Snow Pack Malamutes

Two important links above, how to naturally keep your malamute healthy and activities you can do with your malamute !

I am going to dedicate this page to share my training tips. 
NIKKI is 9 wks old and training has begun!

Training a Puppy

Everything is training!
Training continues for the first couple years. 

The first week with Nakyla, I spent all my time with her. We used this time to bond. 

On her first adventure, we went to the lake. It's a short trip and I didn't want to overwhelm her. 

I use a 20 ft light nylon leash. This is just for safety. Young pups can be spooked very easy. 

I let the leash drag. It is ok if it occasionally snags on something, this teaches awareness. Simply fix it and go on.  I let her explore and walk at her own pace. It is really important that in the beginning, all experiences be good.  It's also important not to talk very much to her.  I don't use her name unless I am praising her.  I want her to think about what she is doing. I want her to become independent.  I want her to become confident. 

Letting Nakyla do her own thing. 

Nakyla stepped off a rock and basically fell in the lake. 

It was important for me to NOT REACT

Because I did not react, this forced her to deal with what happen and she did not panic. 

I didn't panic, so she didn't either! She actually went out about three feet then turned and came back.   So instead of panicking, all was well. 

She learned it was ok and she could actually swim.  When she came out of the water, I praised her for doing a good job! 

10 wks old
Goose Poop 
Exposing her to water again. I want her to like water and feel comfortable around it. 

Following the same as above, letting the leash drag. She stopped and explored. She continues to build confidence.  I did have to encourage her to cross the creek. She did not like the first step but was ok once she was in the water. Again, building confidence. If they don't do it, they don't learn. They won't get used to it and then later on, anxiety!

On our way back, she went right to the door of the jeep and waited! 

Third trip to the water

Exposing her to different surfaces 

We spent quite a bit of time just sitting along the water edge, she kind of fell in once but jumped out fast

So I decided to try another area. After about a half hour, all of a sudden there she goes ! All on her own !

She had a great day playing in the water ! 

Nikki's next adventure was the Golden Cruise in Golden, Colorado season opener.

This was her first time being around a lot of people and very loud cars. She did great ! 

** Car pictured is FATKATT 

This is a blown corvette that my brother built - 1200HP

When my brother ( Steve ) was getting ready to leave for a short cruise, I held Nikki kind of tight.  We were right next to his car and it is loud so I did expect her to get scared. So I held her tight and she did good. She didn't panic. When he came back, she was sitting at my feet and she didn't even move. I am so impressed with her. 

11 wks old
Socializing at PetSmart 
She did not like the cart but did ok in it. 
Red Rocks Canyon
She had a good time and met a few people. It was extremely windy so we didn't go very far or stay long
Learning to drink from the hose
Getting to know the big kids - Kodiak
Nala n Nikki 
First 4 wheeling day
Just light 4 wheeling to start with. 
On a postive note - she slept all night and,  slept in 2 extra hours in the morning !
So important to give them as much variety as possible and let them explore at this age. 
12 wks old 
This is a pretty big waterfall. Nikki did great on the large rocks. She was confident walking up to the rushing water. 
I do think the waterfall noise bothered her. So, I will be taking her back until she is comfortable. When a pup is uncomfortable with something, keep exposing them to it until they are ok with it. If you don't, then they become afraid of it.
When I do this, I will just go and sit by it. Not forcing anything but just calmly sit and allow her to play around. She will eventually get used to it. 
The same goes for other noises like a hair dryer. I first turn it on and let them get used to the noise. Then apply it to them. This helps them adjust faster.  
This place usually has a few people and often times they have dogs. This is a good place for a little socializing without overwhelming. 
This was Nikki's first time off leash. She did fantastic! 
Again this was a new area. I am exposing her to as much as I can. I don't want her getting used to a specific area. 

We noticed that while off leash, she was focused on us but also curious at the same time. 

This is perfect! Just how she should be. We don't want a dog that we constantly have to watch, we want a dog that watches us. Takes responsibility for knowing where we are at all times. 

* When raising a puppy, it is important to NOT say their name unless it is positive.  
* Don't over talk to your puppy. They respond far better to sounds like clicks or whistles
* Over talking causes them to get very used to your voice and they will eventually ignore it 
Dogs are only as smart as we teach, train and expect them to be. Expecting is the most important here. They need to be respected as being dogs and as malamutes.  Most people make the mistake treating them as human. This is just not in their best interest.  It would be like someone treating us like apes. Please respect life, nature, animals and people for who they are.  They are happiest being who they are, not who we want them to be. 

