breeds (The Inuit valued it highly, although we do not!). It is also a learned behavior. If you have one dog that eats feces, before long the rest probably will. Have your veterinarian check a fecal sample regularly, and worm if necessary. He is most likely to get worms from wild animals or the droppings of other dogs (so walk him on leash). If no dogs in your household have worms, he can't get them from eating their feces. A product called "For-Bid" in his food discourages this temporarily, as does spraying feces in the yard with bitter apple or chili pepper or muzzling the dog when he goes out, but the effect is usually temporary. Correction is difficult and usually doesn't work. NEVER worm with over the counter products (they are not as effective as a prescription product from the vet, anyway) and never worm without a stool check from the veterinarian first. A friend almost killed her dog that way. Her dog had a tooth abscess and she just assumed worms were making him feel sluggish and tired. Blood poisoning and the worm medication (which IS a type of poison lethal to parasites) almost killed him. If the dog isn't acting "right" get a veterinarian's opinion.
Malamutes are VERY stoic dogs and it's often difficult to tell when they hurt or are in pain (they just won't tell). This is particularly true if you have more than one dog in the household. It's also common for a Malamute to act very sick at home, but suddenly seem "well" at the vet's. It's important to find a vet that understands this behavior and will realize your dog may not "act" sick in his presence, but IS. It goes back to the wolf ancestry of not wanting other wolves to know they are in a weakened condition, or they may be attacked and killed by the pack. They will only show weakness to those they truly trust and feel safe with and the veterinarian is usually not in this category. If you know your dog is not well, but the veterinarian insists he seems fine get a second opinion. You may have a vet that does not understand this common pack behavior.
Alaskan Malamutes have a very strong jaw. Most plastic or vynal toys can be easily torn into pieces by a Malamute and swallowed. Yet, Mals LOVE any toy that squeaks. We've found the best solution is at first supervise play with child-safe toys (no metal squeakers or soft-latex type toys that can be swallowed whole). If he begins to shred, take it away. If the breeder introduced your pup to many different types of toys, perhaps even a small wading pool, you shouldn't have serious problems since he knows what toys are for and will rarely eat the pieces. Avoid artificially "flavored" plastic toys as these may seem editable to your Malamute. (Often kennel-raised puppies don't and will eat socks, toys, virtually anything that blows into their pen and are often untrustworthy in this sense in the house. It will take time to teach them and some seem to never really know what they are NOT supposed to eat.) Toys with squeakers may last only 5-10 minutes, but how they love those few minutes! I've seen dogs with an old favorite happily enjoying an imaginary squeak. Buy baby-safe squeakies inexpensively at garage sales. Avoid the ones with the small metal part as it can become lodged in the throat. Your puppy needs toys if you don't want the house chewed up, so a cardboard box filled with knotted rawhides, booda-bones, balls, Kongs, chew-hooves or safe squeakies should be accessible to the puppy at all times. When you aren't home, it is wise to remove those toys he may shred and eat, however. We've noticed a preference in our puppies for stealing socks and underwear. Usually it isn't chewed, just stolen to cuddle with. We've decided it must feel comforting to have the smell of a loved on to snuggle with. Some puppies make it a "chase game" and this shouldn't be allowed. If a puppy steals or begins to chew something he shouldn't (personally we think the sock thing is funny as long as it doesn't get out of hand!), take it away with a firm, loud "NO!" and replace it with a toy from his toybox and a happy "GOOD DOG!" Before long your puppy will go looking in his toybox for something when the urge to chew or play strikes. Don't let puppies chew shoes, homemade sock toys, or other clothing or he will go looking for them in your closet too.
WINTER, SUMMER and PUPPY COATS
Malamute puppies are born with a really dense coat that insulates them from the weather, but puppies still chill easily. Depending upon where you live, your adult dog will eventually have a lot or little undercoat. It is not advisable to "shave down" a Malamute just because you live in a warmer climate (even a Woolie should not be shaved however, it is permissible to "trim" a Woolie, especially around the rear, belly and legs to make maintenance and combing easier and prevent matts). The guard coat's purpose is to insulate against cold AND heat. Besides, why did you get such a beautiful coated breed if your intention is to shave him? All it does is embarrass the dog (yes, Malamutes are very sensitive about this). Your Malamute will want to look nice though some woolies may welcome a trim as relief from oppressive heat in the south.
Gradually he will blow out the warm puppy undercoat and never really get it back as thick if you live in a warm climate. A housedog will also never have the dense undercoat an outdoor dog, especially one in a cold climate, will have so keep this in mind if you decide to leave him outdoors for longer periods than usual in cold weather. You must allow him to gradually increase coat. He is not AUTOMATICALLY good for 70 below! Young puppies can't be outdoors for long periods, and adult dogs without gradually allowing for increase in coat will be COLD. Also, a dog that spends a good part of the day outdoors may pant indoors. All of our Malamutes, regardless of coat seem to have what we call the "toilet" gene. They will always search out a cool spot in the house, usually near the toilet, on ceramic tile or even in the bathtub to snooze. If you have a basement, it will be well utilized. This doesn't mean he's hot and wants to be an outside dog rather than with you it just means he's a Malamute!!!
We've begun to get your pup used to grooming by combing him/her daily and trimming nails often. You'll need a "rake" or comb, a long-pinned brush and slicker brush (the one with the little short needles packed together). We suggest a routine of combing the hair with a rake once a day (it usually only takes 5-10 minutes unless you have an excessively thick coat) and using the pin brush or slicker for quick touch ups. You MUST get the dead undercoat out or your dog will still leave hair everywhere in the house and the coat will never look good. You must brush down to the skin, with the collar off. He may protest, but it's most important to comb the belly, armpits, breaches (behind and back of rear legs) and collar area thoroughly or it may matt if neglected. Never wash a dog that has matts as they will tighten and have to be cut out. Severe matting can actually rip the skin! It is better to comb the dog before bathing to prevent problems. Comb DEEPLY at least three times a week, more often during heavy shedding to prevent skin problems. If you leave a "choker" chain on as the dog's everyday collar you will find after awhile it begins to break the fur, eventually leaving a red, raw hairless area on the dog's neck that can become infected. A nylon buckle, rolled leather, or "limited slip" collar (available from the Black Ice Catalog), removed during combing damages the coat least. A shedding blade used gently with the direction of hair growth on the surface of certain types of coat can help pull out the loose dead fur during seasonal heavy shedding. It will NOT work on a woolie coat or coat that has some "wavy" guard hair. If in doubt, ask us. Used improperly, it can damage coat as well. If you have a woolie, a daily grooming routine is even more important as it is easy to "get away from you" if you skip a few days and discover the fur has matted into a massive project. It's much easier on you and the dog to comb a bit each day rather one large miserable trip to the groomers!
Grooming time is a good time to inspect for burrs, fleas, ticks, hot spots, or any other skin problems. Older dogs will sometimes acquire benign growths and bumps on the skin so be careful as you comb so you don't catch these. It's a good idea to have the vet check the dog during a routine visit. While usually benign and very common in older dogs, rarely they may grow, bleed or become cancerous. So it's good to double check. If the weather has been humid, damp or rainy the likelihood of hotspots increases especially in areas where the skin remains damp elbows, back, and neck. They can occur anywhere the dog becomes damp and the skin doesn't get a chance to dry. If you take the dog swimming, it is best to dry the dog with a blowdryer afterwards.
If you give a small treat after every combing, your dog will come to love grooming and even ask for it! Mals are vain and their beautiful double coat is their crowing glory. They love to strut when they know they look gorgeous and you'll be the recipient of the compliments and admiration when people take notice of your "beautiful dog" because he's been groomed often and his coat shines with health.
We suggest puppies get a bath often, but be sure to dry well and don't let them get chilled. All moisture MUST be removed form near the skin or sores called "hot spots" can develop. These are bacterial infections caused by the dampness held against the skin. They start as red areas, soon become raw, ooze and the hair falls out if not treated. If you can't take the time to dry the puppy/dog, DON'T BATHE HIM! If a hot spot does develop, first dry the area thoroughly then apply "Desenex" cream the product used for athlete's foot. Other products may work well too, such as Sulfadene shampoo and tea bags, but we've always liked Desenex best. And keep the area dry! A canister vacuum with a clean hose and new bag on blow makes a great high velocity dryer. Many Mals love to swim, but be sure the hair is completely dry before the dog goes to bed or you may have a hot spot by morning where he laid. We suggest puppy baths as often as monthly or even bi-weekly if you have the time. First, because puppy coat seems to get dirty quicker and second, because it's easier to bathe a full-grown Mal if they have become used to the fact that they've gotten regular baths since puppyhood. Again, a small special treat after the bath and drying can go a long way toward convincing a Mal a bath is a fun thing to do. An older dog doesn't need a bath nearly as often, especially if brushed regularly. A dog kept clean as a puppy learns to like feeling clean and will usually try and avoid getting dirty as an adult. Adult fur is also more dirt-repellant. A warm bath is also useful to help along a coat that is almost ready to "blow".
NAILS and FEET
Nails need to be trimmed anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on how fast they grow. Puppies will need clipping weekly; an adult can usually go 2-3 weeks before needing attention. You'll need a pair of heavy-duty nail clippers (not the guillotine type) and a file. A pair of $1 people clippers is best for a small puppy, but he will soon outgrow them! If your puppy's feet are handled often, which we've already started, nail cutting time will be nor more stressful for your pup than any other grooming procedure. It's better to cut a little bit, more often, than to let the nails get long and do too much at once. It's easier to cut the painful "quick" or vein when the nails are long and neglected. Each time the nail is cut, the quick recedes a little and the next time is easier. When kept up, you will rarely nip them too close. Dogs that have to endure painful long nails, and the clipping of them too close because they were neglected, soon become dogs that fight you about nail clipping. A dog whose nails are maintained regularly and not hurt by the clipping will usually cooperate magnificently for a cookie!
White nails are easy cut to just before the pink vein. Often there is a little "ledge" that hangs over you can use to judge how much to snip each time. Dark nails are harder it's best to only cut as much as you did on the white nails. In nails cut weekly, the quick will not grow too long and the likelihood of hitting the vein is lessened. If nicked, it will usually bleed profusely and styptic powder (Kwik-Stop) or plain old white flour from the kitchen works well to stop the bleeding. Inspect and handle your puppy's feet often. A well-groomed Malamute will also have the hair on the footpads trimmed, for a neat appearance (and he'll track in less dirt too). We usually do both at the same time. Sometimes puppies will willingly let you cut nails but not trim fuzzy feet that's because it TICKLES!
