Maltese puppies use their teeth to explore the world so they will occasionally bite and nip and sometimes these can be at your hands, arms and feet. Remember that your Maltese puppy is never intentionally trying to hurt you. You just feel the pain as their teeth are sharp and pointy. Usually an owner will get accidentally nipped or bitten by their Maltese puppy when they are playing with them. This article will outline the best tips and advice on how to stop your Maltese from biting you.
Why do Maltese Puppies Bite?
Maltese puppies explore the world and their surroundings by chewing, biting and tasting what is out there. This is exactly the same as any baby whether they be cat, dog or human. They want to learn, taste and interact with everything they can touch. If you ever see a mother and baby child you will always hear her saying “stop putting that in your mouth” as its as universal an act as breathing for babies. Maltese puppies are no exception and because they also use their mouth and teeth like fingers and hands they will touch everything. While they are exploring they will encounter tough, hard, soft and flexible objects and the Maltese puppy will bite at different strengths to work out what things are and how hard they need to bite them to be able to pick them up or entice a reaction. To your puppy your finger will just be another object that is fun to play with and they will try different bite strengths to determine what reaction that they get from you. unfortunately when they try a harder strength of bite you feel the pain and pull away your hand. This can be exciting to your puppy and look like its a game and this can then encourage them to bite harder again the next time they see your finger.
Another reason Maltese puppies bite is because they love to play. When they were in their litter and only a few weeks old they would play with the other puppies and they would get a bit rough with each other as its all exciting and fun. At this stage in their young life they didn’t have any teeth and they were basically mouthing each other and pulling at each other with gums. Eventually their puppy milk teeth started to come in but they were so small that biting each other didn’t hurt too much especially with their thick skin and fur. Eventually the puppies start to get bigger and stronger and the bites start to hurt. This can sometimes stop or minimize the biting behaviors but if the puppy is taken away from the litter too early they may never learn that biting from the other puppies hurts and thus learn not to do it themselves.
An interesting reason Maltese puppies bite is because they have found it can help them get their way in their litter. They may learn that biting works for them because they are the largest of the litter and the litter bully and they like to get their way by being aggressive. The mother of the Maltese puppies will usually stop this from occurring as she will not be happy about the biting especially if she is the target of a few of the nips and bites.
Also many owners like to play rough with their Maltese puppy and get them worked up and have a bit of rough-housing. This is usually the men in the family. The rough play is always fun for a while until the Maltese puppy gets their adrenaline up and accidentally nips at a finger or hand and breaks the skin and draws blood. This can sometimes cause a quick end to the game but the Maltese puppy won’t understand this and will generally chase and want to continue playing and can result in a few more nips at your feet or hands. The other problem associated with rough play is that other people who want to pat the puppy may now get an unwanted nip at their fingers because the Maltese dog thinks that they are also playing.
Now that we know why Maltese puppies bite lets look at some of the things you can do to stop your Maltese puppy from biting which is commonly referred to as learning bite inhibition.
This is how to Stop Your Maltese Puppy from Biting as an Owner
Of course you don’t want your Maltese puppy to learn to bite as this will hurt kids, elderly and even you. Puppies who bite generally do not get on well with kids and this can cause isolation for the kids and the Maltese puppy. We want our Maltese dog to lick people not bite people. These tips will help you as an owner of a Maltese puppy to stop your Maltese puppy from biting people.
Tip 1: Discipline to say NO
Make sure that you always stop and tell your puppy in a firm voice that biting is not OK. They need to associate the biting with upsetting you similar to if they had bitten one of the other puppies in the litter and it would yelp. A stern “NO” will make the puppy stop and think. If you are playing a game with your puppy then you should stop the game to make it obvious that this is not an acceptable thing to do even while playing together. It is about breaking the cycle so that your Maltese puppy learns quickly that biting is bad. You need this reinforcement to be done every time, not just randomly. It needs to be always be the same response to a bite. If your Maltese puppy licks you then you should give it positive praise and pats for doing the right thing. Over time they will learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and it should stop your Maltese puppy biting your hand. Negative reinforcement shouldn’t be your only technique though so there are a few other tips as well to help speed up the process.
Tip 2: Use Toys to Play
Playing with a Maltese with your hand as the toy will always end up with some bites and nips. This can confuse the Maltese puppy as occasionally you say its OK and other times you get upset. To replace your hand you should always use a toy when playing. This makes it much easier for the puppy to learn that hands are not to be bitten but that its OK to bite down hard on toys. You should have a variety of toys to play with that have different textures and hardness so that your Maltese puppy can grab some and chew others. When you are playing with your Maltese puppy anytime they open their mouth in a biting motion you should put the toy in their mouth. This way they learn that when they open their mouth they should bite the toy and not your hand. Toys are also great mental stimulation for your Maltese puppy and can be a great way to play inside and give them some exercise to keep them fit.
