Pack Orientation

Alaskan malamutes are very pack oriented . It is very strong in these dogs.. They either have to have a a dog pack or human pack family for their social well being. The alaskan malamute must have a sense of where he fits into the pack. He/she needs a role ! In a pack situation a a dog or wolf is either the leader if he is alpha he or she can be the nurturer the balancer of the pack ,not unlike a favorite aunt or uncle who babysits or he can be the underdog ,that's the dog everyone bullies around..

In the alpha role in a wolf pack, the head dog always eats first ,they are the head of the household. . Everyone must obey the leader and follow it's lead. If a wolf in the lower ranks oversteps his or her role, the leader is quick to correct the offending party. The discipline can be harsh and can be fatal or it can be mild and used as a sense of warning to discourage any other infractions.

Now if you own an alaskan malamute that is of the alpha nature, "NEVER ,NEVER let your dog assume the alpha role within the family pack of your home.I say that about the alpha but even if your dog is a couch potato type . It is very important to set the rules out early . If a mlamaute does not have a dog pack to lead , it will , given the chance , try to asume leadership with his human pack . The alaskan malamutes motto is 'LEAD OR BE LED.. So it is important that the family assume the leadership role as soon as your new puppy arrives. .

Puppy training must start as soon as your puppy arrives. Here are some 'NEVERS".

Never let your alaskan malamute puppy continuously play bite . This play may seem innocent but it soon becomes apparent how dangerous play biting can be and especially harmful when your puppy gets big. It is very easy for a child to get hurt . A firm no and a light tap under the chin or gentle flick on the nose will generally suffice to correct a young malamte puppy. For stronger headed malamute puppies ,and their are many , a quick harmless shake by the scruff of the neck and a firm no can really do the trick sometimes.. This technique is not unlike what he/she would experience in a wolfpack when being corrected by another wolf of higher standing.

I always make it a habit when the puppies are young even 3 and 4 weeks of age to roll them over on their backs and gently hold them in that position while stroking their bellies in a comforting way . This is a good way to show your dominance in a non threatning way and at the same time build trust and affection . When my dogs get older even at age ten they roll on their backs show submission and respect and at the same time get loved and stroked to their hearts desire. All this done without aggressive discipline. I even use this position as play . They trust that I won't hurt them and yet respect me as it is always fresh in their minds that I was always able to restrain them when they were little. It's like the elephant who was always chained all his life and when the chains were removed never left his spot because it was ingrained in him that the chain was still there restrainig him.

By the time a puppy leaves here , many of them being accustomed to belly rubs will carry this behaviour to their new environements. They will either do it for the fun of getting their belly rubbed or when they are disciplined . I also want to stress if you are using this tactic as part of a disciplanary measure ,do not under any circumstances let the puppy up until he stops struggling . If you do ,you are teaching him/her that he is calling the shots . So if you can't carry it through to the end don't use this particular training tool . It is only good if you use it properly.

I used to use a spray bottle with plain water or lighly scented water, for the tougher to train dogs , scented works much better . this is a rather effective training tool for discipline. I used it quite alot on my first malamute who was quite stubborn and extremely alpha . Until the day he passed away ,all I had to do was show him anything that may have resembled a spray bottle and he booted it to whatever hiding place he could find. My water was scented and if you recall my dog Kobuk was very into smelling putrid by rubbing himself into anything smelly ,so this was very effective. The fear of smelling like a flower was a great deterent for this dog. .
The number one rule for trainning is confidence. Your whole family must have it , kids incuded !!!!!! This is very imporrtant for the safety of your children. Of course all young children must be supervised when around dogs ,so if you have very young children you are to be their confidence. Anyway what I mean by confidence is that everyone must be willing and able to be consistent and firm in all areas of training . An alakan malamute , just like any dog is capable of picking up when and where and with who he can rule the roost. They can very easily pick up on each family members weaknesses and strengths. Your dog , depending on what he has picked up on in the family members, will develop different roles with different family members . For example if the husband is an effective leader , the dog will pick up on that and respect that and will assume the underdog role . On the other hand if the wife is an innefective leader and the dog picks up on her weaknesses or any fears she may have , a malamute especially will , take full advantage of that situation by assuming the lead pack role with her . This can prove hazardous as the dog may eventually bite to show it's authority feeling it has that authority and will do so without fear of retrobution because he has sensed that the wife is no leader . This disrespect for the wife can spill over to other younger family members and the general public at large .

