If you were to judge this gorgeous little furball strictly by her looks, you would be forgiven for thinking that a Maltese is high-maintenance and prissy. Surprisingly, that could not be any further from the truth. They are truly one of the best, and most loyal, companion breeds that there is. They are smart, attentive, and loving.
However, choosing one is the easy part, training them correctly is an entirely different story. Not easy, though not impossible either, it can take some skill and know-how to get it done right. It will also probably take quite a bit of patience – and a glass of wine or two before a lesson (for you, not the dog!) would not be unheard of. Now that you’ve popped the bottle, keep reading for helpful, and actually useful Maltese training tips.
15 Useful Maltese Training Tips
15. Keep The Lessons Short And To The Point
With their tendency to lose interest or become distracted, any and all training lessons with Maltese should be short and to the point. It is better to have short but effective training sessions than long, drawn-out, yet pointless ones. As your dog gets older the sessions can be a little bit longer but in any case, if he starts to become distracted then it is time to take a break or wrap it up for the day.
14. Evaluate Personality And Plan Accordingly
While you can get a general idea of a dog’s characteristics from their breed, remember that each and every dog has its own personality and traits that also need to be taken into account. In order to successfully train your Maltese, you must consider your pooches’ specific and individual nature.
Getting to know your pup – likes, dislikes, temperament, etc., and planning the length and content of the lessons around those traits, is the only way to keep Fido invested enough to actually absorb the information.
13. Behavior Judgement Calls
A plan is necessary but you are also going to need to make certain judgment calls. Not unlike their human counterparts, dogs too can have their good days and their bad days. Training should never, ever be forced. If your pooch seems to be overly energetic, or simply not in the best mood, you might want to consider postponing the lesson until the timing is a bit better. You do not want him to develop resentment of you, or of training in general.
12. Stick To A Schedule
Sticking to a schedule is important with any kind of training but it can be even more so for your Maltese. These particular dogs thrive within a structured environment. Keeping the lesson plans at around the same time every day, as well as using basically the same content, will help make it more of a habit (which is exactly what we want!). A dog that knows what time it is, so to speak, will be more inclined to concentrate on the lesson.
11. People, Places, And Things
Much like ensuring that you stick to the schedule, the setting where (and how) the training takes place should also relatively stay the same. Designate one member of the family to be the ‘trainer’ and try to conduct the lessons in the same place each time as well (living room, porch, outside, inside, etc.).
10. Your Mood Matters
Your own mood should also be taken into consideration. If you are having an off day, it is better to postpone the lesson until your mood is more amenable. Attempting to train while in a bad mood would more than likely simply hinder the process. This could cause you to become frustrated and/or angry, and your pup will very likely pick up on this. With the bond between dog and owner being so crucial when it comes to training, it would probably only impede the progress.
09. Take Breaks
This breed tends to have a shorter attention span. Depending on the length of the training sessions, regular breaks should be taken, whether it be potty breaks or a quick walk around the block. It will help burn off some of the dog’s energy and help him to refocus on the task at hand. Be sure to let him know how happy you are with his progress during breaks as it will encourage him to do even better.
Be Sure To Check Out 10 Magnificent Maltese Facts!
08. Limit Distractions
As much as possible training lessons should be held in a quiet area with little to no distractions. If (more like when) your Malti gets sidetracked it can be very difficult to get him to refocus on the session. And, depending on the type of distraction, it could drown out everything he has just learned.
07. Positive Reinforcement
Although positive reinforcement is a major part of any training plan, it can be especially helpful in training your Maltese. The Maltese has a long history of largely being a companion breed. It is literally in their nature to want to please their ‘pack’ or family members. By letting your Malti know he has done well when completing a training task, you are truly using the strongest tool in your box.
06. Breed-Specific Potty Training
Potty training can be one of the most difficult aspects of dog training. The trick to doing it correctly is to know the strengths and weaknesses of the specific breed that you are working with. Smaller breeds, such as the Maltese, can sometimes be harder to train than their larger equivalents.
Whether this is due to certain traits or the fact that they have faster metabolisms is up for discussion. Many choose to train their tiny dogs to make use of puppy pads but outdoor potty training is also possible. You just have to stay consistent and take them out more frequently than you would a larger breed.
05. Prep For Success
Do your research, and once you think that you know all there is to know about training your Maltese – do some more. Preparedness is the absolute key when it comes to training lessons. This helps to keep both the dog and yourself, focused on the lesson. Have everything you need ready and available before beginning. Know your stuff and have every single tool that you will need, nearby.
04. Keep Them Properly Groomed
This might seem silly, but grooming, or lack thereof, can absolutely become a factor. Maltis are well-known for their gorgeous and flowing locks. But when left unmanaged, their coat can cause numerous issues, one of which being interfering with their eyesight. If your dog cannot see what is going on, they likely are not learning anything. Unmanaged fur is also prone to matting which can be terribly uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, for the dog. This will also affect their ability to learn.
03. Make Use Of The Playpen
One of the beauties of smaller dog breeds is that a canine playpen can be used for training purposes (and in general). While crate training can be useful, a playpen will give your precious pooch a bit more freedom and comfort – particularly if they tend to suffer from claustrophobia (yes, it’s possible and more common than you would think).
You can keep your pooch secured in the playpen (with all of his necessities as well as puppy pads) when you are not home and leave it open for free access when you are. It could also be used as a non-violent disciplinary tool when your pooch misbehaves.
02. Be Sensitive But Consistent
This particular breed can be quite sensitive and yelling or striking, which is never a good idea – or useful in any way, will only cause your dog to become fearful of you which can result in aggressive behavior. By all means, be firm and consistent, but also be sensitive.
Maltis are highly perceptive and will know when they have done wrong. The key to training a Maltese correctly is by tapping into the bond that you have with them, and damaging that bond, by getting angry, will only serve to make things more difficult.
01. Build And Keep The Bond
With each breed, training methods will differ. With the Maltese, the bond that you have with him is basically going to decide whether or not the training sessions will be successful. You always want to make use of the traits of the animal in any type of training. For example, the Alaskan Malamute needs to be kept interested in the lesson itself, because of their sometimes hardheadedness.
With these little white balls of fur, their need for approval should be used to your advantage. They love you, they want to make you happy – tap into that and you’ll not only have a fur friend for life, but you will also have one that listens and actually behaves.
Want To Know More About The Maltese? Here’s a useful Article: Are Maltese Good Dogs? (Temperament, Personality, Health)