Investing in a fence not only keeps your Malamute home, it lessens your chances of a flea invasion since infested animals can't easily wander through your yard leaving behind eggs. If you brush your dog daily, you lessen the chance this problem can get out of control. Vacuum often to get any eggs in the carpet. We will give a flea bath to all the dogs at the first sign of a flea or "flea dirt" (gritty black specks which are flea feces). Consult your vet first if your puppy is still very young. Flea "Dips" can be dangerous to any dog if done improperly. Puppies should never wear flea collars. The poison in them is too toxic. Some have found the flea pill "Program" helpful, although they only kill fleas in one stage of development but will NOT kill adult fleas or eggs only the larvae that feed off the dog's blood. If you have a severe problem, it won't be enough. Brewer's yeast added to dog food often helps prevent fleas as it apparently has an unpleasant odor to bugs and is undetectable to humans. If you find more than a couple of fleas, you must spray the yard and places in the home where the dog "hangs out". That's how we avoid problems. Pyrethrums, Permethrins, and Carbaryl are the safest chemical flea product ingredients. Many owners swear by a product called Adams Flea and Tick Killer Spray. I understand it smells nice and repels fleas and ticks well, although you still have to pick off any ticks that manage to latch on anyway. With ticks, be sure to get the mouthpart or it may cause irritation. Check between the pads of the feet too a popular place for ticks to hide. Deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease so if this is prevalent in your area, or you visit woody park areas with deer, you may want to get the vaccination for it.
Dogs get cavities too! Avoid sweets and sugars to prevent this. We've found it easy to just give the dogs rawhides 2-3 times a week and have found it keeps the teeth very clean. If you prefer, there are many "doggie" toothbrush and toothpaste products on the market. People toothpaste can cause stomach upset. Wiping the teeth weekly with a piece of gauze is helpful in removing plaque, and eating the fruit that falls off apple and pear trees will stain teeth a lovely shade of brown no canine dentist can remove easily. If a dog gets really bad breath it's time for a vet check and cleaning. Homer once cracked a front tooth right down the center exposing the root. Because he is a stalwart Malamute, he never let on he was in pain (yet he HAD to be!). We only found it because we inspect the dogs' mouths regularly for chips, cuts and discoloration. A situation like Homer's needs immediate treatment to prevent serious infection. A safety tip is to remove all can tops completely before putting them in the trash. Shadow once "found" a can in the trash and got his tongue stuck behind a partially removed lid which was VERY difficult to remove without cutting off his tongue. So remove lids and bury cans deep in the trash!
Puppies begin to lose their baby teeth and begin to acquire permanent ones at 4-5 months. Occasionally puppies have problems with retained puppy teeth. Ordinarily, if left alone, they will come out. However, a baby tooth will need to be pulled if the interference causes problems with the puppy's permanent tooth alignment.
Malamute ears are basically self-cleaning and need little care. If he's been "hunting" or playing roughly with other dogs you may want to check for scratches that bleed and leave a brown goo in the ear. This can be carefully cleaned with peroxide and a cotton ball. A dog that paws it's ears, shakes it's head or the ears smell bad probably has an ear infection or something lodged inside and needs immediate veterinary attention. Ear infections can be very painful (and of course, the Malamute won't tell). Dog ear canals aren't straight like human ones so it's difficult to look deeply for problems without the proper equipment.
POTTY and CRATE TRAINING YOUR PUPPY IN THE HOUSE
We have started "potty training" for you. We use old towels and they've become used to going on them and outdoors. We've found the puppies stay cleaner using old towels rather than newspaper and once you pick up and throw out the poop, it's just another load in the laundry to keep up (If you've ever stepped in a puddle on newspaper Yeech! you'll understand why we use old towels). Some of the puppies are even asking to go outside, but not consistently. You cannot expect that for several weeks yet. He will need to relieve himself once at least every two hours at first until he begins to be capable of more control. He will also need to go out about 10-20 minutes after play or a meal.
We've also begun crate training at bedtime. Using a crate takes advantage of your puppy's natural tendency not to soil his den. No puppy wants to soil where he sleeps. If the crate is adult sized (which is ok) and he is having accidents in it, you'll want to temporarily divide it (with boards, chicken wire, etc), to give him just enough room to stand, turn around and lie down. Do not leave food or water IN the crate for him. Don't leave his food out so he can feed freely, as his need to eliminate will be in relation to when he is fed. He will need to go out shortly after each feeding and at least every 2-3 hours in between too. At bedtime withhold food and water after 8:00 p.m. At 11:00 p.m. take him out one last time and put the puppy in his crate with his toys but NO food or water. (Don't use towels for bedding or he will be tempted to use them a flat cool surface is best). If possible, place the crate in your bedroom (he'll feel more secure being near you). Only take him out if you suspect the nighttime crying is to go potty. If you feel he is crying JUST to get out, be strong, or he will learn screaming and crying to get out will get him what he wants and you might end up with an obnoxious brat (Shadow learned this trick ugh!).
Never keep the pup's collar on in the crate. Have it nearby to slip on if you need to take him outside, but not in the crate. Dogs have strangled when they've gotten caught on something and panicked particularly dangerous are choke-type collars (which should only be used during training class anyway). The pups have basically slept through the night until about 6:00 am (yes, just like a baby). In the morning CARRY the puppy to the spot you want to be the "bathroom" (if you only take him as far as the back porch, that's where he'll learn to go). Set him down and say "GO POTTY name-" several times in a happy voice. When he finally goes, praise profusely, especially using the words "GOOD POTTY name-"! Then play with, feed and water. Pay attention to the signals that say he needs to go out again after eating. If he begins to circle, sniff the floor, whine, or get that uncomfortable look he has to go out. After anticipating his needs correctly several he will begin to get the idea and ask in his own way. Some puppies stand by a certain door, some paw the door, some whine, some bark, some come to you and "look" you in the eye to get you to read their minds. Each puppy will develop his own way of asking so be aware and look for his signal.
Some owners have successfully put the training towel in the area outside you expect him to go to as a cue that "this is the place" (you still have to take him to it). Expect accidents even if you are judiciously consistent in your training. If you see an "accident' in progress, a surprise scruff shake and stern "NO!" is very effective. DO NOT punish an accident you didn't see happen! The puppy will only become confused. DO NOT "rub his nose" in it that's just cruel and teaches him it's ok to be dirty. It's your praise when he asks and goes in the correct place that potty trains a puppy.
Only return him to his crate when you can't watch him closely. If you follow this routine you will painlessly teach your puppy his new name, to be housebroken, AND he will learn to "go potty" in a place of your choice on command (handy when traveling). If you have a potty "accident" with an OLDER puppy, and have a difficult time catching him in the act and are sure WHICH dog did the deed in a multiple dog household you can correct after the fact. Here's how. Take him to the spot, show him what he did (no nose rubbing). Make an angry display of "NO POTTY IN THE HOUSE! No Scruff shake, no hitting, just your dramatics are all that's allowed if you didn't correct while it was happening. And no correction is allowed if it's YOUR fault and you left the puppy too long with out a chance to go out, even if he didn't ask. In that case YOU get the scruff shake!
Crate training can help you train a puppy, but do not overuse it. If you work and the puppy will be alone for long periods it would be unfair to keep him confined the entire time and at bedtime too. In this case it's best to keep the puppy in a small, confined and safe area at bedtime or when you go out. Potty training will not go as quickly since the puppy has no one available to help him learn by taking him outside immediately. He will not be as compelled to "hold it' since he is able to move away from the accident. While the puppy is still very young, it would be advisable to continue using his "towel" while you are at work since he may not be able to wait until you are able to come home to let him out. Although a Malamute puppy will go to great lengths to avoid soiling himself, he will not consider your carpet as sacred. Accidents on carpets or floors are best removed by a pet stain and odor remover that contains ENZYMES (Nature's Recipe or Four Paws Professional Stain and Odor Remover work well). It will remove the desire for the puppy to return to the same place again and again. Males may begin to lift a leg around 8-10 months old, about when the male hormones begin to kick-in, sometimes sooner with a "role model".
Never play "tough dog" games, getting the puppy all worked up, growly and barking in a rough game of tug or aggressive wrestling. A rough game of tug or wrestle is a contest between equals to a Malamute. Dominant wolves observe action benignly they lead it, direct it, or correct it but do not become a playmate. Rough play can make some dogs aggressive, particularly "pushy" puppies. A Malamute is a strong and powerful dog you don't want him to think he can be aggressive to you or anyone else. Rough handling can bring on aggressiveness in highly active dogs, whereas gentle play has a calming effect on all dogs. A GENTLE game of tug, or a GENTLE game of wrestle with "play bows" and "pin the puppy" is probably ok with a non-dominant puppy, if YOU make the decision when to stop (not the puppy). Malamutes are rarely inspired by balls or retrieving like other breeds. If he'll bring it back once or twice you've done well. Some people feel the dog should NEVER put his teeth on you for any reason. We feel little gentle ear nibbles are a way of showing affection, IF you don't let it get rough and tell your puppy when to quit. Do not ever allow tugging or chewing on clothing, or jumping over children. NEVER let your puppy or adolescent put his teeth around an arm (this is a dominant gesture and shouldn't be allowed for any reason). It's best to never allow your dog/puppy to put teeth on children at all or he may think he's allowed to "correct" their behavior when he wants to. The best games are catch and ball, fetch (although don't expect him to "fetch" for long dragging something across the floor so he can pounce on it not appropriate if there's a baby in the house), hide n' seek is fun (tell dog to stay while someone hides with a treat, say "Go Find ---", when he finds the person he gets the treat if he does well you may consider taking his education to the max and learning to track "for real" they do use Malamutes occasionally for search and rescue tracking), teach tricks for small treats such as roll over, speak, sit up, shake hands, make up your own! Malamutes are very creative one day you'll suddenly realize he's make up a game rules and all he'd like you to play with him.
RETURN HOME GREETINGS
When you return home from work or shopping greet your uppity teenager or adult by clasping a hand over the top of his muzzle and give him a warm hug with your chin over his head. This is how the alpha wolf would greet a subordinate and a really neat way of reassuring him you're home and in charge and everything's ok.
