- What activities can I do my malinois?
Just about anything! Malinois were originally bred as all purpose farm dogs, but more recently have been specifically bred and selected for protection sports and police work both of which include protection, tracking, detection, obedience, and extreme athleticism. For example, the KNPV PH-1 test includes an exercise where the dog finds a box in the woods and guards it, swims across a canal to fetch an object, scales an 8 foot wall, and leaps across a 10 foot pit in a single bound. In short- these dogs are all around superb athletes and extremely intelligent and trainable.
Because of their strong genetic drives for clear-headedness when in a high drive state (aka very excited), deep, calm grips, and protective instincts, malinois excel at the so-called “bite sports” including IPO (schutzhund), french and mondio ring, PSA, KNPV, and other similar disciplines. They are also often the breed of choice for police K9, and military K9 work. Malinois and working-line GSD are the only two breeds in the world that routinely excel in these disciplines, and getting into these sports is a wonderful way to bond with your malinois and fulfill his natural drives.
However, you do not “have” to participate in protection sports to enjoy and work with your malinois. If your malinois comes from stable genetics with solid nerves, you can participate in just about any sport and activity. Malinois excel in agility, dock diving, sled dog sports (eg. skijor and canicross), disc dog. They also make excellent scent detection dogs, tracking dogs, herding dogs, and Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs. Malinois also excel in obedience competitions and nosework trials.
A clearheaded, stable, well-trained malinois makes one of the best family protection dogs a woman or family can find.
As long as you meet your malinois’ need for training and mental activities, and give your dog an outlet for his natural drives to bite and tug in play, malinois are also quite happy as trail running and hiking companions, mountain biking partners, or stand-up paddleboarding dogs.
In short, if you are fully committed to training and exercising your malinois, you can do just about anything you want with them, and do it well! These dogs are extraordinary K9 athletes and their intelligence and intuition will constantly surprise you. The sky is the limit!
Video Links of Malinois Activities and Work:
2. What are malinois like to live with- are malinois hyper?
As I write this, my three malinois are all sleeping soundly- one at my feet, one in his “den” under the stairs and the third is soaking up the sun out in the yard. Malinois love to be close to their people, they crave training, and need daily exercise and mental stimulation. However, malinois do not need to run for hours a day to settle, nor do they HAVE to participate in sports like schutzhund or ring to be happy and content.
Video Link: Raising a Content Belgian Malinois
Malinois that obsessively pace, are hyper, and can not settle are often both bred and made through training and management. They also may be not getting enough exercise or stimulation. Pacing and circling in common in malinois who are kenneled for days at a time with no outlet for their brains and bodies.
At Malinois du Chocorua, we do not breed or select for dogs that pace, are hyper, or exhibit OCD-type behaviors. Rather, we select for dogs that have the “on”, “off” switch so famous in the malinois (some say you can find it between the ears… joke). This means the dog is ready to go all out when working, but easily settles and is calm in the house.
All that said, keep in mind these are some of the highest energy, most athletic dogs on the planet, easily clearing 10 foot blockades, reaching speeds in excess of 20 mph while running, and setting records in dock diving. They need a daily outlet for this energy, both physical and mental.
In short, living with a malinois is what you make it. If you select a well-bred malinois, such as one you will get through a breeding at Malinois du Chocorua, the dog will be able to settle with proper exercise, management and training. Most people have to work away from home for a minimum of 8 hours a day. If you are like a normal person and work a 40 hour a week job, you will need to devote time and effort to training and exercising your malinois before and after work. This needs to include some form of off-leash exercise, perhaps a trail run, a game of fetch, or a swim (or all three). And in addition something that will fill the malinois breed’s natural drives to chase and tug including a game of tug and fetch, teaching your dog to track or locate certain scents and objects, sport training (IPO (schutzhund), PSA, ring, etc.) or obedience training.
Like many athletic, high energy breeds, the malinois is not going to be happy to just sit on the couch after a day of being home alone, and you will need to be prepared to meet his needs. If you do not meet those needs, the malinois may become hyper, and out of control, a situation which is unhappy for both you and the dog. Unless you are fully committed to meeting the malinois’ needs, choose a different breed! This applies to many athletic, high energy breeds of dogs including some labradors, pointers, and huskies.
3. Should I get a Belgian Malinois?
That depends both on you and the dog you choose. If you chose a well-bred malinois, like pups out of du Chocorua, and have an active interest in not just hanging out with your dog but also training your dog and participating in activities together, this may be the perfect breed for you.
However, remember that these dogs are naturally protective and may carry some degree of suspicion, so you must be fully committed to socializing and showing your puppy what you want and what you don’t want from a very young age. Socialization means CONTROLLED exposure to the many things this puppy will experience as an adult dog including children, people on bikes, other dogs, livestock, etc. It is better to keep the pup home than let him have a bad experience- for example being attacked by another dog. So you need to do it right, and let the puppy tell you what he is comfortable with and respect it if he is not comfortable.
Pups out of my breedings are selected to be social with very solid nerves- that means they are safe in public. But they are still powerful dogs with extreme drives.
This video shows what some excellent malinois owners did to raise their pup properly. Watch and see if you are willing and able to do the same. Remember, this is a live-long commitment, and if you are lucky, your malinois will live for 13- 15 years. The time and effort you put into training and socializing your puppy will pay off ten-fold as the dog matures.