Tips on Bringing Home a Malamute Puppy Based on My Experience
Bringing Home Your Malamute Puppy
We recently acquired another Alaskan malamute puppy and have had her now for exactly one week. There are many factors to consider when you get a puppy of any breed, but a malamute puppy can present some unique challenges. This is likely the case if you happen to have other dogs, but most especially if you happen to have malamutes already in residence, which I happen to have. Some folks have asked me point-blank if I was out of my mind getting another dog when my Griffin is not even 2 years old. I have to say that this is the smartest thing I've ever done (so far, at least).
Keeping Your New Puppy Safe
When you make the decision to get a new pup, it is very important that you understand how vulnerable they are. The following are just a few of the perils that a pup of 6-8 weeks faces.
- Electrical cords
- Exposure to bugs like Parvo
- Poisonous foods and substances
- Birds of prey (if they are small enough)
- Car accidents
- Puppies riding in cars need to be in a crate for their own safety and that of the driver's. Loose dogs are a danger to everyone on the road.
- Having a crate at home is also important because it provides a place for sleep and for safety. When you cannot keep an eye on the puppy at every minute, the crate is your best resource for assuring that your pet is safe.
Playpens Are Handy Tools
Another handy tool for safety is the canine playpen. I bought a brand new one on eBay for relatively little, along with a large wire pen. The playpen is actually big enough that I can put any of my three malamutes inside for a "time out" or a "break." Unfortunately, for me, Gabby figured out how to collapse it within minutes, so if I leave the room, she gets out in seconds! It is still a great tool if we are sitting in the living room watching TV and want to know where she is.
Use a Baby Gate for Your New Puppy
A baby gate is also a great investment. We have two sets of stairs that we have to constantly watch. Luckily for us, Gabby is extremely social and tends to stay where the dogs are or where we are. The baby gate is handy because when we use it, we know exactly where she is at all times. If we are doing something that precludes us from watching her like a hawk, we can block off a certain portion of the house and keep her there either with the expandable baby gate or with the metal puppy pen flattened down to serve as a fence.
Use a Fenced Area Outside
Because we have too many things outside that could be potential hazards to a new puppy, including 2 adult dogs, we never leave Gabby alone outside. Fences are a safe tool to teach her to explore our backyard, while also allowing her to engage in everyday play, especially with Griffin.
We also have a fenced-off grassy area where we can put Gabby by herself and let her interact through the fencing with Denaya and Griffin. Sometimes, we let one or both of the other adult dogs in and let them play. The fenced-off area is small enough that we can monitor them constantly and be there to inject the word "easy" multiple times with Griffin!
How to Feed a Malamute Puppy
A puppy will seem to be able to eat his or her weight per day, especially a large breed like a malamute.
Their growing bodies need good food to help them develop structurally, so make sure you consult your breeder or your vet regarding the best food for them. A malamute generally does best on food designed for large breeds, although the composition of the food is usually most important. A malamute diet is notable for its heavy dose of protein and lower dose of other ingredients, like fruits and vegetables. I personally believe in foods without grain. They are a bit more expensive, but I feel it is worth it not having all the additives. Grains can also promote allergies, so I try to stay away from them as much as possible.
Other Types of Diets
Some folks do a raw diet. In our case, all three of our malamutes are on a different diet. Griffin is on Acana's fish diet because of allergies and Denaya is on a Taste of the Wild diet that is geared towards her less active state. Ms. Gabby is consuming puppy food for large breeds, which consists of lamb and rice.
How Often Should You Feed Your Puppy?
You should do it three times per day. At present, Gabby gets one cup of food per feeding. Try and keep the feedings to regularly scheduled times because it will encourage elimination that is more predictable.
Water should be readily available at all times except, perhaps, in the evenings before bed.
Should You Train Your Puppy With Treats?
Our little Gabster is already showing signs of understanding commands. It goes to show that a puppy is never too young to begin training on any level.
Allergies Can Occur
When Griffin was in puppy training last year, we used training treats similar to the ones pictured here. However, we soon discovered that he was terribly allergic to certain foods, and the training treats gave him nothing but stomach trouble.
What to Use Instead
Set out the amount of kibble that you will feed your puppy at the next feeding in a bowl on the counter. Use a piece or two of the kibble to train during the day at random intervals.
