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The Maltese cross Pomeranian is a hybrid dog, also known as a Maltipom. These cute little dogs often have the small foxy face of a Pomeranian but with the long, flowing coat of the Maltese. In appearance, they are a lot like living cuddly toys, but the responsible owner should never forget that these character packed little guys have a mind of their own.
The Maltipom's small size means he's often given privileges, such as sleeping on the bed, which are denied to larger dogs. However, this sends out mixed messages as this elevates his status on a par with a human. In his mind, he thinks: 'Like Mom like pup,' and can, therefore, be inclined to get above his true status in the family pack.
To make matters worse, whereas bad behavior from a large dog is not tolerated, a cute Maltipom often stretches the rules. Think of how a mailman reacts to a growling Rottweiler (He refuses to deliver the mail) and a growling Maltipom (the mailman laughs at the little guy's bravado.) However, giving the dog such good-natured attention encourages such behavior and makes it worse. In essence, this is where "Small dog syndrome" originates.
All responsible owners have a duty to raise their dogs to be dependable and obedient, which is why training a Maltese Pomeranian should be taken seriously.
Training a Maltese Pomeranian should be done with firm but fair leadership. Set the house rules and stick by them, so the dog understands there are lines he shouldn't cross and behaviors that are unacceptable.
The actual training should be done using reward-based methods. This is a way of motivating the dog to want to please you, because he gets a payback that's worth his while. He then starts thinking for himself about what behavior you desire, so that he can provide that and earn a reward.
The backbone of reward-based training is using food treats, however, some small dogs are less food-motivated than bigger breeds. If you have a pup that turns his nose up, even at liver cake, then find something else that he loves and reward him with that. This might be a game of tug with a favorite toy, chasing a ball, or even full-on praise and fuss.
For the food-motivated Maltipom, your job is a lot easier. But make sure those treats are tiny, just a flavor of food really, or the little guy is going to spend more time chewing than training and pile on the pounds to boot.
Training a Maltipom is something you need to do every day, indeed several times a day. This isn't as onerous as it sounds. Simply make the dog 'work' before he gets his meals, goes for a walk, and have him continue basic training exercises on his walks. Another great idea is to do a few 'sit' and looks' during the ad breaks when you're watching TV, so you can use 'dead' time to train the dog.
In addition, it's helpful to have:
- Tasty bite-sized treats. Not too big, mind! You don't want the pup to spend ages eating
- A pouch or bag in which to keep treats handy
- A favorite toy or something the dog enjoys that he will work for
- A collar or harness, and leash
- A quiet distraction-free place in which to start training.
The Dog's Eye View Method
Understand the challenges
A Maltipom is a small dog and the height difference between you and the dog can be a challenge. The dog will find you intimidating if you bark commands while towering over him, but if you bend down your back is going to suffer. Simple things such as realizing this and taking steps to be less intimidating can make a big difference, and indeed it's always good to think of how the dog perceives what's going on and ways to improve the interaction.
On a dog's level
Aim to work on a level with the dog. One obvious option is to sit on the floor with the dog and train that way. Alternatively, raise the dog up to your height, by placing him on a table. With the latter, place a non-slip mat or towel over the table top so he feels secure and never leave him unsupervised for fear he falls.
Maltipoms are intelligent dogs and love to test boundaries. Training will go more smoothly if you are consistent about the rules. For example, if the rule is 'no dog on the sofa' and you enforce this during the week, but allow the dog up for a snuggle at the weekend then he'll get confused, and chose the option he prefers (jumping on the sofa!)
Nothing for free
This is the technique whereby the dog has to 'work' in order to get basic benefits, such as his meals or his leash put on for a walk. In it's simplest form this is having the dog sit before you put the bowl down. The idea is that the dog has to give you his attention to make nice things happen. The end result is an attentive dog who looks to you for cues and guidance.
Keep things fun
Dogs learn best when they are happy and eager to please. While training, keep your voice bright and excited, and be lavish with praise when he does something well. Also, keep the sessions short so that his concentration isn't taxed and he remains keen to learn.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Push the dog's back
Older training methods suggest pressing down on the dog's haunches to teach him to sit. Do not do this, especially with a Maltipom. They have small delicate bones and you may unwittingly hurt him.
Do: Get everyone on board
Make sure all family members understand the commands and the house rules for the dog. It's no good one person saying "Down" while another says "Drop" and a third, "Lie." This is hopelessly confusing for the dog. If necessary, write a cheat-sheet of the dog's commands and stick it onto the fridge so everyone becomes familiar with them.
Don't: Punish the dog
Never smack or yell at the dog, even when he's naughty. This will only make him wary of you, rather than linking the punishment to the crime. Instead, if you catch him in the act say a stern "NO!", and then distract him away from the naughtiness.
Do: Socialize the dog
Socialization is the process of introducing the dog to a wide range of sights, sounds, and smells from an early age. When these experiences are fun, his confidence grows, and he'll become a well-adjusted adult dog. The opposite is a poorly socialized dog who, as an adult, is suspicious and fearful of new situations and people. Anxious dogs are more likely to nip, purely out of fear, which is a hugely undesirable behavior.
Do: Consult an expert
If your Maltipom is difficult to control then consult an expert dog behaviorist or trainer. It is much better to seek help than it is to push on doing the wrong things, which can cause problems to become even more deeply ingrained. There are many ways of helping a small dog to improve his behavior, so never be fearful of asking for help.
The Potty Training Method
Get to grips with the basics
A small dog has a small bladder which means small puddles. Thus it may be tempting to turn a blind eye to the odd accident in the house, especially if you've heard that small dogs are more difficult to potty train. However, cutting the dog some slack in this way is asking for long-term problems, which are entirely avoidable with a little know-how and dedication in the early days of taking on a Maltipom.
Piddling in the wrong place is habit forming. Get ahead of the game by preventing the dog from peeing where he shouldn't. This means watching the dog at all times and popping him in a crate for those times when you can't be with him. Keep him on a leash attached to your wrist when he's free. Be vigilant for tell-tale signs of wanting to toilet such as sniffing or sidling up to furniture. Take him straight outside.
Praise pees in the right place
Pop the dog out to your desired doggie toilet spot. Keep him on the leash and ignore him so that he can't wander off and concentrates on the job. When he does pee or poop, praise him and then give a treat when he's finished.
Increase the hit rate
Increase your chances of being able to reward him for going in the right place, by giving him lots of opportunity to visit the toilet spot. Depending on his age, take him outside every 20 to 60 minutes. If he hasn't gone after 5 - 10 minutes bring him back inside. Also take him out immediately when he wakes up and about 15 minutes after every meal.
Clean up accidents
If the dog does toilet indoors, don't punish him (he won't link the punishment to the crime but to you.) Simply clean up the area and work at being more vigilant. However, if you happen to catch him in the act, then say a sharp "No", scoop him up and take him out to the toilet spot. Then praise him when he does go.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021