EARLY OBEDIENCE TRAINING
Early obedience training is important to make your puppy experience a pleasant one and your adult Maltese a very special part of your life. It takes a lot of time, patience, love and work toward what you want your Maltese to become. Maltese are "willing to please" by nature which is a definite plus. They also have a bit of an "attitude" that you need to work with gently. You will need to show them that all of the things that you want to teach them are just what they want to do in the first place. Many of the stages and behaviors that puppies go through are similar to those of human children growing up. When a puppy does a behavior that you want, always reward the puppy with a treat. When a puppy does not do the behavior, make sure he does not get a treat until he does the behavior. It is very important to give the treat at the exact time that the behavior is done.
Here are a few guidelines:
*SET LIMITS: Do not give the puppy full run of the house. Do not let him run unsupervised throughout the house until potty training is complete. It is not cruel to limit access in the house, limits keep a puppy safe. Whether you decide to take your puppy outside for potty training or train to potty pads - be consistent. Whenever your puppy wakes up, take him immediately to the "potty area". After your puppy has eaten, take him to the "potty area". When your puppy goes potty in the "potty area" praise him and reward him with a treat.
*KEEP THINGS SIMPLE: Use simple words to give directions. When you take your puppy out to potty, choose a key word such as "potty" Take him to the specified area, put him down, say "potty". Period! Do not say a sentence, keep it at one word.
*BE BRIEF: Puppies have a very short attention span. Training a new behavior should be worked on for just a few minutes several times a day. Do not do any long training sessions. Concerning a short attention span, they do not remember when they have done something right or wrong for longer than a moment. You have to catch them in the act to be able to correct for the behavior. If you see them do a correct behavior, reward immediately.
*BUILD CONFIDENCE: Use a happy voice and smile. Save the stern one for quick corrections only. Again use one word "NO" in a stern voice. A confident puppy grows into a confident adult. It is most often the shy dog that lacks confidence that will be more likely to bite or have a problem with people outside of their family. Get down on the floor and laugh and play with your puppy.
*USE WORDS: Dogs have the capability to understand a large vocabulary. Remember to teach one word or phrase at a time. After your puppy has learned that word or phrase then you can go on to the next one. If you use a phrase remember to keep it short and always use the same word or phrase for that behavior. Do not confuse your puppy using different words for the same behavior that you are trying to teach.
*USE REWARDS: Food, touch, voice or a favorite toy all work well. Do not use all of them at the same time. Food is a great motivator, but a gentle touch or the sound of praise in your voice is also rewarding.
*DON'T RUSH: Take your time to teach a new skill. It may take days or weeks, be patient. It will happen.
*BE CONSISTENT: This is so important! Your puppy is trying hard to learn what you want. It is hard to learn if you change the rules all of the time! If you think that it is cute for your puppy to bark and you reward him when he barks, do not scold him when he barks and you have decided that you do not want him to bark anymore. If you allow your puppy to sleep with you one night, be prepared for him to sleep with you forever. Decide on good behaviors in the beginning that you can live with for the entire life of your puppy. Set up a good, consistent plan in the beginning.
*PRAISE: Praise, praise and praise some more. You just can't do it to much. Puppies need this feedback from you. And remember, that sometimes you have to look for even the smallest effort toward your goal. If your puppy only "stays" for a second, praise him and say "good puppy" in a happy excited voice.
*DON'T TRY TO TEACH EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE: It will be over-whelming for a puppy if you try to teach to many behaviors at once. Try to look ahead and prepare for a situation setting you and your puppy up for success.
Remember that puppies can be frustrating sometimes but they do grow up. This is a special time for you to bond with your puppy. This is a special time to watch them grow and learn. They grow up so fast and there will be the day that you miss the puppy hood. If you spend the time and have the patience to work with your puppy, you will have a friend for life. Just as you teach a child out of love to prepare them for adult hood, you should work with your puppy out of love to prepare him for the rest of his life.