General Alaskan Malamute Information
The Alaskan Malamute is not a "barker", but some of them will "talk" a great deal. Some of this will indeed sound and feel like a "conversation" and can be quite amusing. The best way to describe the talking is to recall Chewbacca, the Wookie in the movie "Star Wars." It is sort of a soft "woo woo woo" sound.
For athletic people, Malamutes are ideal. They are skilled in hunting and fishing, love backpacking, hiking and sledding, and excel in weight pulling. They do well in obedience even though their greatest joy in life is to entertain the audience with a series of comedy antics.
The Malamute is one of the most "unaltered" of breeds, retaining its original form and function. Their affectionate nature does not make them useful as watch or guard dogs. If a dog owner cannot cope with a dog that will not comply with the owners every command, a more compliant breed should be selected. This dog has a long genetic foundation of living in the wilderness with man surrounded by other domesticated animals of approximately the same size. They may howl like wolves or coyotes, and for the same reasons. When they howl, the howl is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from the wolf. Since the dog is pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog will respect you and training will be much easier. It is best to enroll in a puppy training class (or puppy kindergarten training as they are commonly known) soon after your dog is home and has all of its vaccinations. This training is good for the dog and for you as the owner, as it will help you understand your new puppy and establish you as alpha very early in the puppy's life, which is extremely important with this breed. Once you have completed the puppy class, and have been working with the dog for a few months, a basic obedience class is in order.
The Malamute is a physically tough breed with enormous strength that can easily knock over a child during play or drag its owner around the neighborhood unless it is properly trained and has learned its own strength. All dogs should be under complete control of their owners at all times, and large dogs especially have to be taught to be gentle during play and that the person on the other end of the leash is in control, not the dog. The size and strength of the full grown Malamute must be seriously considered since you will have to devote much time and energy to proper training and socialization for this dog to be the "gentle giant" it is known to be.
Malamutes are bred today with all their original instincts intact, and this has to be appreciated. Since the Eskimos needed dogs that could sense or recognize dangerous conditions and make their own decisions. This sometimes means that they must disobey their handler's commands. Malamutes have a strong independent nature. These dogs have been bred to be thinkers and decision makers. This trait has been carried over even today and can present a challenge in obedience training. This is a breed that learns quickly, but becomes bored easily. Training is best approached positively and with a sense of humor to keep the dog interested. Malamutes are not considered the easiest dogs to obedience train, but may excel with proper training.
Obedience training this breed can be very interesting and extremely challenging. Many owners will complain that their dogs act perfectly in class, but will not obey at home. This breed is intelligent enough to differentiate situations very well, and will apply different rules of behavior for different situations. You must stay on top of the dog and maintain control, which is easier to do while the dog is of manageable size than with a stubborn adult that has been allowed to get away with undesirable behaviors for a long time.
It is very important to remember that Alaskan Malamutes are a working breed. They need something to do. Putting them in the backyard and tossing them a bone and expecting them to be happy us a very bad idea. They need a lot of exercise and interaction to be happy. The exercise can come in the form of mushing, which is of course best, or can easily be in the form of frequent walks, hikes, and playing. The dog makes a wonderful hiking companion, and with a dog pack, can carry food and water.