How do I brush my Maltese Puppy who hates being brushed

Cute Maltese puppy

Some dogs, especially small dog breeds such as the Maltese, love the attention which comes from their loving owner grooming and brushing them. But for some other dogs and puppies it can be their worst nightmare and they will squirm, growl and run for the hills. But be rest assured that brushing a Maltese who hates being brushed is not that much different to brushing any type of small breed dog and the grooming experience can be turned into a pleasant, positive situation for both you and your Maltese puppy. Be rest assured that these tips work for all dogs and not just Maltese.

To brush a Maltese dog who absolutely hates having its fur combed you will need to follow a few simple steps to change the negative connotations of the brushing with positive associations so that your dog loves the grooming experience. Ensuring that you change the negative mindset of your Maltese puppy over an extended period of time is the only way to make a scared, frightened, aggressive Maltese puppy eventually like the brushing and grooming experience.


If your Maltese puppy has any type of aversion or aggression to being brushed or groomed then this article has a few tips which you can use to get them enjoy both the brushing and grooming experiences. These tips should be followed over an extended period of time and they work with repetition. Following these tips below will ensure your Maltese Puppy starts to enjoy the experience. The not so secret tips are:

  • Sit in a comfortable area on the floor. While it is possible for you to brush your Maltese dog on your lap in a chair, it is not advisable for a dog which does not like brushing. The obvious reason for this is that your dog may be aggressive or may try and squirm. This can be dangerous for your Maltese. You are much better to sit flat on the floor maybe with a towel below you to provide some cushioning and comfort. You should try to ensure that the situation is as comfortable for your dog as it can possibly be.
  • Start the grooming session without a brush. This tip may seem counter productive to what you are trying to achieve but what it tries to do is to get your dog to acclimatize to the various motions and gestures which will occur during a brushing. You still should bring the brush to the grooming session but place it in front of your dog so that it is clearly visible. Then use your fingers to gently brush through the fur of your puppy and ensuring that you are taking care not to get your fingers stuck in any knots. If you do find any knots or clumps of hair which may hurt the dog slowly tease them out carefully. If you can not tease out the knots with your fingers then you may need to take the drastic action of cutting your Maltese’s hair with scissors. Use your fingers for about 5-10 mins and you will find your dog should be enjoying the whole experience.
  • Next use a very soft brush if available. There are many types of brushing you can use on your dog. A soft brush is best to start out with as while it is less likely to get tangles out of your dog’s coat, it is also much less likely to pull on the knots in the hair and therefore will be a more pleasant experience for your Maltese. This step of the grooming process is about allowing the dog to associate the tool (in this case the soft brush rather than your hand) with the pleasure they are receiving. If your dog starts to growl at the soft brush then take it very slowly and let your dog get accustomed to the new sensation.
  • Ensure to do the brushing slowly. Slow steady movements and short sessions are the keys to building up confidence and positive attitude in your dog for being brushed. A quick short brush for 20 seconds a few times a day will mean your dog gets repetitive positive association that the brush is not a bad thing. You should aim for short sharp brushing and grooming sessions to ensure the actions are reinforced often and so that they allow your dog to quickly get over their negative associations with brushing. Following up the quick brushing routine with a treat will start to associate brushing with rewards. The best way to train any dog is to use treats and rewards.
  • Use Food as Rewards during the Brushing. Rewarding your dog with positive affirmations and food after and during a routine brushing will help to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. They will start to associate the brushing with food and this will mean they are much less likely to get angry or squirm and be aggressive while you are brushing them. Using this technique also distracts your Maltese dog from what is happening to them and they may forget you are brushing them completely.
  • Distracting your dog while you are brushing can help. The easiest way to distract a dog is to use food. This works better in some breeds, such as the Labrador, compared to the Maltese but the right selection of treat for a Maltese will be a good distraction. If you hold a treat in front of your Maltese just out of reach they will be more focused on that treat than on the brushing. Another distraction to use could be a toy that they like to play with. Another person can also be a very good distraction and they can talk to your Maltese and provide soothing positive voice commands while you brush.
  • Get someone to help you with the brushing. Having another set of hands can be very helpful when you have a dog who is not a fan of bring brushed. The extra person can hold the dog or distract the dog and keep its mind off the brushing. It is always easier to get through a brushing with a dog which will not sit still by having an extra person to assist.
  • Find the Key Areas on your dog for enjoyable brushing. There will be certain spots on your Maltese’s body where they like getting brushed and other areas which will set off alarm bells as no go zones for them. Generally the back and shoulders of your dog will be the more enjoyable areas for brushing. It will feel a lot more like a massage or patting for them in those wide open areas of their body and they would find it normal for you to touch them in those areas. Anywhere which is towards your Maltese’s rear end, legs or underbelly may not be as comfortable for them. As an owner you will quickly learn the troublesome spots on your Maltese. Brushing the trouble areas is going to take time and its best to take these areas very slowly. Completing a brush over 85% of your dog is better than no brush at all so take any brushing as a positive and continue to try and make your dog feel comfortable every time you get to those uncomfortable areas.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice. Repetition is the secret key to getting your dog comfortable with grooming and brushing. If you were to only brush your dog once a month then it is too infrequent and they will not be able to get use to the situation. You need to be brushing them at least three times a week and if possible at least once a day. The brushing time can be short but it needs to be often. This allows your Maltese dog to build up a tolerance to it more and more. As your dog tolerates the brushing you will be able to extend the brushing sessions and it will eventually be part of your dogs normal routine and they will not mind it happening anymore.
  • Instill Positive Emotions not Negative Emotions. Although it may be very frustrating to have a dog which will not let you brush them, it is up to you to ensure that you keep the situation positive and not turn it into a negative situation. Positive reinforcement works a lot better than negative reinforcement. If you are getting angry at your dog and yelling why would it want to get brushed again. On the other hand if you are praising your Maltese for sitting still and letting you brush them and giving them treats then they will start to feel calmer, happier and more content with the brushing. Its common sense but sometimes common sense is forgotten.
Maltese dogs can hate brushing


