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Archived Message

At wits ends
by Niki
At wits ends Three years ago a family friend died and I was left to care for his male maltese (now 5 yrs old). I am at my wits end with him. He chews my walls, barks incessantly and I work two jobs and got to college at night. I've taken him to trainers and obedient classes and nothing works. He is not housebroken and has destroyed my furniture. I had him neutered and it had no effect. He has grown to be very attached to me, and I him. My schedule is not fair to him and frankly his behavior is not fair to me. I'm 24 and trying to just get by. I don't want to give him up, but what can I do? I'm living on cash advances paying for a dog walker. His barking has my neighbors leaving nasty notes on my door. What can I do????? Please help me. I don't know where else to turn! P.S. I take good care of him. He's fine when I'm home except for when someone comes over. He is very protective and bites people if they come near me. He even growls at me. I can't even have a boyfriend because he won't even let someone sit next to me. When I come home to greet him, he gets so excited he urinates all over me. (the smae with other people) People don't even want to come over to my house. I love him, but I'm letting him control my life. He's my son and I feel guilty for even writing this. But I can't go on like this any longer. Please help me! Thank you in advance for any advice you can lend me.


I think this breed is a lot like children in their behavior patterns. They seek attention whether it be positive or negative. As for the barking, I have a 7 month old female that barks at everything including herself in the mirror. If you can come up with a solution to stop this I'd love to hear about it. All I can say if be consistent when telling him to stop. My little girl still is having accidents in the house and when she does she is confined to the kitchen which she dislikes. Her behavior has improved somewhat because she dislikes the separation. You might want to try this. Good luck. On a positive note, they are a sweet breed but stubborn more times than not.

