How Do I Get My Maltese to Stop Barking & Biting My Heels?


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Jul 5, 2019
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Please HELP me! I've got a problem that I need a solution to ASAP. I recently bought a Maltese puppy that I love so much. But even though I love her, I am getting so frustrated and even a bit annoyed. She's only 4 months old and even though I've tried to train her and connect with her like I've done with all my previous pups, for some reason, this one is giving me lots of problems. She really can be a handful at times. Let me tell you. I'm hoping to get some insight or advice and that's why I'm posting here.

This is what she's doing wrong. Sometimes she'll get hyper and bite my heels and sometimes she even makes me bleed. If I'm wearing a skirt or a dress, she'll try to take a chunk of the material with her after she bites at it. If I tell her that she did something wrong, she'll back up and bark at me like there's no tomorrow. She's being bossy and I'm getting tired of it. When I followed some expert advice that I heard and just walked away (basically ignore her), she'll go after my feet again. And sometimes, if I ignore her totally because of her bad behavior, she'll bite and tear at my furniture. It's not like she doesn't have enough toys to play with because I bought her way too many of them. I even got her stuff to chew on, so that's not the problem.

Is she seeking attention? I first thought that so I increase our play time. I tossed the ball to her and tried a few other things, but she just ignored me after a while. What it seems like she wants the most is my feet! No matter what I do, she always goes after my feet. When she begins to bite me now, I catch her and put her in her playpen, but once there, she looks at me like she's plotting her next attack. I am so over this.

How can I control her? Is this normal for a Maltese to do? I've owned other Maltese in the past that didn't do this. Why is this one like a little devil? Any help and comments would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.



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We've actually some pretty awesome Maltese breeders and owners on this site who may be able to help out with your behavioral issue question. I'm wondering if any of them can offer any advice about a Maltese that's biting at the heels and barking. Is this a challenge issue? How do you teach a Maltese puppy not to act this way?
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Jan 23, 2020
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I've had the same problem with some of my smaller dogs through the years. They get small dog syndrome (for people) and pretty much think they rule the roost! The trick is to train them to stop the barking and the biting. If you can stand the barking for a while, work on the biting first. That's the worse of the two problems. I've had my dog make my feet bleed at times. It's no fun and it made me not like the dog anymore. But once I got through the tough part, she became sweeter.

What you're experiencing is a dominance issue. Your dog is pushing the boundaries and trying to make herself the leader of the pack. You need to show your dog, in no uncertain terms, that you are the pack leader. To do this, you'll need to engage in a few activities.

First, stop any games in which you challenge your dog. These might include roughhousing or tug of war. All those games do is reinforce the struggles you both face to assert yourselves in the hierarchy. Since you're trying to get your dog to back down, you'll need to stop challenging her and begin training her to obey and to listen and learn. If you can, enroll your puppy in doggy obedience classes. They work wonders.

Next, make up a sound that you can use regularly to show your dog that it's doing something wrong. The Dog Whisperer uses this method. It can be a hiss or a "yip" or something that's similar and clearly unique. When your dog does something you don't like, use the noise to connect the behavior with your response.

Finally, create an area to keep your dog when she misbehaves. Not her crate or bed - those are good areas for your dog. Set up some sort of a pen. So when your dog bites you, make the "yip" noise and then put her in time-out. It's important for her to see that you are withdrawing from her. She won't like it. After a few minutes, go back and get her and start living your regular life again. If she bites, it's the "yip" and then back to the pen for time-out. After a while, she'll learn what's going on and most likely will stop biting. It'll become obvious that every time she does, she gets punished for it. When training a dog, it's all about encouraging them to make connections between their behavior and your response (the consequence of their behavior).

It's sort of the same when it comes to barking. The next time your dog barks, wait for her to stop for a second or two. Then, at that moment, say, in a quiet calm voice, "Quiet." If the dog remains quiet, reward her with a treat. You want her to make the connection between her being quiet and her being rewarded. Trust me, it'll take time and it's frustrating, but it needs to be done. Your dog may have already grown into a little monster and it's probably pretty stubborn by this point. You need to be diligent with the training.

The last thing I'll say is that, no matter what you do, don't ever hit your dog when punishing her. Not even a tap. She'll form a very bad connection if you do that and she may begin fear biting and things will be worse than they ever were. Also, when she barks, don't yell at her loudly. That's like throwing fuel on the flames and she'll think you're having a loudness contest.

Let me know what happens.
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How Do I Get My Maltese to Stop Barking & Biting My Heels? was posted on 01-06-2020 by KristinaW in the Conversation, Questions & Answers forum.
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