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By nature, the malamute is a placid, easy going, fun loving dog, but many people find themselves unwilling or incapable of coping with the highly intelligent, sometimes devious, Malamute mind. The Malamute is not the fabled one-man dog, following loved ones with blind faith and obedience. First, those loved ones must prove themselves worthy of faithfulness and obedience. The Malamute can be stubborn and independent, ignoring his family with disdain and happily following a stranger.

Respect is the key word. Using somewhat rough affection, make your Malamute feel your attention is not given lightly and that it is something to be valued and earned.

Force or unbending severity will make a Malamute sullen and uncooperative, and he turn to aggression as protection to his pride. Be firm when training your Malamute. Be sure he understands what you expect of him. If you're unable to follow through and enforce a command, don't issue it.

There is no need to fear your Malamute. Despite stories of vicious arctic dogs, the Malamute is basically a friendly, gentle dog. Malamutes are not overly successful as guard dogs because of their trusting friendly nature. However, they have no fear and have been known to be worthy opponents if their family is threatened. Their main value as watch dogs is in their size and formidable appearance. They are not often challenged.

While they may react aggressively out of loyalty and love, Malamutes are difficult - if not impossible - to train for guard dog duties. During World War II, Malamutes were inducted into the army for the purpose of guarding installations in their native Alaska. It was discovered that the basic nature of the breed was simply too friendly and gentle. Only when cruel and extreme training methods were used would they attack a human, and then they were dangerous to all and impossible to control.

The working dogs of the North were often mistreated and neglected, left to survive by their own wiles. Native mushers did not encourage a great deal of affection or trust. The dogs grew up half wild, with codes of their own, competing as equals with humans for food and developing their independent nature to compensate for the lack of personal attention. Even today, there are many instances of cruelty, neglect, and tormenting which can turn any dog bad. Children are usually the worst offenders. A penned or chained dog is easy prey to bored youngsters, but let the animal retaliate and the world hears about the unstable temperament of the breed in general.

I answer the most commonly asked question, "How are your dogs with children?" with, "How are your children with dogs?". People turn small puppies over to their children with no instructions or supervision on care. The child may not even realize he is tormenting a pet into defending itself, and when it does, it is disposed of as being "vicious". The parents' attitude regarding the child-dog relationship is very important in determining whether a home is suitable for a puppy.

Like a child, the Malamute goes through a "teenage stage", testing his family to see just how far he can go. A Malamute that does not learn respect during the "teenage rebellion" is almost impossible to change as an adult.

The Malamute's friendly, gentle attitude towards humans does not extend to other dogs - especially those of the same sex. Malamutes constantly strive to prove their superiority to strange dogs. This aggressiveness is perhaps the biggest disadvantage the breed has and the main reason Malamutes are often dropped from teams. Except in unusual cases, Malamutes can be raised to respect the right of other dogs if properly brought up from puppyhood.

Malamutes do not always fight to prove superiority. They also do battle for the sheer joy of it, tails wagging happily the entire time. This does not make the fight any less violent, for Malamutes attack any project with enthusiasm! Most owners take the necessary precautions to protect the innocent canine public rather than battle their dogs to change this natural compulsion to fight.

Breaking up a fight single-handedly can be simplified by having a spray can of "Dristan" or similar product close at hand in the kennel or on the sled. A good spray in the face will take the breath - and the fight out of the dogs and will not damage the eyes. This is an inexpensive precaution which can save costly vet bills and as one musher put it, "Clear up their sinuses?".

The Alaskan Malamute, a natural hunting dog, is not usually successful as a farm dog. Cats, ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep and occasionally larger animals are fair game to the Malamute. Constant contact with these animals from puppyhood may bury this instinct, but a Malamute owner must be prepared to cope with this aspect of the Arctic heritage.

A Malamute will adjust to confinement quite happily if raised with a comfortable kennel as "home", a place where he is fed, loved, and played with. There is no cruelty involved in confining a Malamute for his own safety.

Try to understand the natural instincts you are dealing with when coping with Malamute personality. Their pride, independence, aggressiveness, and high spirits were all necessary to survive the life for which nature created them. Realize that they dig huge holes in the yard not to annoy but to provide a cool den in the summer and a warm home in the winter. Allot them a portion of the property where they are free to bury treasures and create their wolf-like dens. Weather and living conditions may not necessitate these activities, but the instincts of the Malamute are strong enough to override the changes civilization may have produced.

The more an animal is trained, the more his intelligence is developed. This can work to both good and bad results with the Malamute. His reasoning power and versatility can enable him to excel in many fields. His independence and stubbornness can cause disagreements. And his amazing memory can cause embarrassment.

