Leaving a Teacup Maltese Alone

The tiny Maltese may be genetically predisposed to separation anxiety.

The tiny Maltese may be genetically predisposed to separation anxiety.

“Teacups” are the smallest of any breed -- they're actually the runts or the offspring of runts of the smallest acknowledged size of any breed. A teacup Maltese is a tinier version of the already tiny "standard" Maltese breed. They're known for their silky white coats and their sociable disposition, they can be miserable when left alone. Leaving a single Maltese alone during the day may cause separation anxiety, a serious behavioral disorder that you should tell your veterinarian about as soon as possible.

Breeding History

The Maltese has been a loyal and devoted companion since ancient times. In Europe, these little dogs were bred in the 15th century as companions of royals and ladies of the aristocracy. These ladies pampered their pooches and kept them close at all times. Their genetic makeup makes Maltese naturally crave interaction with and attention from their owners.

Separation Anxiety Symptoms

If your Maltese chews things up, scratches doors and furniture, and barks or whines excessively every time you leave her alone, she may have separation anxiety disorder. One way to distinguish a true disorder from mere misbehavior is to watch for anxious behavior as you are preparing to leave. Pacing or excessive panting when you gather your bag and keys, for example, may indicate your pet is experiencing anxiety.

Prevention

The Maltese, like many small companion breeds, may be genetically predisposed to separation anxiety. Preventive measures will help overcome the worst of separation anxiety symptoms. Providing your puppy with treats and interactive toys every time you leave will teach her to associate your departure with something positive. Crate-training also generally alleviates separation anxiety. Many small dogs are more at ease in the known comfort of their crate than when left to wander an empty house alone.

Treatment

If prevention is no longer an option, your Maltese may benefit from medical therapy. Antidepressant medication, not unlike the sort given to people, may help dogs overcome separation anxiety. Have your veterinarian evaluate your dog and prescribe the appropriate dose. Behavioral therapy in the form of desensitization may help your dog. This is a slow, intense process that can take months. The goal is to gradually acclimate your dog to each step of your routine that signals to the dog that you’re about to leave.

Management

No treatment will eliminate anxious behavior immediately, but you can take steps to manage the symptoms while waiting for treatment to take effect. You could consider taking your dog to work with you or, if that is not an option, hiring a pet sitter or enrolling him in doggy daycare. If your Maltese must remain at home alone, leave the television on while you’re gone, and provide plenty of interactive toys and treats. These will keep your pet mentally stimulated and distract him from the fact that you are gone. Providing a crate for the dog, and training him to recognize it's his security spot, helps in many cases. Some owners find the separation anxiety goes away when they acquire another Maltese; others discover they've created a problem on top of a problem if the existing dog is older than a puppy.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images