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New to me-6 year old
by Tami
New to me-6 year old Approximately one month ago I answered an ad in our local paper for a 6 year old maltese to be given away to a good home because of the family being relocated. I had recently moved to an apartment and after speaking with the owner about the dog it sounded like we would be perfect for each other. I was told "Lady" was completely house broke but might need a little time adjusting to her new home. It now seems that the previous owner flat out lied, I'm beginning to think she was kept outside most of the time. It has been a month and she is not adjusting at all to her new home, I've tried everything to keep her from wetting the carpet. She will walk in and do it right in front of me. She does not poop on the carpet unless I leave her loose in the living room when I go to work. Which at this point I don't do anymore.

Last week she started biting her tail, she actually has her tail in her mouth and walks and whines. It is very sad and I noticed today that she has a small cut where she has bit herself. I'm wondering if she is stressed because of the move, being kept inside or what. When I am home she is very clingy, she wants to be right next to me. If I leave the room she stays right with me the whole time. I'm not sure what to do.

She is a very sweet loving dog and I have become very attached to her but I'm wondering if maybe I should find a home for her where someone can be home more often and where she would actually have a yard to go out into instead of always on a leash. If anyone has any suggestions or advise please please let me know.


I suggest that you try obedience training. I've always haerd from trainers that age is a consideration nut not a hindrance.
RC Cusi

You need to decide how far you are willing and able to go with this dog. Lady probably had behavioral problems to begin with, and combined with stress of moving and losing her family its probably even worse. It's sad Lady's former owners didn't feel they could be truthful about their dog's problems.. they may have had to wait longer to place her, but would have gotten an owner much better prepared to deal her. If you do decide to give her away, I hope you would be more honest about her needs and problems so she can be placed properly.

Now, if you decide you are willing and able to comit to this dog (taking into acount work schedule, finances, and lifestyle). Then step one is to housebreak her... you have to go back to basics just as if she was a puppy. Crate training may or may not help (depending on whether the crate stresses her more or less. If you find the isn't practical, switch to a small dog-proof or blocked off area for confinement. When you are home, use the umbilicord method (leash her to you), so that you can control and watch her, and take her outside when she shows signs of going (firm NO if you catch her going.. then scoop her up and right outside.. LOTS of praise if she goes outside!). Teach her a "potty" command (harder with older dog.. not impossible), so that she associates that word with going to the bathroom and getting lots of praise.. if you can get her to go on command, you will have an easier time of regulating her behavior. The clinginess is partly just a common trait of Maltese, and partly insecurity and separation anxiety. Your best bet is to ignore her when she gets like this (yes, I know how hard it is!), any attention she gets will reinforce the behavior. If at all possible, I strongly suggest an animal behaviorist and/or professional trainer. Make sure the person you choose is experienced in dealing with older dogs, and rescue dog experience would be a plus. You may be able to get a referral from your vet, or your local Maltese rescue group, local Humane Society, etc. As to tail biting, it could very well be stress, but if you haven't had her to the vet you should probably get her a check-up just to make sure (also look for signs of fleas or other areas of biting/scratching, and have the anal glands checked if you don't know how to do for yourself). Once she is feeling comfortable, confident and secure in your home, many of the stress problems should go away. Good luck. I do hope you are able to help this poor little Lady.. whether by keeping her and working on it, or placing her with someone who can.

Start at the beginning, with Potty training, try crating her at night, and confining during the day. You really must get that in control. Obiedience training is a must as well. You both will enjoy that, and it helps a lot. Patience is a must, it may take a while, but don't give up without trying everything. She may never have been trained correctly in her previous home, which is no fault of hers, but the previous owners. These dogs are so smart and really aim to please. Remember praise, praise, praise for good behavior!
Have you had her checked out by a vet? That would be my first stop. The behavior you describe sounds like a dog who has been accustomed to being neglected and she has decided you are her new Mom. Take it as you would a puppy, start all training over again and I think you should see results quickly. Crate training, or confinement - wee wee pads - gentle reassurance and a firm attitude for corrections. The cheweing on her tail could be boredom, frustration, or skin trouble. These little guys do like company, so I think that is rather normal & what most of us want when we get a Maltese - or any small dog. Good luck, I hope you decide to stick with her because it sounds to me like her previous owners did not.
Leslie R
Tami, I can't add anything to the above posts except my encouragement and best wishes. I hope you hang in there with this little sweetie-pie, she already seems attached to you. Time, patience and heeding the good advice above can get you to a happy solution. Good luck. Marie

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