If you do this, your puppy will avoid ingesting any bad foods, and she will not eat more than her allotted amount. In other words, she won't be prone to weight gain or gastric distress. With some dogs, it doesn't really matter what food you use as a treat. I've found that with my dogs, the best training tool I can use is praise, and the second best is just using kibble.
TIP: I already got Gabby to sit by just holding the piece of kibble above her head and moving it backwards. As she tries to see it/get it, she instinctively parks her behind on the floor. Just as her bum is hitting the floor, I say, "Sit, Gabby." She has already learned to sit automatically when I say "sit," even without the kibble.
Toys for Your New Puppy
Make sure that you have appropriate toys for your new puppy or the things around your home will get chewed up! Don't substitute things like socks or shoes for toys because the puppy will quickly learn to use those regularly. A habit started is hard to break.
Also, make sure that the toys are the appropriate texture and size. You don't want anything too small as it could cause choking. You also do not want removable pieces on the toy, such as button eyes, because the puppy has very sharp teeth and will pry those loose and potentially swallow them.
Stuffing-less toys are really great because there is no stuffing to ingest. It makes a great tug-of-war toy too, either between a human or another dog!
Chew Toys for Your New Puppy
Unfortunately, chewing is just one of the things puppies do as they cut their teeth.
Much like a baby who needs things to put in his/her mouth to make their erupting teeth feel better, a puppy constantly needs something in his mouth. The alternative is chewing on furniture, wires, or shoes, so make sure to provide your new puppy with ample things to chew on.
What I Recommend
Rawhide is not recommended because it can become lodged in the dog's stomach. I am not a big fan of pigs' ears either because I've had dogs fight over those.
I use Nylabones, which are safe as long as they are not too small for the dog. I also only offer bones to my dogs when they are separated because I have a rescue dog who has always had food issues. In this case, I consider an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure.
I provide Gabby with Nylabones when she is in her crate and also give her and Griffin things like Kong toys, balls, and braided ropes when they are together. They don't seem to have any issues exchanging or sharing these types of toys.
How to Housetrain Your New Puppy
Perhaps the most frustrating part of puppy training is the housetraining part. As with all things, consistency is the name of the game.
- Puppies need to have access to eliminate within 15 minutes after each meal. They also tend to go after play sessions or active times.
- If you want to be really proactive, take them out at 1- to 2-hour intervals. Do this until they get the hang of it, and then stretch the time out longer.
- If the puppy is going to be left for long stretches of time, then it is recommended to use piddle pads in order to teach them where you want them to eliminate.
- Take the pup outside at regular intervals, preferably to the same spot, and use words like "go potty" or whatever you choose. Keep walking the pup around until he or she decides to go, and then right at the end of the elimination, praise the dog profusely.
- If your pet has an accident, it isn't the end of the world. Shout or stomp the floor and say something to alert the pup that it wasn't the appropriate spot to eliminate. Then, quickly carry the pup to the spot where you do want him or her to eliminate.
- The old-fashioned method of rubbing your dog's nose in the accident has absolutely no effect on the puppy's understanding of what you want. Discovery after the fact is just too late to teach the pup anything.
- Keeping a close eye on the pup at all times makes housetraining much easier because you see the developing patterns of his or her elimination, and it can help you catch accidents before they happen.
- Also, it helps to keep the pup in an area free of carpeting and on surfaces that can be easily cleaned.
Remember, potty training should be a positive experience for both you and your dog.
Collars and Leashes for Your New Puppy
- Keep a collar on your new puppy with identification, just in case he wanders off and gets lost. With an I.D., you can hopefully get him back right away.
- Use a collar that fits well and is expandable. Never use a collar that can tighten should the puppy get wedged somewhere as this could chock him.
- You can use a leash of any kind for your pup to familiarize him with the mechanics of walking on lead, but encourage her to follow you rather than tugging her along. Tugging will lead to problems down the road in leash training. The best way for a dog to walk on lead is for him to want to walk on lead.
- We use a leash like the one above because it is easy to slip on in the middle of the night on a potty run. Be aware, though, that these leashes do not release, so never leave a puppy unsupervised with one around her neck. We have 2 of these leashes looped together to give us more room and also use one end to get Gabby to track with us as we walk. It leads to less balking.
- Again, this is a great leash you can just slip on for potty breaks or to safely walk your dog to the car without fear of her darting off into the street. It can also be a great training leash, as long as you make sure you are present at all times when she is in the leash.
