How to deal with extremely rare agression in a Malamute?

I have a 3 year old Alaskan Malamute who is almost ALWAYS friendly. He is fantastic around other dogs and while sometimes timid around people he doesn't know he is almost never aggressive towards them.

However, on EXTREMELY rare occasions something sets him off and he gets very aggressive towards a stranger he doesn't know. It is always very sudden he goes from wagging his tail and friendly to vicious and snarling in a heartbeat so I have been unable to predict it. When it happens it really scares the person and while I don't think he would bite them I am still concerned.

He goes to daycare regularly and is well socialized. This has happened with maybe 3 or 4 people total over the last 2 years.

I was hoping someone might have a suggestion because I fear that he might do it with someone who calls animal control or even potentially hurt someone.

Any ideas why he is friendly and gently 99.99% of the time but on occasion finds himself agressive?

Asked by Member 1148358 on Jan 5th 2013 in Behavior & Training
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When a dog wags it's tail, it can mean several different things. I would suggest observing his body language as someone he knows approaches, and comparing it to the language of a stranger. Check out this website, I found it helpful:

Katie answered on 1/5/13. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Frankly, this is not terribly unusual in a Malemute, especially now that he is nearing maturity.
I would suggest you consult with a good, certified veterinary behaviorist (not just a trainer). They will first of all, have a complete physical exam done which will rule out any physical causes (low thyroid can be a problem in this breed, for example), then they will observe you, your family and the dog in his home environment. Finally, they will recommend and work with you on a program of modifications to help you recognize and deal with these issues.
You are right to be worried... a problem like this can suddenly osculate into a serious injury at which time it will be too late to fix.

Member 641257 answered on 1/6/13. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


I agree with Toto but you said this has only happened with a few people over a couple of years so I would also add Trust your dog. Sometimes they know things we don't.

Sabi answered on 1/10/13. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer