Alaskan Malamutes are the kind of dogs to leave a lasting and durable impression on those who see them for the first time. What with their impressive size and undeniable physical strength, you would find it difficult not to do a double-take when confronted with one. So how about children then?
There’s no doubt about it, Alaskan Malamutes are these gentle beasts that get along with everyone especially children. They’re known for their great reserves of patience and can tolerate a curious child no matter how small or precocious that child is. Well-adjusted and attention-hungry, both puppies and adult canines enjoy the love and attention they get from kids.
But as with almost any other pet, that tolerance and patience are not unlimited. Yes, there will come a time when the Alaskan Malamute reaches its limit and becomes less friendly. So when would this happen and what can you do to prevent it?
Alaskan Malamutes and Children
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Alaskan Malamutes is that they’re sociable by nature. After you get over the first jolt seeing this beast come at you then instead of launching into a ferocious attack, it dives into your arms for a big hug, you might think these lovable animals were born this way.
But that’s not true. Sociability is more of a nurture than nature for Alaskan Malamutes. The puppy needs to be introduced to people at an early age in order for it to build a strong bold with the humans in the household.
This includes, of course, children. Does this mean that you shouldn’t leave the new puppy alone with your child? That’s exactly what it means. Until the puppy learns the limits of its great physical strength and that children are inquisitive by nature, you should never leave those two together unsupervised.
Alaskan Malamute Qualities That Work Well with Children
Say what you like about the Alaskan Malamute, but there’s no denying that these hefty animals have a gentleness unparalleled in the world of pets. This is why they continue to behave like little puppies even after they’ve reached a size and weight that makes them hard to carry.
Being gentle and a puppy at heart makes them the perfect companion in a household full of children. Both the Alaskan Malamute and your child will hit it off almost from the very first moment they lay eyes on each other.
Add to that the great levels of patience these fury beasts tend to display. We’re talking putting up with the most obnoxious little brat without complaining or getting offended. This is a far cry from other dogs with lesser size but bigger ego such as the Akitas.
Alaskan Malamutes Like to Spend Time with People
As openly sociable animals, Alaskan Malamutes seek the company of people. In fact, these big canines prefer to be with people than with other animals even those of their own species. This sociability is what sets this breed apart from other pets in the house.
Now you need to take full advantage of this distinctive quality of these purebreds in order to build a strong relationship that lasts through the dog’s lifetime. For this reason, it is recommended that you bring in the puppy at a very young age and get them involved in your life.
It also helps if you have other pets in the house. Nothing pleases the young Alaskan Malamute more than growing up with another puppy or kitten. As fun-loving animals, they thrive on attention and companionship.
Alaskan Malamutes are Very Patient Dogs.
If there’s one thing about children it’s their total disregard for the comfort of others around them. It’s not that kids are stupid, they just haven’t developed the concept of personal space just yet. So if your little child sees the dog fast asleep, it wouldn’t hesitate to sit on top of it.
For that, you’d need a very hardy and equally patient dog. Luckily, the Alaskan Malamute has enough of both to survive in a boarding school packed of hyperactive kids let alone a house with one or two children. Even if you have a bunch of children of close age, the Alaskan Malamute wouldn’t see them as a nuisance.
It’s a common sight to see the dog thoroughly enjoying itself with kids who make it the center of their attention.
What Alaskan Malamutes Can Offer Children
Unconditional love and loyalty are the top quality of many dogs. But with Alaskan Malamutes, there’s also a lot of energy and playfulness involved. Both children and Alaskan Malamute puppies have great reserves of energy.
This means that both of them can spend long hours playing together and enjoying one activity after another without getting bored. The more time they spend together, the greater the bond they develop. Children will learn quickly not to pull the dog’s ears or tail and the puppy will learn that children are not as strong as look.
The result is a viable friendship that will last for years and a strong bond that grows each and every day.
Teaching Kids About Alaskan Malamutes (Things Your Kid Should Never Do)
We already touched on some of the obnoxious things children can come up with. Again it’s not the child’s intention to hurt the dog, it’s just curiosity, pure and simple. So it might be worthwhile for you to introduce both parties to each other. We’ll talk about training the Alaskan Malamute in the next section. But now let’s talk about your child.
The first thing the child needs to know is that the dog is a living thing that hurts and feels pain. So pulling the hair, the tail, or ears are a no-no. Tell your kid that the dog isn’t happy when it’s mistreated in that way. Just as the child hurts if someone pulls it by the hair or ears, so does the dog.
Training Your Alaskan Malamute to Be Around Children
Next, it’s the dog’s turn to understand how to behave around children. As a big dog with a small puppy trapped inside, the Alaskan Malamute doesn’t understand that children are not as powerful as dogs. Nor are they ever going to enjoy being bitten or having their toes nibbled at.
This would require long hours of training as well as supervising the time the dog and the child are together. While the puppy might not realize that the child it just knocked over is crying out of pain, it will eventually learn to treat its human companion with a little more gentleness and care.
Once each of them has understood the other’s limitations and boundaries, they won’t have a problem even if left alone together.
When are Alaskan Malamutes Not Good with Kids?
As intelligent dogs who tend to have a stubborn streak, Alaskan Malamutes might prove too much for a child to handle. This is especially true if the dog is either not well, or hasn’t had its fair share of exercise lately.
Ill health can put the dog in a bad mood. If the dog is going through pain, like say dental conditions, then it would be less patient with its human companion and might snap at the kid for no reason whatsoever. It’s important that you make sure the dog is comfortable and has all its needs satisfied (more on that below) before you trust it with your child.
If the dog is going through some issues, it’s better to keep the child away from it for now.
An Alaskan Malamute’s Needs
What the Alaskan Malamute needs more than anything is good quality food, plenty of exercises, and companionship. All of these three have equal footing in this intelligent dog’s life. Since it leads a high-octane life, it needs a good nutritious diet and plenty of food.
Then you have activities. This is not the kind of dog to sit around all day watching TV or something. It needs to stay busy and keep its brain engaged. Physical exercises and lots of games are a must.
Once you’re done with that, the dog then needs to have constant companions. If left alone for long it will get into a mood. So if you can’t be with it all the time, you need to bring in another pet to keep the Alaskan Malamute happy.
Activities for Kids and Alaskan Malamutes
Both children and Alaskan Malamutes enjoy the outdoor a lot. Weather permitting you can leave them to play in the backyard for hours and they’ll never run out of game ideas. It’s just their nature.
Playing fetch is the simplest way a child can entertain the Alaskan Malamute. Just get them a small ball and let them chase it around. Another game is to play frisbee. The dog enjoys an opportunity to jump in the air and show off its athleticism.
Temperaments That You Should Be Aware Of
The Alaskan Malamutes are notoriously stubborn. Like most intelligent animals they are also rather sensitive. So scolding the dog during training will almost always backfire. The dog will go into one of its moods, shut down, and resent whatever activity you’re training them to do.
In addition, you should never neglect the dog’s needs we discussed earlier. This can result in a less than friendly canine who will go into a fit and maybe even become destructive. It’s worth noting that if the dog doesn’t look its natural self, you should take it to the vet for a checkup.
A dog with a health condition may act up or take it out on those around them.
Grooming Alaskan Malamutes with Kids
We mentioned earlier that it’s better to bring in the puppy Alaskan Malamute at a very young age and introduce it to the kids in the house. Since they’re both young and impressionable, the children and the puppy will learn to understand and respect the other very quickly.
It also pays to keep the puppy engaged in the family life and to treat it as a full member of the family. This not only helps the dog to build its loyalty to the family, but also develop its social skills and intelligence.