Who’s Training Who?
Maltese owners BEWARE - Those precocious, flirtatious, tiny little white fluffs with the alluring innocent eyes and
built in smiles are out to train you. It will be subtle. You won’t even know it is happening. But every time you
interact with your Maltese he’s learning how to train YOU.
Oh, they aren’t malicious, or even trying to be manipulative. They are just trying to get what they want. (It is rather
like today’s children, Maltese come with a sense of entitlement.) If you think they should have 2 treats, they will try
to talk you into 4. If you give 4 treats they will try to talk you into 6. And so it goes. Every time you give in to their
“requests” they are training you.
This can be good, and this can be bad. Too many treats are bad. Too many walks are good for you. Being a yo-
yo, going in and out the back door is bad. Barking to alert you to danger is good. Barking just to bark (and
continuing) is bad. Using teeth when playing may be fun, but it leads to bad behavior.
“But they are so cute and innocent.” you say. “She’s my baby.” you say. “It’s just a few drops of urine on the table
leg.” you say. The fact is your “baby” is a dog. Dogs need needs boundaries for your loving relationship to
Is it OK with you that your dog bites the ankles of your house guests? Is it OK with you that he lifts his leg on furniture? Is it OK with you that she screams and howls when you
walk out the door? Would you allow a German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, or Bull Mastiff, to get away with the action? If any type of obnoxious behavior is happening, people
(possibly you?) caused it. People allowed it, and after a while ignored it, until it was overwhelming.
In rescue, we get a LOT of Maltese that have been surrendered, turned in at shelters or found loose on the streets, because their pet parents deemed them untrainable, out of
control. The reality is these dogs trained their parents instead of vice versa.
What happened? The parents did not establish boundaries and/or discipline the behavior issues. The cuteness factor over rode the fact that the new puppy/rescue dog needed
to be corrected/redirected when it did something that would not be acceptable after the dog was more established in the home. The pet parents accepted the bad behavior from
the start … because Maltese puppies are “so cute”, or that rescue dog “has been through so much”.
From the very beginning with your Maltese, do not allow bad behavior. Address it right away. Otherwise, they will figure out how to train YOU!