Your Maltese thinks you are its whole world, it loves you, feels secure around you and wants to be with you. Sometimes though dogs will become extremely attached to one of its owners and follow them everywhere.
The main reason a Maltese will follow its owner is due to a high dependency on its owner which has been built over time by repetition or due to prior life experiences. In most cases your Maltese will see you as its security blanket or it may think that it is your security blanket.
WHY YOUR MALTESE ALWAYS FOLLOWS YOU
So why does your Maltese follow you? Maltese are complex creatures who do things out of fear, love and loyalty. Some of the more common and uncommon reasons include anxiety, food, security sickness and boredom.
Puppies especially will cling to their owners and can get separation anxiety. Most owners don’t realize the dependence that can be created between their Maltese and them by constantly fussing over them. The constant fussing can lead to your dog stalking you from room to room and they can become upset and distressed when you are not around. The good thing is that there are ways to fix this issue with just a little bit of training and hard work on your part.
TOO EARLY SEPARATION FROM FAMILY
If a puppy is taken away from its siblings and mother too early it can create an attachment and imprint itself onto its new owner. You will become the replacement for their mother and siblings and as such a very strong emotional bond can be created. Sometimes this means your Maltese will need to be weaned off you just like it would be slowly weaned from its mother.
VELCRO-DOG and PACK MENTALITY
Maltese as also known as “Velcro Dogs” as they tend to cling to their owners and love their owners with all of their heart. Because of their size, Maltese are very territorial over their pack and will want to be with their pack all of the time. This is an in built natural thought for the Maltese and it can bring out both the best in the breed and the worst in the breed. It allows the to be extremely loyal and loving but can also bring out an aggressive nature to strangers who they are wary of being around.
Another reason your dog may be following you is that it is very interested in what you are doing. They will be interested in why you are at the door, why you go into the kitchen, why you need to go into the bedroom, etc. The kitchen might mean food while the front door might mean you need protection. They will pick up on situations where they think they can be very useful or there is something for them to gain. Keep in mind that our activities and routines may be as confusing to them as we are confused by some of the weird little habits our dogs exhibit.
Maltese are particularly territorial and do not like strangers. So when you are moving about the house they will want to ensure that they are providing the protection you need. They may think they being around you provides both you and them protection from any strangers who may come into the house. They think they are your personal security guard.
If you constantly fuss over what your Maltese is doing then they will take this as positive reinforcement and will continue to follow you around as they believe they are being rewarded for the action.
SICKNESS OR INJURY
In some instances if your dog is not feeling well or injured they may start to follow you around. If you ever notice a change in behavior of your Maltese you should take notice and see if your Maltese is OK. This could also be a change in your Maltese which follows you everywhere which has suddenly stopped following you. If you are concerned you Maltese puppy is sick take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if you call them and just ask if you should bring your dog in they may be able to provide some advice over the phone.
Your Maltese may have associated that when you get up and move around you are often likely to be getting them a treat or getting yourself some food which you will share with them. Food will motivate most dogs to continue to do a repetitive behavior.
Dogs can get bored just like you can get bored. Your Maltese will like to investigate what is happening and if your moving around then perhaps there is something which will take away their boredom. This can be one of the easier reasons to fix with toys, food and walks relieving the boredom.
TOO MUCH ENERGY
Some Maltese are full of energy and are not going to sit down and lounge around. They want to be active and these dogs are very inquisitive. They will generally not want to sit still and will follow you just to see what is happening. Dogs full of energy need ways to burn off that excessive energy before they will slow down and rest.
This reason is usually associated with rescue dogs who have come into a home later in life. Unfortunately prior experiences in their life may make them act a certain way and if they feel safe and secure with you then they may attach themselves to you. This is a good sign that they feel secure in your presence but you still need them to be able to be alone and independent. A rescue dog will take longer to train to have that independence if they start to be clingy. Don’t despair though as their clingyness is a sign they really care and love you. With some positive reinforcement and a lot of love they will be able to learn to be independent again.
HOW TO GET YOUR MALTESE TO STOP FOLLOWING YOU
Its great to have your dog beside you most of the time but sometimes you need to be able to do other things such as work, cleaning, etc. If you can not move from one room to the next without your Maltese on your tail or your Maltese cries every time you are not within its eye line then you may have a dog which has separation anxiety. The best way to help alleviate this issue and get your dog to be OK by itself include:
- Exercising your dog to burn off excess energy. Adrenaline builds up in both our bodies and animals bodies and needs to be worked out of the system with physical activity. Adrenaline can cause anxiety and stress in a dog. The best way to fix this issue is to exercise your dog for at least 30 mins or exercise a day. A young puppy will burn energy very quickly as they are very active. They play hard and sleep hard. The added benefit of working off that energy is that your Maltese puppy will get some rest and sleep giving you some time for your own personal space.
- Training you Maltese. You should always work on at least some basic commands for your Maltese as it makes them more obedient and easier to look after. Commands such as sit and stay will allow you to ensure that the dog waits for you where it is. Once a dog starts to obey simple commands it is more likely hey will see you as the leader of the pack and listen to you. This will allow you to get some extra breathing space by asking your dog to stay in its bed, in the lounge room, etc.
- Food. A dog will generally choose food over following you but be careful not to reinforce food as a reward for following you. If you give them a bone or a chewy treat they will likely sit there and eat it rather than constantly monitoring your whereabouts. This will slowly get them use to being by themselves and allowing you to increase the gap of time they need to be with you.
- Toys. Distracting a dog with a toy can work especially if the toy has food in it. Different toys will entice some dogs but its a very personal thing to each Maltese. Toys will work better for Maltese puppies than older dogs. Toys which require you to throw or pull will not be as good a distraction as a toy which can be self amusing to the dog.
- Ignore your dog. As a last resort it may be that your dog is seeing your behavior as a reward mechanism. If you start to ignore your dog and not acknowledge they are there then it could help to change their behavior. Basically if you talk to them and play with them because they are following you they will keep doing it because they love your attention. as soon as you remove that attention they get bored following you and go do other things.
- Get help. A professional dog trainer may be able to help your specific situation with your Maltese. They will be able to come to your home and assess the issue closely. They will offer advice on what steps to take in order to fix the behavior. Feel free to try multiple dog trainers and use a combination of the advice offered by them to help your Maltese.
- Use a Crate. You can use a crate to lock your dog in an area while you are doing other things. This should first be done with you in the room so that they can still have you in their sight. Next you need to disappear for a few seconds and then return. This lets them know that you will come back to them. Keep extending the time where your Maltese can not see you and slowly they will learn that it is OK for them to not be beside you for every minute of every day because you will always come back to them. After you feel they are comfortable with you being away for around a minute then you can start to try it without the crate and hopefully they will not be up and following you as soon as you leave the room. If they do try using commands for them to stay in the room and if necessary go back to using the crate when needed.
- Be the pack leader. Its been said multiple times already but dogs are very social animals that like to be part of a pack. When a dog is with you they will feel content and happy. Being around you will feel like a reward and dogs just like humans will tend to do things which make them happy. If your dog is scared and anxious when it is away from you it will not want those feelings to continue and will seek you out as soon as possible. Dog training courses will generally focus on you taking command and showing your authority as the pack leader. Maltese will respond to this pack leader mentality and listen to your authority. A good dog trainer or online dog course could help you learn the basics of being able to control your Maltese puppy.
Hopefully this article has been able to show you there are multiple reasons why your dog may be following you around. Regardless of the reason, there are always ways to work with your dog and instill some independence in their life. Using many of the techniques described you should be able to wean your Maltese from your ankles and both it and you will be much happier for it in the long run.