Alaskan Malamutes are a sociable breed when it comes to being around people, but their reputation for living with other dogs is not the best. Their position within the hierarchy of the house is very important to them and their tendency to be dominant can lead to aggression towards other dogs. Despite this, there are many success stories of Malamutes living happily with canine company. So how do you introduce an Alaskan Malamute to other dogs? We’ve got everything you need to know.
Should Alaskan Malamutes live with other dogs?
Before you attempt to socialise your Alaskan Malamute with other dogs, you should consider whether it is suitable for them to do so at all. This is particularly true if you’re planning to introduce your Mal to other dogs that you plan on having live with them.
Alaskan Malamutes can happily live as part of a pack, as evidenced by the working nature of the breed. When it comes to a typical household though, the pack that they find themselves a part of will include all inhabitants of the house, not just any dogs that live there. This is why a Malamute’s owners need to be firm with them at all times, as Malamute’s will take any opportunity to become what they perceive as the ‘alpha’ of the household.
When it comes to living with other dogs, the need to protect their position in the pack hierarchy of the house can cause Alaskan Malamutes to become very aggressive. We’ve found this to be especially true when it comes to living with dogs of the same sex.
We would never recommend keeping a Malamute with another dog of the same sex unless you are an experienced owner and are confident you know how to train a Malamute to behave appropriately.
This is not to say that a Malamute can never live with another dog. There are many examples of Malamutes of the opposite sex living happy lives together or Malamutes living with dogs of different breeds that end up being best friends.
When it comes to deciding whether your Mal is suitable to live with another dog, you should look at their behaviours in the household. If you find that they are constantly pushing their luck and making attempts at becoming the ‘alpha’ of the house, then these behaviours have the potential to turn aggressive towards any other dog that enters the hierarchy of the house.
Regardless of the warnings that we have to give when it comes to introducing a Malamute to other dogs, we know that the right training and a bit of patience can help almost any Malamute live at least amicably with another dog.
How to introduce an Alaskan Malamute to other dogs
If you’re confident that your Malamute will respond positively over time to having another dog in the household, then its time to make arrangements on how they will meet. The process requires a lot of patience and can be time-consuming, but it’ll be worth the effort to have the extra company for your Malamute.
Our step-by-step guide is guaranteed to get your Malamute to a point where they are at least comfortable with another dog if you have assessed that they are suitable. Remember to only progress to the next step once you are happy both dogs are safe to do so.
1. Walk the dogs near each other on a leash
When introducing any two dogs to each other we would always recommend for their first meeting to take place outside and away from the current homes of either dog. This holds especially true for Alaskan Malamutes who are known to be very dominant over their territory.
Meeting at a neutral territory like a park or a field removes some of the tension and prevents any territorial aggression.
From a lot of trial and error, we’ve found that the best ‘first meeting’ for a Malamute and another dog doesn’t even include them meeting at all. We suggest taking both dogs for a walk but keeping one dog and its walker behind the other, maintaining a single file.
This way, the dogs will be able to see each other and still pick up on each other’s scents but their emotions remain restrained. Throughout the walk, switch the positions of the dogs so they take turns being at the front and have the opportunity to pass each other. Remember to do this at a distance though so the two dogs never get close enough for a full-on confrontation.
2. Allow the dogs to sniff each other whilst on a leash
After your Malamute and the other dog have had a chance to pick up on each other’s scents and become aware of each other, it’s time for them to meet face to face. You must keep both dogs on a leash at this time to make sure that you have control over the situation, rather than them. This step should once again take place in a neutral zone such as a field or a park to prevent any territorial aggression.
We suggest slowly allowing the dogs to walk closer towards each other so you can get a sense of their attitudes towards the other. After letting them see each other from a distance, bring them together and allow the dogs to sniff each other. Remember to praise them both constantly and keep the atmosphere relaxed.
3. Walk the dogs together on a leash
Once your Malamute has a had a chance to properly meet the other dog, it’s time for them to walk together as a pair. Alaskan Malamutes love to exercise which makes it the perfect positive reinforcement for them and being with another dog can enrich their exercise even more.
