Archived Message

need help with new baby

by Shae

After weeks of searching for a maltese puppy, I was extremely excited to find one pretty close to home. However, I am having some problems that I hope someone can help me with. I posted a message earlier about his chewing problem which still continues, but now he has begun to growl and actually snap at me. It has always been when we have been playing - he is VERY hyper and playful, but I don't want this to become common behavior. I have NEVER hit him and cannot understand his aggressive behavior. I am really disappointed because the only dog I have wanted is a maltese, mostly because of their good nature. It seems the only time he is really lovable is when he is really tired. I would appreciate any tips you could give me on raising my baby. I thought it would be easy - just give them lots of love and attention and he would be sweet and affectionate. THANKS!! By the way, It may be helpful to know that I got him too early - 6 weeks. He is now 8 weeks. Unfortunately I didn't find this site until it was too late!!


My friend had a problem with there Lhasa Apso chewing, and growling. What they did is when BeBe(The Lhas) snapped, he would close his mouth shut with his hands and hit him gently on is forehead or is mouth. They if the dog tried to bite him some more, then my friend would get newspaper and crumble it to make a loud sound, and the dog would be scared. He did this about for 3 weeks, and the dog stoped yapping, but not with chewing. I don't know anything about chewing. Hope I helped. -Michael
-Michael Y.

If you can find a copy of the book "Super Puppy" (probably your vet has it, or if not, try a pet store), there is an exercise to do with your pup to work with dominance issues. Sounds to me like your baby is trying to let you know who's in charge and, unfortunately, is not quite ready to believe it's you. The exercise is fairly simple although I can't remember exactly what it involved--my son's pup ate my book while she was learning how to be super pup!
-cathy brown

One way to control a new playful pup is to hold him on his back for 15 to 20 seconds until he stops struggling, giving a little shake and saying NAW, NAW. When he lets up you let up and talk sweet to him. You may have to do this 2 or 3 times a day till he learns who's boss. Only use a lap or soft surface to do this on as of course you don't want to hurt him. Some pups take longer to learn than others but this has ALWAYS worked for my maltese.
-Cheryl Shoemaker

My puppy started doing that right after we got her -- she'd growl when someone went up to pet her or pick her up. I think she was getting tired of people petting her and holding her, since so many people were... She needed sometime to lie down and rest without many others around. Now when she growls (which is hardly ever), I pick her up and hold her until she calms down. Then I put her on the ground and make everyone leave her alone. She usually falls right asleep, and when she wakes up is her playful self again. Good luck!

Shae, If you can find it, buy the book "How To Help Your Puppy Grow Up To Be A Wonderful Dog" by Elizabeth Randolph. It goes through every month with your new puppy. It illustrates the Dominance-Gentling technique which basically is to Get down on the floor and use both hands to hold the puppy down firmly while you remain kneeling above it. Be sure the puppy's head if facing away from you. You can reinforce your actions with a verban "No" or "Stop That" but the important thing is to hold the puppy down quietly while speaking firmly until it stops growling and struggling and is calm and relaxed. Then you can release the pup and immediately repeat whatever action it was that triggered the aggresive reaction. If the pup acts aggresive again, repeat the restraint again until the message is clear. In effect, you are letting him know that you are dominant to it.VERY IMPORTANT - do not let a young child attempt this - it should be done by an adult. I did this method with my Maltese whenever she showed particularly aggressive behavior and it worked like a charm. Sounds like you new pup is just testing you to see if who's in charge here! This type of behavior also happens when the pup is taken away too early and hasn't learned from its litter mates. Good Luck and I know your new baby will be just terrific.

I have one male, Jr. that decided he was "bad". He started fighting with the others, and then me. I used the time-out method. I would pick him up and put him in the bathroom telling him bad dog all the way there. I would only leave him in there for about 5 minutes. Now when he starts to growl, I ask him if he wants to go to time-out. He stops immediately. If all of these things do not work, take your dog to a trainer. All bad habits can be taken care of, it is just sometimes that we can not do it alone and need a little help.
-Marsha A.

I agree with Marsha A. Obedience training is a good idea. Most folks that I have talked to tell me that this is one of the best things they have done for their dog. My pup is going for a 6-week class beginning the middle of July. Remember, be consistent and don't give up. Commands have to be repeated over and over again until the puppy understands what you want. This could take several weeks. Good luck!
-April B.

Shae, Everyone who has described the "dominance-setting " behavior is right on track. Dogs, like any other pack animal will vie for the position of top dog (pardon the pun). You will need to establish yourself as the dominant one in order to provide guidance for your dog. The process of gently constraining them is very similar to what their litter-mates would have been doing to establish their pecking order.

I think the chewing will continue right through teething. Even if your little one is in the pre-teething phase, I think that chewing is a kind of comforting routine for them. One thing that I did while my little one when she was a baby was to have her chew on one of my fingers. Of course, not to the point where it hurt me. I found that when I held her and she chewed on my finger, she calmed down and therefore didn't chew as hard. Also, I let her know when she was hurting me. Hope this helps.

Hi, Shae! I hope this is not coming too late for you to see -- I have been away for the last week. I have one more book to recommend to the terrific list above, called Good Owners, Great Dogs by Brian Kilcommons. It may be available at your library. The techniques described in there are wonderful for teaching your puppy what is and is not acceptable behaviour. They worked wonders for me and Touquet. Within two weeks your dog will be a little gentleman around the house with you. Also, please seriously consider enrolling your puppy in a puppy kindergarten. It will be important for your dog to be well socialized with other dogs and people, expecially having left the litter so early.

I have learned one technique that is great for teaching your puppy not to bite. Hold a treat (something your puppy loves, such as dried liver) tightly between two fingers so the puppy has to work at getting it. When the puppy bites down on your fingers, make little whimpering noises as if it hurts. As soon as the puppy relaxes his bite, PRAISE him and give him the treat. Repeat this many times over a couple of weeks. Your dog will learn to be very gentle with his bite.

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