TRAINING and MOTIVATION
If you fail to train your Malamute actively, it is PERMISSION to do as he pleases. You'll need a good book on basic training and to attend a puppy kindergarten class or beginning obedience with your puppy. "Sending the dog out to be trained" without the owner involved is a waste. Find a class that uses POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT METHODS. If the trainer suggests a pinch collar or feels overly negative about Malamutes run! Many trainers are knowledgeable about how to train Labs, Goldens, Shepherds etc. but are totally ignorant about how to motivate a Malamute. Malamutes are very intelligent. A lot of jerking on the collar just doesn't impress them. In fact, it's apt to make them decide you're stupid. You need to talk to them a lot, work out your relationship. Let them know you're the head of the pack. Training collars and halters are useful only in that they're just signals. To a Malamute they're not punishment or a correction. They are just a reminder. So is food. Don't be overly dependent on food training however, as it tends to sidestep the issue of "alpha" and food rewards will steal the dog's attention rather than allowing it to be captured by the excitement of learning. A Malamute understands that the sits, the downs, are all a game. You can't "obedience train" a Malamute because they don't really "obey". They're a dog that, when pulling a sled, will override you if you make a dumb decision. In obedience, they do what you want because they like you and want to please you, but it isn't obedience. It's cooperation. So they just don't train the same as other breeds. The challenge is motivation. You must inspire them to want to do things for you; punitive punishment or force never works. Trainers that use shake cans and water spray bottles for training are likely to be disappointed. A Malamute is often unimpressed by these silly training methods, and ours think the spray bottle is a terrific playtime activity! Repetitive drills bore them. Unless you plan to do serious competitive obedience work, it can be frustrating to expect perfect sits (Mals are notoriously sloppy sitters!), precision heeling, or instant mindless response. Dogs don't learn from lectures (they use the "off" button), since to them it sounds like "bla bla bla bla bla bla". And you can't "shame" a dog into doing right (such as rubbing his nose in a potty accident). It doesn't work because shame is connected to conscience, and dogs don't really have one. Dogs look at things differently than we do, everything is either "alpha is happy" or "alpha is upset". When you return home to a chewed sofa, or poop on the carpet, what we think of as guilt (ears back, rolling on his back) is merely the dog sensing your anger and showing submission. It's the "dog way" of making everything right again. All he knows is he doesn't want you mad at him, and has no idea what made you angry. If you punish him at this point, he'll think you're crazy, inconsistent and not worth listening to. After all, he was doing what dogs are supposed to do submitting to make you (alpha) happy! You obviously don't know what you're doing (from his point of view) and don't deserve his respect or obedience.
What motivates a Malamute? Respect for and praise from a worthy owner most of all, then food, comfort, social attention, possibly fun and games. Malamutes need to begin training as soon as they begin moving around and interacting with littermates. You need to begin working on the simple basics as soon as you bring him home. Puppy/obedience classes should be taken when he's ¾ months (not 6 like most breeds). Malamutes that acquire a bad habit or behavior as puppies are almost impossible to break of it. It's better to lead and show him what you expect right away than let his behavior get out of hand and expect to "take obedience" and "fix" it later. If you fear being "dominant" over your Mal because you fear you will lose his love, you are WRONG! There is nothing more attractive and adored as the one recognized as worthy of leadership to a Malamute his Alpha. From this hierarchy he draws his security, his sense of belonging, his sense of place.
The areas you will have to work on most with your Malamute puppy are stealing food, getting in the garbage, comes, crotch sniffing or jumping on guests, digging outside and for the tidbit that falls under the sofa, occasional grumbling, aggression toward other dogs and food guarding. These will be on going areas of training, needing remedial work throughout the dog's life. Education should never end, for you or your dog.
The most important thing is to remember YOU are the ALPHA the pack leader, the BOSS, the one that makes the one that makes up the rules. Alphas arbitrarily do things to reinforce their dominance over pack members (your puppy). Your voice and gestures are very important. Praise should be high-pitched and happy, a correction should sound deep and angry. Women are usually great praisers but have trouble getting the dog to listen to a correction because it's not said deep and firm enough. Men have deeper voices when it comes to a "no" but often don't praise enough for good behavior. Think about it until your puppy learns what the words mean the only way he is sure something is good or bad is the tone of your voice. So make the goods and bads distinctly different. As Alpha you must also enforce what you ask. If you tell him come and he doesn't, go get him. If you tell him sit and he doesn't, guide him into position. If you don't want to be bothered following up DON'T ASK. If he feels you won't enforce your requests, he will begin to stop listening and do what he wants and lose a little respect for you along the way. Some easy tricks to help reinforce your alpha-ness are pinning (described below), staring at the puppy until it looks away (you must NEVER look away first, no matter how long it takes adolescents will sometimes attempt to stare you down), tell him to "move" rather than walk around him (nudge him with a foot under the butt if necessary), and teach your pup to "SHAKE HANDS", "DOWN" and "STAY" all submissive gestures. Using these things at your whim or if the puppy is getting growly, aggressive or over-excited in play and you are painlessly reinforcing your status as boss. Do these exercises several times a day, more often to a young puppy or one entering adolescence (about 6-10 months old) and you will have fewer problems. Let children pin a puppy (under supervision), or teach the puppy a trick. This will reinforce the child's dominance over the puppy. Always supervise though. Also, a bad habit to get into is letting the dog sleep on your bed. (Sleeping in the bedroom is OK). Sharing the bed says he's an equal, which some Mals take to mean he's superior the start of behavior problems. You can invite him up occasionally and tell him to leave with "OFF", but it's a bad idea to let him EXPECT to sleep there whenever he wants.
You'll notice a period sometime between 4-10 months when your puppy may become fearful of things that wouldn't have bothered him before, (with Homer it was ceiling fans and Penny trash bags!) These are fear periods. Some puppies go through them more intensely than others. If your puppy shows fear of something, DO NOT COMFORT HIM. No stroking, holding, petting, baby talk. By comforting, you are rewarding the fear. It's best to matter-of-factly ignore his fear, showing him your confidence. By doing so you show him there is nothing wrong. A really spooked puppy may need something else to do to cope an obedience command to sit or down can be helpful and allow him to deal with his fear for he must focus on you instead of the scary situation.
While your puppy is young he will sleep a lot. He needs this to recharge. If your puppy suddenly gets "antisocial" and wants to go off somewhere to chew a rawhide quietly or take a nap let him. (Pay attention to what he's doing however, it may be a chance to get into mischief too). Older dogs will do this too when overwhelmed by children, or when they just need some time alone. Allow him this. Provide him a space (his crate is good) where he won't be disturbed. Teach children to recognize when the dog needs to be left alone. A dog that is pestered beyond his limits is more likely to growl and bite. (Don't you get crabby when you're overtired?)
As your puppy becomes older he may begin to test your "alphaness". Some puppies never or rarely test. If you have children he may test them as well, since he will think of them as littermates. If may begin with a low grumbly-growl when eating or guarding a rawhide or toy. Any member of the family should be able to take away toys or look in his mouth for foreign objects. (You can open the dog's mouth by holding the muzzle and pressing the cheeks into the teeth, then pull down on the lower jaw to open). If you take a chewy, food or toy away and he doesn't complain, praise him generously, give it back, then LEAVE HIM ALONE to enjoy it. If he should growl, reprimand him (either verbally or a scruff shake if necessary), then LEAVE HIM ALONE. Don't keep taking it away to "test" his reaction. Doing so will undermine his trust in you and he will guard more than ever. Corrected immediately and consistently, it won't progress to out-and-out growls and the dog biting to protect his food or toy. Another trick is to add something especially yummy to his food dish occasionally while he's eating and praise him for letting you add it without grumbles (correct him if he does). He needs to know ALL members of the family are above him in the pack, not equals. Let older kids correct too (under supervision). Mals will outgrow guarding behavior if corrected consistently and well, but grumbly behavior sometimes reappears intermittently in adolescence (6-10 months) and with some pups again at 1 or 2 years. At this age some pups will go through a stage of getting into "trouble", seeming to forget everything they've learned so far. A dog that was previously an angel in the house becomes a brat. Chewing, digging, getting in the garbage, escaping from the yard, anything is possible. Congratulations, you have a teenager! Try to anticipate (you know when he gets that sneaky look) and be ready with a loud NO GARBAGE (or NO DIG, etc.). If he's persistent and No's don't work, move up to a scruff shake again. Teens can be very stubborn, if a scruff shake doesn't work after a few tries, use a scruff shake, "NO" and time out together. ALWAYS USE THE SOFTEST CORRECTION THAT WORKS! (Unless it's a serious offense he stole the expensive roast from right in front of you then you'll want to make a big impression IMMEDIATELY).
Scruff Shake on a Puppy
Hold the skin behind the shoulders and lift the puppy off the ground. GENTLY shake until the puppy whimpers, screams, or otherwise shows you he's gotten the point. Even if you don't get a response, give a few shakes and put the puppy down. You don't want to hurt the pup, just make a point. Some pups are screamers and will react like they are being murdered, others won't say a word but get the point anyway. Most will need several corrections to get the point, trying the unwanted behavior again in a few days to see if you're still serious. After all, they're Malamutes and persistent.
Scruff Shake on an Adult
This is for serious offenses ONLY like fighting, food stealing, growling at you. Hopefully by now, if you've corrected your puppy enough and correctly so that most problems are few and far between. You should rarely need to do this. Grab the collar and lift his front feet off the ground. (All the while dramatically and gruffly telling him NO). Shake him from side to side with his back feet on the ground. Then, if necessary, pin him to the floor until he relaxes. (One back leg should be straight back as a gesture of submission). Don't forget the dramatic acting "NO, BAD DOG, BLA BLA BLA".
This technique has been very "overrated" with some as the solution to everything. Fortunately, dog trainers are moving away from this antiquated technique. Used in conjunction with other good corrections it works well, but it's only one tool and should not be overused. This is used for an over-excited, hyper puppy. Use for a pushy and dominant adolescent testing you, perhaps trying to "hold" your arm or refusing to cooperate when you are grooming. This is not a correction for a dog that actively steals your sandwich or pottied in the house. To do it properly there should be just firm pressure no pounding, no aggression on your part. Hold the puppy (or young adult) still with one hand on the neck and the other on the back thigh with the puppy on his side. Hold him firmly until he relaxes. If he struggles, just maintain your hold and be patient. This is NOT to be a battle of wills and you cannot lose your temper because if it becomes that, the dog will always win. If it is an adolescent, you may have to gently SIT on him (of course you don't put your entire weight on him, but sometimes it helps to position your body over the dog). You must be firm, in control, and calm. You'll know true "submission" because a back leg will be straight. Some pups are good at "faking it" and will LOOK like they're submitting by lying still and pretending to relax, some even stick the leg out, but if you should closely and be sure before you let the pup up.
