the Alaskan Malamute: Instincts
a breed that developed in an extremely harsh and unforgiving environment over
thousands of years, the Malamute has a very well entrenched arctic survival
instinct that it is almost impossible to fully train out of the dog. Even
though the breed achieved recognition over 60 years ago and has been in
Australia as a pet for over 20 years, these survival instincts still remain
strong today and Malamute owners need to acknowledge and understand this.
of the instincts are considered undesirable behaviours for a pet dog, and so the
prospective Malamute owner needs to know what to expect and be able to live with
these behaviours to some extent. They have to be prepared to take appropriate
action where necessary to either minimise the unwanted instinctual behaviour or
create a situation where the behaviour can be tolerated.
survival instincts of the Malamute include the instinct to dig, to prioritise
food, to be unfriendly towards dogs of the same sex, and to chase and hunt other
animals. The topics of
with other dogs are covered in other pages on this website.
survival instinct that cannot be trained out of the Malamute is the instinct to
dig. The Malamute has to dig in the arctic environment to seek shelter from
blizzards, and also to keep cool from the soil in the hot Alaskan summers.
However, Malamutes in Australia will not just dig to make a cool
"nest" for the warmer months, they also do it for pleasure and to
relieve boredom. In fact they don't just dig, they excavate, and given soft soil
conditions have been known to dig their way out under fences and dig craters
large enough for people to stand in!
Malamutes not only enjoy a good dig, but some also enjoy eating the dirt
they excavate. Needless to say our dog yards are full of mini
craters and ankle-snapping holes, but they are only permitted to do this
in their designated areas and our main garden remains hole-free (touch
wood!). Burying a dog's droppings in a hole may discourage the dog
from digging there again, but it probably won't stop the Malamute from
digging another hole right along side!
you value your garden it would be wise to fence off a special area for the
Malamute to indulge in a bit of excavating. If you prefer to have an immaculate
garden and are not prepared to allow your dog an area in which to dig, then
perhaps you should strongly consider getting a different breed.
hunting instinct of the Malamute is also very strong and something which cannot
be fully conquered by training, no matter how young you start or hard you try.
Something which runs is almost certainly going to be pursued by any
self-respecting Malamute, unless suitably restrained. A Malamute which is off
lead in a public area is therefore very likely at some stage or other to
suddenly take off after something, and although it may eventually return to the
distraught owner, it may have caused havoc or suffered an injury during its
owners need to realise that people who do not know the friendly nature of the
Malamute may think they look like wolves, and may be extremely traumatised when
rushed at by a friendly, tail wagging Malamute. With the strict laws on
restraining of dogs and the dangerous dog act now in force, to walk a Malamute
in a public area off lead would be the height of foolishness. If you want a dog
that will trot by your side off-lead and reliably follow your every command, don't
get a Malamute.
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