Owning an Alaskan Malamute takes a special person because they are an extraordinary breed of dog. In addition to their striking good looks, they are also fiercely loyal, loving, smart, and overall make excellent companions. They are sweet, with a need to please and they learn fairly easily too. So you would think training one should be a breeze. Right? Not really.
That famous Malamute independent and strong personality makes for a somewhat difficult-to-train student. Luckily, it looks harder than it actually is – IF you know what you are doing. Understanding your pooch is nearly the entire battle, and if used in conjunction with these 15 Malamute-proof tips, you’ll have him trained in no time.
15 Alaskan Malamute Training Tips
15. Know What You Are Getting Into
The Alaskan Malamute is a fantastic breed of dog – there’s no argument there. However, these dogs do tend to have forceful personalities. They are independent, dominant, and can be very hard-headed and stubborn.
As with any breed, doing the research before considering adoption or rescue, is super important. Characteristics and traits of different breeds can vary considerably. You need to be sure that the dog you choose will match your lifestyle and household.
14. Exercise Is Important
Getting the appropriate amount of exercise is important for any dog, but this breed, even more so. They have a lot of energy and if this energy is not expended, it can very much hinder any training progress.
If you notice that your pooch seems to be antsy, or can’t seem to sit still and pay attention – he may just need to go for an extended walk. Attempting to train an over-energetic Malamute is likely to be fruitless.
13. Be Prepared For A Challenge
Training a Malamute can be quite challenging. It takes imagination and a lot of patience. You, and the dog, are likely going to become frustrated and want to give up. Giving up will only cause a major setback, one that might not be able to be rectified.
Before even beginning any training, you need to mentally prepare for it – not joking. These dogs are incredibly smart and stubborn, training is going to be a challenge, but one that in the end, is undeniably rewarding.
12. Have Everything Handy
Being prepared also means that you need to have everything you need, nearby and ready. As intelligent as an Alaskan Malamute is, they also tend to have short attention spans. If you have to stop in the middle of a lesson to go retrieve treats or a tool, you might lose your pooch’s interest.
Before you even alert your dog that it is training time, you should have absolutely everything you need within reach and at your disposal. Once the lesson begins there should be no distractions.
11. Keep It Consistent
Consistency is key in any training. Keeping a set schedule is essential when training most pets, but where the Malamute differs is in the training details themselves. Whereas many dogs need to keep lessons consistent, the Alaskan Malamute becomes bored quite easily.
In order to keep your Malamute invested in his training progress, the lesson needs to be switched up every so often. When these pups become bored or disinterested, it can be extremely difficult to get them back engaged.
10. Try To Find A Common Ground
As you have already come to see, these dogs are not quite like any other. Their thought processes seem to be a bit more complex and they also seem to be able to interact on a different, deeper, level.
As with any breed of dog, you truly need to get to know your Alaskan Malamutes’ specific personality traits and character, finding common ground. You need to understand what works for him, as well as what doesn’t.
09. The Importance Of Breed Background And Inherent Behaviors
Alaskan Malamutes are thought to be one of the oldest working breeds, and much of their character and personality stem directly from their ancestors. This is why they rely so heavily on pack hierarchy. These dogs are strong-willed, fiercely independent, and set in their ways.
All of the breed’s typical behaviors as well as their background should be taken into consideration when planning lessons, that is if you want to be successful. It cannot be stressed enough that Malamutes are unlike other canines.
08. Skip The Day If Your Heart Isn’t Into It
These dogs are deeply in tune with their owners and if you try to do a training lesson when your heart really is not in it, he will know. Even the not-so-astute canine companion has the uncanny ability to pick up on emotions and react accordingly. Trying to train while upset, tired, or angry will probably just result in an insufficient and counterproductive session. Wait until you both can give it your all.
Be Sure To Check Out 10 Amazing Alaskan Malamute Facts!
07. Respect Their Intelligence
One of the most important things when putting together your training plan is to keep in mind that this is in no way an unintelligent breed. Their intelligence needs to be respected in both the planning and the execution of any training sessions. The dog needs to be kept engaged and therefore the lessons should not be overly easy. Boredom is enemy number one with regard to training these specific dogs.
06. Enroll Him In Classes
Allowing your Malamute to interact with other canines can help keep him socialized which can, in turn, prevent certain negative behaviors. Whether it be obedience classes or social ones, connecting with like-minded, fellow four-legged individuals can do your Alaskan Malamute a world of good.
Even if you do choose to enroll him in obedience training, the same rules need to apply outside of class. Your dog coach should be able to help make an at-home training plan.
05. Keep It Interesting
Boredom comes very easily to the Alaskan Malamute. As one of the most intelligent breeds, it can take some finesse to get and keep his attention. Once they have lost interest, they typically stop interacting, which can be incredibly frustrating. Although the timing and duration of the lessons should stay consistent, you will still want to keep it interesting.
This can be done by switching up the lessons or even changing the setting. Unlike many other breeds, the most crucial aspect of successfully training an Alaskan Malamute is keeping their attention. They are more than smart enough to take in the information, you just have to make them want to.
04. Keep A Leash And Treats Ready
When your Malamute becomes distracted during a lesson (no question of if, just when – because it WILL happen), put the leash on him, and tell him to stay and or sit. When he either does so or at the very least, you have his complete attention, offer him a snack, and a positive platitude (Good Boy!). This should help to redirect him to the task at hand. The leash and treats can be one of the most important parts of your training toolbox.
03. Start Training As Early As Possible
As with all canines, the earlier training starts, the better. With this particular breed, starting the lessons as a puppy can save a lot of time and effort. Training adult Malamutes can be tricky and many times require professional interference. However, this breed is very much worth added effort and there is absolutely no shame in hiring an expert to take over. Regardless of the age range, training should begin as soon as possible.
02. Pack Mentality Matters
In some breeds, even if pack mentality comes into play, it doesn’t really have an impact on the relationship between dog and owner. The Alaskan Malamute is NOT one of those breeds. Pack mentality takes strong precedence in this breed. Establishing a hierarchy within the household, as early as possible, is absolutely imperative.
It should be made very clear that you are the boss – not Fido. Not to be too repetitive, but you have to set the boundaries early on and you must stick to them. The pack mentality can also become an important factor if there are other pets in the house. Any fighting, which is possible, should be nipped in the bud.
01. It Is Essential To Maintain A Position Of Respect
As has been discussed, the pack mentality is very strong in this breed. Maintaining your status as the ‘alpha’ of the pack is absolutely crucial in, not only training but for the canine-owner bond itself. Without securing a position of respect within the relationship, your dog could become unmanageable, or even aggressive.
This is not to say, you can’t give love and cuddles, and lots of them, but your dog should know that it is you, and not he, is the head of the household. In all actuality the entire bond between you and your Malamute is one that is based on mutual respect – maybe that’s why it is such a special one.