DIGGING and MUDDY FEET
With an outside dog, this is never a problem, but when you have large dogs in your house and possibly wall-to-wall carpeting it becomes an issue. All dogs get muddy feet just like you would from running around the yard. On a wet spring day it's almost unavoidable. However, some dogs go looking for puddles or like to dig mud holes. ONLY teach this if you don't allow digging or you will just confuse the dog! You can't expect to let him dig and NOT get his feet dirty, but if you don't allow digging you can also expect him to stay reasonably clean (and no, I don't mean you can buy white carpet either!). We don't allow digging, so if we are letting in a dog and his feet are muddy we point it out to him and say "NO MUDDY FEET" in an annoyed voice, then wipe off the dirt, even if it's a day he really can't help it much. No further punishment allowed. If you're consistent from puppyhood many dogs will be more careful about where they walk and will try to avoid getting their feet too muddy. It also helps the dog if you keep the fur on his pads short and neatly trimmed. To teach a puppy not to dig (and you better do it now or don't bother!) you must supervise when the puppy is outdoors. The instant he begins to paw at the ground, give a scruff shake and bellow "NO DIG". Put a large rock in the hole to discourage further digging. A really persistent puppy will need several reminders and must be caught in the act each time (so you MUST supervise). Do not chase him around the yard though if he sees you coming and runs just shout NO DIG and wait for NEXT time. You must correct immediately AS HE IS DIGGING.
After all this pinning and shaking you probably wonder "what is positive reinforcement"? It means you reward behavior you desire, and ignore or shun behavior you dislike. Positive reinforcement for dogs is a treat, a happy voiced "good dog", some attention and a few pats. It can be a hug, a head rub, playtime. Negative reinforcement is a gruff voice "BAD DOG", isolation from the pack (which are OK to use), but also includes hitting, kicking, screaming, beating and others (which are NOT OK). Never hit a Mal, he will only resent you, often the behavior will worsen. He may even bit at you because he feels your way of correcting is "unfair" from a dog point of view. (Dogs don't hit each other to discipline). You must be a teacher and correct as his mom would. If corrections are done with conviction and consistency the puppy will learn. PRAISE for any behavior you want repeated, even if you forced him to do it against his will! And, be confident. If you're not sure what you want, he won't be sure what you want either. Play with your puppy. Praise his beauty, his behavior, his good manners. Through play he will learn allot about what you want him to be by the way you play whether it is gentle and quiet, or rough and rowdy.
Timing is most important. The reinforcement (positive OR negative) MUST be used while the dog is DOING the behavior it is useless an instant before or after. You can "shape" your dog's behavior entirely without punishment. Dogs really don't understand punishment. The difference between being a "correction" is deliberate, done at the moment of the misdeed and is not meant to hurt, but to teach. "Punishment" is done after the fact, out of anger or to "get even" and make the dog "pay". The purpose is to cause pain and remorse. Malamutes are big risk takers and if they feel you are being unfair may snarl, snap or growl out of frustration. A few will cower, submit or refuse to do ANYTHING (why they're said to be "stubborn"). You'll never get remorse. The natural reaction is to get angrier because the dog "still won't do what I want" and punish more, and before you know it you have a "mean dog" that doesn't respect you enough to listen at all. A better way is to reward behavior you want.
One method is extinction. If you don't like the behavior, ignore it often difficult to do. Don't reward a behavior you don't like by acknowledging it in ANY way and it will EVENTUALLY go away. This method takes patience and isn't appropriate for some situations. It works well for begging. If you CONSISTENTLY don't reward by giving a treat EVER, he eventually won't bother to beg. But the key is consistency, give that treat just once and he'll always wonder if THIS time you will.
Another method is put the behavior "on cue". This means teaching a word for whatever the dog is doing that bothers you. Once he knows what the word means, you can tell him not to do it. Dogs are often taught "speak", then told "enough" to quiet them when they go overboard. This works will for overzealous kissers too. Let someone that enjoys them give it a name, "Good Kisses, Rover!", then, when you don't want them, tell him "NO Kisses!" He'll realize it's the kisses you're rejecting as you push him away, not him. Have anyone that doesn't want the kisses correct him this way. Soon he'll learn who likes them, who'd rather not, and when a face is clean enough!
Teaching an incompatible behavior is another method of positive reinforcement. An example is teaching the dog to sit whenever it greets people. He can't jump up on people and sit at the same time. This is accomplished by asking the dog to sit (or putting it in a sitting position) EVERY TIME you greet the dog and give it a "hello" pat. Consistency is very important when using positive reinforcement. Praise if the dog just happens to come up to you and sit on his own. No, it may not happen often, but use those opportunities when it does! Eventually he will make the connection and be sitting nicely waiting for your attention when he does give it to him! You may enlist visitors to help. Have the dog sit before anyone touches it (guide the dog to a sitting position if necessary). If you must set up some "greeting" situations for practice, that's OK. Another example is to teach the dog to lie quietly in another part of the room while the family is eating. It can't beg at the table if it is on the other side of the room. This will interrupt a few dinners while you get up and put the dog back into position and return to eating, but after a few times he will get the idea and you will only have to correct intermittently after that. How much better to train the dog to behave while you are eating rather than locking him in another room where he learns nothing.
Changing the motivation works as well with dogs as it does with children. It is vitally important to understand with Malamutes because you need to know their motivations are driven by survival and their sled dog heritage. He is not motivated by your love and good will, but what he wants NOW. He didn't kill the squirrel out of anger, spite, fun or anything else it is his inborn need to hunt. If you don't want him killing critters, your best bet is to keep them out of your yard. (So WHY did you get a Mal knowing they do this?). If your Malamute has a puzzling behavior problem, think hard about possible motivations. Could he be tired (grouchy), bored or stressed (chewing), hyper (not enough exercise), lonely (howling), fearful (snapping and snarling)? If it is possible to eliminate the underlying cause, the behavior will usually go away.
Shaping behavior works well for most situations you need to change. This is what most dog training is all about. You begin by giving a treat and say "good boy" EVERY time the dog does APPROXIMATELY what you want. As he gets more reliable you only give the treat and "good boy" for a slightly better sit, slightly faster down. (Do not try and correct too many behaviors at once. Concentrate your efforts on one or two things at a time and you will be more successful.) Eventually you sometimes "forget" the treat and just give a happy "good dog". What is happening is the words "good dog" are becoming their own reward. The treat is no longer the most important motivator getting the praise is. This is shaping the dog to respond to your praise only. No punishment is involved if the dog doesn't do what you want. If he doesn't come, go get him and lead him into the house (then give praise and a treat for coming even if it wasn't his idea now, eventually it WILL be). If he doesn't sit, gently push him into position (pull up on the collar while pushing down on the hips). Don't' forget the praise and treat even if he didn't do it on his own at first. Eventually you can begin rewarding ONLY when he does it on his own, but not at first.
Negative reinforcement should ONLY be used in conjunction with positive reinforcement. Some negative reinforcement is OK to do a "NO", a gruff voice, FIRMLY pushing or guiding the dog into the position you desire it helps the dog understand what you want without waiting for him to do it accidentally. If you use more severe negative reinforcement (a bite on the nose, for example), be sure the offense warrants it or you will lose your dog's respect and obedience the rest of the time. If you are not a fair, firm and consistent alpha, negative reinforcement will probably have no effect on your Malamute. He'll just ignore you. Negative reinforcement is best used only for those offenses that are dangerous or very irritating. Food stealing, digging, puppy bites, aggressiveness. (A gentle but highly effective negative reinforcement mama dog uses is to hold the puppy's mouth shut you can add a stern "NO".) Always try to think of a positive reinforcer FIRST. When owners rely too heavily on very negative reinforcements (pinch collars, hitting, rolled newspapers) it sets you up for frustration, and it may start the roll downhill to stubborn or even aggressive behavior. This is not to say you should not discipline or train your dog to the behavior you want, but don't lash out in anger (and a Malamute can be expert at making you angry and trying your patience!). Consider how they train dolphins and other highly intelligent sea mammals They don't use pinch collars, hitting or other severe methods they would just swim away. It's ALL done with positive reinforcement. It works for people too. Gentle by FIRM direction is all your dog needs to become a well-behaved companion and friend.
Some people are born with one or the other or both! Sometimes the best solution to a dog problem is common sense. If you don't want the dog in the garbage, don't leave it out. If you don't want him to run away, fence the yard. If you don't want accidents in the house, don't leave him alone for long periods where he must "hold it" and can't ask to go out. If you don't want him to enjoy ripping open YOUR packages, don't give him wrapped gifts to open. If you don't want him chewing YOUR shoes, don't give him shoes to chew he may not notice the difference. You still can and should correct, but isn't it sometimes easier to eliminate or never establish the reason for the problem?
Many people get Malamutes thinking they'd be good for personal protection. They are sociable, people-loving creatures and are terribly unsuited to defend you from anything on two legs. (At most, they'd protect children and POSSIBLY adults form someone THEY perceived as a threat- which is not necessarily who YOU consider a threat). That is not to say his looks aren't intimidating to many, but as a protection dogs they are useless. They like and trust people too much. People who have been STUPID enough to try and make "guard dogs" or "attack dogs" out of Malamutes have found one thing when attack trained they are completely unreliable. The "aggression" is unstable and dangerous. He would be more likely to attack the trainer or owner that undermined his trust than the burglar. The reason is: to get him to be aggressive you must use methods that completely erode his trust and confidence in you. He will lose respect for your leadership and therefore YOU will likely be the target of his bite. (He may or may not continue to like the burglar.) Malamutes have an unfailing memory for persons (or other dogs) that have been mean to them. They will never forget! So never attempt to attack train or encourage aggression in your Malamute.
BEGIN TRAINING YOUR PUPPY THE DAY YOU BRING IT HOME
You cannot start training too early period. What is appropriate to teach will vary with his age and ability to learn, but you should beginning training the day you bring him home. Never encourage cute puppy growls, sassiness, being up on the bed licking your face. What was cute as a puppy may not be as cute to you when he's got 3" fangs, lots of shedding fur and a foot long tongue as an adult. If you have any doubts, don't allow it. You can always be the benevolent alpha and let him on the bed later, but it's very difficult to go back if you allow a behavior and then change your mind when it becomes a pain in the neck. Behaviors that should NEVER be allowed are biting at the hands and face, growling, refusing to get off furniture or move, or guarding food or toys. These are your first lessons and some of the most important ones.