Malamutes are a special breed unlike other breeds. Their history tells us about how they were used to help raise young children. They have also been known to disobey their human when they felt the human was making bad choices ( sledding ).  They would refuse to take an unsafe trail. They have amazing instincts, let them use and develop them. 

They would protect their pack from predators. The pack, whether it be other dogs or humans, is very important to them. If you treat them as part of your pack and include them, they will return this. They are only protective when absolutely necessary. 

If you raise your pup to be a "malamute" they will be truly amazing. 
Another new experience. We took her to a different lake. She is great with water now, but this water actually came after her ! The waves ! She wasn't sure about that. We got a good laugh. 
13 wks old 
A very gloomy day at the lake. So peaceful.
Today, we went to a different area of the lake. We picked a spot and just enjoyed it. 
Learning to be calm and just enjoy. 
Lots of waterfowl to watch too!
I can't express this enough, take your pup everywhere possible. 
Get them used to riding right away.  If your pup gets a little sick, keep taking them out. Over and over and for long rides. Take them out long enough that they fall asleep. This may take some work. There is something about them falling asleep and waking up in the vehicle. Take them on adventures where they get in and out a lot in the same day. This teaches them that going for rides is fun. That the vehicle is a positive thing. 


Puppies bite. 

This is not because they are mean or have an aggressive behavior. They are puppies.   Puppies use their mouth for everything, its like our hands.  They use it to learn. They eat with it, taste with it, play with it, smell with their nose at the end of it. It is like their hand. 

In their first wks of life, when they are still with littermates, they use their mouths to play. Puppies in a litter start to play around 4 wks old and usually leave at 8 wks. During this time they learn biting. When they bite their littermates, they learn what is too soft and what is too hard. They will learn if they bite their sibling, they usually get bit back. 

Discipling is important and be consistent and don't worry about hurting them.  When mom disciplines the puppies, she is pretty hard on them. When she tells them no, she means it the first time. This is how they learn. When a puppy bites, mom bites back on the bridge of the nose. This is also how wild animals teach their young. So for best effects, do the same. Curl fingertips in ( like teeth ) and hold firm.  If you let go before they let out a whimper or other noise, they win !

To get the point across to them, you must be firm, strong, consistent and do not give up. It takes time for them to learn and you have to keep reminding them. 

She wasn't in trouble, she is being a good model. I took this picture for teaching. 

While squeezing the nose, say / repeat NO BITE

Teaching her JEEP

When we are heading back, I am teaching her to look for the jeep. When she gets a head of us, she does go to the jeep when I say it. 

This is the bridge she is on. It is pretty high off the water and on the right side is the dam. She has no fear. 

Socialzing with other people and dogs

She is on a 20 ft leash.  This is a park that requires a leash. But at this point, she no longer pulls on it. If she gets to the end of the leash, she stops and waits for me.  There are a few things that will still spook her so best to keep the 20 ft on. She has not been on a shorter leash yet. This 20ft or no leash is all she knows to this point. 

This was a quick stop at a familiar place. I think she recognized it and showed confidence. It was a busy day, and I took advantage of it to help socialize her. 

This was a rough 4 wheeling trip to above timberline. She loved the snow ! 

More socializing !

This is a really important step in her progress, she was afraid of waterfalls ( the noise ). Here she is on top looking over a waterfall. 

More socializing. This was a friendly but kind of aggressive dog that played rough. Nikki was great! She wasn't quite sure at first but quickly figured it out and did great.  This dog was a rescue that has some minor issues. Maybe Nikki sensed it ? 

14 wks old

Spending time with the big kids too :) 

15 wks old

Today, I mixed it up a little for Nikki and took Nashoba with us. We went to several different areas to get her used to getting in and out.  This helps her associate with getting in means adventure. 

Today was a completely off leash day
It turned out to be an awesome day with these two. 
Nashoba is truly amazing in every way possible. He watched over Nikki and played so well. Nashoba was trained by Ruger. He spent the first 9 months ( ish ) with Ruger and it was well worth it. Nashoba started his training at 8 wks as well. He has been on many travel adventures. Bonniville Salt Flats, Great Salt Lake, Moab, Arches, Great Sand Dunes, and Rifle water fall. He is well rounded and easy to handle. He is very protective over me, which is a little unusual for a malamute but I do feel very safe with him when I travel alone. He will take Ruger's place in training and traveling. Ruger is too old now.  