During this stage, we still recommend you keep both dogs on a leash even if they are trained to walk without them. For dogs that aren’t used to being in company with other dogs, their emotions can sometimes get the better of them at any time so you need to be in control of the situation.
Once again, keep praising both dogs throughout the walk and don’t try to stop them from sniffing each other. The benefit of having them walk together is that their focus will mainly be on the walk itself rather than the fact they are with another dog, which will allow them to get used to the other’s company without even realising it.
4. Allow the dogs to meet with their leashes dragging
At this point, your Malamute should be comfortable whilst in the presence of the other dog in a neutral space. The next step is to allow your Malamute to interact with the dog without being restricted by a leash.
We know this can be scary, so we recommend keeping their leashes attached to them but let them drag behind. This means that if the situation does turn sour you will be able to quickly regain control using the leash rather than having to restrain them another way.
Make sure this meeting is in an enclosed space that is still neutral territory. Avoid any small spaces that can cause either dog to feel confined.
If the dogs make any approaches to play with each other, allow them to do so and give them constant praise as always.
5. Let the dogs meet in the home
The final step to introducing a new dog to your Malamute is to let them meet in the home. Up until this stage, both dogs should have had all their meetings in neutral places which will have allowed them to get used to each other without worrying about their territory.
If you’re confident that the two dogs can be left to play with each other without you needing to control the situation, then it’s the right time for them to meet at home. We recommend having the first introduction in the yard if possible, with both dogs on leashes. Allow them to sniff each other and play with each other if they are up to it and remember to end each session on a positive note.
After a few meetings in the yard, you can begin to introduce the second dog to the inside of the Malamute’s home. Keep the interactions short and give praise constantly, in the form of treats and verbal affirmation.
This stage can be a long process made up of lots of small and positive meetings that slowly build up your Malamute’s confidence with having another dog in their home. We know it can be tempting to bring the other dog straight inside the home, especially if they have been responding so well to being around your Malamute, but you should keep in mind that Malamute’s are very territorial and they still might not appreciate having them around. Don’t let all your hard work up to this point go to waste!
6. Once moved in, keep them separate whilst unsupervised
Now that your Malamute is used to having the other dog in their own territory, it’s time for them to move in together. Getting them to a point where they are fully comfortable with each other can take up to a year once they live together full time, depending on their personalities.
We recommend keeping the two dogs separate whilst they are unsupervised. This can either be in different rooms or by using crates at night-time. When the dogs are together, encourage them to play to further increase their bond and make them feel relaxed around each other.
Our tips to getting their relationship to a safe place
During each of the stages, there are a few things you can do to help encourage your Malamute to relax around the other dog. These are our favourite tips that have helped the introduction phase go smoothly.
1. Give constant praise to both dogs
We’ve already mentioned it before but giving your Malamute constant praise is essential for helping them to relax. We all know that Malamute’s love affection from their owners and so giving them verbal praise or a good belly rub is a reminder for them that they’re behaving well.
2. Allow the dogs to sniff where the other has gone to the toilet
All dogs use scent to navigate the world and Alaskan Malamutes are no different. In normal circumstances whilst on a walk, we would probably try to stop our Mals from sniffing around where another dog has been to the toilet.
Interestingly though, we’ve actually found a big improvement in our Malamutes attitudes towards another dog if we do let them have a sniff. As gross as it may seem to us, this is crucial for the dogs to communicate with each other and get to know each other in a non-verbal way.
3. Use your Malamute’s favourite toys to your advantage
Malamutes love to play so there’s a good chance that yours has a couple of toys that they couldn’t live without. During meetings at home, these toys can be used to de-escalate situations where your Malamute becomes tense by distracting them with playtime.
We should note here that some Malamutes can be very protective over their toys if another dog they aren’t comfortable with goes near them. In these situations, we would advise having separate toys or treats that you can use to pull the other dog away.
Alaskan Malamutes are not known for being the best breed to live with other dogs but it is certainly possible. Using our guide you should have your Malamute living amicably with another dog, but remember that patience is the key to a happy household.
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