Many puppies like to mouth or bite you in play. Don't ever allow this. Holding the puppy's mouth TIGHTLY shut and a firm "NO" each time should curb his use of those razor sharp puppy teeth. If that doesn't work, put your hand or fingers down his throat - he'll definately dislike that! Yell "OUCH" in a gruff and unhappy voice and push the puppy away. He needs to know this is completely unacceptable! Children should be taught how to correct this too. He will be persistent, but you must be more persistent! A consistent correction from everyone in the family and he will soon get the idea. If you think it's not important or just "play", remember how big he will be when grown will you want him biting you in fun then?
Behaviors like food stealing and using his initiative equaled survival in the arctic, not the good manners other breeds needed. As soon as he can reach countertops and tables he will attempt to steal food. Guaranteed! When he steals food form the trash or table you must catch him in the act (even if you have to set him up). When you do, angrily yell "NO" and scruff shake. If it's while you're cooking or eating dinner make him sit and wait. (At first he can't wait TOO long, 2-3 minutes is enough, slowly extending the time). Then, give him a reward for waiting, such as a happy "good dog", a pat, a doggie treat or a especially a taste of what he wanted to steal (but only if it's good for him no chocolate for example). Gradually teach him to wait longer and longer for his reward. Then ask him to sit to get it. Soon, he'll sit with food right under his nose and wait for you to offer, but he'll never be 100% reliable, especially alone in the room with the temptation. It's just plain stupid to leave a sandwich on a low table with a Malamute nearby and no adult in the room and expect it to still be there when you return. His desire to steal will be ever-present but can be tempered with training. One side note: If you have small children, never leave them alone in a room with your Malamute and food. Many bites happen this way because either the dog may feel justified to "correct" (bite) the child if the child reaches for the food because the dog has been taught stealing food is not allowed OR he may guard the food and bite to protect it because he feels it's his (such as a dog food dish or the dog is initially closer to the food than the child proximity is "ownership" for the Malamute). Children, food and dogs should NEVER be unsupervised in a room together EVER!
PULLING ON LEASH
We've begun leash training your puppy, some puppies are further along than others. Be sure to continue to make this a pleasant experience with lots of praise. First by following the puppy where he wants to go, then gradually leading a little at a time (making the destination a fun place). Once confident on leash, it's his heritage to want to hard and be ahead of you. A Malamute is STRONG and can be difficult to control untrained. An obedience class will help you teach him to walk nicely. If your dog pulls while going for a walk, we've found jerking sideways on a choke chain (as many obedience classes avocate) just doesn't work well. An almost grown Malamute barely notices the jerk. Or will continue to pull choking and gasping for air but still won't slow down. Plus, some Mals get smart and only walk nice on a choke chain, but not their regular collar. A better solution (and it can be done with a buckle collar) is to change direction when the dog isn't expecting you to. When the dog just begins to pull ahead, suddenly you change direction making a quick turn with a quick jerk on the leash. Kind of like, "hey, I'm going this way, didn't you notice?" Keep your attitude happy and light and praise when he stays beside you. I usually end up doing a small circle to the right (and occasionally the left to keep him guessing) then continue on my way until he stars to pull again. Since he wants to know where you are going, he is going to have to pay attention. You may look a little crazy to onlookers circling every 10 ft. but soon he'll tire of going nowhere and his desire to go forward will outweigh his desire to pull. I've found this is the FASTEST way to teach a Malamute to walk nicely without dragging me down the street. Of course, don't use it on a young puppy just learning. An alternative for a very difficult or out of control dog is the "halti-collar". A collar like a horse harness it lets you control the entire head. Even Shadow who had no decent leash training as a puppy and is an uncontrollable spaz dog will walk nice on a halti. When first put on, he may paw and try and get it off (put it on tight the first few times) but you just pull up and say NO! It may take a bit for him to accept it, but don't give up. Eventually he will realize he can't get it off and must cooperate. The halti naturally corrects as the dog surges ahead by turning the head. It's difficult to go forward when your head isn't . If other methods don't work, try this it really works and is a humane alternative to a pinch collar or jerking away on a choke chain.
TALKING and UNDERSTANDING
As your puppy grows up, you will begin to notice a great number of noises coming from him far more than the usual puppy. Some of these sounds will almost seem word-like or be the same "phrase" you've heard before. Malamutes TALK. Not English, but a Malamute equivalent. A grumble is a barely audible growl without aggression. It's like saying "aw, heck, I don't like this " A rumble is inaudible and can only be felt through the leash. (a kind of sneaky under the breath grumble). Woos and Rah's with various inflections are happy sounds or "I have an idea!!! Lets " or "Whaddya think about getting a treat and ". You may notice your dog uses that some combination of sounds when he wants a walk, for example. A sharp serious low-pitched bark (usually only once or twice) is an alert sound "Hey, somebody's at the door and I'm not sure if he looks friendly". One high pitched bark is a warning bark of "get away" often reserved for annoying kids. Wild happy barks and howls may mean a friend is approaching. Wild woo woo howling is usually reserved for observation of another dog approaching their territory. A hollow, sad slow howl is for loneliness. And a happy howl can be a group sing with the pack (you) when everyone is united again and like the song "Solidarity Forever!" Some Mals will purr' when petted, by only when petted by some people. Some will yip and snarley and bark and carry on terribly, yet it's obvious it's not a serious threat, but really more of a game. You might call it "bitching" or "complaining". (Oh brother, this is SO embarrassing, I can't believer you're making me do this!) Penny did this when we asked her to shake hands. She considered it so demeaning. You'll KNOW a serious growl when you hear one it's scary and deep and resonating. Ears are up (aggressive) or back (fearful) and the dog "puffs" himself up to look bigger. Don't take this lightly, this is a serious threat and the dog may feel threatened enough to attack. Some females will do a little jelous "yip growl" at other females or when warning another dog to get away (like "don't you DARE steal that cookie it's MINE to steal!). Malamutes are talkers and will tell you what they think about ANY situation. Some are bigger talkers than others (like people). Often other people will be intimidated and will think your Mal growled when he was only talking and this trait of Malamutes, to talk, is sometimes misunderstood. Pay attention to and learn your dog's sounds and body language. Other dogs may bark only because they were bred to be yappy things, with no meaning behind the sounds. But a Malamute will think before he talks and always feels he has something worthwhile to communicate. Listen.
Along with verbal sounds, your Malamute will use a vast repertoire of body language with you and other dogs. Protocol and dog manners are very important to Malamutes. He will disdain a dog that yaps for no good reason, thinking him dim-witted and deserving of a come-uppance. He will hold his tail high over his back, a gesture of the confidence all Malamutes are born with. He will puff his fur out and stand taller to seem larger and intimidating. A Mal's eyes are more expressive than almost any other dog, whether it be sparkling with happiness, devilish joy, deep with serious thought, bright with anticipation, or glassy with confusion, fear or anger you see in them. Watch his eyes, they are the mirror to his thoughts. The ears are forward with confidence, happiness, curiosity, aggression, but are back for fear and confusion, being unsure. They can rotate to hear a faraway sound, or may be relaxed. He may hand you a paw to ask for your favor as alpha because he wants something. He may race around all tucked in like a little puppy just for pure joy.
Every puppy needs to understand the spoken word. He probably already knows his "puppy name" and NO. Keep it simple at first. One word commands work best because once he understands those, you can combine them to make sentences later. Avoid putting together words with different meanings like "SIT DOWN" (sit? Down? What do you want?) or "c'mere" (a clear "come" is much easier to sort of out the bla bla bla he hears). These are a few of the words we begin with, but if something else feels more natural, use it. Remember, never give a command you aren't willing to enforce.
GOOD GIRL, BOY or DOG! praise, say with enthusiasm when he does something right
DOWN lie down (the hand signal is a flat palm waving down dogs will learn faster if you use the hand signal when you say the word)
COME come to me usually you put the dog's name first to get his attention ROVER, COME
NO this is absolutely, unequivocally not allowed! You can't have it/do it/behave this way!!!
OKAY a release, do what you wanted to do now (get up from the sit, go play, eat )
STAY do not move from that position until you get an OKAY if you give this one, be available to correct any attempts to leave (the hand signal is a flat palm in front of the dog's nose for a second. It also helps him understand).
ENOUGH for behaviors that are allowed, but he gets carried away (barking, howling, etc.)
ON BY to pass by something or another dog and ignore it (ignore the yappy, snotty poodle and just walk)
OFF as in get off of something or stop jumping up on someone
OUTSIDE go outside
GO POTTY for potty training and teaching him to go when YOU want him to, go potty NOW
CRATE go to your crate (use when you put him in his crate)
LEAVE IT don't even think about it! Such as when he's thinking of mischief
DROP IT give it to me
SETTLE settle down, be calm (for hyperness)
EASY take it from me gently
SMELL IT to show a puppy something he can't take in his mouth (great for socializing a puppy to something, especially if he's afraid of it)
GO FIND look for something named
SHAKE HANDS - and other trick commands like ROLL OVER, etc.
IN, OUT go in/out
And of course, words for GARBAGE, PORCH, DIG, FIGHT, etc., toy names such as BALL, TUG, SKUNK, etc. and food names such as TREAT, COOKIE, CARROT, RAWHIDE. Names for places he goes GRANDMA'S HOUSE, STORE and animals he sees HORSE, DOGGIE, CAT.
As you can see, your Malamute can have a very extensive vocabulary this is just a FEW of the words our dogs know. Malamutes are very intelligent and learn quickly (even if he pretends he doesn't get it). Be CONSISTENT, clear and have everyone in the house use the same words for the same things.
