Mals and Fighting

Fighting is one of the scariest things to deal with when you
are a multiple dog house hold. While some of this may never happen it is a good
idea to always be on guard that it may. I think we all hope that all of our
babies will Always get along and live in peace but...........Don't be fooled
dog fights can happen to the best of us.. I've had good and bad experiences
with my Malamutes. A word of precaution, Malamutes generally do not get along
with same sex. (There are exceptions).  

Mals that get along with same sex is unusual and can be very difficult to maintain
over long periods of time. I've learned a lot over the years with the
Malamutes. Don't believe anyone that says their mals never fight. Breeders take
precaution but if anyone’s been into it long enough they will eventually deal
with fights. Malamutes can also be the same towards same sex in other breeds of
dogs such as Siberian Husky etc... Yes, occasionally it can work...but it's a
LOT of work on your part as the owner, and it can turn into an ongoing battle
This isn’t for every Malamute or in every home or situation, just some things I
have heard and dealt with on my own and want you as a puppy buyer to be aware
of some of the issues that can arise. The Malamute is not a cookie cutter breed
and most things you do read are generalizing the Malamute as a whole, each
Malamute is different. They all have different strengths, weaknesses,
personalities. You name it Malamutes are much like people........

Often companion/pet owners buy same sex siblings from the same litter or even
different litters, thinking if we buy them and raise them together, they will
get along. If you have bought siblings or even same sex pups from different
breeders/litters here’s something to think about: it's not going to be easy.
And you shouldn't have done it to begin with (I have had some tiffs) and some
flat out brawls I’ve had to take action in my own hands and separate the two
fighting. .You should ALWAYS have a backup plan in case your dream of having a
peaceful home with your two pups doesn’t work out. . With that said, here are
some ways to try and make a bad situation better, but no guarantees. And if you
don't have to do it, don't. If you're a two dog household, it just isn't worth
the aggravation to have two males or two females. Its best for the average dog
owner to neuter or spay at least one or even both and get the opposite sex....

First of all, it's no surprise that two females or two males will fight with
each other. The Malamute is unlike any other breed out there. The Malamute is a
competitive breed, and wants to be boss. There is too much competition between
two girls or two boys in the same areas of interest. If both are competing for
the same resources, there is bound to be conflict. The one thing most people
don't understand is that male’s fight for dominance (who is boss) and females
fight to the death . Once two females have it in for each other, conflict
escalates until the fights get very serious and someone will be hurt or worse
killed (and the human may be bit as well). It's also no surprise that a female
Malamute may even fight with a neutered male. Dominant bitches and neutered
male Malamutes are often not a good match. Some theorize that the lack of male
sex hormones tells the dominant bitch that he is not a he, and if it is not a
he, it must be a she...therefore fights can occur  Malamutes do not fight like other breeds. They take it very seriously and will not always hear you when you yell (I’ve been here), they are too busy fighting.You'll have to physically separate them which can be dangerous for the humans involved. Sometimes, a dominant dog will even bite the human because they don't want you to stop the fight. Malamutes have brains and will use them, they are very smart, almost to the point of being too smart and at times will even out smart you. They won’t want you to stop their fight, they want to WIN. They will
not go out of their way to avoid a fight unless you, as Alpha (boss), make it
clear the consequences are not worth the fight (we practice this every day
here, at Oregon Malamutes). If Malamutes get in a fight, you know it and it
will literally scare you to where, you’ll probably get the shakes- I've been
here. After a serious fight you’re always on guard listening and wondering when
it will happen again. Fortunately, most Malamutes do not WANT to bite humans,
but in the heat of battle it's all too easy to miss and accidentally bite so
you want to avoid conflict at all costs. How do you do this? Become alpha, if
you aren't respected, your dogs won't respect each other and will fight. The
only way to prevent fights is to make sure you have serious alpha status in
your "pack". (To make sure you are the Leader)