Tip 3: Teaching your Maltese Puppy Commands
Teaching your Maltese puppy commands as young as early can help them to learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. A simple “Leave it” can teach the dog to stop what they are doing and pay attention. The extra attention they will put on your commands will help them to quickly learn what is acceptable and not acceptable. This can be very useful when your Maltese puppy starts to chew everything and you need them to drop something. Even a command such as sit can stop them being too energetic which can lead to accidental bites. Remember that as soon as your Maltese puppy listens to your command and obeys it then you should reward them. This could be a treat, a pat or a throw of a toy. Keep it up as Maltese can be a stubborn breed but they do like to please their owners as they are very loyal.
Tip 4: Praise your Maltese Puppy for Playing Nicely
Every time your puppy plays nicely and doesn’t bite you but uses the toy or licks you instead of biting then you should praise them for being so well behaved. Positive reinforcement goes a long way with Maltese dogs and it reinforces that you love them. Always try to use more positive reinforcement and praise where possible rather than resorting to the negative reinforcement techniques. Don’t be fooled though as you will need both positive and negative reinforcement in order to break the habit of a Maltese puppy which bites.
Tip 5: Don’t be Negative about the Situation
Don’t feel down if your Maltese puppy doesn’t listen to you and still occasionally bites your finger. If you find yourself asking “Why does my Maltese puppy still biting” then keep at it and keep it consistent. Over a period of time it will sink in that biting is not acceptable and your Maltese puppy will eventually stop biting. But it takes time and effort on your part to continue with the training.
Tip 6: Get professional help from a puppy trainer
If you are completely lost and can not find a way to stop your Maltese puppy from biting you then you will need to bring in a puppy trainer. They will usually be able to show you how to control your Maltese dog and push through their stubbornness. Your Maltese puppy wants to please you and they will be able to work with you to ensure that the biting comes to an end. This is a more costly approach then trying yourself but sometimes it can save you a lot of time and frustration and will generally get very quick results with a good puppy trainer.
This is How to Stop a Maltese Puppy from Biting as a Breeder
There are few things you can do if you are the breeder to ensure that the Maltese puppy learns not to bite. So if you have a litter of Maltese puppies and the mother you can definitely put in a few practices which will help to lessen the biting of the Maltese puppies. You may ask why you want to do these suggestions but it comes down to providing a great puppy for your buyers. your buyers may have kids or may be elderly and a puppy which bites will not be suitable for them. So lets get into how as a breeder you can put in measures to stop Maltese puppies from biting:
- Keep the litter with the mother for longer: A mother knows how to discipline her children and its exactly the same with Maltese dogs. The mother Maltese will pull the younger puppies into line especially when they annoy her and bite her with their sharp teeth. This can happen during feeding or playing. She may get nipped and bitten accidentally or even on purpose by puppies which are trying to assert themselves. She will nip them back to show them by example that biting is not the right thing to do and they will learn from her negative reinforcement that biting is not nice.
- Keep the litter together for as long as possible: Puppies like to play and be rough with each other. When they are younger they learn to play with each other and as they grow teeth they also learn that they can hurt each other. As they get hurt, and entice squeals of pain from their brothers and sisters they will learn that biting is not a nice thing to do to others. There are exceptions where some Maltese puppies can bully and use biting to get their way, but in general most Maltese puppies will quickly learn that biting hurts others and that if they don’t want to get bitten themselves then they shouldn’t bite their siblings.
The above two concepts rely on the litter remaining together with the mother for as long as possible so that they can learn from their mother and each other. Taking a Maltese puppy away from its mother too early can also induce separation anxiety and stress which is also an undesirable situation to be in for the Maltese dog. Of course eventually they do not need to move on and find their own homes but that should only be after they have had time to learn and adjust to their world.
Why is my Maltese Puppy still biting objects and chewing things even after training?
Sometimes there are medical reasons on why a Maltese puppy is chewing and biting especially if its the furniture and other items around the house. if you find this continues even with training then you should talk to your vet and get your Maltese puppy’s teeth and mouth inspected to ensure that there are no medical reasons on why they are doing it. Your vet will be able to provide some advice on how to stop the behavior as well.
How did we go answering your questions on Maltese puppies that bite and how to stop them biting?
Hopefully this article has answered all of your questions and provided a number of solutions to try that will solve your Maltese puppy biting problem. Have you had a Maltese puppy that likes to bite? Have you used any other methods that have worked and have stopped the biting? Did we miss anything in the article on biting Maltese puppies that you think we should include? if so let us know in the comments.