Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

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A11bandit
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Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by A11bandit » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:26 am

Hi There... I have been researching Tamaskans and have found their human connections to be generous with the time and expertise and wonderfully dedicated to the breed. While I am in love with almost everything I have learned about this incredible breed, I am afraid I have locked into a few "red flags" that have lead me to believe a Tamaskan may not be the right fit for our family. I would greatly appreciate all honest feedback here. I have talked myself out of adopting a Tamaskan (breaking my heart) for the good of the puppy and want to make sure I am not overreacting.
Through great conversations with owners (thank you!) I am convinced a Tamaskan will make a wonderful and loving companion to every member of my family including my 7 & 12 year old children. I am also confident if I put in the proper time and effort, I can train a Tamaskan to be an obedient pet. I am mainly concerned in a few areas however. First, our dog will have two big walks a day to a large park and play with the kids but not more vigorous exercise. We don't have a yard we can leave him to run. Second, while I will crate the puppy while he is young, my hope is to one day give him free roam of the house even when we are gone. I would like to be able to leave him alone (no other pets) for up to 4 hours at a time if necessary. Do you believe this is realistic? I am also hoping to be able to let our Tamaskan off leash for his romps in the park and perhaps on our walks. I would like to know that is a possibility. Finally, I am worried about the prey drive. We live in a neighborhood filled with cats, squirrels and raccoons. My neighbors all know one another. If a cat goes missing, I would not be able to forgive myself nor do I think they would forgive me! I would love to be a part of this special breed and community you are creating, but I also want to be respectful and responsible. Please tell me I am making the right decision by looking into another breed (Norwegian Elkhound). Thank you!!!

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by Ryphen » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:47 am

It sounds like it would highly depend on the individual personality of the Tamaskan. There are ones that can do the things you listed, and others that can't. Like, for example, ours is walked off leash all the time and I know I can call him off of chasing a cat or squirrel or whatever with confidence. However, he doesn't do well with being left alone and if I left him with free rein of the house, I know I'd come back to some kind of mess.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by HiTenshi16 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:36 am

Hey, welcome to the forum!
It is always best to go with your gut feeling, something I must keep reminding myself to do. In a way, it could be a gamble on how the pup will be in the situation, but it may just also depend on which line or breeder you choose your pup from.
Hopefully more here can share their experiences with their pups to help you make your decision. I can't remember if I've told you mine with my two, but will happily say it again if you wish :)
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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by martinbernstein » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:55 am

Hi there. Looks like you're doing your homework which is great a first step. Many people skip that step and get these dogs because they look like wolves, and regret it later because they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

As an owner of both a Tamaskan and a Karelian bear dog (which is related to Norwegian Ellhound and very similar in temperament and breed purpose) I can say that the concerns you have about the Tamaskan such as high prey drive and separation anxiety apply just as much to the hunting breed Norwegian Elkhound. In fact, I am Norwegian and I have two friends who own elkhounds and they are not typical pets, they are working dogs and in my opinion should be owned by hunters, not suburban families.

The Tamaskan, like the elkhound, is a breed with high energy working dogs in it's lineage and as such, owners must give their Tamaskan ample opportunity to 'work' whether that be through training, play or excercise. Keeping their bodies and minds stimulated is key to a happy dog, especially a working breed.

My tam is three and is calming down, but the first two years or so he was a handful. She and my Karelian bear dog walked 1500 miles from NY to Colorado and we did 15-20 miles a day, rain or shine. They both carried 25% of their body weight in thier saddle bags. Still, at the end of each day they still had plenty of energy left to play. So these dogs are no joke, they can do a lot!

Having said that, we now live a sedentary life. My GF and I work 9-5s and we walk the dogs twice a day, 2 hours total, with longer hikes every weekend. That seems to keep them happy. They cannot be off leash EVER. Killed several of my chickens on my barn, and my tam has run away several times and been gone overnight. My Karelian bear dog is off leash when I hunt, but he wears a gps collar.

So, I would recommend that you consider a different breed, and would not recommend an elkhound either.

But these are my experiences, I know many people on the forum will have different advice. Some tams aren't as challenging as others. But you won't know what you're getting until you've already paid for your pup. I'd hate for you and your tam to have to find out the hard way that you're not compatible. Better to go safe and get a breed with a more reliable track record as a good suburban family dog.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by Balto » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:19 am

@martinbernstein - very nice post

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by Tana » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:21 pm

Hi, welcome.
I haven't problems with recall and hunting instinct (due to the training from the beginning) but it was a looot of work with teaching her to stay alone calmly (even I have another dog). About a year or so. She is now calm in her crate and I can leave her free in my room. She will sleep on my bed. But I can't leave her outside in the yard, If I don't want to have holes. One day she is good, another day I found biiig holes. Separation anxiety is an arduous thing.
martinbernstein wrote:The Tamaskan, like the elkhound, is a breed with high energy working dogs in it's lineage and as such, owners must give their Tamaskan ample opportunity to 'work' whether that be through training, play or excercise. Keeping their bodies and minds stimulated is key to a happy dog, especially a working breed.
I agree. Some are more calm than another but all of them like to do something. They want to have meaning of their lives.