Nikki learning the river current. She did great and had a lot of fun. 


This is my son, Kurtis. He is Rya's owner ( Nikki's mom )

Learning deeper water with strong waves - not quite swimming yet

Water Games 

I just added a new page of videos! You can find it on the menu bar. I just started this page. It has the most current videos. I will add past videos when I have time
Pack Time !
Learning to be part of a pack. 
4 wheeling
One of our favorite trails

16 wks old

17 wks old
This was a great off leash test, there were strangers near by. She acknowledge them, then continued to play
18 wks old
Nikki hanging out with her friend Hana ( newfie )
Off leash adventure with water, waterfalls and rocky terrain 

A fun filled day with Nikki's friend Hana, a 4 yr old Newfie. 

This included a few different locations. Beaver ponds with tall grass and water is always fun. Normally this is a busy place but we were lucky and had it all to ourselves. 

We headed up the trail to another spot to play. This offered a great variety. Nikki still off leash did very well. There was a small wooden bridge, many rocks and hills and creek that offered waterfalls and shallow ponds.   She is still a little unsure with waterfalls but she is doing a lot better. 

This spot had a family that was camping with several kids and a golden retriever. 

I did put the long leash on her just before leaving. I don't want her to forget what the leash is, so I did put it on her for a few minutes. The family campers joined us for a few minutes of conversation. Nikki did great ! 

Nikki is growing pretty fast. She is as big as the Golden Retriever at just 4 months old.  Right now, she has very long legs, she will balance out soon. It is common for malamutes or large breed dogs to grow like this. Over the next few weeks, I expect her to put on more body bulk. 

It's important to be careful with their diet as it is not good for them to grow too fast but at the same time, it is not good to short them on food either. In this group of pictures, she does look thin.  She is actually eating quite a bit. Unlimited food is offered 3 times a day right now.  

 Some people believe it is best to limit food to prevent them from growing to fast. Some also believe that it is best to limit activities for the first year. I completely 100 % disagree with this. 

They will grow according to their DNA, not food provided. I believe it is best to keep up and make sure they have enough nutrients to keep up with their growth.  

As for activity, they should not be allowed hard physical activity, hard jumping or pushed to the point of exhaustion.  Limiting too much will only result in weak muscles, ligaments and tendons. Good healthy activity will keep these strong and will help avoid accidents or injuries. 

19 wks old

While off leash, every time she comes to me whether I call her or naturally comes to me, I tell her what a good girl she is. Anytime we walk to or stop at the jeep, she gets a small treat.  This creates a positive experience with the jeep.  Sometimes I just go to the jeep and give her a treat then go back to hiking and exploring. She does not see the jeep as "leaving". 


At this point, I have not taught Nikki sit, stay, down or anything similar. She has learned " let's go" which means to follow me. She does pretty good with coming when called.  She is learning to jump in the jeep. 

I think the most important thing to teach in the beginning is boundaries, to stay close and follow. No one likes a dog that runs off or runs away.  Because I started with the 20 ft leash, she already knows what it is to have a leash on but does not see the leash as something that restrains her.  

Now that she is 4 1/2 months old and I can keep her attention, I will be starting short leash commands. 


Since I started Nikki early with water, she went right in when we got to the lake. 

Because there were so many people, paddle boards and other dogs, Nikki was on the 20ft leash. This was also a State Park. 

I got into the water and gently pulled her out of her comfort zone. She protested but trusted me. I held her by her tummy so she could get a good feel of the water and her feet not touching. She wanted to go back to shore so I let go and she would swim back to her comfort zone. She was not graceful at this point and splashed everywhere. I repeated this several times and within a short time, she got it figured out.  Within a half hour or so, She was swimming without splashing and coming to deeper water on her own when called.  Always leave a new experience on a good note. 

