Tips On Bringing Home A Malamute Puppy
BRINGING HOME YOUR MALAMUTE PUPPY
We recently acquired another 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.
Especially if you happen to have other dogs but most especially if you happen to have malamutes already in residence. Which I happen to have in stereo. While some folks asked me point blank if I was out of my mind getting another malamute puppy when my Griffin is not even 2 years old yet, I have to say it is the smartest thing I've ever done. So far.
Malamutes are an extremely social breed and that said, they need constant companionship. They aren't particular about that really. They can bond to humans as easily as they can bond to other dogs, most especially their own "kind" such as a northern breed. However, having an energetic 2-year-old malamute and a rescued malamute who is now 10 years old made me realize that Griffin was lacking in some ways for a companion who could truly be an equal. Especially when it comes time to urban mush. So began my quest to get another puppy.
Again, although even my own husband was 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. It has been a week of laughter and chaos but all things considered, it has gone extremely well. And Griffin is in love with his niece....and I think Gabby is in love with him as well.
SAFETY AND YOUR NEW PUPPY
Most importantly, when you make the decision to get a new pup, you need to make sure you understand how vulnerable they are. There are a million things out there that can harm your puppy like:
- Electrical cords
- Exposure to bugs like Parvo
- Poisonous foods and substances
- Even birds of prey if they are small enough
- Car accidents
These are just a few of the perils that face a pup of 6-8 weeks. Gabby was 8 weeks when we picked her up and under 20 pounds. Most importantly, puppies riding in cars need to be in a crate for their own safety and even that of the driver. Loose dogs in any car are a danger to everyone on the road.
Having a crate at home is also important because it gives the owner a place to put the puppy for sleep and for safety. If there are times when you cannot keep an eye on the puppy every minute, the crate is your best resource for assuring your pet's safety.
PUPPY PLAYPENS ARE HANDY TOOLS FOR A NEW PUPPY
Another handy tool for safety is the canine playpen. I bought one on eBay for relatively little brand new along with a large wire pen. The playpen is actually big enough that I can put any of my 3 malamutes inside for a "time out", a "break", whatever. Unfortunately for me, Gabby figured out how to collapse it within minutes so if I leave the room, she's basically out in seconds! It is a great tool though 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 when you have a puppy. We have an upstairs and a loft so 2 sets of stairs to watch constantly. Lucky for us, Gabby is extremely social and tends to stay where the dogs are or where we are but the baby gate also makes it possible to be sure of 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 FOR YOUR PUPPY 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. It's a great way to teach her to explore our backyard and also let her engage in every day play with Griffin especially. 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...or we can let one or both of the other adult dogs in and let them play. We are in an area that is small enough that we can monitor them constantly and be there to inject the word "easy" multiple times with Griffin!
FEEDING A NEW PUPPY
A puppy will seem to be able to eat his or her weight per day. Especially a large breed dog such as 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 your dog. A malamute generally does best on a large breed dog food although the composition of the food is usually most important. A malamute diet is notable for a heavy dose of protein and lower dose of other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables in the food. I personally believe in foods without grain and though they are a bit more expensive, 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.
Some folks do a raw diet. In our case, all 3 of our malamutes are on a different diet. Griffin is on a fish diet of Acana because of allergies and Denaya is on a Taste of the Wild diet that is geared towards her less active state and the Ms. Gabby is on a puppy food for large breeds consisting of lamb and rice.
Feeding for a puppy should be 3 times per day. At present, she gets 1 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.
TRAINING AND TREATS FOR YOUR PUPPY
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.
When we had our Griffin in puppy training last year, we used training treats such as those 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 do 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.
That way, your puppy is not ingesting anything "else" in his or her diet and is going to not be prone to weight gain or gastric distress by introducing new foods to him or her. In some cases with dogs, it doesn't really matter in terms of treat snack foods. However, I found that with my dogs, the best training tool I can use is praise and the second best is just using kibble.
TIP: I got Gabby to sit already by just holding the piece of kibble above her head and moving it backward. 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 already has figured out when I say "sit" to do it automatically....even without the kibble every time.
TOYS FOR YOUR NEW PUPPY
Make sure that you have appropriate toys for your new puppy or you may be sorry in terms of things chewed up around your home! 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 for your puppy. 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, etc. because the puppy has very sharp teeth and will pry them loose and potentially swallow them.
