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Your Alaskan Malamute always draws attention. Such large, strong dogs aren’t an everyday occurrence in the US. Then there are their ice cool eyes which pierce straight through you. All of this means that passers-by are desperate to say hello. However, they will proceed with caution as Atlas is not a dog you would want to mess with and it is exactly that quality that you want to use. You may have a family you love dearly and a house with possessions you’ve worked hard for. It’s perfectly natural, therefore, to want to keep them safe. That is where Atlas comes in.
Training your Alaskan Malamute to be a guard dog will be the perfect burglar deterrent. It means you’ll be able to sleep easy knowing you’ve got a guard dog pacing the perimeter downstairs. This type of strict training will also allow you to build a bond with your Malamute, ensuring that any training later on will be just as successful.
Training an Alaskan Malamute to be a guard dog requires hard work and persistence. The first thing to do is start boundary training, for Atlas will naturally want to guard anything that falls within his territory. You’ll also need to encourage and develop the defensive behaviours that will make him an effective guard dog. On top of that, you'll need to use obedience commands to train him to bark on command.
If your Alaskan Malamute is just a puppy, then training could take just a month or so. This is because Alaskan Malamutes are at their most receptive when they are in the puppy stages. However, if Atlas is older, stubborn, and his days of learning are behind him, then you may need several months before you see consistent results. If you can master training, you’ll have an effective way to keep both persons and property safe. This sort of training also makes for some great bonding time with your canine pal.
Before you set to work, you’ll need to make sure you have a few bits. Stock up on delicious treats or break his favorite food into small pieces. You will also need a toy and a clicker for one of the methods below.
A long leash or rope will be required. It may also be worth investing in a body harness. This will reduce strain on his neck while increasing your control. Then set aside around fifteen minutes each day for training. Note that the more often you train, the sooner you will see results.
Once you've collected the necessary tools, you can start to train!
The Bark Method
Watch your Alaskan Malamute for a couple of days. Look for situations that naturally cause him to bark. You’re going to use these to teach Atlas to bark on cue and at strangers that approach. Common times that dogs tend to bark are before a walk or before meal time. Try to capture this behavior.
Once you’ve identified a situation, put Atlas in it. However, this time give a ‘Bark’ command just before or as he begins to bark. Give it only once and give it in a clear, playful voice. Note that you can use any word or phrase you like for the command. Alaskan Malamutes can learn hundreds of different commands.
As soon as Atlas does bark, swiftly give him a reward. If you use a clicker when you train, click and then hand over a treat or a toy to play with. Just try to make sure he receives the reward within a few seconds of barking. Any longer and he may not associate the behaviour with the praise. Now, simply practice this command in different situations over the next week. Continue to practice until he follows your command every time, even with distractions around.
Secure your Alaskan Malamute to a leash and take him to the front door. Then have a stranger or friend approach and knock on the door. As soon as he does, point at the door and give Atlas the bark command. Now have the person yell and run away. It’s crucial your Alaskan Malamute knows that he needs to bark until the intruder flees.
Once they do run away, you can praise your Alaskan Malamute. Remember that the happier you make him feel, the more eager he will be to play again. Now you simply need to practice regularly. You can practice at the back gate and with windows. Just try to use different people each time. Keep practicing until Atlas starts naturally barking at strangers without your verbal cue.
The Watch and Learn Method
Secure your Alaskan Malamute to a leash and head out for your daily walk. Organize the walk so a friend or a person Atlas that does not know too well will meet you halfway. This will help your training process.
Capture his interest
Now, slowly approach the person. Start whispering, pointing, and walking around the person. Then start getting animated to capture Atlas’s attention. This technique works because Alaskan Malamutes mirror their owners behaviour.
Keep getting worked up and eventually start shouting at the person. Keep doing this until Atlas follows your lead and barks too. Don’t be put off if it takes a little while to begin with, as your Alaskan Malamute will soon catch on.
As soon as your Alaskan Malamute does bark, give him a generous reward. This could be a tasty treat or you can play around with a toy for a minute or so. Make sure you have tight control on his leash as you don’t want to risk him getting too worked up and trying to bite the person.
Practice makes perfect
Now you simply need to practice regularly. Have different people meet you each time and always try to make sure your Alaskan Malamute does not know them well. If Atlas always sees you getting worked up by strangers, he will soon get into the habit of it too.
The Boundary Method
Each morning, secure your Alaskan Malamute to a short leash. Then quietly walk him around the perimeter of the space you want him to guard. This will drill into him where his territory begins and ends. Anything within that space, he will then naturally want to guard.
Now you simply need to repeat this again each evening. Before you know it, people, toys and anything within that perimeter will feel like part of his territory. Even though it can be time consuming to walk him around twice each day, the more consistently you do it, the sooner you will see results.
It’s important you take Atlas to group obedience classes. This will help socialize him with other pets and people. Fail to do this and he may become too aggressive and hard to handle, particularly because Alaskan Malamutes can grow so large and strong.
Some owners turn to punishment techniques to train their guard dog. This is a mistake. Not only will controlling your Alaskan Malamute become more challenging, but he may also become aggressive towards people he does and doesn't know.
It’s also important that throughout the preceding steps that you reward any interest Atlas takes in strangers. If he sniffs or barks at a stranger, he must be rewarded. Hand over a treat, play with a toy and/or give him some verbal praise. Do this every time and he will associate investigating strangers with positive consequences.
Written by James Barra
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 06/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021