What does my malamute expect of me?

The breed is blessed with a sunny disposition. Happiest when treated as an intelligent partner, the Malamute is highly cooperative but never slavish or fawning. The Alaskan Malamute lives with you, not for you. Sometimes aggressive toward other dogs, especially those of the same sex, the typical Malamute is outrageously and almost universally friendly to human beings. As the dogs of a peaceful, nomadic people, Malamutes do not guard property and virtually always extend a tail-wagging, face-licking welcome to strangers. Malamutes are pack oriented and as such try to establish and test the pack order on a seemingly constant basis through their adolescence. These dogs develop deep, complex attachments to their owners, but they are not one-person dogs. Adult rescue Malamutes readily bond with their adoptive owners.

The ancestors of today’s Malamute were sometimes forced to hunt, forage, and compete for food. Consequently, Malamutes have a predatory streak, and, if allowed to run loose in rural areas, will reliably slaughter livestock and wild animals. In urban and suburban areas, a loose Malamute is a menace to cats and other small furry creatures. Swift, fearless, and powerful, Malamutes have been known to catch songbirds on the wing, and, if challenged, to deal harshly with other dogs. Some adult rescue Malamutes get along well with cats and other dogs, but some must go to homes with no other pets. Although the breed boasts a few angels, some Malamutes will raid trash and steal food inside the house. Anyone unprepared to deal firmly and calmly with this wild streak should not own a Malamute.

What can I do to get my puppy/dog off to a great start with their new home?

Make sure you’ve prepared the house and yard prior to bringing the puppy home. Buy or borrow the necessary crates, blankets and/or baby gates for confining the puppy when you’re not around to supervise his activity. Consult with the breeder about the food that the puppy is currently eating and have a supply of that brand on hand, plus food and water dishes, toys and a stuffed sock (for teething). Be sure to “puppy proof’ the primary rooms where your puppy will live and play. Pick up shoes, clothing, and pillows, stuffed animals and kids toys — plus anything else that will be at “puppy level” and tempting for play or teething. (Avoid bad habits from Day One!)

Be sure that the entire family understands, and agrees to, the puppy’s eating, sleeping, playing and exercise quarters and routine. Make sure everyone knows what behaviors will not be allowed, and how to prevent them from occurring (as opposed to correcting them after they’ve happened). Read at least two books on house training and bringing home a new puppy so you know what to expect and will be prepared.

Take a towel or blanket so the puppy can be held in someone’s lap during the ride home (to help prevent car sickness). Once home, take the puppy to his bathroom area and be prepared to wait 15-20 minutes for him to explore and then relieve himself. Only after he’s eliminated should he be taken inside!

Let him explore his area of the house. For the first few weeks, limit him to just 1 or 2 rooms of the house. He may be a bit unsure at first, so don’t force anything on him. Offer him water and some play time. Then, it’s back outside to eliminate. After another brief play period, the puppy should be exhausted enough to take his first nap in his crate or confinement area while you are nearby.

Limit the number of visitors that come see your new dog. If your puppy is younger than 4 months, he is more susceptible to illness. Your well-meaning friends may inadvertently introduce a life- threatening disease into your puppy’s environment. Do not allow your puppy to interact with strange dogs until after he’s had his 12th week puppy shot. Do not take your puppy to public parks or other places where dog feces may be found or stray dogs may be running loose. Ask your breeder and vet for additional precautions.

Beginning with your dog’s first day in his new home, put him on a schedule and make sure the family adheres to it closely. The schedule should incorporate the puppy’s basic needs with the family’s activities and identify which family member is responsible for the puppy during which periods of the day. Post this schedule on the refrigerator and follow it.

A portion of a typical schedule might look like this:

7:00 amJohnTake puppy out of crate and potty him
7:15 amJohnSupervised play in kitchen during breakfast
8:00 amJohnFeed puppy, then potty him
8:15 amMarySupervised play in kitchen during breakfast & chores
9:30 amMaryPotty puppy, then back to crate for nap while Mary runs errands or works around the house
11:30 amMaryPotty puppy, feed puppy (if necessary), then supervised play in back yard
12:30 pmMarySupervised play in kitchen while Mary works around house (baby gate keeps puppy in kitchen)
1:30 pmMaryPotty puppy, followed by more supervised play in kitchen
2:30 pmAnneHome from school, potty puppy and take for walk
3:30 pmAnneSupervised play in kitchen while Anne does homework
5:00 pmAnnePotty puppy, back in crate for nap while family has dinner

And so on into the evening, ending with the puppies bedtime.

The key to house training is scheduling the puppy’s intake and output of food and the use of confinement. Keep a diary of feeding and eliminating times so you can predict his need to eliminate. He will always need to eliminate after a nap, after eating and after rough play. Do not spoil the new puppy and do not over-stimulate him! (Christmas Eve/Day are not good times to bring a puppy home!) Give him lots of attention, but also teach him there are times when he has to be quiet and amuse himself or take a nap. Even on those days when everyone is home, keep the puppy on his nap or quiet time schedule. This will prepare him for those days when everyone’s at work or school or away on errands.

