Are Alaskan Malamutes Easy to Train? A Comprehensive Guide to Trainability

When it comes to discussing the trainability of Alaskan Malamutes, it’s important to first understand what these dogs are all about. Alaskan Malamutes are a large and sturdy breed that originated in Alaska. They were originally used as sled dogs and are known for their strength and endurance. With their thick double coat and powerful build, Alaskan Malamutes are perfectly suited for pulling heavy loads through snow and ice.

Why Trainability Matters

Trainability is an important factor to consider when bringing any dog into your home, and Alaskan Malamutes are no exception. While every dog is unique and will have their own personality traits, understanding the trainability of a particular breed can help you set realistic expectations and establish a strong bond with your furry friend.

Understanding the Alaskan Malamute’s Temperament

Traits and Characteristics

Alaskan Malamutes are known for their friendly and outgoing nature. They are highly social dogs that enjoy being around people and other animals. They are also known for their loyalty and make excellent family pets. However, it’s important to note that they have a strong pack mentality and may display protective behaviors towards their loved ones.

Independence and Willfulness

One of the key factors that can affect the trainability of Alaskan Malamutes is their independent nature. These dogs have a mind of their own and may not always be quick to obey commands. They are strong-willed and may require extra patience and consistency during training sessions.


Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent dogs and can quickly pick up on new commands and concepts. However, their intelligence can sometimes work against them, as they may use their smarts to find ways around following instructions. This requires trainers to be creative and find ways to keep their attention and motivation high during training.

Energy Level

Another important aspect of the Alaskan Malamute’s temperament is their high energy level. These dogs are bred for endurance and require plenty of physical and mental stimulation to be happy and well-behaved. A bored or under-exercised Malamute may become destructive or develop behavioral issues, making proper training even more crucial.

Factors Affecting Trainability

Early Socialization

Early socialization plays a vital role in shaping the trainability of any dog, including Alaskan Malamutes. Exposing them to a variety of people, animals, and environments from a young age helps them develop confidence and reduces the likelihood of fear-based aggression or anxiety. It’s important to start socializing your Malamute as early as possible to set a solid foundation for training.

Consistency and Patience

Consistency and patience are key when training an Alaskan Malamute. These dogs thrive on routine and may become confused or frustrated if the training methods or expectations change frequently. It’s important to stick to a consistent training routine and be patient with your Malamute, as it may take time for them to understand and respond to commands.

Positive Reinforcement

Alaskan Malamutes respond best to positive reinforcement techniques. Reward-based training, using treats, praise, and play, can motivate them to learn and perform desired behaviors. Harsh or punitive training methods can be counterproductive and may damage the bond between you and your dog.

Effective Communication

Clear and effective communication is crucial when training an Alaskan Malamute. These dogs are highly perceptive and can pick up on subtle cues from their owners. Using consistent verbal cues, hand signals, and body language helps them understand what is expected of them and facilitates effective training.

Basic Training Commands


Teaching your Alaskan Malamute to sit is one of the fundamental commands that sets the groundwork for further training. Start by holding a treat close to their nose and slowly move it up and back over their head. As their nose follows the treat, their bottom will naturally lower into a sitting position. Once they are sitting, reward them with the treat and praise.


The “stay” command is important for keeping your Alaskan Malamute safe in various situations. Begin by asking your dog to sit, then hold your hand up in a stop gesture and say “stay” while taking a step back. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the stay, rewarding your dog for successfully maintaining the position.


The “down” command teaches your Alaskan Malamute to lie down on command. Start by luring your dog into a sitting position with a treat, then slowly move the treat down towards the ground between their front paws. As they follow the treat, their body will naturally lower into a lying position. Reward them with the treat and praise when they are lying down.


The “come” command is important for ensuring your Alaskan Malamute returns to you when called. Begin by calling your dog’s name followed by the command “come”. Use an excited and encouraging tone of voice. When your dog comes to you, reward them with treats, praise, and even playtime to reinforce the behavior.

