Who can resist the charms of a Maltese puppy? The little fur balls on legs can be a source of pride, or they can grow to become matted, growling messes. Don't wait until your friends start avoiding your invitations -- train your puppy to become a welcomed guest wherever you go.
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The beautiful white coat of a Maltese is its trademark. If you want your dog to look like the dogs in the breed books, start training your puppy early to accept grooming. Keep your sessions short at first, limited to about 10 minutes, starting with teaching the dog to lie on his side.This will be very valuable when your dog's hair grows to long tresses. Part the hair on the body and brush from the skin out. Practice combing for topknots, or pony tails, and clip a little off the toenails if you have the experience, or get a groomer to trim the nails. Acclimating the dog to regular nail trims early is of particular benefit.
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Maltese dogs are cute and adorable -- but they can be dominant, so you should to establish yourself as leader early. You can take a puppy class, which is a great way to socialize your dog, or you can work with him or her at home. Teach your dog to sit, down and come. Use food reinforcers to reward your dog, and develop a gruff voice for making corrections.
If you want your dog to be welcomed by other people, start early introducing your Maltese to other friendly dogs and people. Ask your friends to hold your dog, call your dog and ask your dog to sit. Reward your dog with encouraging words and give him treats when he exhibits proper behavior. Your Maltese is small, but he or she can play with puppies of all sizes. If you are uncomfortable with dog play, seek the aid of a professional trainer or behaviorist, but don't shelter your pup. Personalities form in the first six months of life.
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Puppies receive temporary disease immunity from their mothers; but after a few weeks, they need vaccines to protect them from infectious diseases. Schedule a puppy exam for your dog, and start the vaccine series that will protect your dog as he grows. Ask about diet and parasite control, which may differ in various geographic reasons. Inquire about the benefits of spaying or neutering your dog, and ask about arrangements for emergencies -- just in case. Start your relationship with your Maltese on a good note, and you are likely to enjoy his or her company for many years to come.
Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.