Bringing your malamute home
Training tips illustrated by Lili Chen
Print out handouts from Decompress for Success
Print out dog body language illustrated by Lili Chen
Important tips to follow while your rescue is decompressing
Create a peaceful spa-like environment. Give your new family member time to decompress. How long? Well, that totally depends on your dog. Each dog is a unique individual. Some may take up to a year before they are comfortable going into other areas of your home without going over their threshold. Dogs, especially Malamutes, worry about what is going to happen next? Routine is so important and it helps reduce stress. Even potty-trained dogs need to learn where to go potty in a new environment.
Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement. Mark (verbal "Yes") and reward good behavior with TREATS! If you lived in a world where all you heard was "No!", how would you feel? However, if someone taught you what to do and then rewarded you for collaborating, how would you feel? Knowing what to do builds confidence.
What is Positive Reinforcement Training? By Miki Saito and Lili Chen
Your choice affects your dog's choice. By Miki Saito and Lili Chen
DO NOT solicit the dog's affection
They are processing a lot right now. They do not know how wonderful
you are. Give them time and let your rescue solicit your affection. Do
not lean over them, pat their head, stare, or take their photo (staring
is intimidating in doggie language and some dogs do not like a scary
camera pointed at them). Instead, position yourself sideways and
calmly pet them under their chin or side, count 1, 2, 3, and stop. Let
them process and have the option to walk away or they may ask for
more petting. A dog may expose its belly for belly rub OR he/she may
be telling you, "I mean you no harm." Understanding dog body
language is critical. If you do NOT listen or punish their growl, many
Malamutes will feel they have no choice but to escalate.
DO NOT take your dog to the pet store
Too many smells, strangers, etc. can be scary or cause overarousal, which can lead to jumping on people, lunging, air snap, etc. Get to know your dog first and understand his/her's limits. You are still a stranger and taking your dog to a new potentially scary or overwhelming place can set your dog up for failure and exposes him/her to practice unwanted behavior or worse a bite!
Socializing your dog By Sara Reusche and Lili Chen
DO NOT invite friends and family to meet your dog
Wait until your dog has had time to feel "safe" in his new environment and trusts you. Some dogs may behave differently in a home and possibly guard their space from strangers. Always proceed slow and have a plan. It is always best to meet new people, dogs, etc. outside first.
Calm and relaxed? or shut down? By Lili Chen
DO NOT take them on a long walk
We highly recommend limiting walks to the backyard or the front of your home for the first couple of days and possibly longer depending on your dog. Consider walking with another family member to protect your dog from dogs off-leash and if people approach you, your family member can say, "We are training and need space please." Avoid critters! Malamutes were born with a natural desire to chase critters AND were born to pull! Practice loose leash walking inside, then backyard, then expand.
Polite Leash Walking By Irith Bloom and Lili Chen
DO NOT give full access to the house
It is best to let your dog spend his/her first days solely in his/her safe place (blocked-off area where their crate or bed is located) and then outside to go potty. This helps your dog understand where to go potty. As your dog decompresses, you may slowly allow access one room at a time. Too much freedom will cause your dog to become overstimulated. He/she may begin to do zoomies, chew on furniture, jump, and nip, etc.
Ain't misbehavin'! By Lili Chen and Elisabeth Weiss
DO NOT grab your dogs collar
Dogs, especially Malamutes, do NOT like being pulled by their collar. They will react by turning their head and air snap, growl, and/or possibly bite depending on the circumstances. We recommend keeping a leash on your dog and keep treats close by in case of an emergency. Prevention and management are best! If you do not want your dog on the sofa or in a certain room then we must remove the opportunity for your dog to make a bad choice. How? Block off the room with a gate or close the door. Then teach your dog where to go by leaving treats on their doggy bed to reinforce him/her for going onto the doggy bed where you want them to be.
DO NOT take things away from your dog
It is critical that your dog associates you as a "giver" and not a "taker" to prevent resource guarding. Put things away that you don't want your dog destroying until you know your dog. Imagine taking a child to the candy store and not letting them touch anything?
ALWAYS trade up with your dog. Keep treats nearby to drop on the floor to redirect your dog by leaving a Hansel & Gretal cookie trail. You can also make yourself exciting and drop treats away from the item your dog is about to get him/herself into trouble. Many Malamutes are food motivated and can quickly become possessive about the item they are chewing, "My precious!"
A Dog's Emotional Cup By Sarah Owings and Lili Chen
How to Deliver a Treat to Your Dog By Sara Owings and Lili Chen