Within the first 24-48 hours (depending upon your purchase contract), take the puppy to your vet for a complete examination. If anything unusual occurs to the puppy within the next few months, be sure to call the breeder. Breeders want, and need, to know about their puppies. Information you provide regarding hearth and temperament will be invaluable for the breeder’s future breedings. If a physical problem occurs, let the breeder know and see if they have any experience or advice to offer. Call the breeder periodically even if things are going well. They need feedback! Enroll your puppy in a Puppy Manners class to continue his canine socialization and training. Remember to contact your city or county about obtaining the necessary dog licenses.

When is the best time to bring my new dog/puppy home?

The best time to introduce a new dog into your home is a Thursday or Friday, assuming someone will be home with the dog for the first 3-4 days to help him settle into his new routine before the family resumes its normal routine of work and school. If one family member works at home, then you may choose any day of the week. Choose a week without a lot of other activities scheduled. Christmas week is one of the worst times to successfully introduce a new dog – particularly a young puppy – to a new home. Too much activity and too many visitors can overwhelm a new pet.

Do not bring your new dog home if the family will be leaving within the next few weeks on vacation. Your vacation will result in one of these outcomes: to dog traveling with you, the dog going to a boarding kennel, or the dog having a stranger (house sitter) come live with him. If the new dog has his routine upset that soon, it may cause problems with housebreaking and other training. Do not bring your new dog home at the start of a long vacation, lavish attention on the dog 24 hours a day and then abruptly go back to school or work. This type of abrupt change will result in separation anxiety and other behavioral problems.

Is a crate really that helpful or necessary?

Any wild canine will secure a small, snugly fitting space to call its own. This space represents security to the dog. In its den it cannot be attacked or bothered, so it is able to relax fully. This instinctive desire for a secure den is the basis of the psychology behind using a crate as a training aid. Once the pet owner has overcome his own prejudice against “caging” a pet and accepted the sound reasoning behind crate-training, he and his dog can begin to enjoy the benefits of the marvelous crate.

Getting Acquainted

To accustom your dog to its new crate, prop open the door and allow the dog to explore the confines of the crate. Placing food or a favorite object inside will encourage it to step in. When the dog is comfortable, close the door and keep it confined for about 5 or 10 minutes. When you let the dog out, do it unceremoniously. Releasing the dog should not be a major production.

Each time you put the dog in the crate, increase the time it is confined. Eventually the dog can be confined for up to four hours at a time. If the crate also serves as the dog’s bed, it can be left crated throughout the night. Don’t overuse the crate, though. Both you and your dog should think of it as a safe haven, not as a prison.

Use the soothing effect of the crate to convey to your dog that it is bedtime. Many dogs will learn to go directly to their crates when they are ready to call it a day. Often the use of a crate will convince a restless dog to stop howling at the moon or barking at every little sound, allowing their owners to sleep through the night undisturbed.


Many dogs receive their meals in their crates. Finicky eaters are made to concentrate on the food that is offered and, as a result, overcome their eating problems. For the owners of more than one dog, the crate serves as a way to regulate the food intake of each dog. If dogs in the same household have different diets, crate feeding is almost essential. It can also make mealtimes less stressful if you have dominant dog that tries to keep the others in the household away from the food bowls.


Housebreaking is made easier when the wise owner relies on the help of a crate. Until the dog is dependably housetrained, it should not be given the opportunity to make a mistake. A healthy dog will not soil its den–the place where it sleeps. If the crate is the right size for your dog–allowing just enough room to stand up and turn around, it will not soil its crate. If you purchase a crate for a puppy based on the size of the mature dog, you may need to block off one end to keep the puppy from sleeping in one corner and using the other for elimination.

Any time you cannot keep a close watch on the puppy, kindly place it in its crate. When the dog eliminates at the proper time, reward it. With the assistance of a crate, house training can be almost painless for you and your puppy.


The crate is a safety seat for a traveling dog. You may know that shipping a dog requires a crate, but do you realize that a crate in your car serves as a seat belt would to protect your dog in the event of an accident? A dog thrown out of the car or through a windshield has little chance of surviving. In the event you or a passenger need medical care during an accident, a crate will keep the dog from “guarding” you from paramedics.

If you need to ship your dog by air, the task will be much easier if the dog is already used to its crate. A crate-trained dog is relaxed and less likely to need sedation for traveling. Avoiding sedatives removes one of the major risks of air travel for dogs, and your dog will be alert and happy when it lands.

When you travel and have to leave your dog behind, the caretaker will have a much easier time caring for a crate- trained dog or she will appreciate being able to confine the dog for rest periods and when the dog is dangerously underfoot. Your dog will also enjoy being able to take its crate (and a little bit of home) with it if it must spend time in a strange place.

House Sitter

No untrained dog should be given the run of the house while its owner is away. This is not only foolhardy from the standpoint of protecting your belongings but also from the standpoint of protecting the dog. An untrained dog could chew through an electrical cord, get trapped under a piece of furniture it has upset or be poisoned or checked by a piece of trash. Use a crate to protect the untrained dog from itself. Of course, this means you will have to limit your time away from home. A puppy must be taken out at regular intervals to exercise and take care of business.

