So you’ve decided to bring home a Belgian Malinois Puppy? Well, my friend, you’re in for an exciting and often terrifying ride! This highly intense, high-drive, working dog (though similar to the appearance of German Shepherds) has a temperament and personality all its own.
Those who have experience with high drive and working dogs (think herding dogs, like heelers) will adjust well to this breed, as will those who have participated in different dog sports.
For those who lack dog experience, it’s vital that you do your research before diving into the possibility of bringing home a Belgian Malinois.
Belgian Malinois puppies are currently experiencing what’s labeled the ‘101 Dalmatian Syndrome’ which is a breed of dog becoming popular on T.V. or in movies.
A vast number of people purchase that dog without knowing next to nothing about the requirements of owning that particular breed.
After 101 Dalmatians were released, the breed experienced a lot of attention, and a lot of puppies were bred and sold to unsuitable homes.
The same trend is happing with Belgian Malinois puppies, so doing your research and understanding what to expect not only shows that you’re a responsible future dog owner, but that you’re going to head into the experience with eyes wide open.
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Belgian puppies characteristic
- Belgian Malinois puppies love to use their mouth.
Belgian Malinois puppies love to use their mouth. They originated in Belgium as livestock protection and herding dogs, and excel in protection and bite sports because of their genetics.
Your Malinois puppy will need a safe and controlled environment to get to use his or her mouth. They need an outlet for their natural aggression.
Give your puppy a responsible setting to use his or her mouth, meaning a controlled tug-a-war game.
Watch videos of how to play tug with your Belgian Malinios puppy, and do your best to mimic that behavior.
- Malinois puppies are incredibly energetic.
Malinois puppies are incredibly energetic. It’s not their physical activity that you’ll need to focus most on, but their mental stimulation.
A Belgian Malinois puppy can play all day without getting tired. But, ask them to use their brains to learn and experience new things, and you’ll wear them out much faster.
Correctly done obedience training is essential for your Belgian Malinois puppy as it starts building good habits and channels its energy.
- Your Malinois needs a job.
Your Malinois needs a job. These dogs are born and bred to work and if your plan is to bring your Malinois puppy home as just a family pet, you would be better off considering other breeds.
Without a job, your dog can very quickly become neurotic and stressed. They’ll be searching for things to do and can get destructive when they aren’t allowed to work.
Search and rescue, dock diving, Schutzhund, monitoring, and ring sport are all great options. It’s a good idea to spend time participating in or watching these activities before bringing your puppy home so that you’re able to decide if this breed is really the best fit for you.
- Socialize your puppy the right way.
Socialize your puppy the right way. Belgian Malinois puppies can turn fearful and nervy very easily. They are intense dogs and prevent them from becoming reactive.
It is important that they’re properly socialized and that they experience only positive interactions with strangers – especially in their first six months of life.
Don’t force your puppy into situations if they seem scared, as they’ll only become more reactive. As soon as you bring your puppy home, start taking them everywhere.
Get them around noises, crowds, and strange new things, and use treats or toy rewards to make those experiences positive.
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How To Train Your Belgian Malinois Puppy
Almost nothing can replace a good personal trainer, so once you decide to bring your Malinois puppy home you should also begin looking into local trainers who have experience with the breed.
- Marker/Clicker Training.
Marker/Clicker Training. This style of training was made popular by Karen Pryor, and a good first step is to start reading her books.
Once you have a good understanding of marker training, you’ll be able to tap into your pup’s brain in a way that allows them to effectively learn.
Rewards. Just like we get paid for going to work each day, your dog deserves to get paid for performing new tasks. Using their meals throughout the day as a reward is a great way to start early training.
A good idea is to measure out their food for that day, then spend time allowing them to use their brains to earn that food and bond with you.
Even something as simple as saying your new puppy’s name and then giving him or her a treat is a great way to start building awareness of you and building the desire to learn. Don’t train for too long.
Two minutes of fun is much more productive than ten minutes of misery. If your puppy seems interested in toys, pick one special one that you can use to start building their engagement with you.
You’ll want to bring that toy out to play at least a few times a day, then put it up when you’re done. This starts increasing Mal’s desire to work and play with you.
- Kennel Training
Kennel Training. It’s important that your puppy has a safe place to go. Spend time researching kennel training so that it’s incorporated correctly into their world.
How to find a local trainer
Belgians respond best to balanced training. What that means is they’re given rewards, taught how to do something, then once they absolutely know the command they’re taught, they receive corrections for not following through.
Look for trainers in your area that are open to balanced training and have experience working with high-drive breeds. I can’t say it enough, nothing will replace a good one-on-one trainer.
Belgian Malinois Growth Stage
Belgian Malinois are typically full-grown at ten months to a year, though will continue putting muscle on and bulking up until closer to a year and a half.
By the time they reach maturity at a year and a half. females should be 22-24 inches tall and weigh 40-60 pounds.
And males should be 24-26 inches tall and 55-75 pounds. These dogs typically do well on high-protein diets and should be given puppy food for the first year of their life.
Mental growth stages should be focused heavily on with your Malinois puppy. Because they’re prone to nerviness and can become aggressive if not properly socialized or not given an adequate job. It’s important to keep their experiences as puppies positive and educational.
Most dogs will experience a fear stage between 3 and 5 months old, and often another fear stage at 9 months to a year.
You’ll notice it’s happening because they’ll suddenly become fearful of new things or things that they were comfortable with a week ago.
Do not punish them for their fear. While in the fear stage, anything that happens can leave an intense impression.
For example, if another dog attacks a puppy during a fear stage it’s very common for them to become highly reactive toward dogs for the rest of their life.
While your Malinois is experiencing these stages, keep everything very positive and control around them. Just like a human baby, this vastly intelligent breed is soaking in every new thing.
There are few dogs that are as rewarding to train, bond with, and raise as Belgian Malinois. Enjoy the experience, it’s a wild ride!