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ISSUE 9: 30 OCTOBER 2006
Before buying an Alaskan Malamute
a Special Feature by Olivia Ciguenza:

There are many questions to ask yourself if you are considering purchasing an Alaskan Malamute puppy. Before making that important decision remember that it is a life long commitment, in which you will have to invest a lot of time, money, and love that cannot be replaced or refunded. That being said, please take some time to answer these questions honestly to yourself as well as other family members that may be involved in the lifetime care of your puppy.
  1. Have I researched the breed? You may have read what is a common saying; that "this breed is not for everyone", so it is important to do some research and find out if this breed will suit you and your lifestyle.
  2. Have I found a responsible breeder from whom to purchase my puppy? Most people want their puppy immediately after having made the decision to purchase a puppy. Healthy, well-adjusted puppies do not grow on trees and it is worth the wait if you purchase your puppy from a responsible breeder, not only for ongoing support, but for health reasons as well. To put it briefly, DO NOT purchase your Malamute from a pet shop or a puppy farmer.
  3. Do I feel that I have a good relationship with my breeder? In other words, do I feel comfortable enough to ask plenty of questions to the breeder, and do I feel as if I can trust them.
  4. Do I think that the breeder I have chosen will support me with my dog for life? Responsible breeders are always happy to help. Whenever you may need any sort of advice for any reason, at any time of the day, your breeder would only be too happy to help. This can be a difficult breed, and I can remember having plenty of questions and concerns in the beginning, as I just wanted to raise my puppy in the best way possible with the limited experience that I had.
  5. Will my breeder take back my Malamute to be re-housed if I can no longer keep my animal? By preparing you to make the right decision, having to give back a puppy is what this article is trying to avoid. However there may come a time when there is no other choice. A responsible breeder will not only offer to take a dog back, but INSIST on taking it back if things haven't quite worked out in its new home. This topic should be found in any basic purchasing contract between you and your breeder.
  6. Do I consider myself to be a passive person or an assertive person in nature? If you are a passive person you may find it more difficult to deliver firm corrections to your puppy, as well as establish a leadership role, which is what every Malamute owner should be…the alpha position in your puppy's new pack; the leader.
  7. Do I own my house, or do I rent it? It is preferable that you own your own house. If you are renting with a puppy and for some reason are forced to move to a new rental property, it may be difficult to find a home that will let you keep animals. Inevitably, the owners need to find a new home for the puppy.
  8. Do I have a large back yard that is fully fenced? Malamutes need plenty of room, so a house with a small back yard is not suitable for a Malamute. Fencing is quite important too. If the puppy were to escape it may be very difficult to get them back.
  9. Am I prepared to spend money to upgrade my fencing if I find out that my fencing is not secure enough? Sometimes Malamutes can be very good escape artists, and you may find that your current fencing is not enough to keep your Malamute enclosed.
  10. Do I have kennels/dog runs where the dog can be secured when you are not at home? This question mainly applies to those people living in a rural area. Sometimes other people's animals escape and end up in your backyard. This has happened to me, but thankfully the dogs were locked up in their kennels. Malamutes can be very territorial at times and any of them could have been in a fight or hurt.
  11. Do I have enough shelter at my residence for my puppy? Dogs need shelter from the wind and rain.
  12. Do I have enough shade at my residence for my puppy? Malamutes need plenty of shade in the warmer months.
  13. Do I own any other animals at present? Having an animal like a cat may not be the best idea. Malamutes have quite a strong prey drive and may see the cat as its next meal.
  14. Are there any individuals in my house that are afraid of dogs? Malamutes can certainly sense if someone is scared or intimidated by them. The Alaskan Malamute can tend to take advantage of this fact and elevate themselves in the pecking order, which can be problematic. A dog in a pack of humans should be last in the pecking order.
  15. Do I have any children under the age of 5? Small children need to be supervised at all times in the presence of Alaskan Malamutes.
  16. Am I prepared to take my Malamute to basic obedience training/puppy preschool along with other members of the family? This is extremely important, as all members of the family need to learn how to establish a leadership role from the moment the puppy comes to its new home.
  17. Do I have the time to exercise and play with my puppy every day? Malamutes are very active dogs and require enough stimulation throughout the day so they do not become bored. Bored dogs can become destructive, as well as develop other behavioural problems. It is also important to remember not to play such games that let the dog dominate you such as tug a war, and tag.
  18. Do I have any poisonous plants in my yard? Be careful. Malamutes eat EVERYTHING!
  19. Do I have the time to groom my dog on a weekly basis? If you do not have time to groom your dog once a week, you do not have time for a Malamute. Grooming a dog is part of spending time with them, and it can be a pleasant experience for both owner and dog.
  20. Do I have adequate finances to feed the dog good quality food, worming, flea and tick medication, vaccinations, as well as the finances to take the dog to the vet when necessary? If you do not have the finances to care for your dog, it is pointless in having one.
  21. Would I like to participate in fun activities with my Malamute such as sledding, weight pull, obedience, and backpacking? The Malamute is a dog ideal for someone who has an active lifestyle. There are plenty of activities that you can do with your Malamute, incorporating them into your lifestyle. So if you are interested contact your local breed club on how to become involved in these activities. Our local breed club is the Alaskan Malamute Club of New South Wales. www.malamute.org.au
  22. Do I want a pet, or a dog to show and/or breed? Has this option been discussed with my chosen breeder? There are plenty of puppies brought into this world, and plenty end up in the pound to be destroyed. If you are not going to show your Malamute, You should be seriously asking yourself why do you want to breed.
  23. Do I want a male or female?
  24. Am I prepared to have holes in my lawn?
  25. Can I put up with lots of fur on my clothes?

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