Packing with your Malamute can be an excellent activity for both the dog and its owner and is ideally suited for the one-dog households. It is easy to train the Malamute to pack. The equipment needs are minimal, especially if you are already a hiker or backpacker. Hiking trails can be found almost everywhere and most Mals love to get out on the trail. And the best part: your Malamute can carry its own water, food and gear!
You will need: not much – a dog backpack and a leash (preferably, an elastic one). Press here for more information about the equipment. Don’t forget, that the quality of your own gear, especially of hiking shoes and backpack, does make a big difference on the overall quality and pleasure of hiking together with your Malamute.
At about 9 months of age a dog can start wearing an empty pack just to get used to it. At 12 months the load can be gradually increased until up to 1/8th of the dog’s own weight. Fill the packs with bulky, but light items (such as paper towel) to give the dog the feeling of a full load with a minimum of weight. As the dog reaches 18 months of age and gets into good condition, slowly increase the load to 1/3 of his weight. Be sure that each side of the pack carries an equal amount of weight or the load will shift and be hard on the dog.
At around 2 years the Malamute is mature and can carry about 30% of its own weight all day if it is gradually trained to doing this and is in good condition. Don’t expect a dog who spends all day lying in the backyard to be in shape. When the dog packs are loaded, check that everything is comfortable and in balance. Large items such as tents may not be workable as they shift too much. Don’t pack any items that might poke through the pack, and pack all perishable items in plastic bags in case the dog decides to take a swim somewhere along the trail. Plan on extra rations for your hard working dog when he is on the trail. Take a break every hour or so to rest your dog, give him a drink and re-check his pack.