I know how you feel. I wrecked my first puppy and had to take draconian measures to get him to stop biting. I had a trainer come over and teach me how to get controle of him again but it took some time. I used a midevil looking choke collar and started to make him do what I asked. When he growled and tried to bite I had to yank the collar until he yellped. (Tough LOVE). It seems crule but there is no way you can sell or even give the dog away without disclosing his bad habits. I got him to stop biting and growling and even got him to heel, sit, down, and even "dance" on command. But we had so much bad blood I just thought a different owner would be better for us both and I actually sold him, fully disclosing all his good AND BAD points. The woman who got the dog loves it and this is a happy ending to give you some hope. I must say that your dog is older and probably somewhat set in his ways and you may not be able to correct all his bad habits and only you can decide just how much you can live with. I must tell you whatever bad habits he has that you may want to put up with, you MUST address the biting. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to make your dog safe and if he is allowed to bite you, chances are he is eventually going to bite someone else. Habits are hard to break in an older dog so be prepared that you may not be able to get this dog to the place where you can live together...and that is NOT YOUR FAULT.....He is a step child that was formed long befor you inherited him..Love him though you may his behavior may come to the point where you will resent him and this is not fair to you or him. You may have to face the fact that he must go to someone who is willing to take him on warts and all, give him to pet rescue to see if they can find a place for him, or put him down. This sounds so crule I know but especially if he can not stop biting this must be considered before someone, including you gets hurt....Besides, when picking between having dates, friends, clean clothes, A LIFE...and someone elses dog, I think the dog loses, HANDS DOWN......You are young, and inexperienced with dogs (obviously) I think you need to look at finding another place for this dog for both your sakes. Just remember his is a dog NOT A CHILD. Good luck honey, I will pray for wisdom.
Poor Niki...Poor Doggie ! You "MUST" place this poor dog with someone who can give him care & nurturing, you say you give him good care ?? Good care takes more than 10 minutes of your time, the maltese is a social critter and you cannot go off to work, especially 2 jobs, and expect this dog to behave normally, his actions & reactions sound quite normal to me for the situation he's in, which is NOT a GOOD one. Do yourself and the dog a favor and place him ASAP. People who go off to work need to consider NOT having a dog , (especially a maltese ) possible get a cat who doesn't mind being left alone if you have to have a critter ! Don't feel GUILTY ! just do it ! Good Luck ! He'll be fine !
Dear Nikki: I feel very bad for you and your little "monster". But I feel most bad for the dog. Because he is from a very social breed of canines. it isn't fair to not be able to spend the time with him that he requires. His bad behavior is that social need of his all twisted up and festering in him. He is not an asset to your wholeness, happiness and well-being, either. Pretty soon it will be hard not to resent him. Find him a home where he can have a chance to be happier. Give yourself an even shot at making a stable life, too, before you try to be responsible for the well-being of a little dog! Be brave. I know it is a hard decision to make. The Maltese Rescue could probably find someone to love him and handle his problems...
I just rescued a 4.5 year old white non-spayed female. She has only been home with me for about 6 hours.She started barking right away. So I went surfing on barking and training. Based on what I found I put her in her luxurious cage that she will be sleeping in. And said firmly "Quiet" and walked away. In a few moments she started barking again. Again I said firmly "Quiet" and walked away. A few moments later I went in and adored him with a lovely cuddle. Then I put her in again and left the room, taking longer and longer breaks, finally leaving my home for 5 minutes, 15 minutes ....etc. etc. This has seemed to work effectively. And hopefully, when I leave this evening she will understand to stay quiet is the best way I let you know if it continues to work.
This really does not sound like a good situation for either of you. I feel the best solution is to find a rescue. I believe Jay has some listed, you can also search the net for a Maltese Rescue. Please do not give this dog to just anyone, he needs a Maltese Rescue. Maltese do need a lot of attention, and it sounds like this dog especially is going to take a lot of it, more than you can provide at this time in your life. Good Luck with whatever you decide to do. Please post again if you need further help!
Robin K.
Niki, I am so sorry to hear of your problems. I really think that the problems are not insolvable but they may need a lot of time and money. Is your Maltese a timid dog (I got that idea when you mentioned about the urinating)? Does it roll over ehen you or anyone approach it? That is another submissive sign. There are 2 kinds of dogs that prime candudate for behavioural problems, the timid one who will actually bite because of fear and the aggresive one. Anyway, the biting has to be stopped else the dog might hurt another person (especially a child) one day. You can physically stop that (by muzzling) or you can get a trainer. If you do decide to get a trainer, then try to get one that also uses psychology ... I think these are better as they get to the root of the problems (i.e. as to why the dog is behaving this way) rather then just treat the 'symptoms' eg excessive barking. Some say that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, I believe you can, it only needs a lot of patience. Regarding the excessive barking, I guess you must have tried all those stuff like anti-barking collars etc. Well, I was told that you can surgically stop that (don't ask me what is cut, the vocal cords maybe?). I was informed it is not painful but you can imagine my initial horror at hearing this. However, the person told me that this is very useful for dogs that bark so excessively that the councils have issued notice to have it removed (from neighbours' complaints). These dogs probably end up being put to sleep, so given the choice of putting the dog to sleep or surgically doing something that is not painful to them, I guess the latter comes as an option. I personally would only consider that as a last option after all other methods are considered. I do hope that you will be able to solve your problems. For all you know, once you have identified the problem, whether it is the need to have you around more etc., then the solutions may be easier (I was just thinking that the 'not housebroken yet' could just be your Maltese getting back at you. Yes, just trying to get some attention). Do keep us informed of the outcome. Good Luck.
It sounds to me like you really do want to do the right thing for this poor little guy, but you are feeling guilty about it. You need to think about what's best for him, as well as yourself. He obviously when through a major change when his owner died, and you (as well meaning as you were) simply didn't have the kind of lifestyle that would allow you to give him the attention he needed (Maltese crave attention). He doesn't sound like a bad dog, just one that was never properly socialized or trained as a pup (probably not your fault, they learn this at a very young age). You could try to go back to the housebreaking, starting with crating and papertraining and work on his bad habits (I agree that the biting is a priority), but with you working two jobs, it is really not fair to leave him all day confined. I suggest you contact a local rescue organization for Maltese, and discuss the kinds of problems you are having. Be honest about his problems, he really needs a loving understanding environment with someone who will be there for him. You shouldn't feel guilty, you tried your best for three years, and spent money and time on trainers and dog walkers.. it sounds like you really did all you could.
I completely agree with Renee's advice because your dog would certainly be happier with a family that has more time to devote to him. And I'm sure that you too will be happier without all the extra problems that the dog is creating for you. If for some reason you refuse to take this advise, I do have a suggestion at the risk of being yelled at because I'm sure it is considered "animal cruelty". One of my friends had the barking problem with their dog and would have been kicked out of their home. Rather than give up their home or dog, they had a Vet perform surgery on the dogs voice box. He still barked constantly, but NOTHING came out. (I don't think he even realized this!)
Niki, I agree that you need to place this dog with the maltese rescue. The problem is this poor little dog probably had attention galore before loosing his master. You are young and have a life to live and work at. This dog needs more than you have the time to give . This dog is telling you in everyway that he needs more attention. If good behavior doesn't get it the bad behavior does. Show how much you love this dog by allowing him to go to a home where there is a place for him right in the center, that's what these little dogs require. No one could hold it againest you for making a responsible and adult decision for this little friend who is crying out.
Mary P
Nikki, Now is not the time for you to have a dog. You're not doing the dog or yourself any favors. Please find a nice home for him. Someone out there has the time and energy to spend with your little dog. You are building up a lot of resentment and he can sense it. He's lonely and needs some companionship. You don't need to feel guilty about giving him to a nice home. It will be best for you and him.
It sounds to me that you know what you need to do & are feeling guilty about it. What will be best for the dog is for you to have a Maltese Rescue take him and do some socializing and training, as well as evaluation and find him a proper home. He needs more attention and you need to accept the fact that you are not prepared to deal with it. It doesn't make you a bad person, it simply says that in this stage of your life you are not ready for the responsibility of a 'child'. While I hate to see anyone have to give up something that they love, sometimes the best thing is to let go.
Leslie R
Oh God, to put a dog down because it can't be trained, to remove the voice box because of barking. I can turn my husband's action when it came to spanking but you can't bring back a dead dog and you can't reverse surgery on a voice box. I think the only solution here is to give up the dog,find it a good hom, not alter it.
Thank you everybody for your advice. I will contact Maltese rescue, as heartbroken as I'll be. I just have to do a little research as to what their procedures are. I, under NO circumstance want him to be surgically altered or put to sleep. I'm just afraid that turning him over to a rescue will not permit me to monitor his situation. The main issue is that as I'm looking at him now I can't imagine working through the heartache our separation will cause me (hopefully not him). I know this is a decision I'll have to make soon, it just makes me so sick to my stomach to give up. I'll keep you posted. Thank you again for taking the time to post your suggesstions.
Dear Niki, I am writing this to somehow try to help ease the pain you are feeling. I am a person who adopted a 5 year old Maltese this past summer from a rescue in New Jersey. She came with a lot of difficulties, but that was something I understood when I made that commitment to an older dog. I waited until I was at a time in my life that I could be home for her. I love her today the way you love your boy and I would be torn apart as you are now faced with this dilemma. And that is what I hope you can think about: that someone like me will love him and care for him as you would wish. If you want the name of the woman who rescued my Maltese, please e-mail me. You are a good woman.

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