Puppies and Bitter Apple Spray
Sometimes, you need to have a backup plan for when your dog chews on things. In such cases, many vets and trainers recommend sprays, such as Bitter Apple Spray, to deter a pup from chewing on certain items.
I have had great success with the Bitter Apple spray I buy at Petco. It is sour enough to discourage even the most stubborn dog from chewing on something that she really, really wants!
Make sure you test the fabric you want to spray on for color fastness. In most cases, I've used the spray everywhere and have had great results, including on Griffin's legs to keep him from chewing on them.
The Joys of Having a New Puppy
Hands down, having a new puppy is a labor of love. They are so innocent and dependent on you that you cannot help but fall in love. They are also a tremendous amount of work, and the wisest person is the one who knows what to expect going into it.
With that said, there are all kinds of incredible manuals out there. For a malamute puppy, I highly recommend the Barron's book simply because it is totally understandable and gives you a great background and understanding of the breed. It also provides you with a great section on bringing your malamute puppy home.
Part of the magic of appropriately raising a puppy is understanding your particular breed and making the most of his or her strengths and minimizing his or her weaknesses. Starting with a firm foundation from the very start will lead to success across the board.
Tips to Keep Your Puppy Safe and Happy
- One of the greatest gifts you can give to your malamute puppy, or any dog for that matter, is your love.
- You also do them a great service by giving them your time. Learn about them, and learn how best to raise them up to be who you want them to be.
- Socialize them often and early. Although it is not recommended that you take a puppy to dog parks, pet stores, parks of any kind, or roads traveled by many dogs, you can socialize him or her with friends and family.
- You can also socialize them with other dogs if you know that the dogs are up-to-date on their vaccines. However, be aware that Parvo lives for 6 years, and, if a puppy comes into contact with the Parvo virus, it can be deadly. While malamutes are not as susceptible as some other breeds are, they can still get it, and it is still a deadly virus.
- Keep your pup protected until the 16-week shots are completed. I suggest waiting an extra week to make sure they have their full immunity before taking them out to "high risk" places, such as those mentioned above.
Raising Your Malamute Puppy
These are just a few of the things I've learned from raising our malamute pups. They are a fascinating lot, and I wouldn't trade a moment of my time with them. It's hard to believe that they are one of the breeds on the "most aggressive dog breed list." I think it is all about making sure they are trained and raised appropriately.
They Are Social Animals
Puppy classes are a great way for them to socialize and learn their "manners."
Exposing them to all kinds of situations often and early is another surefire way to train them to be the way that you want them to be.
Malamutes are a wonderful breed, but know what you're getting into because they do require loads of exercise and huge amounts of socialization with people and the world around them. Most of all, they require something to do.
Get Them Involved in Sports and Activities
If you have a malamute pup, and you want to really optimize his or her "purpose" in life, get him or her involved early in training for scootering, bikejoring, skijoring, carting, weight/freight pulling, etc. This is what this breed of dog is meant to do, and they have a tremendous work ethic and a desire to perform.
Get involved in urban mushing and start training early as a pup. At 18 months of age, a malamute can move on to actual pulling. In the meantime, you can train the pup in all the mechanics so that when they come of age, they are ready to begin the real deal. It is a tremendously rewarding activity for both the dog and the owner, as I can attest to. They love it, and watching them love it is worth all the time and effort you put into it.
Provide Unconditional Love and Care
Most importantly, give your puppy a good home and a safe place to be. Do your best to remember that your dog is only young for a very small window of time. A puppy is a gift we give to ourselves. All we need to do is love them, and they will love us back endlessly.
Why I Decided to Get Another Dog
Malamutes are an extremely social breed, so they need constant companionship. They aren't particular about it though; they can bond to humans as easily as they can bond to other dogs, and they will easily get along with their own "kind" (a northern breed). Griffen's only other canine companion was and our 10-year-old rescued malamute. This made me realize that Griffin was lacking a companion who could truly be an equal, especially when it comes time to urban mush. So began my quest to get another dog.
Although my own husband is skeptical, I can see that this will be a truly wonderful experience for all of us. We picked up our little bundle of joy, Ms. Gabby, a week ago today and introduced her to the other resident malamutes last Sunday. She was 8 weeks old and under 20 pounds. It has been a week of laughter and chaos, but all things considered, it has gone extremely well. Griffin is in love with his niece, and I think Gabby is in love with him as well.