Advanced Training Techniques

Leash Training

Leash training is essential for ensuring that your Alaskan Malamute walks calmly and safely on a leash. Start by introducing your dog to the leash and collar gradually, allowing them to get used to the sensation before attempting to walk with them. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward your dog for walking calmly beside you.

Potty Training

Potty training is an essential aspect of owning any dog, including Alaskan Malamutes. Establish a consistent routine for bathroom breaks and reward your dog for eliminating in the appropriate spot. Use positive reinforcement and avoid punishment, as it can create anxiety and hinder the training process.

Crate Training

Crate training can provide a safe and comfortable space for your Alaskan Malamute while also aiding in house training. Introduce the crate gradually, making it a positive and rewarding space for your dog. Use treats and praise to encourage them to enter the crate and gradually increase the duration they spend inside.

Teaching Good Manners

Teaching your Alaskan Malamute good manners is crucial for their overall behavior and integration into your household. This includes teaching them not to jump on people, not to nip or bite, and to wait patiently for food or treats. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward desired behaviors and redirect unwanted behaviors.

Challenges of Training Alaskan Malamutes

Stubbornness and Independence

Alaskan Malamutes have a reputation for being independent and stubborn. This can make training a challenge at times, as they may be more inclined to do what they want rather than follow commands. However, with patience and consistency, it is possible to overcome these challenges and successfully train your Malamute.

Distractions and Prey Drive

Alaskan Malamutes have a strong prey drive, which means they may be easily distracted by small animals or moving objects. This can make outdoor training sessions more challenging, as they may be more focused on chasing squirrels than listening to your commands. It’s important to train in a controlled and secure environment to minimize distractions and gradually build up to more challenging situations.

Adapting to Different Environments

Alaskan Malamutes are known for their adaptability to different climates and environments. However, this can also make them more prone to distractions and a lack of focus in new or unfamiliar surroundings. It’s important to slowly introduce your Malamute to new environments and gradually increase the level of distractions to ensure successful training.

Training Tips and Strategies

Breaking Training into Small Sessions

Alaskan Malamutes have a tendency to become bored or lose interest during long training sessions. Breaking up training into smaller, more frequent sessions can help maintain their focus and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed or disinterested.

Using High-Value Rewards

Alaskan Malamutes respond well to high-value rewards, such as small, tasty treats or interactive toys. Use these rewards during training to keep their motivation levels high and reinforce desired behaviors.

Keeping Training Engaging and Fun

Training should be a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and your Alaskan Malamute. Incorporate games, play, and interactive training exercises to keep them engaged and excited about learning new things.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re struggling with training your Alaskan Malamute or need additional guidance, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A qualified dog trainer can provide expert advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs and challenges.

Common Training Mistakes to Avoid

Harsh or Punitive Techniques

Using harsh or punitive training methods can be counterproductive and may damage the trust and bond between you and your Alaskan Malamute. Avoid physical punishment or shouting, as it can create fear and anxiety in your dog.

Inconsistency in Training Routine

Consistency is key when training any dog, including Alaskan Malamutes. Inconsistency in commands, expectations, or training methods can confuse your dog and make it more difficult for them to understand and respond to training.

Skipping Basic Training Steps

Skipping basic training steps can lead to gaps in your Alaskan Malamute’s understanding and behavior. Make sure to establish a solid foundation of basic commands before moving on to more advanced training techniques.

Overlooking Mental Stimulation

Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent dogs that require mental stimulation along with physical exercise. Neglecting to provide mental challenges and enrichment can lead to boredom and potentially destructive behaviors. Incorporate puzzle toys, interactive games, and training exercises that stimulate their minds.


While Alaskan Malamutes may have their challenges when it comes to trainability, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, they can become well-behaved and obedient companions. Understanding their temperament, energy level, and unique traits is crucial in developing an effective training approach. Remember to keep training sessions fun and engaging, seek professional help when needed, and avoid common training mistakes. By investing the time and effort into training your Alaskan Malamute, you can set them up for a lifetime of good behavior and a strong bond with you as their trusted owner.

ThePetFaq Team