If you're looking for a little dog with a glamorous white coat that's cute, affectionate and funny, a Maltese may be the right pooch for you. But at times these white balls of fluff may be too quick to sound the alarm and express their opinions with their high-pitched yaps.
With a history as a pampered pooch cherished by upper-class aristocrats, the Maltese loves attention and can get easily upset when left alone for more than a few hours. Trainer and author Michele Welton finds that Maltese dogs, more than other breeds, crave lots of companionship and may be prone to separation anxiety. Your pup may therefore whimper, whine and bark to express her unhappiness the moment she is left alone. To prevent this, make sure you get your pup used to brief absences from a young age.
Because Maltese tend to be quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound, you want to invest ample of time in socializing your puppy. Those who are exposed to different people, sights, sounds and experiences during the brief window of socialization tend to grow more accepting of novel things and have a better chance of blooming into well-rounded dogs. You'll need to hurry, though, as this brief window closes once the pup reaches 16 weeks of age.
Maltese pups are the cutest bundles of joy, and it can be quite tempting to treat them as helpless babies. Spoiling and overindulging this breed, though, may result in an overdependent, insecure, yappy brat. You may therefore end up with a pup who constantly barks at you to demand attention and grows overprotective. Try your best to train your pup in the same good manners you would expect from a larger dog, and start from an early age using reward-based techniques.
Don't be too fast to label your pup as lonely or spoiled; in many cases barking may be her way to grab your attention. With her tiny bladder, it could be she's trying to tell you it's potty time, or it could be she's thirsty or hungry, too hot or too cold. And don't be fooled by this dog's aristocratic looks; Maltese enjoy exercise and walks. The saying "A tired dog is a good dog" is true, just don't overdo it: your Maltese pup's bones are still fragile and developing until she's 8 months old.
Fortunately, with a little training you can you can control your pup's excessive and obnoxious barking. Make sure you teach her that quiet brings rewards. Ignore your pup when she is actively barking, and then promptly reward her the moment she is quiet, even if it's just for a split second as she takes a breath. Practice makes perfect: gradually lengthen the time she must remain quiet before being rewarded and then add some distractions to the mix.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.