Stuffingless toys are really great because there is no stuffing to ingest. It makes a great tug-of-war toy too....between a human or another dog!
CHEWING AND YOUR NEW PUPPY
A chewing puppy is a happy 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 their mouth to make their erupting teeth feel better, a puppy needs something in their mouth almost constantly. The alternative is chewing on furniture, wires, shoes, etc. so make sure to provide your new puppy with ample things to chew on.
Rawhide is not recommended because of the problems with lodging in the dog's stomach. I am not a big fan of pigs ears either just 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, simply 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 or balls, braided ropes and long toys when they are together. They don't seem to have any issues exchanging or sharing these types of toys.
HOUSE TRAINING YOUR NEW PUPPY
Perhaps the most frustrating part of puppy training is the house training part. However, as in all things, consistency is the name of the game.
A puppy will need to have access to eliminate within 15 minutes after each meal. They also will tend to need to go after play sessions or active times.
If you want to be really proactive, taking them out at 1-2 hour intervals is a good rule of thumb until they get the hang of it, then stretching the time out longer works well.
If the puppy is going to be left for long stretches of time, then it is recommended to use piddle pads for the pup in order to teach him or her where you want them to eliminate.
Potty training should be a positive experience for both you and dog. Unfortunately, just like potty training a child, it is a necessary part of maturity. Take the pup outside at regular intervals to the same spot preferably 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...."good girl, Gabby".
If the puppy 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 that you do want him or her to eliminate in.
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 expect to teach the pup anything.
Keeping a close eye on the pup at all times makes house training much easier because you see the developing patterns of his or her elimination and it can help you catch accidents before they happen rather than after.
Also keeping the pup in an area free of carpeting and on surfaces that are easily cleaned up helps immensely!
COLLARS AND LEASHES FOR YOUR NEW PUPPY
Keeping a collar on your new puppy is a good idea and also having identification on him or her is also the smartest thing to do. Just in case your pup should become lost or wander off, you will have a way to hopefully get them back right away.
Use a collar that fits your pup well and that is expandable. However, never use a collar that can tighten should the puppy get wedged somewhere as it can then become a choker.
You can use a leash of any kind for your pup to familiarize them with the mechanics of walking on lead but encourage the pup to follow you rather than tugging him or her along. This will lead to problems down the road in leash training. The best way for a dog to walk on lead is for them to want to walk on lead.
We use a leash as noted here because it is so easy to slip on say in the middle of the night on a potty run. Be aware though that these leashes do not release so never leave a puppy with one around their neck unsupervised. 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 at having the leash around her neck.
Again, this is a great leash for slipping outside for potty breaks or getting her to walk to the car safely 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 he or she is in the leash.
PUPPIES AND BITTER APPLE SPRAY
Sometimes with a puppy, you need to have a backup plan when it comes to chewing on things. In such cases, many vets and trainers recommend sprays such as Bitter Apple Spray to deter a pup or a dog 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 puppy or dog from chewing on something that they really, really want!
Make sure you test any fabric that you spray it on for color fastness but in most cases, I've used the spray anywhere and everywhere and had great results, including on Griffin's legs to keep him from chewing at 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 who gets a puppy is the person who knows what to expect going in.
That said, there are all kinds of incredible puppy 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 raising a puppy appropriately is understanding your particular breed of puppy 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.
BRINGING YOUR MALAMUTE PUPPY HOME
One of the greatest gifts you can give to your malamute puppy or to any puppy or 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 at their home. However, be aware that Parvo lives in the ground 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, they can still get it and it is still a deadly virus.
Keep your pup protected until the 16 week shots are completed but wait an extra week to make sure they have their full immunity before taking them out in "high risk" places such as those mentioned above.
RAISING YOUR MALAMUTE PUPPY
These are just a few of the things I've learned in 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 but it is all about making sure they are trained and raised appropriately.
Puppy classes are a great way for them to socialize from the beginning and learn their "manners".
Exposing them as well to all kinds of situations often and early is another surefire way to train them in 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, huge amounts of socialization with people and the world around them, and they also require most of all something to do.
If you have a malamute pup and you want to really optimize his or her "purpose" in life, get the pup 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 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 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.
Most of all, just give your puppy a good home, a safe place to be, and do your best to remember that a puppy is only young for a very small window of time. A puppy is a gift we give to ourselves and all that we need do is love them and they will love us back endlessly.