Alaskan malamutes can be very testy ,dominant and strong headed. Some of these traits can be very great if harnessed properly,but dangerous if not. These traits can be found in any dog , a yorkshire terrier can display some of these traits in it's individual personality ,but it's bite is not likely to cause death or severe injury . Large dogs on the other hand need extremely good training that is consistent so that they can become good doggi citizens as their bites can be fatal because of the size and power many large breeds have.

An alaskan malamute can make a wonderful companion for your family. Our own experience have shown this in our own family with our own children and the malamutes we have raised and trained. But other owners I know have not been as successful . Other ownwers are not us ,they may have other ways of training and dealing with dogs that are not as effective or suitable for this particular breed. Owning an alaskan malamute then for them would have been a negative experience . Sometimes we may want a particular breed because their looks appeal to us . But it is important to evaluate our own misgivings and do ourselves a favor a make make sure we reasearch the best breed for our particular personalities . Sometimes within your soul searching you may find a labrador is what is best suited for you and your lifestyle.

Now it's not my intention to scare any of you potentail malamute ownwers , but to be realistic about the potential risks of owning a dog of this size and nature and to warn you of its' possible dangers if not placed in the right environment . We look at it as our duty to inform you as potential buyers with all the facts so you can make an educated desicion taking into account your own strengths and weaknesses as a potental alaskan malamute ownwer.

In the future I will write more on training but I hope this short expose on will give you some idea of what I call nessacary rules of thumb in basic alaskan malamute training. There are many methods of training out there. Some people have very strong opinions of what they call proper and good training. What I have discussed in this small small article in regards to training have worked very well for us over the 20 years we have had alaskan malamutes . We are not training aggressively or beating the dogs into submission which would result in a dog who lives his /her life scurrying about you. We have trained sevral dogs who have had aggression problems with their owners. In all cases it was because the ownwers were not consistent and did not give the dog proper ttraining and socialization and the dogs assumed the leadership role. We have been succesful in retraining these dogs except 1 and placing them again in new homes. This one dog which was not succesful was sussessful on one front . It learned to respect myself ,the trainer, but she easily took advantage of others. . Unfortunately that dog which I loved , had to be put to sleep after a year of training because it bit another person again . The bad training it had received from the 5 years berfore it came to me was too ingrained and though I had her trusting me and loving me and looking to me as leader, she was willing to take advantage of a situation with someone else if given the chance. This was her 4th time biting and for the safety of my children and anyone who may have visited or for people who may have encountered her if she escaped by accident from my home , it was necassary to put her to sleep. It was a very very hard thing to do as I put my heart into helping her change . I learned that day that not all damage can be undone . It's like people some will grow out of their bad experiences and be the better for it ,some will harbour them and it will ruin and run their lives no matter what help they get. Was it the dog's fault , no way ! Early proper training would have helped. this was a e very large dog , larger than mot malamutes. The bite from such a dog could have proved fatal one day . It was our responsibility to elimanate such a risks no matter how painful it was for us to let her go. Did we cry , "YOU BET " , I found it very hard and I think my husband more so . We held each other in a long embrace , no words were spoken for quite sometime, just our tears could be heard .

Please for the sake of dogs like my Connie train your dogs and be honest with yourself in regards to your own skills ,confidence and comfort zones in training ,and lifestyle . Ask yourself do myself and my family have the skills and the ability to take on a breed of an alaskan malamute. Do I have the confidence to raise a dog that may be more than a handful at many times. . First time alaskan malamute owners be especially candid with yourself. The very first dodg that I had when I left my mothers home to spread my wings was an alpha alaskan malamute of the very......................................................strong headed type. 'BUT SO WAS I". My personality took this attitude in my malamute in stride and looked apon it as a challenge . I was 21 at the time ,young and "full of myself". It was hard and trying at times but I was the right match for him . I was stubborn and strong willed also and physically in great shape too for a girl as I was very active. Had I been anything less , this dog would have been "Shelter Bound "I am sure with someone else . Believe or not , I enjoyed the challenge ,most times anyway ,not all !! I also enjoyed Kobuk ,I loved his spirit.

I am now in my forties and no longer so full of myself as I was in my twenties and I am not as strong as I was physiaclly but I still have "Attitude"and that goes a long way !!!!!!