How to Crate Train an Alaskan Malamute

Easy
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Far too many people seem to be under the mistaken impression that crate training an Alaskan Malamute is cruel and that putting a Mal in a crate is akin to putting him in solitary confinement. While it is true that Malamutes are indeed highly social dogs that want to be with their pack at all times, they also have a strong "nesting" instinct. When approached properly, crate training your pup is, in many ways, just like handing him the keys to his own home.

Alaskan Malamutes prefer their "nesting places" or "dens" to be in a place that is free of distractions, a place where they can rest. This is an important fact to consider as you look for the perfect spot in your home for your pup's new "den." 

Defining Tasks

So, the basic idea here is to train your Alaskan Malamute to think of his crate in terms of it being his den, a place he can go when he needs to and a safe place for him to stay while you are out or at night when everyone is sleeping. Of course, if you expect your Mal to see his crate more in the terms of his den, it needs to be a comfortable place where he can relax.

While you need to make the crate comfortable, you don't need to get carried away, your dog will not appreciate it. Start by cutting a nice piece of durable rug to fit the bottom of his kennel, then add a large comfortable bed for your pup. If you want, you can toss in a few toys and cover the whole thing to create a cave. You can use a blanket to do this or there are ready-made covers you can buy. The idea is to make the crate into a place your pup wants to spend time in. 

Getting Started

Before you can start crate training your Alaskan Malamute, you need to make sure you buy the right size crate. This is important, even if it means buying more than one crate. If you buy one that is too small, your pup won't go into it as there won't be enough room for him to move around in it. If you are starting with a pup, you can get away with buying a full-size crate, but you will need to create a partition to keep the size of the kennel appropriate to the size of your Mal.

You may also need:

  • Pee pads
  • Treats
  • A bed
  • Toys

Beyond this, you just need time and patience. Alaskan Malamutes are extremely intelligent, but at the same time they are quite stubborn and learn at their own pace. Take your time, and your pup will learn to love his den. 

The This is My Den Method

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Step
1
A dog's den is his home
If you want your Mal to enjoy spending time in his crate, you have to make it comfortable and place it in a spot out of the main flow of traffic. However, you need to be able to keep an eye on him without seeming to be doing so.
Step
2
Introduce the crate
Bring your pup over to the kennel and using your cue word "crate", "kennel", or even "den", place him inside the crate and quietly close the door. Step back and give him all the time he needs to get used to it.
Step
3
Let me out of here!
Your pup is going to whine, bark, yip, howl, and do anything else he can to get your attention and tell you how much he hates it in there. That's okay, let him do so. Soon enough he will stop and when he does, praise him and give him a nice treat.
Step
4
Give him a moment
Give your dog a moment to enjoy his treat and then open the door. When he comes out, take him outside to go to the bathroom.
Step
5
Stretch it out
Start slowly adding to the amount of time between when you put him in the crate and when you let him out. In time, he won't mind being in his crate for longer periods of time. In fact, if you leave the door open, you may find him snoozing in there at the strangest times.
Recommend training method?

The Got a New Home Method

Effective
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Step
1
An all new home
Not only is your pup's crate going to be new to him, but it is new to your home. You need to find a quiet place for it out of traffic, but where you can both see each other. Make the crate comfortable for your Mal as described above.
Step
2
Complete with dinner
Move your dog's bowls over to sit just outside the door to his crate and leave the door to the crate open. Let your dog explore his new home at his leisure, allow him to go in and out for several days.
Step
3
Close the door
Catch a time when your pup is in his crate and quietly close the door. If he decides to verbally inform you of just how unhappy you have just made him, let him. Let him howl and fuss until he runs out of steam. When he does, praise him, and give him a treat.
Step
4
Come on out
Open the door and give your pup the cue "come on out" or your version of it, then take him outside for a pee break.
Step
5
As time goes on
Continue working on his training, extending the duration of his stays in the crate until he will happily stay there as long as you need him to. Keep working with your pup, it will happen.
Recommend training method?

The Little by Little Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Build his new home
Build your pup's new home by finding a quiet place for his new "den" and making it as comfortable as possible.
Step
2
The bait and switch
Using a treat, lure your pup into his den and trade him the treat for giving up his freedom. Only don't close the door on him quite yet. Allow him to explore the den and leave on his own. Keep doing this over the course of several short sessions every day for a week or two until he will willingly go in for the treat.
Step
3
Time to add the cue word
For the next couple of weeks, repeat the above training, but this time add the cue word "crate" or "kennel." This will help him associate the cue word with the required action.
Step
4
Continue working with the cue
Keep working your pup using the cue word until he willingly goes in his crate when you tell him to. Each time you place your pup in his kennel, start extending the time he spends in there before you let him back out of it.
Step
5
Give him time
In time, he will come to think of the crate as his den and spend plenty of time snoozing in it all on his own.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Jax
Alaskan Malamute
7 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jax
Alaskan Malamute
7 Weeks

Every time I walk away, Jax HOWLS and barks. It’s very loud and I’m afraid i’m going to get complaints from my neighbors. I work a lot and It scares me to leave him alone in his crate. I don’t want to put him in doggie daycare because I don’t want him getting used to having someone around. Also, I don’t know how to get him to “come” and he still doesn’t know his name, yet.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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