Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Training and socialization play key roles in how a Maltese turns out. If you treat him like a helpless baby or spoil/indulge him, he may end up over dependent, insecure, or bratty and yappy. Expect your puppy to show the same good manners as you would expect from a larger dog. Training and socializing are a “must” for your puppy to grow into a happy, well-rounded adult dog. Puppy socialization starts shortly after birth. When you get one of our Maltese babies, you can be sure that we have been diligently interacting, touching, holding and exposing your pup to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and routine household occurrences. Once your puppy has been fully vaccinated, as new owners, it is your job to teach your puppy that the world is a safe and happy place. Take your puppy to safe places, expose her to different sights, sounds, surfaces, humans and other animals, making sure he’s comfortable and having fun while doing so. Well socialized puppies are easier to train and trained puppies are easier to live with and enjoy. Your well trained Maltese will be a devoted family member and will bring you unlimited love and joy for many years.
Puppy Training Tips
Puppies can and should learn basic commands (watch me, leave it, drop it, take it, down, stand, wait, sit, stay, come).
Keep Training Sessions Short
Keep puppy training sessions at around 5 to 10 minutes. Young puppies tend to have short attention spans.
Pick a time when you do not have other things on your mind and your dog is rested and alert. If you are planning to reward with treats, plan training around meal time. A slightly hungry dog is a motivated dog.
Choose Your Words
When beginning a training program, decide what commands you will use, such as sit, stand, stay and stick with them so your pup will learn what is expected of him. Be consistent and mean what you say. Don't tell a puppy to “get down” when he's jumping on you if you also use the word “down” when you want him to lie down. “Off” is a better word to use in that situation.
Find a place that has the fewest distractions
Distractions will be a problem for many puppies. They simply don’t want to miss anything, especially something that might be more interesting than the task at hand.
Be a Good Leader
Be firm, patient, and consistent: Your dog is looking for you to be the pack leader.
Gentle, Not Harsh
Be very gentle with your training methods: Never ever Hit Your Puppy—All training should be positive. As with human children, punishing bad behavior is never as effective as rewarding good behavior. Punishment only serves to make your dog to be fearful.
Make your training sessions fun and entertaining: Play is what puppies do best.
Watch your Emotions
Never lose your temper--Stop if you feel you are getting angry: Maltese are sensitive. They have an uncanny ability to sense moods and will not understand your anger. Your anger will translate into fear in your puppy and a fearful dog is very hard to train.
Prepare a Bagful of Treats
Use very small treats changing it up often to keep your puppy from becoming full too quickly or bored. Treats can be purchased or you can use tiny piece of meat, or cheese instead. Most Maltese do just fine with praise, attention, hugs and kisses. Try a variety of methods and then use what works for your dog. Vary your methods periodically such as rewarding with food, games, toys and hugs. Your dog will like the challenge. If praise is what works best, use it enthusiastically, YES!
Keep their Attention
Use a low guttural sound in your voice or a simple “uh-uh” to get their attention—it works better than saying “no.” Say “Ready” or “Watch me," before any other command.
Loose leash Walking
Daily short walks are beneficial to your Maltese’s well-being, not only physically but mentally as well. Teach your dog to walk on a leash, at your side, without pulling. Use the command “Let’s go” instead of “Come” which is used when you want your puppy to come to you.
Keep your dog Groomed
Keep your small dog groomed and clean—an uncomfortable dog is not a happy dog and unhappy dogs are hard to train. See “Tips for Training a Puppy for Grooming”
Consider Puppy School
Socialization begins at birth continues throughout the puppy’s first year. Training and socialization are closely related and neither should be omitted. Training classes help with both socialization and learning commands. Consider enrolling your Maltese in a class.
House Breaking Tips
Your puppy should be started on house training the minute you bring him home. Have your supplies (treats, training pads, crate, exercise pen) in place and ready to use. Scheduling and consistency is very important in house training your new puppy. Puppies will naturally need to relieve himself upon waking, after playing and shortly after eating. A regular feeding/sleep schedule are important and help you predict when the pup will need to eliminate. Remember that a young puppy does not have complete control over its elimination - THE SMALLER THE BREED, THE MORE OFTEN THEY MUST GO. Frequent trips to the yard (or papers if you want a paper-trained dog) are very necessary in the first two weeks. Do not play or talk to the puppy during these outings, he is learning that this is the elimination time, not play time. Quickly bring him or carry him to the same area to do his business (using an exercise pen or leash to keep him where he’s supposed to be). Give him the command “go pee” or “go potty”. Once your puppy is ALL DONE his business, give LOTS OF PRAISE and/or TREATS to reinforce his behavior. If he doesn’t go after several minutes, put him back in his crate for a short time, and then try again later. Never leave your young puppy in the crate for more than 2-3 hours during the day, he will not be able to hold himself. If you must leave for extended periods of time, use an exercise pen to contain your puppy so he is not forced to relieve himself in his crate. Place his crate (door open), a training pad, water and toys inside the pen. Remove the bed from the crate until your puppy is using the training pad reliably. A very young puppy will not be able to hold his urine all night, so be prepared to take him out during the night. If possible, bring the crate into the bedroom at night. If your puppy wakes in the night and suddenly starts to whine, he probably needs to relieve himself. Quickly and quietly take him to the pee pad or outside to do his business. Immediately return your puppy to his crate- NO talking, NO treats, NO cuddling. Punishment for mistakes in the house in these early weeks doesn’t teach, and can cause behavior problems - the trick is to prevent the mistakes from happening in the first place! Remember that your love and approval are the most important things you can give your puppy - this is the best incentive used in any training.