Most fights are centered on dogs that are trying to work their way up the pack
hierarchy (their status in the pack) and don't respect the rules of the house.
A Malamute that is starting fights doesn't respect the rules of the house
because the pack leader (you) isn't enforcing them -- enforcement of rules,
positive and negative, must be immediate and clear. Corrections must be
immediate, clear, and very unpleasant. (Sometimes a warning Hey or UGH noise or
even a stern NO - but usually it takes more than that!). People don’t
understand Malamutes they often think they will be like other breeds of dogs,
like Shepherds (because they are obedient) or Labs and Golden’s (because they
are not fighters,). They think Malamutes should be the same - they're not even
in the slightest they have a mind of their own and will use it if allowed to.
If the pack leaders (YOU and your family) are not respected a malamute will not
CARE that you don't want them fighting You may have fights with more than one Malamute in the house of any sex (even if you just have two Malamutes, you can still have fights), but it's more likely to happen with the same sex (I am speaking from firsthand experience)...
You may even experience fights if you have an intact female and neutered male
because a neutered/spayed version will smells like the same sex, I’ve never
witnessed this but have heard it can happen. Also, if you have multiple dogs,
don't be surprised when a third, fourth or fifth jumps into the brawl when a
fight breaks out. Two other dogs can start the fight, but the Malamute will
probably jump in to help finish it! Malamutes LOVE a good tussle - its
recreation and something to do. Winning brings them status - so you can never
allow them to win - even if they do. You have to make the consequences severe
enough that they'll think twice before considering it. This may sound harsh to
you as a puppy buyer but Mals are head strong and like I said before have a
mind of their own, they need to know there are consequences to their behavior.
And Boundaries they are not allowed to push...

Also, just because you have other breeds in the house that does not mean your
Malamute will get along with them better. While the other dog may never
consider battling it out over a crumb with his "roommates" - the
Malamute will. This can be fatal for small dogs ( have had a dachshund killed
over this, was the hardest thing I had to experience, this is why I can’t
stress enough to NEVER leave you Malamute unattended with small animals or
livestock or children.).. Anything less than half the Malamute's size is fair
game in an argument over a crumb. The small dog will not think he's a small
dog. This is very dangerous because the Malamute (or any large dog) is not
going to say "oh, maybe I shouldn't fight with fluffy because she's 1/4 my
size". A dog is a dog to a if a fight breaks out - the small dog
will LOSE. Possibly it's life. Puppies often will get more chances to
"screw up" from adult dogs, but due to their size they are still at
risk should the adult decide to come down "too hard" on the puppy -
so SUPERVISE and correct any aggression before it gets serious.

So you think you can still handle it? Both dogs are of similar size and you are
determined to make it work or fix something that has gotten out of control. How
do you do this?
> Separate them when you are not directly and actively supervising (a huge
lesson I have learned from being owned by Malamutes over the years). In the
absence of direct and active supervision on the part of a human, they will work
conflict out their way - a tiff, a fight, or whatever it takes to work it out.
MANAGE their interactions by supervision or separation. Make sure if you
separate them, they can’t jump or get over the item separating them. (Very
Important). Control every aspect of their life - from toys to food. You must be
in control at all times so that when they are together, you can help them make
good decisions. If you don’t allow your dogs inside, make sure they have
separate yards you can put them in when you aren’t there to supervise them.

> Obedience class is a good place to start in building a bond with your
Malamute. It gives your Malamute the Knowledge that you are the alpha.

> May help to switch to a normal protein food, as that extra protein can be
turned into extra energy, and extra energy plus poor leadership equals fights.
We feed Diamond Natural adult chicken and rice.

> Watch for signals. Dog body language tells you
everything you need to know. Learn it. You can prevent arguments by knowing the
signals before it turns into out and out war.. I have learned to read each of
my babies always a good thing when you have more than one dog. Correct BEFORE a
fight happens - you must catch that glimmer of hostility. By learning the how
to read body language, you can stop a fight before it even starts.

> be fair and firm in all your interactions. Do not play favorites (unless
it's the old guy or the obvious alpha) as that will create hostility.

