The Maltese typically has a friendly and affectionate demeanor. However, it can develop behavioral issues such as biting when it doesn't receive adequate training as a puppy or when it's trying to establish dominance in the household. Although they're small dogs, they tend to show fearlessness. Treat the Maltese as if it were a large dog, and reinforce that you're the boss. If you're still unable to stop it from biting, consult a professional trainer.
Things You'll Need
Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian for a medical evaluation. The Maltese is susceptible to ear infections, which can lead to biting due to pain and discomfort. The veterinarian can also rule out other possible physical causes.
Yelp every time it nips you during playtime, say "No!" and then ignore it for a few minutes. Resume playing, and praise it for behaving appropriately.
Provide plenty of chew toys, and redirect your Maltese to those whenever it nips at you. Praise the dog and give it treats for playing with and chewing on its toys. The AKC notes the Maltese learns rapidly if sufficiently rewarded.
Avoid babying it and work to overcome the tendency to do so. Babying can cause or aggravate behavioral problems because it puts the dog in the dominant position. The Maltese is a toy breed, but it's not fragile or helpless.
Exercise your Maltese daily with walks and games. This helps it expend excess energy, making it more receptive during training.
Practice obedience commands daily, and reward compliance. Use commands such as "Sit!" prior to feeding, opening the door for walks and anything else the dog wants. This establishes your dominance.
Prohibit it from sitting on your furniture. This reinforces your dominance in the household, though it need only be a temporary measure for training if you'd rather allow it.
Tips & Warnings
- Avoid games that encourage a battle for dominance, such as tug of war.
- Use a muzzle as needed to protect yourself or others during training.
- Avoid reprimands for noncompliance during obedience training. Focus on positive reinforcement.
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Maltese
- Utah Veterinary Clinics: The Maltese Breed
- PetMaltese.com: Maltese Behavior
- Dog Breed Info Center: Maltese
- "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook"; Betsy Brevitz, D.V.M.; 2004
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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