If you decide to adopt a tamaskan puppy anyway, choose calm puppy from calm parents, who have less problems with recall/hunting instinct/SA.
But certainly not recommend Norwegian Elkhound. They really should be owned by hunters.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by A11bandit » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:33 am

Thank you all for your thoughtful and knowledgeable replies. I plan on giving these responses great thought as I see a window of hope here. One amazing point that has comes to light from your insight actually concerns the Norwegian Elkhound. I grew up with one (had him for 15 years) and he was a dream! It seems from your replies that Elkhounds may be more demanding than Tamaskans. Perhaps we just got very lucky... or perhaps I am underestimating my ability to provide a nice home to an intelligent and active dog! I look forward to hearing more and thank you again for being so generous with your experiences.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by martinbernstein » Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:53 am

I know that Elkies bred in the states (I assume that's where you live ) are not bred with hunting abilities in mind so it is quite possible that the Norwegian Elk hounds in Scandinavia retain the traits they were developed for better than do the American lineages. They may be more suitable for suburbia in the US.

But as you say, you may have been lucky. And that is the key I think- find a breeder (of any breed you are considering) that has a good reputation for honesty and talk with them about what traits their puppies have exhibited in past litters.

When I shopped around for my Karelian bear dog I looked for breedings that produced good hunters from a breeder who herself used her dogs to tree bears and racoons. I had first pick and took the puppy that was most assertive, most vocal and most responsive to cues from humans. Sure enough I got a very solid hunting and hiking companion. I might not have had i picked a different pup from that litter, or chosen to buy from a different breeder.

Similarly, when i got my tam I chose a breeder who, after months of correspondence, seemed the most honest about the breed's limitations, abilities and traits. She told me straight up, if I didn't live a very active lifestyle or have plenty of space for the dog to live a happy life, both the dog and I would suffer. She was looking out for the dog's best interest, not the best interest of her bank account.

Good luck, what ever you decide.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by A11bandit » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:29 am

Thank you so much for the great reply. You give very sound advice and you may have a point about the Elkhounds in the States. I will continue the dialogue with breeders. So far, I have found them to be very responsible and generous with their wisdom. As I will likely have to wait quite some time to adopt a puppy anyway, I will continue to do my research.
Thanks again for the great advice. Are you by any chance in New York City? If so, would it be possible to meet my first Tamaskan in person the next time I am there? Thanks again for your kindness.

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Re: Is a Tamaskan the right fit for me? Please help!

Post by firleymj » Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:31 pm

Dear A11

First, thank you for being responsible enough to ask.

Then, I can't make general statements, just share our experience.

a. The Tamaskan varies widely in individuality and temperament. My breeders (Hawthorne) actually did a Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test to help fit the right owner to the right dog. Not only was that going the extra mile, but it really did result in a great match and a wonderful ownership experience.

b. We live in a medium-sized townhouse, so there's not a lot of indoor room, but we also back onto a 40+ acre park (with lake) and have easy access to several dog parks in the local area.

c. We have two on-leash walks of about 40 minutes each every day. One of the walks is paced more quickly and the other I make into his "smell walk" - where I'm less concerned about exercise, than exposing him to the environment around him - so I tend to let him roam (on leash) a little more, just to let him explore. Then, we add another 1-2 hours at one of the enclosed dog parks for flat out running and playing, and another hour to two hours playing with neighborhood dogs. I work at home, so my schedule is generally flexible enough to accommodate the requirement.

In the last 9 months, it's taken about 3 inches off my waistline, and the exercise results in a happy Tamaskan. Much of the rest of the time, he's content to play gently with his toys or sleep or just curl up and lay on my feet.

He's very social, loves other dogs and people, and will invite everyone to play (he play-bows very formally and very insistently, so that some of the older, grumpier dogs have to bark "no" repeatedly. (laughing). He does get bored on occasion, so that if I stop and talk to someone on our walk long enough, he will take his lead in his mouth and give a quick pull to remind me (I have a dog that corrects my leash manners back (smiling all the way).

He's got a very complicated drive concerning what most people think of as 'prey drive" - he will happily and enthusiastically run down wildlife of most sorts, but having "caught" the prey, he tends to play bow to it, and want to play rather than kill. He doesn't understand that geese and deer don't want to play with a dog, generally. The only thing he's shown any interest in hunting are rodents - typically chipmunks and mice. He's caught a squirrel once, but pawed it and when the squirrel bolted in terror, he didn't keep up the chase. We have a bird and several tortoises, and while he occasionally will bark if the bird squawks too much, he leaves the rest of the critters alone by and large, though he will "paw" a moving tortoise, he looses interest quickly.

His only real "downside" is part of his being highly social - he does suffer from separation anxiety - though it's getting better with age, it can sometimes be difficult - he's not much of a "destroyer" but he will howl enough to get a few complaints from the neighbors. He refuses to be in his crate with the door locked, though he will happily climb in on his own and rest there if the door's open. Oddly, in the winter, he prefers to ride in the car with me for short errands rather than be left alone.

From my experience, climate matters - he's very unhappy when the weather's over 80 to 85 Fahrenheit, 26-29 C in the rest of the world. But if the temperature outdoors is below about 40F (4C) his energy level skyrockets, and he will beg to be outdoors. He's delighted at 0F (-15C) while me, not quite as much (smile). But walk we do anyway.

I'll be happy to share offline if you want, but thought I'd give my limited perspective.

Mark
My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown
The greatest love is a mother's; then a dog's; then a sweetheart's. ~Polish Proverb

The human of Ch.(ARBA) and Ch.(KCUSA) Hawthorne James Watson (call name Kona)

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