>Never allow spats. Even grumbled looks should be forbidden even if it's
coming from a higher ranking dog, and especially if it's coming from a lower
ranking dog. Stop it before it starts!!!!!!!!
Growls, snarls, dominance displays are unacceptable and must be quickly
re-directed. This is how you prevent fights, by telling those instigating them
that they are unacceptable BEFORE they begin. Don't keep anything around for
them to fight over if there have been problems in the past such as toys or
bones. Also a bitch in season or anywhere near being in season may even attack
a male for just "thinking" about "it". They may fight over
people and attention. Make sure your attention is fair and ALWAYS give the
older dog attention FIRST. ALWAYS supervise when children and other animals are
present. Sometimes fights are most likely to happen when the least dominant
human is in the room - usually children.
How do you stop a fight that's already started? You should think about this
before it even happens as your first instinct will be to grab a collar and that
is likely to get you bit. Know your dogs - with some you can do this - but with
others NOT. I’ve used sticks, baby gates, doors and brooms, or anything close
enough to grab to get the fight separated. Whatever you do, do NOT put your
hands in between them - use an inanimate object. Some people use water sprayed
from a hose, fog horns, cattle prods and other items to startle the offenders
so they lose their focus and MAY listen to you. Screaming at them (even though
it will be your first reaction) is about the worst thing you can do as it's
perceived by the dogs as cheering them on. The longer a fight goes on, the more
likely they will harbor animosity toward each other and it will be more likely
to happen again. So stop the fight as soon as you SAFELY can. Dominance fights
typically end with no one hurt - they will sound awful, but no puncture wounds
will be apparent. If one dog ends up with severe lacerations (cuts) or
especially bites to the front legs, or anywhere at that, this is serious. They
MUST be separated as this is a sign one was trying to kill the other. They
should no longer live together when it gets to this point, separate them when
you are not supervising. Also, once they are separated, do not isolate them
from each other if you expect them to "make up" down the road.
Ideally you should crate them side by side and make it known you are VERY ANGRY
and their life will be miserable FOREVER if they continue to behave like this.
Be dramatic, be loud, be gruff, be ANGRY and mean it - for more than a few
minutes. They should probably suffer your wrath at least overnight to make the
point come home....too short, and they'll just think it was no big deal and
more than likely will do it again,

I know you didn't want to hear that that cute puppy you were contemplating on
getting could turn into a fighter or be a killer one day but you need to know
the facts, you need to know what you could eventually face.. Maybe you're still
in denial because you have a 6 month old male that still gets along with the
old dog. But it's not likely to last as the young dog reaches puberty, so
prepare for it. Chances are it may never happen but chances are it will. Just
be ready for it!!!!! The responsibility is YOURS and YOU have a LOT of work
ahead of you if you are going to make this work. If you do your job, you'll
never have a problem, or at worst minor tiffs. Your dog will be a loving,
affectionate companion to you and his/her mate. They'll work together rather
than compete because they know YOU are alpha and are in control
One breeder gave me another way to control fights:
I wanted to offer you an idea if you don't mind on how we have handled the
fights we have had here. We've tried the same things, sticks, chairs, you name
it. Nothing worked. It is so loud the person standing next to you can't even
hear you telling them what to do. We've had our fair share. I sat down one day
after a horrendous fight and just thought and thought what can I do to break a
fight up fast and effectively and then what can I do to stop the continued
grudge. What I came up with truly works for us. A leather belt with a good
whipping. No worry of breaking anyone's bones hitting them with a stick and
when they feel that leather belt come down and sting you got their attention.
It may take a few whips but it will stop that fight. After we have gotten the
fighters separated we put a muzzle on them and put them on the buddy system.
They don't leave each other’s side until they understand they live together,
they will get along and another fight is not acceptable. Almost
can't be one of those cheap petsmart muzzles either. They'll rip them off real
quick. Needs to be a sturdy professional muzzle. They won't like it at first
and they shouldn't because they were naughty fighting and they are being
punished. But with a proper muzzle they can eat, drink, and do everything just
fine 24/7 except fight with their other naughty companioning.

Just keep in mind I am mentioning this so there are no surprises
in owning this magnificent breed, I just want anyone looking to be aware this
can happen.. May never be an issue for your but It can. Again do not let your research
and here I am just trying to post all I can so anyone interested in a Malamute will
be aware of anything that can happen with them .