Raising a malinois puppy properly takes time, energy and a willingness to learn. Even experienced malinios owners must adjust their approaches with each new puppy, because every dog is different and presents a new set of challenges and talents.
The best thing any dog owner can do is give the new puppy consistent guidelines, enough time to play and exercise, an outlet for that puppy biting, and fair, fun training. A puppy is still a baby in many ways, but you must set some basic expectations early on. Puppy biting is one that comes up frequently, particularly in breeds like malinois and German shepherds, but I hear about it all the time in toy breeds and labradors as well.
My take on this is- if you don’t want your adult dog putting his teeth on skin or clothes, do not allow this from your puppy. Like many malinois breeders, I find it amusing, and a sign of good genetics and drives when baby puppies hang off my pant legs like crabs, but I put a stop to this at around 7- 8 weeks. Partly because this is when the puppy is old enough to learn, partly because I don’t want to set bad habits for the puppies in their new homes. I’m not interested in a dog that does this, and I don’t believe for a moment that it will squelch working drives to teach a pup what she can and can not bite from an early age.
There are many online resources for dog owners, so many that it can become overwhelming. At the bottom of this page, I’ve included links and brief descriptions of four of the best trainers in the US today. If you watch these trainer’s videos, you will find answers- good answers- to any and all dog and puppy training questions you might have, from curbing puppy biting to teaching a more motivated retrieve in IPO.
Of course, the best instruction is hands on. There are good and bad trainers out there, sometimes it seems more bad than good. I invite any puppy buyer to ask me about a trainer BEFORE they go to see them. A bad trainer can do serious harm in just one session. I’ve heard some crazy stories about “dog behaviorists” as well. Please, please, ask me and I can guide you in the right direction. I care about my puppies well beyond 8 weeks and am very happy to help.
Other great resources are dog training clubs, including protection sport clubs such as IPO, ring, PSA, and obedience or agility clubs like AKC. For protection sports, verify that the clubs are associated with and respected by a national organization. Attend some meetings and see if you agree with training methods. NEVER subject your dog to “helper” or “protection” training that you are not comfortable with- this is one aspect of training that absolutely MUST be done by an experienced, knowledgeable person. Doing it wrong can have serious, dire repercussions for your dog. Be very wary and ask questions before you start. I recommend not starting any real protection work, aside from pure prey play until the pup is at least a year old. There is no reason to rush.
Finally, you, the owner and family are the ones who will be living with this dog day in and day out and you must step up and educate yourselves because nobody can do the day-to-day training for you. In other words, there are no “Dog Whisperer” instant results or magic training techniques that transform a pup into an IPO champion, or perfect off-leash obedient hiking partner in a few days. It takes a lot of research, a thoughtful, goal-oriented approach, and then meaningful training each day to get the pup to be the dog you envision.
It is far better to train a pup or dog 5 times a day for 10 minutes than in a single one-hour chunk. End training on a good note, let the dog succeed. While some training is going to be stressful on the dog at first, if the dog is overall “down” due to training, something is not right. Malinois love training and working, they should come out eager to work and with busy minds trying to figure out what you want.
As always, feel free to text or email me with any questions at ANY TIME in your dog’s life.
Below are some links to excellent training videos. You will not be led wrong by any of these trainers.
Ivan Balabanov is among the best, most knowledgeable dog trainers in the world today, and certainly one of the top trainers in the United States. Ivan has train-per-view videos on his methods HERE. I highly recommend checking them out. You will learn something new every time!
Larry Krohn works with dogs in many different areas, and I appreciate his down-to-earth knowledge, especially when it comes to working with puppy basics, off-leash control, motivation, and e-collar work. LINK to his YouTube Channel. Videos are organized by category.
Stonnie Dennis has some excellent videos on dog training, socialization, engagement, and specific videos for malinois puppies which follow a week by week training progression. He is super fun to watch, and has a great approach to incorporating dogs into a family. Check out his channel HERE.
Solid K9 Training with Jeff Gellman, lots of good information with training, with some useful Q and A sections.
Michael Ellis is mostly a sport dog trainer, who trains in Mondio-ring and other protection sports. He is also a trainer of dog trainers, and is well known for the many videos he’s made in co-operation with Leerburg Enterprises. Michael himself was trained by Ivan, so I recommend going to the source, first, but Michael does offer some good tips for marker training and specialty work like focused heeling in some of his videos. You can check out some free videos on Michael’s methods HERE, and also search for his YouTube videos. I was given five of Michael’s videos, and am happy to lend them out. Just ask.
There are many other trainers who work with malinois out there on the web, but if you are looking for information, you won’t go wrong by checking out the trainers I have recommended here. Take your time, and go through the videos.