To get her more comfortable in deeper water, with me in the water, I would very slowly pull her out. First she would be in just her legs, then the bottom of her tummy. With the 20 ft leash, she could still move and do her own thing, but I controlled the depth of the water. When she got used to her tummy touching, I would pull her out so she was halfway  up her rib cage. I gave her time to process the new experience each time.  Patients is important. 

no dogs allowed on furniture ? If you allow it now, they always will
best to limit computer time, don't want them to learn how to order their own toys
Nikki had been in the ponds and weeds. I noticed what looked like a few bug bites under her arm pit. During her bath, I noticed a few small slivers of stick poking at her skin. She is very thankful they are removed. 
This is a great time to get a good look at your dog. Nikki looks thin but she is eating well. This is normal when they grow so fast. She will balance out soon. 
Use bath time for bonding, take your time, talk to your pup, be gentle. 
To get them used to a hairdryer, let them get used to the noise first, then apply to the hair. Lightly brush hair when wet. A puppy's first experience in life is mom licking their wet fur. This encourages a deeper bond. 

my friend Sue and her Newfie, Hana

This other dog is Rya, she is Nikki's mom

20 wks old

This was a 4 wheel drive adventure. I didn't get very many pictures of her. The trail was Tin Cup

Highly recommend - Secret Stash Pizza in Crested Butte
Nikki made a friend ( Hank ) 

We had outside seating since we had Nikki with us. While waiting for our food, a large group of people came up and waiting in line to go inside. It was very entertaining; Nikki was not impressed. 

Back to the lake to re-enforce what she learned last time. 

She did great ! Obviously remembered the lake and walked right in and started swimming. 

She retrieved her "ducky" and grabbed the leash to pull me in. Both needed to learn and train for water rescue - which her friend Hana does with the Newfie Club

Exposing Nikki to another waterfall. This time she did great. No fear at all. She learned wet boulders are slippery. This is valuable lesson to know.  
There are videos on the video page 
21 wks old
22 wks old
Father / daughter time
Trigger has amazing gentle loving temperament. He loves playing with Nikki and I want this temperament to rub off on her so they get to play often
Unfortunately, we didn't do much this week. We had some crazy weather that prevented us from doing too much. 
One of my favorite areas due to its incredible beauty! Its not a long walk but every year it is getting harder for me. But I did it this year !
Important experience. Learning slippery rocks. 
Patients are important. I just sat while she played. Always looking for a stick. To Nikki, it is playing. But in reality she is learning quite a bit !

As of today, Nikki knows her name, comes when called, sits to be petted, up, leave it and stay on the trail. She is polite and mannered with strangers and children. 

She is crate trained and can be left alone in the fenced yard. She also rides very well and gets in and out of the jeep on her own. At 5 months old, she is a real pleasure to be with. 

23 wks old
Nikki is very comfortable in the water now. She had a great day with her friend Hana. 

Nikki is at that 5 month old  " I am going to do what I want to do " stage! 

For this reason, she spent a good part of the day on leash. 

She stays close but will go a little bit too far and isn't coming right away when called. 

This is normal behavior for a puppy. Just because they know what is expected doesn't mean they do it every time, they are still puppies at this age.  It is so important to keep on them, reenforce those commands and be extra firm!

a few "lucky" action shots I got of Nikki and her dad, Trigger
This is a nice quiet little area that is fun for Nikki to play and explore. Unfortunately, it started to rain with lightning. 
24 wks old
Stepping up with Nikki, first time hiking with a backpack. She did great. With her young age, there is no weight. Weight will be slowly added. 
After our hike, Nikki met up with her Newfie friend Hana

The first four pictures, the lake, is a beautiful natural shallow snow melt lake. To the right, a little higher up is another smaller lake. To the left, it drains into a tight rocky canyon.

Continuing up the 4x4 road takes us to the top of the mountain.  The top point is 13,905 ft

The view is incredible 360° . We usually find some crystals on top along with some other gems. 

small cluster of crystals ( not cleaned yet )

August 13th 
One of my favorite areas. Good for building skills. She is fearless. She is pretty fast on these rocks which is why she has a leash on, to slow her down as I can not keep up with her !
Play time with Mom ( aka Rya ) 
Nikki being cute 
Nikki 6 mos old 
Update ! Check out Nikki's water training ! 
8/27 She passed her tadpole test ! 
We will continue on to next year with more advanced training
This was just a quick trip back to the lake. I mixed it up a little bit. She wore her backpack and carried "Ducky" down to the water by herself. Her saddle bags come off, I kept the harness on just to see if I would like it and how she would do. The leash hooks to the back. She did not like it !  I don't think she can find the leash when it is back there. She does better when it is on her collar. Then she knows where the leash is. 
I find this interesting. 
My adult dogs are hormonal right now with girls in heat so this is limiting Nikki's play time with the adults. It should settle down soon and she will be able to get back to some great relaxing play time soon. For now, a little relaxing down time is well deserved after the water test !
Nikki with her mom, Rya 
A quick swim after spending the day on the trail
click here !