Recovery Room

If your dog becomes ill or needs surgery, confinement in a crate will assure it the extra rest it needs during the recovery period. The wonderful crate can serve as a hospital bed, too. In dozens of different ways the addition of a crate means better care for your dog. It reinforces consistency in training. It helps the dog feel more secure. It makes having strangers in the house less hectic. It makes travel safer and more comfortable. It makes bringing up a puppy as easy as it can be. Once you have experienced the benefits of crate-training your dog, you will question how you ever lived without that wonderful crate!

What are some good general guidelines for taking care of your dog?

People have benefited from the friendship of dogs for thousands of years, but never more so than today. These days, dogs can guide the blind, rescue disaster victims and help solve crimes. Their unconditional love has also been shown to help relax us and enhance the quality of our lives.

But one thing our canine companions can’t always do is let us know when they’re sick; That’s why regular visits to the veterinarian are so important. The death of a pet is always difficult but it’s even more difficult for the owner if it could have been prevented.

Keep man’s best friend healthy and happy with these pet-care tips.

  1. Take your puppy or dog to your veterinarian for a complete physical examination and an initial series of vaccinations — canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, leptospirosis canine parvovirus, parainfluenza, rabies, Bordetella and coronavirus. Keep vaccinations up to date with annual booster shots.
  2. Consider having your dog spayed or neutered.
  3. Ask your veterinarian about proper nutrition.
  4. Feed your dog at regular times; dogs like routine.
  5. Avoid feeding your dog table scraps. He’ll soon turn up his nose at dog food.
  6. Monitor your dog’s weight. If you can’t feel the rib cage, he’s probably overweight.
  7. Keep a bowl of fresh water available at all times.
  8. Make sure license and identification tags are securely attached to your dog’s collar.
  9. Walk or jog with your dog. Many dogs are under exercised.
  10. Have your veterinarian show you how to check your dog’s teeth.
  11. If you want to give your dog a bone, stick to nylon ones. Real bones can splinter.
  12. Begin obedience training when your dog is young .
  13. Set firm rules against jumping on furniture or people.
  14. Train your dog to heel, sit, stand, lie down, come and stay. These commands are essential to his safety.
  15. Remember that praise works better than punishment.
  16. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, a potentially fatal disease of dogs in the U.S. Many species of mosquitoes can reproduce In small amounts of wafer. Eliminate stagnant water– by buckets, tires or birdbaths — around the house or yard.
  17. Protect your pet from heartworm disease with annual testing and a once-a-months heartworm disease preventative.
  18. Keep your dog fenced in to avoid the potential for a lost animal or the trauma of having your pet hit by a car.
  19. Select a breed of dog that fits your life-style. If you live in the city, consider a smaller breed which requires less living space.
  20. If you have a purebred dog, find out if there are certain diseases that occur more frequently in your breed.
  21. Watch for signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness, and loss of weight or appetite

Here are some guidelines for puppy care:

  1. Make a bed in a clean carton or box, lined with newspapers and padded with something soft.
  2. Place a warm water bottle (make sure it’s unbreakable) and a ticking clock in the box to soothe your puppy.
  3. When paper training, place puppy on the papers first thing in the morning after all meals and naps, after playing and before he goes to sleep.
  4. Keep electric cords and small, sharp or splintering objects out of reach.
  5. Handle puppies gently.
  6. Accustom your puppy to confinement early. Roaming dogs are easy prey to cars.
  7. As your puppy matures, give him hard rubber or nylon chew toys that can’t be swallowed.

What is the correct way to trim my dog’s nails?

Clipping dog’s nails can sometimes be a challenging experience. Some of us have been known to employ wrestling tactics similar to those practiced by Hulk Hogan, in order to subdue flailing paws. Conditioning a dog to nail trimming can be easy if certain steps are followed, especially in the case of a puppy. Rather than use the guillotine type clippers, I prefer the “human type” fingernail clippers for puppies, and the larger, toenail clippers for dogs. I find it is easier to see exactly how much nail will be removed using these tools.

A sleeping-puppy is easiest to work on, especially one that is tired and has just been fed. If handling his paws wakens him, gently soothe him back to sleep and proceed to clip his nails. For some of us, finding the quick occasionally brings painful results for the puppy. Remember how, as children, you used to hold your fingers over a lit flashlight and “see through your fingers?” Using this same technique, but with a “penlight” type flashlight, hold the beam of light directly under the nail, and you will clearly see the quick. It may be easier to lay the penlight on the table, or whatever surface the puppy is lying on, and eliminate the need for a third hand.

For larger dogs, use the toenail clipper and, in the same fashion, shape the nail. Occasionally, a black nail is so dense, the light rays fail to penetrate. In this instance, make smaller clips until you reach the gristle-like area just before the quick. In no time you will be quickly and easily trimming nails, and your Hulk Hogan muscles will return to normal size.