Since temperament is so much a part of compatible living with a Malamute, please, for the sake of all involved, be sure this is the type of dog you want before buying your Malamute. This is not a breed everyone can or should own, and there is enough variety in the dog world to offer happy, comfortable relationships for everyone.

Reprinted by permission from: "Your Alaskan Malamute"

Author: Dianne Ross

Copyright: 1977 by Wm. W. Denlinger, Fairfax, VA 22030

Responsible Dog Ownership – Anyone who elects to have a dogshare his life must know thatthere are reponsibilities that go along with dog ownership for as long as the dog lives.

To The Dog – Before geting a dog, a person must be aware that the responsibility for the dog's physical, mental, and emotional well-being lasts 24 hours a day for as long as the dog lives. Dogs are living beings with intelligence and emotion. Their devotion to their owners must not be one-sided or exploited. The owner must be considerate of the dogs individuality as well as provide the dog's basic needs. These basic needs follow.
1. Nutrition – A dog must be fed a balanced diet and have clean water available. The many quality foods now available may seem more expensive than supermarket brands, but they are superior in nutrition resulting in better overall health for the dog.
2. Health Care – A veterinarian supervised preventative health care program of routine health examinations, vaccinations, heartworm prevention, deworming and flea control is advised. Spaying and neutering of all dogs not in a breeding program is strongly advised.
3. Housing – Kennel runs, fenced yards, and dog crates should all be considered. Dogs need shelter from wind, sun rain and snow.
4. Safety – When travelling in a vehicule, the dog should always be securely contained with a crate or a doggy seat belt. Dogs lose in the back of a truck are easily injured and killed. Also consider safety around the home, keeping poisons, poisonous plants, and electrical cords away from home.
5. Grooming – Regular grooming keeps the dogs skin, coat, feet and teeth in optimum health, feels good for the dog, and provides a 1:1 time for dog and owner.
6. Education – At the very least, dogs should be housetrained and have basic house manners. Teaching the basic novice exercise (heel, sit, down, stand, come and stay) makes a better companion. Training classes and books about dog training and behaviour are available. Dogs enjoy learning new activities with their owners. There is no excuse for a spoiled or ill-mannered dog. Dogs need and want to learn what is expected of them. Without "pack rules" to follow, the dog will assume there is no leader and take over the job. This translates into "behaviour problems" and "out of control dogs". Sadly, many of these dogs are abandoned or killed because their owners didn't take the time to educate them properly. Such an owner must be responsible for killing his own dog.
7. TLC (Tender Loving Care) - Like people, dogs have feelings and need to be needed and loved. One of the nicest benefits of sharing your life with a dog is the companionship and closeness that develops.

To the Community – Every dog owner must become a considerate owner. In these days of anti - dog legislation and animal rights activist activities, dog owners must present a positive image of dog ownership at all times. Consideration of others is extremely important. Not everyone "loves" your dog like you do. Some people are fearful of dogs; others dislike dogs. Ultimately, being a responsible dog owner will help ensure that we will be able to freely enjoy our canine companions for many years to come.

1. Control/Containment – Dogs should be under physical control (fences, leashes) or under direct visual/mental control at all times. This is for the dog's safety, other people and/or animals' safety, and to conform to local laws. There are a wide variety of fencing materials and leashes available. For example, the retractable leads (e.g.Flexilead) can give a dog enough room to run and play (24 feet in all directions) on a pleasure walk yet the dog is still under physical control.
2.Neutering/Spaying – All dogs should be neutered or spayed unless they are being shown in conformation and/or part of a breeding program. For more information on the subject, click here.
3.Local Laws – Respect local laws regarding leash control, areas where dogs are/are not allowed, and licensing. Do be aware that licenses for altered dogs are cheaper.
4. Stoop and Scoop – Train your dog to eliminate in your yard -- not your neighbour's. Clean up after the dog wherever you are. Small plastic bags are easy to carry in a pocket for clean up. Dispose of the manure appropriately.
5. Noise Control – No one appreciates a noisy dog. Generally, neighbours appreciate appropriate warning/alert barks or occasional Northern dog song fests but a continually barking/crying dog is extremely irritating. If you must leave your dog alone outside when you're away from home, be certain (by asking your neighbours) that it is quiet. Ifd the dog isn't, then consider leaving the dog inside. Be aware of your dog's voice.
6. Be a considerate traveller – Travel with a clean, quiet, well-behaved dog. Exercise your dog in appropriate places and then, stoop and scoop. Always leave any place (e.g. motel) clean and undamaged. Thanks to inconsiderate owners, many hotels/motels refuse to accept pets.

Printed with kind permission from the AMCC information pack


Jill & Jim Broadberry
Orchard Wood
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