Just mention the name Husky or Malamute and it evokes images of rugged and hardy wolf-like dogs. But truth be told, these Snow Dogs differ from many of the other dog breeds. They are extremely sensitive, both emotionally as well as physically, and they require specialized care in many areas of their functioning. Far too many owners are unaware of the needs of these dogs, and equally, many owners are unaware of just how to meet their dog’s needs. One size fits all generalized dog care and training will not work for this breed of dog.
Far too often this breed of dog is purchased based on only on their appearance or on some romanticized ideal but without giving any thought to what it takes to keep them happy and healthy. Ideally, meeting the needs of our dogs should not reduce owners into fits of tears nor should they be contemplating taking up drinking. The answer lies in providing the correct information for the Snow Dog owners.
The four most common areas where owners fail their Snow Dogs involve issues around, diet, grooming, exercise, and training.
In order to keep these dogs healthy, they must have a high protein but low carbohydrate diet. Poor quality protein base and cheap carbohydrate filler (wheat, corn and soy) in these dog’s food may save you money on the initial cost of the food but will end up costing you much more money paid out in vet costs as the host of medical issues start showing up in your dog. Unless your vet happens to specialize in the care of Huskies or Malamutes do not wait expect them to know they specialized dietary needs of these dogs. You have to be prepared to arm yourself with this knowledge.
These breeds have a double coat that requires special care and attention especially during the shedding season. These dogs will “blow their coats” twice a year so be prepared to rake out and vacuum up lots of dog hair. If you are the type of person who abhors dog hair on your person or your belongings, don’t get this breed of dog. If you already own this breed of dog, you will find yourself buying lint brushes and sticky rollers by the case lot. This is just the reality of Snow Dog ownership.
These dogs also have specific exercise needs. Not only do they need a specific amount of exercise to keep them healthy, happy, and manageable, but they need a specific type of exercise. These dogs cannot be relegated to the backyard to “run around” to get sufficient exercise. They cannot just be taken for a 15 minute amble down the street. Please note, these dogs cannot have their physical exercise requirements ignored because you have to work late, or because you have young children that need tending to, or because it is cold outside. Snow Dogs will not care why they are not getting enough exercise, they will only care that they are not getting their daily exercise needs met.
Lastly, and just as importantly, we have the issue of training Snow Dogs. These magnificent dogs have reduced many owners to tears and in some select cases owners may contemplate taking up drinking. Snow Dogs are a very intelligent working dog who’s major issue does not revolve around pleasing you. They can be willful and become easily bored. They really don’t care if they follow your cues or not and they will most definitely not follow your commands if they do not see you as a worthy leader. So unless you know how to engage them, motivate them, and know how to earn their respect, training Huskies and Malamutes can seem like a hopeless endeavor.
Far too many people give up on these dogs and then the outcome of this decision begins a downward spiral of events. Dogs stop being walked and their pent up energy causes a myriad of bad behaviours like digging, chewing, howling, and escaping the yard. Their uncontrolled behaviours make it unpleasant or unsafe for them to be around people so they end up being relegated to the back yard where they live their life in solitude and loneliness. Eventually the dogs become such a “nuisance” and “inconvenience” to the owners that the dogs are dumped off to become someone else’s problem.
Just take a look in any shelter and you will see numerous Snow Dogs and Snow Dog crosses, all aged between nine months and eighteen months old, all with behaviour issues, all waiting to be re-homed. The lucky ones will get a second chance in a new home. The unlucky ones will get no such chance and will be euthanized. Uninformed or uncaring, owners failed these dogs. This situation is preventable by providing top quality up to date breed specific information and education to you, the Snow Dog owner.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be presenting in depth information so that no Snow Dog need ever end up with its needs unmet. We will be covering all areas of Snow Dog ownership and training so make sure that you check in with us daily to read the latest blog. We encourage you to write in and tell us about your Snow Dog or ask us for help with your Snow Dog problems.
We are here to help all Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.