Training a puppy using treats as rewards is called positive reinforcement training. Because the Maltese breed is so affectionate and eager to please, positive reinforcement training is effective. Develop pack leadership, remain firm in your training methods and reward your puppy for good behavior, and you'll have him trained in no time.
Start training your Maltese puppy as soon as you take him home and establish yourself as the pack leader. Maltese puppies are adorable, but their cuteness often leads them to bad behavior. Maltese owners tend to treat their pups like babies, which results in the puppy doing whatever he wants without knowing rules or commands. As the puppy grows, he will keep this mentality and be much more difficult to train as an adult dog.
Teach your puppy one- or two- word commands, such as, sit, stay, speak, come, down and so on. Puppies don't respond well to multiple word phrases or sentences. Give the puppy the command and help him complete the command at first if needed. If you want the puppy to sit, say, "Sit," then push his rear on the ground lightly and reward him with a treat. Stay firm and consistent in your training. Never give your puppy a treat if he doesn't fully complete the command, but always reward him when he does. Maltese puppies are playful, and they love to impress people with their tricks, so work with your pup daily on the commands for mental stimulation and as a playtime for your puppy.
Give treats as rewards until your Maltese is completing the command every time. The Maltese is a very intelligent breed, and they catch on to positive reinforcement quickly. Once your pet responds perfectly to commands you use multiple times a day, start to wean away from giving him treats every time. Give him a treat three out of four times he responds correctly to the command. When you don't give him a treat, praise him verbally by telling him he did a good job and giving him affection. Reduce the amount of times you give him a treat until he no longer needs the incentive of a treat to complete the command. Always give your Maltese some kind of praise or affection when he completes the command correctly.
- Choose small, pea-sized treats for training your puppy. If your pup has to chew the treat, he will be distracted from the training. Keep a variety of treat flavors on hand to keep your pet interested.
- Don't remove the treats from training too quickly. Use treats as rewards until your pet has mastered the trick or command in multiple training sessions.
Courtney McCaffrey graduated from the College of Charleston in 2008 with a B.A. in media studies. She has served as an editor for Blooming Twig Books and the MADA Writing Services publishing company. She is now a writer on various outdoor sports such as snowboarding, skiing, surfing and bodysurfing.