Your Malamute puppy is a social creature, his pack is the most important thing in his life. You are his world. When a puppy is alone 6-10 hours a day it is almost guaranteed problems encountered are due to lack of proper "socialization" interaction with his "pack" and others. There's a book called "Lord of the Flies" which is about children isolated without adults and left to their own devices, and how uncivilized they become. Without direction, without adult supervision they become wild and unmanageable. In essence, when no one is home to train and provide guidance, your puppy is essentially in the same situation. It is difficult to learn the rules with no one around to teach them, so he makes up his own. Housebreaking will go slowly, it may take longer to become trustworthy in the house. Malamutes are puppy-like for up to three years, with the first 6 months incredibly important. How would YOU feel if you had to spend 2/3'rds of your day in isolation (1/3 alone, the other everyone is sleeping), with nobody to talk to, nothing to do. When you DID see family members you would be DESPERATE for conversation, to go somewhere, to DO SOMETHING. In effect, you would seem hyper to your tired, busy, and stressed family who just wants to relax. This is how your puppy feels. All day he has waited for your return. To cope with the boredom, perhaps he slept much of the time now he is ready to DO SOMETHING. To cope with solitary confinement perhaps you would take up a hobby. So will your puppy. He may howl, he may decide to redecorate the furniture with chew marks, he may soil the house since he finds that gets immediate attention upon your return (are you mad!). Perhaps he begins to feel this is HIS house because nobody tells him what to do most of the time. He does what he wants. Suddenly he's told "no". He thinks "who are YOU to come back to MY house and tell ME no?" and growls at you. What happened to your mellow puppy? He's not a "bad" dog, just a neglected one. A puppy whose owners work all day will need EXTRA attention, more exercise and firm consistent training. EVERY DAY. Even when you don't feel like it. He'll need lots of safe toys and chewies (chewing helps relieve a dog's stress). Other things that help, but are NOT a substitute for your attention are a window to look outside and watch the wildlife and neighborhood action, possibly a doggie door to a secure (from theft) and digproof (no escape) area. It may be helpful to get him a cat companion while he is still young enough to accept one. Cats are good company for many Malamutes of working "parents".
CHILDREN IN THE HOME
Your puppy is used to and loves children. He is accustomed to their different smell and behaviors. However, you must still supervise when young children are around. He must learn to trust you and your children, that you'd never hurt or tease him. Kids often unintentionally tease dogs by offering a cookie, then snatching it back at the last second, or waving their hands over the dog's head so the dog thinks they have something and the dog jumps up. Correct the "teaser", NOT the dog. Trust means actions are predictable. Your puppy must trust that YOU will teach your child or any child he comes in contact with, considerate behavior. Mals love kids, but in their exuberance can easily knock down a small child. Kids are noisier, move more rapidly than adults, are less predictable. They may step on dogs by accident, sometimes even hurt the dog when they themselves have been punished. Most mals raised with kids are pretty forgiving of their own children, but may not be as forgiving of the neighbor's. It's wise to never leave any young child alone with a big dog, any dog, even one that loves kids. Be watchful of timid children or those not regularly included in family activities. If the dog "grumbles" toward a child or adult, do not leave the dog alone with that person. You need to figure out why. Is he sensing something you are not? Perhaps he just doesn't "like" or trust the person (trust his judgement and keep them apart), or he feels this is someone he can or should intimidate and "rank" (a child that teases or one fearful of dogs). Sometimes low grumbles and a wagging tail can mean nothing more than "Pet me nice", but just because a tail is wagging do not assume everything is wonderful especially if there are any other signals ears up or back, stiff posture, growls or grumbles be wary. By watching and knowing your dog you will learn to distinguish the difference. Also, being the food thieves they are, and the tendency to think of children as littermates and equals, it is natural for him to try to steal food from a small child. This behavior must be corrected by an adult. You may find it helpful to teach him to sit or lie down for any treats. This puts the child/you in a superior position and then you may work on teaching the dog he must WAIT until a treat is offered. Be aware young children can also be jelous of a puppy too no matter how much the puppy was wanted. Watch for sneaky behavior "accidental" pinches, dropping the puppy, etc. Reassure your child you love him BEST and always protect the puppy from such behavior. The Bardi McLennon book, Dogs and Kids Parenting Tips is excellent!
A NEW BABY COMES HOME (HUMAN)
Mals are great practice for future children since they are so smart and childlike themselves. Regularly expose your dog (with supervision) to gentle children and introduce him to babies. When the time comes to introduce a new baby into the household, do it by smell first. Bring home a blanket with the baby's smell for your dog to sniff a day or so before. Have the person involved the least with the dog carry the baby in so the dog's primary caregiver can greet him without a baby in arms. Let the dog sniff the baby under supervision. If you hover nervously the dog will think something is terribly wrong- maybe it's this "baby" thing, so supervise with confidence that you expect the dog to like the baby. Encourage gentle interaction WITH SUPERVISION. And be sure the baby can't abuse the dog (pulling ears, poking eyes). There may be some jealousy, but if the dog's routine doesn't change, he isn't left out, wasn't spoiled into thinking HE is your child, and perhaps gets extra attention or treats BECAUSE of the baby (walking the dog with the baby in a frontpack or stroller), he will learn baby is no threat. Actually a pretty neat addition to the pack. Dogs love babies because they drop lots of food on the floor! Even if everything is going well, expect some bumps and ALWAYS supervise. Most problems arise when the child becomes mobile. If he pulls on the dog, tries to use the dog to stand, etc., and you let it happen even if you know your dog is unhappy with the pulling and yanking, you CAN expect your Malamute to correct the child. That's how most bites happen. The parents didn't correct the child, so the dog felt he had to. Since babies don't have muzzles to hold (how a dog corrects a puppy), he may try to "hold" the baby's "muzzle" (which is why most bites to children are on the head and face). A bite doesn't mean he betrayed, you, it means he was only doing your job for you. Use baby gates to keep dog and toddler apart when you can't supervise and until you are absolutely certain they adore each other and neither would hurt the other under ANY circumstances. If your dog seems uneasy with wild or screamy neighbor children, respect his discomfort and keep them apart. Usually dogs can tolerate a bit more from their own children, but not always the neighbor's kids. Your children should be taught to have consideration for the dog's feelings. Doing so will prevent bites from other dogs as well as your own. (Studies have shown that some children are repeatedly bitten because they have behaviors that make them more likely to be bitten).
AGGRESSION TO OTHER DOGS
A Malamute needs lots of early contact with other non-aggressive dogs early in life or he may become dog-aggressive. We've done rescue work, and this is a reason Malamutes are routinely destroyed in pounds after 24 hours and why it's hard to place a rescued Mal in a new home. A dog that is not socialized to other dogs outside the family will be more likely to fear them and the response to fear of other dogs is sometimes aggression. Your puppy doesn't have to grow up to be like this. He will always have a tendency to protect his pack and territory from other dogs, but with exposure often to "dog friends" and basic obedience commands this is a tendency that can be overcome. Never let him "puff up" (raise his hackles or fur on his back) to another dog. ANY sign of aggression should be corrected. Puppy Kindergarten is a great place to start. He will learn the basics of sit, stay, down and get to play with other puppies. He will learn other dogs can be friends. By regular contact with friendly dogs beyond his immediate household, allowing him to play and socialize, dog aggression will not become a part of his personality. He will probably always guard your yard from strange dogs, however. Neutering and spaying early will also help immensely.
Let your puppy/dog greet visitors. To the dog, isolating him when company comes is punishment. Since he didn't feel he did anything wrong, he is confused and angry and may begin to take his anger out on visitors. (We know a dog that did just this they wouldn't let him say hi so he jumped the barrier and pinned visitors to the wall!) Put the dog on leash and allow him to approach people. Teach him to sit when greeting people and he will be less likely to jump up. Pet and talk to him quietly. Allow visitors to give treats or pats. If you have visitors that are fearful (whether real or imagined) use a crate so he can remain in the room. It's better than locking him away. Mals rarely do this, but if he gives the slightest lip or grumble correct it. Actually, with Malamutes you are more likely to have the opposite problem of over-excitement, exasperating joy, kisses and a crotch sniff all while he panders for a belly rub trying to snuggle into the visitors' lap! (There is a qualification here: if you have a "pack" of 3 or more dogs, your adult "alpha" dog will be the one to serially size up and check out visitors, since his job is pack protector. He may stare, grumble and posture some it's his job just don't let him go overboard.)
When you get home try "Pup, Pup, Pup" to get your puppy to follow you (we use that to call them for dinner so it has a real positive connotation) then praise him by name for coming. If your puppy doesn't come when called, go get him. If you catch him doing something bad and he runs off before you can correct him - go get him - no matter how inconvenient it is. NEVER call "come" then scold a Mal. He WILL remember you betrayed him by calling him (an activity that should always be positive and fun) to scold him (negative and bad) and you will forever have a problem with "comes". Never punish a bad dog when he comes to you on his own, or he'll quit coming altogether.
Mals are world-class diggers but as much as they love to dig, they can be tr~in~l to not to. The best way we've found is to catch them in the act as young puppies, gruffly say "NO" and give a good scruff shake. Some will scream and carry on, but it won't hurt him, and he will think twice before digging again. Also, put a large rock on the hole so it's harder to go back to the same spot. Corrected consistently as a puppy you won't have a yard full of craters as an adult! Scruff shakes are great for almost anything you catch puppy doing he shouldn't. Malamutes are excellent molers, if you have them you can expect your Mal to attempt to dig for them. Some also have a penchant for "gardening". If you expect to get any vegetables for yourself, be sure to make the garden inaccessible to your Malamute. If your fenced garden is within the fenced boundary of your fenced yard, you won't have any problems with bunnies or opossums! As puppies some Mals love to pluck flowers, defoliate bushes and rip up small plants, just for fun.
A Malamute is a poor dog to go hunting with (unless you're stalking polar bear, seal or walrus!) since he'll take off after something you didn't even see and you'll spend the rest of the day trying to find him while he scarfs down the neighbor's chickens. The Eskimos basically hung on as best they could when a team of dogs sighted a polar bear or got wind of a seal blow hole and decided to investigate. Malamutes hunt nothing like pointers or retrievers! He'll hunt anything that comes within your fenced yard - rabbits, moles, mice, insects, squirrels, frogs, cats, birds of all kinds, deer, possum, raccoon, Canadian geese, pheasant, you name it Mals will hunt chickens (squawking and flapping, chickens BEG to be eaten by Malamutes!), goats, sheep, cattle, virtually any farm animal if accessible. They'll steal the horse's food and bite his hocks. There is really no way to train a Mal not chase and kill, except to raise him with certain animals, such as cats. With many animals he'll never be 100% reliable. And, he may still chase the cat, though he probably won't kill it. Hunting meant survival to a sled dog, it is his life and joy! Tying the dead thing around his neck or other attempts at changing his behavior won't work. Hunting is just one of those funny or disgusting things (depending on your point of view) that is a part of owning a Malamute. The best hunters seem like wolves stalking their prey - head low, tail down, listening. Some dogs are more intense hunters than others. Some take great pleasure in stalking just about anything, patiently waiting for that irritating squirrel to make a mistake... We've seen Mal's sneak up on a bird and pluck it out of the air as it tries to fly away. They are excellent hunters. Rarely are Mals content to watch small critters and do nothing. They see nothing wrong with swallowing a mouse whole and at the very least tossing it in the air a few times for fun. Some will bring you their treasures to admire, others will guard their "kill", still others bury it. Sometimes they remind me of a pride of lions. Homer sitting regally in the yard keeping watch, while the girls hunt mice or whatever they can find. If your Mal is in the middle of a really, good "hunt", expect the "comes" to be slow or nonexistent. When he finally decides to come, check his mouth for concealed dead things, just in case the hunt was successful.
