Alaskan Malamute Exercise Needs Guide

Malamute exercise

The Alaskan Malamute was originally used as a shed pulling dog.  For such a large dog (between 34 to 38kg  ) they have large amounts of strength, endurance and are very energetic.

As a result of their working background, the Malamute has a  real willingness to work. Failure to provide them with sufficient exercise can result in boredom and frustration resulting in potential behavior issues. This can include destructive behavior and chewing, nuisance barking and vocalizing and even escaping.

How much exercise does an Alaskan Malamute need

The Malamute requires a reasonably large amount of exercise on a daily basis. It is recommended that they receive one to two hours of activity daily, both physical exercise and mental stimulation.

There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your Alaskan Malamute every day.

  • 1. Daily walk
  • 2. Purposeful Moderate Intensity Activity (see Malamute exercise ideas below)
  • 3. Mental stimulation

This recommended exercise quantity and ideas are for a healthy adult Malamute. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing. The Malamute can be prone to joint issues and hip dysplasia later in life. The wrong quantity and type of exercise can cause injury to a puppy with growing bones and joints. See the bottom of this post for more about how to exercise a Malamute puppy.

As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. See the bottom of this post for more on the exercise needs of an older dog.

Malamute exercise in hot weather

The Malamute is better suited to cold climates. Avoid exercising them outside when the weather is hot and the sun is blazing down. Allowing them to overheat can result in heat stress or even heat stroke.  It is still important that they receive exercise even when the weather is hot. For tips on exercising a dog in hot weather see here.

How far can a Malamute run

The Alaskan Malamute was bred to run and pull sheds of long distances. This means Malamutes a can run for long distances at a good pace. If you are wanting to run or jog with your Malamute be sure to build up the distance over time. Overdoing it before they are conditioned can result in injury. For tips on running with your dog see here.

Alaskan Malamute Walking Distance

Malamute walking

The daily walk is essential for a Malamute not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Malamute to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across.

The length of the daily walk should ideally be between 45 to 60 minutes. This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows. Dogs also like routine, so try to schedule the walk for around the same time each day. Daily walks are much better than nothing all week and a big walk at the weekend.

If your Malamute has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash or long lead to allow them more freedom while maintaining control.

You can add extra resistance to the walk by using a weighted vest or dog backpack. It is recommended that no more than 10% of their body weight be added. This is more than sufficient to tire them and strengthen their muscles without overworking them. Other ways of increasing the resistance on the walk are to walk on sand or include uphill sections in the walk.

Having such a large amount of endurance, the Malamute is also an ideal dog to take hiking.

Ways to exercise an Alaskan Malamute

The daily walk is a crucial component of any dogs daily exercise. In addition to going for walks, it is important to provide other types of purposeful activity and exercise in your Malamutes daily exercise routine. This will aid in burning pent up energy, providing enrichment and keeping their muscles strong.

Here are some suggestions of ways to provide exercise and purposeful activity for your Malamute.

Flirt Pole

Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it. This activity is ideal for a Malamute as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. It is also a very good training exercise as it teaches impulse control. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise. See video for tips on flirt pole use.

For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.

View Flirt poles on Amazon.

Fetch

Playing Fetch with your Malamute is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. You can make it more of a workout using a manual ball launcher. Obviously, the further you can throw the ball the more your dog has to run.

They also make life easier for you as the long handle lets you pick up a ball without having to bend over to the ground. It also prevents you from having to touch a slobbery ball.

The best quality and well-known brand are the Chuckit.  These are also extremely inexpensive and well worth having. Check out the Chuckit ball thrower on Amazon.

Tug of War

Tug of war is a great strength-building game for all dogs.  Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to.

The purpose of strength-building exercises for dogs is not necessarily to build muscle bulk. Strong muscles provide protection for the joints and tendons helping to prevent potential injury.

Spring Pole

spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs and particularly strong breeds like the Malamute that love a good game of tug of war.

Backyard agility

Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon. You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.

Frisbee Toss

Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Malamutes look spectacular playing this due to their power and agility despite being such a large dog. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.

Urban Mushing

Urban mushing is similar to regular mushing with wheels and no snow. To get started you need 3 things. A wheeled vehicle such as a scooter, a pulling harness for your Malamute, and a scooter line for the dog to pull you along in your scooter. It is important to use a  correct pulling harness. These distribute the stain evenly over your dog’s body to avoid injury.

Weight Pulling

Weight pulling is an actual dog sport but you can incorporate this type of exercise into your dog’s muscle building and strength program. The most important thing is that you use a proper weight pulling harness. These are designed to distribute the weight evenly over your dog’s body.

Mental Stimulation for a Malamute

All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.

Some ways to provide mental stimulation and enrichment include;

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are ideal for all dogs to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. Due to their intelligence, try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.

Petgeek Automatic Rolling Treat Ball

This automatic rolling treat ball from Petgeek is activated by a soft touch from your dog and can last for up to 7 hours. Requires two AAA batteries and goes into sleep mode after a period of no activity.

Provides physical exercise and mental stimulation as they figure out how to release the treats.  Can hold up to 380ml of kibble or small treats(sized up to 0.3 inches). This is ideal for the home alone dog also.

View the Petgeek Automatic Rolling Ball on Amazon

In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your Malamute to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.

Scenting and nose games

All dogs can have a keen nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.

Chew Toys

Provide your Malamute with good strong chew toys. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.

For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys click here.

Learning

Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.

Food enrichment

Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Malamute to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.

Enrich their environment

Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.

How much exercise does a Malamute puppy need?

Malamute puppy in the snow

The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult dog. The exercise needs of a puppy are quite different. With puppies, their bones, muscle, and joints are still growing and developing.

Overly strenuous walks are not necessary and in fact, could possibly cause harm. An activity that is high impact on the joints should also be avoided.

The best exercise for a young puppy is free play with age-appropriate toys.

Socializing with other puppies or friendly adult dogs is a great way to burn some of that puppy energy along with teaching them the social skills they need.

As your puppy gets older you can take them for short informal walks allowing them to sniff and explore and get used to being on a leash. Puppies under three months probably haven’t had all their vaccinations so shouldn’t be walked in public. Check with your vet when it is alright to venture out to the park or street.

The general rule of thumb for walking a puppy is around 5 minutes for every month of age. So, for example for a 4-month-old puppy, a walk of 15 minutes to 20 minutes is enough. Monitor your Malamute puppy on the walk for signs such as lagging behind, lying down or panting. End the walk if they seem too tired.

Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.

For more on exercise for your Malamute puppy read “How to exercise your puppy”.

How much exercise does an older Malamute need

As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.

Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.

Malamutes can also be prone to hip dysplasia. For more on exercise for a dog with hip dysplasia see here.

Summary – Alaskan Malamute Exercise Requirements

The Alaskan Malamute was bred as a working dog to pull sleds over long distances. As a result, they are a strong, energetic dog with bucket loads of stamina. They require one to two hours a day of exercise and activity.

This includes a daily walk of 45 to 60 minutes, other purposeful activity and play and mental stimulation.

Let us know in the comments how much and what types of exercise your Malamute gets.

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