There are likely a few reasons which are the cause behind the behavior of your Maltese puppy when it doesn’t want to be brushed. Understanding the true reasons behind this challenging situation may allow you to overcome the obstacle a lot quicker for the benefit of both your Maltese and your sanity. Just remember all of the reasons of why they do not like brushing will require that you have patience and support for your dog.

  • Prior negative associations with brushing. Perhaps your dog has been hurt, injured or put into an uncomfortable situation on previous brushing sessions. This could be things such as awkward positioning, a strained muscle, hairs with knots or being touched in areas they don’t like or want to be touched. Negative emotions need to be replaced with positive emotions and treats will help in this instance. You need to be calm and stress free when doing the brushing and constantly reassuring and complimenting your dog for behaving.
  • Knots in your Dogs Fur. Knots are what makes brushing hurt your Maltese. Knots can be in any part of the fur but they are commonly found around the ears, rear end and underbelly. Pay particular close attention to these areas and brush with care. Keep in mind that knots can be anywhere though so brush slowly and gently to start with to ensure the brush does not get caught up in any of your dog’s hair. Try to use your fingers to tease out the knots instead of using the brush which will just pull the fur.
  • Your dog may be uncomfortable with the areas you touch. Your dog may not like some of the areas being brushed especially on the underbelly and rear end. You would not like people going around touching your rear end and some dogs have the same hang up. If this is the case then you just need to be sensitive about the areas you touch and it may be best to avoid those areas till your dog is comfortable with brushing.


There are a few tools which can make brushing your dog a lot easier. These include:

  • A Brush. Obviously you need a brush. Choosing the right brush can make the experience a lot easier on your Maltese.
  • Scissors. Be very careful with scissors especially with a dog which does not like brushing. Always keep them parallel to your dog to avoid poking them with the sharp ends.
  • A Towel. A towel gives you some cushioning when sitting on the floor with your pooch.
  • A Water Spray. Spraying a little bit of water on any knots can make it so much easier to tease out the knots. A water spray will not work if you use that to discipline your dog. In that case you will need a bowl of water and you will need to use your hand to put water onto the knot.
  • A Broom and waste bin. Brushing will send fur everywhere. You will need a broom to cleanup the mess which is created.
  • Garbage bag or plastic bag. You will need a bag into which you put the excess fur which the brush picks up. A plastic bag or garbage bag makes it easy to just throw away the excess fur which has been removed.

Remember to be careful with your dog when brushing them to ensure the experience is positive and not negative. You want your dog to be comfortable with the situation and you do not want a frightened Maltese or aggressive Maltese. Always use positive reinforcement and treats to slowly change the mindset of your puppy. In time your Maltese will learn to love having a brush from you.


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