DEAD ANIMALS and SWALLOWED POISONS
The best cure is prevention, but with a Malamute's willingness to eat anything dead or alive, prevention isn't always possible. If your dog eats something dead or an animal it has killed, ask your vet for advice. Many wild animals carry serious diseases such as rabies or coccidia and may be infested with fleas. Usually you need do nothing more than give a flea bath or watch the dog closely for a few days, but still get your vet's advice. If your puppy/dog swallows a POISON, call your poison control center immediately (they will help with animals as well as people) and get veterinary aid IMMEDIATELY. If the poison is unknown, and the dog is vomiting, take a sample of vomit to the veterinarian.
A four foot chain link or wood privacy fence is adequate when your Malamute is out when you are home. It must be secure and escape proof, free of holes or gaps a puppy could squeeze through. Mals are not fence jumpers, and even if they can they normally won't. If fenced or kenneled when no one is home, a six foot high, heavy gauge chain link is necessary, possibly with a cover. If your subdivision doesn't allow fencing the entire yard, just kennels, you must use it. But life will be much easier if your yard is fenced. It's not much fun to have to take the dog out to the kennel 10 times a day in January when its -20. That will get old fast so you may find it's much better if you can think of a way to let the dog directly out of the house into a fenced enclosure. Some people have put a run off a walk-out basement or a side door. A Malamute is not reliable to go out for "potties" while you watch from the house. All it takes is one squirrel, another dog's challenge, and he'll be instantly gone. Mals travel long distances in a very short time. So, if you must rely on a kennel, understand you will have to take him to it EVERY TIME he wants out or walk him on leash. Anything else is asking for trouble. You can never rely on "boundary training" or even invisible fencing. Mals have a high pain threshold and heavy neck fur so the collar of an invisible fence system cannot make good contact, and even if it could the shock wouldn't be enough to convince a Malamute not to chase that squirrel. Malamute thinking is that other dogs must be pretty dim-witted to allow such an easily overcome barrier to contain it. Besides, an invisible fence doesn't keep OTHER animals out of your yard (such as the neighbor's dog your Mal has been gunning for). Trolley systems and chains will make a friendly dog aggressive, particularly to strangers outside the family circle. He will guard the area and this can be dangerous for anyone who wanders or accidentally goes within reach. He may BITE to protect his space. You must be certain he or children do not get tangled. Plus, as the pup grows, so will his strength and he will pull it down. Some Mals can pull over 3500 Ibs.
Many Malamutes have what is called a "snow nose". This is a nose that has a lighter pigmented area or pink streak down the middle. This is perfectly acceptable and not faulted. Often it will not be evident until a pup is 2-3 years of age. Some pups sport one year round, others only during winter months. Some pups never get one. No one is sure why, but one theory is the lack of vitamin D from sunlight during winter months. It seems to be more common in certain lines.
Mal owners find the happiest Malamutes are WORKING Malamutes. Some people walk their dogs a couple of times a day, others are joggers and take the dog along. Many hike and let the dog pack some of the supplies. Some go Skijoring, others let the dog pull the kids to school on a wagon or sled. Some go to organized weight-pulls, some run their dog alongside a bike on leash. Others go to a fenced playground so they can just RUN. Note: The area you allow your dog to run in off-lead must be fenced unless extremely far from civilization! Malamutes can cover allot of ground in a short time and are NOT 100% reliable to come when called, so the traffic danger is ever-present. You don't have to have a whole sled team to exercise your dog (although that would be funny). Just remember, they may lie around all day, but after awhile they are going to get bored and want to DO something. An older dog may be content with intermittent walks or car rides, but a dog under 2 or 3 years old needs to use puppy exuberance constructively. Incorporate them into your schedule - whatever it is - even if it's just hopping in and out of the van on short errands, a morning walk - and you will have happy dogs. There are many companies that supply ready-made harnesses, carts, or other equipment to get your dog off unemployment Don't do heavy pulling (more than the dog's own weight) until the dog is at least 2 years old. Bones are not fused or joints fully formed until then. High jumping or pulling anything more than a few pounds can stress young joints and cause problems that would have never developed.
If you work your Malamute, be aware of high humidity and temperatures. Experienced mushers take advantage of cooler summer evenings and won't work a dog hard in temperatures over 70 degrees. Many Malamutes would pull themselves to DEATH for you because it is so much a part of their heritage. Of course, never leave your dog in a car on a warm sunny day as well. Symptoms: high temperature (over 101 F), fast-pounding pulse, weakness, staring expression and collapse. Home treatment: Get the dog to a cool place IMMEDIATELY. Body temperature must be lowered rapidly to avoid brain damage or death. A cold water bath, ice applied to the head or thighs. If the temperature doesn't drop to 103 within 10 minutes give a cold water enema. If the dogs stops panting, seems more relaxed and responds you are doing well. Give ice cubes and water. If the condition worsens, get the dog to a vet in a well-ventilated car keeping ice on him.
Most Malamutes have gone to the "Ho Hum" school of home defense. Invite the burglar in, if he brings a treat or rubs a belly let'em have everything. Occasionally your Mal will bark once or twice (it's an awesome bark) at such dangerous things as trash bags (they look like bears), reflections in the window at night, a strange dog, or something equally as "scary". By allowing barking at things outside the house, especially people, animals, cars, bicycles you must remember it is not necessarily a sign of protectiveness with a Malamute. He is "alerting" the pack, kind of like "Hey, check this out, should we do something?". Do not encourage this behavior because with some dogs you may be encouraging aggression - or saying "Yeah, lets chomp 'cm what the heck". It is better to let the dog woof once or twice, then tell him "ENOUGH" and hold his muzzle closed and tell him to sit or down and be quiet. Most Mals do this anyway, and will rarely carry on very long (unless it's another dog).
OBEDIENCE TO OTHERS
OUTSIDE THE FAMILY PACK
Most Malamutes won't listen, period. If your friend hasn't established himself as an alpha figure, your Malamute probably won't sit or come on his command either. This is perfectly normal to a Malamute, since the friend hasn't EARNED his respect. So, if someone house-sits, leave them LOTS of low cal food treats to tempt your Mal to obey and always have others use a leash, etc. Even if YOU don't need it with your dog, he will.
Your Malamute would love to come along, but if you won't have the time to give his needs proper attention it may be best if he stays home. Never take him along just to leave him in a hot car, and always bring his crate if you wilt leave him some of the time in a hotel room (hotels are more likely to accept big dogs if you use a crate). If camping, your Mal will love the adventure - but always keep him on leash and leave his collar on at all times (this one time, even in the crate - because the chance of loss is greater than strangulation). If the weather is warm, always be sure he has adequate water, preferably bringing a supply from home, and bring his crate and usual food. NEVER leave him chained or tied while you are gone, even for short periods, at a cottage or campsite. If you have a responsible person housesit that can continue his accustomed schedule, that is probably the best option for a young puppy or geriatric dog. If you have someone check on, feed and water the dog, be sure it is someone reliable and that your home is puppy-proofed, and your Malamute is trustworthy in the house. Many Mals, when left for long periods when they aren't used to it become very separation anxious and will do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, such as chew or poop in the house. It's not fun to come home from vacation to find the house a mess. Your adult dog should NEVER be left at home for more than II hours without someone checking on him (and that's a long time to expect him to "hold it"), 4-6 hours for a puppy just over 6 months old. If your puppy or dog will stay with a relative or friend you're gone, take his crate, food, toys and especially an old unwashed T-shirt that smells like you to leave with him. This tells him you will be back and can do allot to alleviate his anxiety. Many people use boarding kennels for vacations. If you do this inspect the kennel AHEAD OF TIME for cleanliness and proper facilities. It's helpful if the operator understands northern breeds, because he WILL howl. You don't want your dog crated the entire time you are gone, and a place that will groom and give your dog a bath while you're gone is a plus. Remember, many facilities fill up around the holidays and if you wait till the last minute to arrange boarding, there may not be room in the place you want to use. Have your vet give the dog a Bordetella (or kennel cough) vaccination at least 2 weeks before he is kenneled, and be sure all shots are recent and up to date. Kennels that look clean can still harbor many infectious diseases, find out what the operator does to prevent the spread of disease in his facility, what he does to exercise the dogs, what he feeds (if not the food you bring). Most of all, you must feel confident this person will care for your dog as you wish him cared for.
CAR RIDES/TRIP HOME
We've also taken your puppy on "joy rides" in the car. Most are good travelers. They've gotten to see different people, places and surfaces as much as is practical since they haven't had their complete series of vaccinations yet. This will make your ride home more enjoyable and your puppy confident in many new situations. If you have a long ride home and stop at rest stops as puppy "potty stops", DO NOT use the assigned dog areas. Play deaf, "no speakee English", whatever it takes. Your puppy is very vulnerable since he has not completed his shots and is under some stress wondering why you are taking him somewhere. When you arrive home, after a few days of adjustment time, take your puppy with you as many places as you can. Puppies are welcome more places than a grown dog so this is a prime time to socialize your Malamute to many different situations, places, people. A dog that is confident in any situation is a pleasure to take along. Take him with you to a plant nursery, McDonald's drive thru, the Laundromat, for walks in the neighborhood, to agreeable friend's homes, softball games, the car repair garage, parades, the post office, secretary of state, florist, office supply, fairs, the taxidermist's is fun (especially if he has a bear on display - you can see a Malamute's instinctive abilities), camping, small retail establishments (not franchises) that don't sell food, card shops, hobby stores, the dimestore, to the vet's office for a treat and to get weighed (then he won't associate it with pain and shots only), if it's not posted "no dog's allowed" you're probably welcome with your puppy. If he hasn't had a full series of shots yet, keep him away from unkept or sick looking dogs and any poop. Save the visits to pet stores and parks where dogs roam until later when his shots are done. You'll have to weigh the benefits of good socialization with the possible risks of disease - use common sense. Riding in a crate is the safest way for a dog to travel by car, but we realize not always practical. A crate is the only safe way to transport a dog in the bed of a pick-up truck. We suggest to at least keep a leash in the car for those spur-of-the-moment "bye-byes" so you'll never be without one in case of emergency.