Crate Training Tips
One of the first things owners teach their puppy is not to eliminate in the house. One very effective method -- the one used by most breeders and trainers -- is crate training. When used correctly, dogs naturally learn to love their crate as their own special place/ den and will seek out the crate when he wishes to be alone. The crate’s success as a housetraining tool is simple: Puppies will not soil their sleeping area if they can possibly avoid it. But remember that a puppy needs time to play. Use the crate when you can’t watch your puppy, but don’t overuse it. Crates come in many different styles and sizes. Choose one that will be large enough for an adult dog of your puppy’s breed to lay down, stand up and turn around in without difficulty. Many breeders use fiberglass airline crates. They are convenient for travelling but they do not fold down. Wire crates are a good option, they allow the dog to see out, and provide better ventilation than the plastic airline crate. They fold up and are fairly portable. Whichever crate you choose, put a familiar blanket or item of clothing inside and place it in a location close to other family members, to lessen the puppy’s anxieties. Move it from the kitchen or family room to the bed room at night so your puppy will always feel a part of his new family. Spend some time calmly trying to associate the crate with a good thing. A good strategy is to put special treats in a “Kong” and place it in the crate. Never push a dog into the crate, but entice him to walk into the crate to get the Kong by letting him smell the Kong before tossing it to the back of the crate. Let your puppy play with his treat inside the crate with the door open a few times. Once he is relaxed and comfortable, go ahead and close the door. Be prepared to stay close by for your puppy’s first experience with crate training – Hang out by the crate for several minutes, then go into a different room for a few minutes so she gets used to the idea of staying in the crate alone. At the first sign of a separation response, such as barking, whining or howling, intervene with a sharp “NO!”. Your puppy should associate the reprimand with his actions and stop. It may take four or five tries, but he will eventually settle down. Do not take a puppy out of a crate when he is fussing or he will quickly learn that if he fusses enough, then he can come out. Once he is quiet, keep him in his crate for 15 minutes. When you return, don’t open the crate immediately. Instead, sit with her again for a few more minutes and then open the door. The key here is to make crating seem completely normal and avoid excitement. Praise your puppy when he goes into the crate, but keep it brief and ignore any excited behavior that he shows when taking him out. Put your puppy on his leash immediately after letting him out of the crate. Rush him to the training pad/door or carry him if he is small so he can avoid an accident (always take the puppy out the same door, the one you are going to want him to signal at as he matures). Watch to be sure he does relieve himself. When he has accomplished that, give him lots of praise, and/or treats, take him back inside and devote some supervised play time with your puppy outside his crate. After 20-30 minutes of free time to play, put him back in his crate for a nap. If he cries, correct him. Because he is learning through association, consistency will help your puppy accept being in his crate after only a few tries. When your puppy has been quiet for an hour or so, repeat the process. Gradually lengthen the amount of time your puppy spends is allowed to play. By the time he is five or six months old, he should be able to control himself for an hour or so between trips outside. The crate is also useful as an aid in curbing destructive behavior, such as uncontrolled chewing. As your puppy matures and proves himself capable of being loose in the house, give him that privilege. The crate itself does not stop your puppy’s need to chew when he is teething, so provide him with safe chewable toys and nylon or rawhide bones. If he starts chewing on something other than his toys, respond with a sharp “NO!”, take the object away and replace it with an appropriate toy. The teething stage lasts about 8 months. By the time he is 8 months old, your puppy should be able to walk around the house for most of the day once he has been taken outside to relieve himself. By 1 year of age, he should be mature enough to be trusted all night in the house. Keep his crate set up with the door open anyway. He will have become attached to his “den” and he will seek it out when he wishes to rest undisturbed.
Training a Puppy for Grooming
Grooming your Maltese is important not only for looks but for the health of your dog. Training a Maltese to cooperate and enjoy a grooming session are an essential part of puppy training. Frequent short session, and plenty of praise, kisses and treats are key. Start by taking every opportunity to pick up your dog and sit them on the grooming table or surface you plan to use. Pet them gently, rub your fingers through their hair; touch their paws, tail, ears, and muzzle. Tell your puppy to “sit” or give the “down” command, which is the word you will use to teach him to lie down. Praise them if they respond and give a small treat. Allow your puppy to see and smell the grooming tools. Do this several times a day, gradually working up to introducing a brush. The first few brushing sessions should be brief, positive, and enjoyable. A human child-size brush with soft bristles is soothing to a puppy and helps train them to enjoy the experience. Your puppy may resist being brushed sensitive areas such as the groin area, under arms and paws. Be very gentle in these areas, but make it clear to the puppy that you will need to brush these areas too.