Quite a few new Malamute owners don’t have any experience with the equipment which will be needed for their dog in everyday activities. We had the same problem, knew nothing about it. This page should help getting the idea of what might be needed and how to choose from the variety. We do not receive any support from the manufacturers of these items (though we’d love to!) – just sharing our experience.
We really like the collars made by ManMat: used the Standard semi choke collar until the age of 1, then moved to the Polar semi choke collar, which has a bigger D-ring for a comfortable grip when we need to hold the dog in close proximity. These semi choke collars never actually choke a dog, but are incredibly convenient as you can take off the collar very quickly and without the need to unbuckle or re-adjust it every time. They are reasonably priced and the material is virtually bomb proof – will last for ages.
There are many options of what could actually be used as a leash: from a simple canvas 3 to 5 meter long leash for walks in unsettled environments, to a 10 meter canvas or rope leash for training the most important ‘come’ command or walking the dog in larger proximity. We are still using both lengths of canvas leashes for training, but for walks and sports there are other things to use:
ManMat leash with bungee – this has become our most used leash. It is very well made, works well for long and short walks both in town and outdoors, effectively reduces the tension, doesn’t take a lot of space and can be used for jogging and canicross training.
Non-Stop running line – a professional leash, which can be used in official canicross, bikejoring and skijoring races, as well as in everyday walks. High quality bungee, bronze buckle, has an additional loop to clip a second dog, or to use the leash as a collar. The only problem with this leash is its price. But you get what you pay for. We use it exclusively for bikejoring.
Harness is a single most important piece of equipment for your dog and there is a lot of debate going around on what is the best. The main things to look in a harness for a Malamute is quality padding for the protection of coat, double chest padding for comfort and efficiency, water and frost resistance of the fabric and durability. To find a right size, use this simple rule: you should fit two fingers behind the neck, chest and waist parts of the harness (and follow the manufacturers recommendations on measuring your dog).
Non-Stop FreeMotion harness – a Haute couture of X-back harnesses, which will make everyone at a sports event think you’re a professional of a highest league (and rich, or with good sponsors). It is great, though the price can become a burden, especially if you have more than one dog to dress up. Anyway, it fits incredibly well, thus it is our first choice training and racing harness.
ManMat Siberian Race harness – a traditional X-back harness, with high quality padding, specifically designed for broad chested dogs, does not rotate in motion, fits and distributes the weight. Our second choice of a heavy duty harness for canicross, bikejoring and sledding.
ManMat Long Distance harness – half sized harness, with the same quality properties as the one above. We’re using it for trekking, long walks and jogging. In personal experience, this harness is very useful in general use and for light training, while the proper X-back harness is indispensable for sledding, racing, heavier training and loads.
Ruffwear Palisades Pack is the only dog backpack we can highly recommend. It is terribly expensive, but its features make it worth every penny in the long run: removable saddlebags with load compression system, very comfortable adjustable harness frame (which can be used separately as a high quality harness), 2 collapsible hydration bottles, padded handle on the top. There are many other cheaper backpacks on the market, but this is a piece of equipment to be chosen very carefully – bad, unstable dog pack can quickly damage the dog’s balance system. There are cheaper high quality options by Ruffwear, but none of them have removable bags, which is a very useful feature.
This is the least important piece of equipment in our opinion, as the comfort of the dog is much more important. Seriously, when choosing a canicross belt, just make sure it’s comfortable and has a decent breathing padding. The simple ManMat Ski Belt is one of the cheaper options and works just fine.
Finding a good yet affordable scooter is a challenge – usually, you get what you pay for it. Look for as light as possible, but strong frame and good brakes. Some options: Gravity Scooters, Pawtrek, Pawtrekker, Kickbike and, if you want the fancy one – Traczer.
Rigs / Carts
Same story as with scooters – you get what you pay for. The difference is, if you’d get a secondhand cheap scooter, it would probably last for quite a while before running into problems. With a rig, you’ll probably end up with a broken frame quite soon, especially if used with 3-4 dogs. Look for strong and relatively light, but well balanced frame and good brakes. Secondhand good rig is an option, otherwise, consider these: ArticRigs, Cudos, Steeldog, or Traczer.
Buying a sled will require a research. There are many DIY solutions (though these should not be used for sports), many individual sled makers, as well as professional racing options. A good place to start is a list of sled dog equipment manufacturers at SledDogCentral. In Europe choose from RS-Sleds, Danler Sleds and Antipode.
Booties might become needed in long runs over rough terrains or in extreme cold climates. There is a vast selection and many opinions on various brands, but most well regarded are from Kipmik, DogBooties, Mountain Ridge and Non-Stop.