Chewing often indicates need rather than willful disobedience, and some puppies are more determined chewers than others. The emerging teeth hurt! All puppies have to learn what is acceptable to chew and what isn't, and until you can teach this, be very careful of lamp cords or other dangerous chewables. Never allow your puppy to chew sticks or stones (broken teeth and intestinal blockages). Provide a toy box of alternatives he is allowed to chew. Ease his pain by letting him chew ice cubes or a damp frozen washcloth. Older puppies and dogs chew to alleviate anxiety and stress. To discourage chewing furniture, spray with a product called "Bitter Apple" (it tastes very bitter) or Listerine. Scruff shakes or a stern "NO" when caught in the act work well to teach a pup something is not allowed to be chewed. Then replace the "no no" with an appropriate chewy and a happy voiced "Good Dog!". Don't confuse the puppy by correcting him if you didn't catch him in the act. An older dog that destroys while you arc gone, can be brought back to the scene of the crime upon your return, and while you show him the damage chastise him with a gruff "NO". Then give him a toy he is allowed to chew with a "GOOD DOG". Our puppies seem to have a penchant for bathroom waste baskets and the contents inside.
Your puppy was raised in our home, allowed access to all the rooms with supervision and this should afford you a reliable "housedog" with your continued training. Young Malamutes can be destructive, having no respect for expensive furnishings when feeling anxious because you are gone. Since we raise them in the house, our puppy buyers haven't had serious problems in that area as long as they proceed slowly. We suggest you crate your puppy at first when he's alone in the house, but never for more than 2-3 hours at a time. Proceed slowly, coming and going often for short periods (starting at 5 minutes and working up to more) before you actually leave him to go somewhere. Don't make a big fuss over him when you leave or return. Just play it cool. As the puppy gets older, you can try leaving him with lots of toys for short periods in rooms where damage potential is small (a bathroom, an uncarpeted back room), gradually increasing time and access to additional rooms, finally allowing run of the entire house. If you return and find something chewed or soiled, go back to the crate and start over. Don't punish! You are expecting too much too soon. Our puppies have been reasonably reliable in a "puppy proofed" home for a few hours (3-4) at about 6 months (with an older reliable dog for company), at 1-2 years without another dog, provided you have taught him what behavior is acceptable when you are home. As the puppy/dog is more trustworthy, the time can be slowly increased. Malamutes need lots of human company and constant supervision when very young or you may have discipline and destructiveness problems related to separation anxiety and lack of socialization. Any puppy really needs someone home full-time to train and socialize when the puppy is young, particularly so with a Malamute. If you are going to be gone for long periods every day, a 6' tall locked (for theft) and escape proof (from digging) outside run with a doghouse, water and shelter from the sun may be an alternative when you are not home. Another idea is a puppy-safe room, with a crate (for a secure "den" to cuddle in) and an area with towels/newspapers to potty on until he is able to hold it long enough. The area should be as small as possible to encourage him to "hold it". When you are home you use "official" potty training, but he uses the towels he is familiar with when you are gone. Although this may slow potty training and cause other problems later, it may be the only alternative when you are gone for one long stretch daily. If you can use a crate without overusing it, it's really better. The goal is when he is physically able he will WANT to go outside and keep his den (room) clean, but this can be awhile and you can't rush the process. You also may want to rotate toys so he always has something "new" to play with. Other options that have worked well if available in your area is "doggy daycare". This is an excellent way to socialize a puppy to other dogs and people, they can help you with potty-training, and it will break up a monotonous, lonely week for your pup. (But be sure to check out the place just as you would do with childcare, and insist they be strict about proof of vaccinations). Each puppy and situation is different and some puppies have an easier adjustment and can be left safely alone sooner than others. Many puppies that were reliable at a young age suddenly go through a period of destructiveness at 1-1 1/2 years. Shredding paper, eating crayons, chewing shoes, potty "accidents", even escaping from a locked crate, are all. possible. Be patient, it's a phase of adolescence you are experiencing. Once it passes (it will be frustrating but it will pass) the pup will again be reliable in the house. A puppy with superior problem solving intelligence will be more precocious and more likely to get into trouble while you are gone. Having intelligence is desirable, but it also means he can think of more ways to creatively entertain himself! If you have a real smarty, be patient, he WILL be just as reliable in the house, but it may take a more gradual approach.
Ask friends and neighbors about who they use and why. You may have to go to several before you find one you are comfortable with. It must be someone you feel comfortable asking questions of and who will take time to examine your dog thoroughly at every visit. Make sure you know what his procedure is for after-hours emergencies - since they always happen on the weekend after hours Be sure to schedule an appointment at least once a year for any needed shots, a heartworm test and a fecal exam. Also, Malamutes grow very fast and go through stages of awkwardness where they may move funny, be sensitive in certain joints, etc. and it's not unusual for a puppy to get up and yipe because he accidentally stretched something that is still growing. It's normal unless it happens too often. Hip dysplasia or other bone/joint diseases are not reliably determined before 2 years of age. No one can "feel" bad hips or tell by the way a dog moves. The only reliable determination is by a CERTIFIED radiologist at TWO YEARS of age. Only then has everything stopped growing and an accurate determination made. A radiologist has been trained to identify specific bone abnormalities. A typical vet, while he may be able to read a general X-ray, is not qualified to diagnose hip dysplasia. Also, some puppies may get diarrhea from the stress of leaving the litter and adjusting to a new home. If it lasts more than 24 hours, or if he's also vomiting, see your vet immediately. Puppies can dehydrate quickly.
I've always thought it would be nice to have pet health insurance when the dogs do something really dumb - some Mals seems to go through stages where they seem to keep getting themselves in trouble and need a vet regularly. Penny went through a phase where she needed a puppy tooth removed, then cut her foot several times fence fighting, then ate a whole bag of dog food and scared us she might bloat - all within a couple of months time. In case you are interested here is a company you can obtain coverage from: Veterinary Pet Insurance 1-800-USA-PETS.
BLOAT or STOMACH DILATION/TORSION
This is an EXTREME emergency and a common cause of sudden death Malamutes (and other large chested breeds). The cause is not known. The stomach distends enormously as air and fluid accumulate, and it twists on itself (torsion). The abdomen becomes very large and painful. The dog will pant, be restless and vainly attempt to vomit, salivate profusely, breathe heavily, and may scream in pain. The stomach will feel hard and full to the touch. If not seen by a vet IMMEDIATELY, the dog will collapse and die. You have only MINUTES to get him to a vet. Transport the dog gently, since any rapid movement, including making the dog walk any distance, may cause the stomach to torsion, and the dog will go into shock and die. The vet will try and insert a stomach tube to allow gas to escape. If this doesn't work, the stomach will have to be decompressed by surgery. Prevention: Strenuous exercise should be avoided for an hour before and after giving food and water. Small, more frequent feedings, as well as elevating the dish of a large dog, or wetting dry food may prevent this emergency. The risk of bloat is greater as a dog gets older.
THE OLDER MALAMUTE
As your dog ages you'll suddenly realize he's not as playful, not as interested in his toys (perhaps he's allowed the younger dog to steal them all), and he sleeps allot more now - content to just lie around the house. Over the years he's become completely reliable around the house and his good (and bad) habits have solidified so only an occasional reminder of the rules is needed. Sometimes it seems you don't even have a dog, he's always in his "den" snoozing (unless you rattle the car keys or whisper "walk"). He has your routine perfected. He greets strangers with a friendly hello, then goes and lies down without being told. Congratulations, he's finally gotten his "Dignity on Maturity" as the AKC standard says... He's also become more affectionate than he ever was as a pup - more content to snuggle nearby for a LONG belly rub. He is secure in his role and yours as alpha so rarely tests anymore. He's no longer the sometimes hyper brat, but a mello friend and soul-mate who understands you at the deepest level. Someone you can talk to, that UNDERSTANDS. Not a whiner or complainer, he may have arthritis or other old-age stiffness but except for the sometimes stiff way he walks, you'd never know. Feed a lighter and healthier now, not such a high-protein food (better for the kidneys) and easy on the munchies that make him fat which can cause all kinds of health problems. Give him enough exercise and lots of attention. Malamutes can live anywhere from 10-16 years, the average being about 12. Many will be very healthy right to the end, but still have the vet check him over a little more often now. If his fur seems to be getting sparse or scraggly, or he seems especially grouchy for no reason, have his thyroid checked, hypothyroidism is common in the breed. Through that thick fur feel for lumps and bumps of old age that sometimes appear and let the vet know about them. If bad breath is a problem, have his teeth cleaned before he's so old it will be hard on him to have anesthetic. Most of all, give him a few more privileges, he's earned your respect as much as you've earned his. This may be the time for a puppy to liven up his days. Someone he can teach while he still has the energy and some good years left. If you feel that would just upset him or he's too old to enjoy the company of energetic puppy, wait. And when his time is done, know you've done everything you could to take care of him well, and to make him the best dog he could be.
We hope this information is helpful and was not meant to overwhelm you. Most puppies don't get into 90% of the trouble we've written about We're just trying to be thorough and answer potential questions for you. If anything seems unclear or contradictory let us know - we'd like your input for future puppy owners. If you've used a training technique that's worked well for you, we'd like to know. Many breeders kennel raise their puppies, don't have kids, very few have adult dogs in the house, and most have no idea of how to teach house manners and LIVE with a Malamute. Because our puppies are home raised you will have significantly fewer problems bringing a Malamute into your home than you would from someone who kennel raises them. Our puppy buyers have felt they haven't been any harder to raise/train than other working breeds they've evened - taking into consideration a Malamute's sled dog and survival driven heritage. We know that with knowledge and a sense of humor, your Malamute will be the most special dog you've ever owned. They're extremely smart, affectionate, and have a depth of personality not found in any other breed.
If you EVER have any problems or questions, we're just a phone call away for O'Mal puppy owners (other people should call their own breeder because that is who knows your puppy best). In fact we love and expect progress reports! Don't forget pictures. Who else can you brag to about your puppy's special talents and personality that will appreciate it more? Enjoy