Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Posted August 5, 2015
I absolutely love our malamute - I tell him he's our pet of the month every month (we also own a german shepherd). He's fluffy, has PPF syndrome (Permanent Puppy Face syndrome), and LOVES to cuddle. We got our malamute from one of the St. Louis, MO human societies. He was forcefully surrendered by his owner, and was abused by both his owner and bullied by his biological father and brother that were also forcefully surrendered. His father and brother were not made adoptable because of their aggression, but Froska was the runt of the litter and picked on by the other dogs, and instead of being aggressive, turned out to be very timid and skittish. Froska's age was a mystery when we got him, but we like to think he was 3 at the time. Below is my review of our malamute, based on the rating scales that were provided by the website:
"Quick to learn and train" - Froska doesn't do enough in the day to label him as fully trained. He never had accidents in the house - he would just silently lay by the door if he needed to go out. He is only motivated by cheese and meat, and will most likely not adhere to basic commands if he doesn't see a reason to do it (for example, if you tell him to sit down but knows he isn't in trouble, that you don't have food, and that there's benefit to him, he probably won't do it without you repeatedly saying it). On the other hand, he never really does anything to get him in trouble, so it's hard to say if he's trained, lazy, or just plain smart and knows his limits to a certain extent. If you have cheese or meat, he will do anything for you, but if it's a new command, you will need to work with him for a while before he gets it. The one sure thing we've figured out, is that if you make him sit before going outside, and never let him through the door ahead of you, only behind you, he listens much better.
"emotionally stable" - Froska was extremely depressed and frightened when we first got him, and it took a week and half of feeding him out of our palms before he would even turn his head towards us without shaking. Fast foward 2 years, and another dog later, and he's just plain lazy, so "emotionally stable" is a good term for him, as his emotions don't vary to extremes. If you don't give him enough attention, he just forces his head into your lap, and if you still don't give him attention, he gives a few whimpers then lays down somewhere in the house. If he is mad at you, he will sit in the same room as you, but face the wall, and then occasionally look over his shoulder to see if your looking. When he gets excited, he just does a sprint run a few times then is good for the day. He's consistently calm, still skittish (doesn't like loud noises), and doesn't get overly excited about stuff.
"doesn't bark a lot" - Froska was making one long sad howl noise when we first saw him at the humane society, because he could hear his father and brother in the back. Once we took him home, he didn't make a sound - no barking, whimpering, whining. We could be anywhere with him, and he didn't make a sound. Then about 7 months after we got him, we got our german shepherd pup (wanted to get him a companion to have while we were at work), and we made the mistake of putting our new pup in his kennel, since we only had one kennel. He howled that whole day while we were at work - our neighbors left a note on our door. Over the next two years, his personality really came out to us and these are the only times he makes noise: (1) When he is really really sad, he howls. He has only done this twice - once at the humane society when we first saw him, and once when we put another dog into his kennel, (2) He barks and does short howls when we put him in the bed of the truck and drive around. I think his barking is wind activated or something, because, my gosh, does that dog love to be in the back of a truck, and (3) he whines when he wants to play with another dog at the dog park, or when he wants up on the couch/attention and we say no. Other than that, he is a super quiet dog.
"health" - He sits down/gets up really slowly, but we think it's because he is nervous about any surface that isn't grass or carpet. He didn't have the greatest dental care when we adopted him, so we started to brush his teeth weekly. Other than that, we only take him in yearly to the vet, for shots.
"easy to groom" - Get a furminator (it's a grooming brush brand). Froska's fur is ever-producing and generously sheds. We can brush him for hours, and fur will still come out whenever you pet him. Malamutes have second coats, and from what we've experienced, Froska's second coat has never completely shed in the summer. We think it's because he's not outside during the day, but in air conditioning most of the time, so physiologically, he's never had a need to shed his second coat. I have a lint brush in each room, in the car, at work, and I keep spares at my parent's and in-laws, for when we visit. In the summer, his malts off of him in large clumps.
"family oriented" - Froska is a great family dog. Malamutes are pack dogs, so they respond better to being in a group, instead of having a typical "Master-dog" relationship. He likes to lay down at the edge of a gathering of people, and just watch everyone. When outside, he tends to do very side circles around everyone, but likes to stay within eye sight to see what everyone's up to. Because of his calm temperament, he has always been great with being tolerant of different kinds of people (loud, quiet, tall, short, people who are in his face, etc...).
"child safety" - Since Froska is so calm and doesn't move around much (he likes to just lay down and be pet), he is perfect for children. He doesn't lean again children, or get too excited. He will sit and let strange children pet him and climb on him without growling, nipping, or fast movements.
"safe with small pets" - Froska has strong natural instincts around small livestock and cats, but has never had issues with other dogs, large or small (he's usually timid around other dogs and stays away). He has killed several chickens on my husband's family's farm. He will take a chicken and shake it to death, but will drop the chicken if we yell at him. For the barn cats, he will chase them, and if they stop, he usually stops and just barks at them until they move again so he can chase them. However, this last time we were there, he did get the cat in his mouth (he dropped the cat when we yelled "drop it", and the cat ran off, but we don't know what condition it was in).
"great guard dog" & "great watch dog"- Not a guard or watch dog. While he is curious about new people, his "roll over and pet my belly" routine only invites people over, and doesn't deter them, for obvious reasons. He likes attention and doesn't think anyone is a threat.
(1) During training, please remember that a Malamute is a pack dog, not a "master pleasing" dog. Froska wants to be apart of the "pack", or family, and have a purpose - but he will not do something simply because it pleases you for him to do it. He understands when he is in trouble - but that is a natural "pack" instinct and doesn't translate to him wanting to please you, just him wanting to be in good standing with the pack. We trained our Malamute using completely different techniques and methods, than when we trained our German Shepherd.
(2) Froska loves his doggy pack back, and loves for it to be weighted down. When we put it on him, he knows we are going hiking, and gets very excited (which, for him, is letting out a short howl and wagging his tail uncontrollably). Malamutes want a job to do, which is why they are great for dog sledding.
(3) Froska LOVES TO CUDDLE. Let me say that in caps once more - FROSKA LOVES TO CUDDLE. On the couch, in the chair, in your lap, in the truck, when you are eating. He shows is affection by sitting right by you and leaning on you, or by "burying" his head into your stomach. Once you start showing him affection, he rolls to his back for a nice belly rub (at which point, he always sneezes.
(4) Malamutes can control their metabolism. Vets and scientists (from what I've read online and spoken with our own vet about) have theories of how this happens, but have no definitive explanation on how they do it. Because of this, they do not eat nearly as much food as you would expect, for a large dog.
(5) Froska farts really nasty farts, and it's usually when he's stressed or if we switch food brands. It's to the point, where we occasionally look to see if one of the dogs pooped in the house, even though they never poop in the house.