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Hi! I’m new to the forum. Ahh…where do I begin ???? My Maltese Lady is 2.5 years old. We got her at 12 weeks. We were first time dog owners. And apparently, we spoiled her. Carried her around , gave her so much love. Anyway , around a year she started resource guarding. Also, I have a child , and she started snapping at kids. Today, my niece was visiting. Lady was excited to see her. So my niece started petting her. Out of nowhere , Lady started snapping!!!!! This is why I normally crate her when kids are here. Anyway, we had a trainer. He labeled her spoiled. One thing we changed was she has to sleep in a crate. She cried for two nights but adjusted. The problem is that other family members just think she’s so dang cute (she really is) and continue to baby l/spoil her. So I am debating saying at least for two weeks help me out and let’s be strict and tough and see if there is an improvement. I wanted to use a behaviorist, however it was going to cost $1000 for the mandatory three visits. Has anybody had success eradicating this type of behavior just by being more alpha? Thank you in advance.
 

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Hi, welcome to Spoiled Maltese. A few questions, before I even try to give you advice. First, have you done any training with Lady? Did you go to any classes? Read any books -- if so, which ones? And how old are the kids that she has been snapping at?

As far as training, I don't care for the term "alpha." In the wild, the leaders of a pack are the parents. So the alpha dog really should be the leader and teacher rather than a dominant character. Unfortunately I used some of those alpha concepts, like choke chains, alpha rolls, etc. long, long ago. And I belatedly apologize to my little terrier dog who passed away in 2001, because instead of building trust, I caused her pain. But we changed, and we had nearly 17 years together.

Maltese are fragile, so I wonder if the kids are causing her any discomfort, whether petting too hard or just frightening her a little. Maltese generally are not recommended for small kids who may not know how to relate to them. But this could be the time for the both the dog and the kids to learn about each other.

Anyway, I hope we can help you in your situation, especially if you give us some more information. For starters, I used to participate in a forum by a well-known trainer, Sarah Wilson. She has books still in print but is semi-retired. Anyway, one of their important training concepts for getting a dog to behave better is "Nothing In Life is Free." I don't know if they created that or the name or if someone else did, but here is a description of it in an article by the San Francisco SPCA.

As it says in the first paragraph, "What It Is-- Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) is a program that helps us teach dogs how to live in harmony with humans. NILIF will improve your dog’s behavior and teach him to trust and accept you as his leader in a non-confrontational way."

Microsoft Word - Dog Commands_Nothing in Life Is Free (sfspca.org)

Hope to hear more from you. I'm sure other forum members have good ideas to share, too.

I have to go watch All Creatures Great and Small now. 🥰
 

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Hi, welcome to Spoiled Maltese. A few questions, before I even try to give you advice. First, have you done any training with Lady? Did you go to any classes? Read any books -- if so, which ones? And how old are the kids that she has been snapping at?

As far as training, I don't care for the term "alpha." In the wild, the leaders of a pack are the parents. So the alpha dog really should be the leader and teacher rather than a dominant character. Unfortunately I used some of those alpha concepts, like choke chains, alpha rolls, etc. long, long ago. And I belatedly apologize to my little terrier dog who passed away in 2001, because instead of building trust, I caused her pain. But we changed, and we had nearly 17 years together.

Maltese are fragile, so I wonder if the kids are causing her any discomfort, whether petting too hard or just frightening her a little. Maltese generally are not recommended for small kids who may not know how to relate to them. But this could be the time for the both the dog and the kids to learn about each other.

Anyway, I hope we can help you in your situation, especially if you give us some more information. For starters, I used to participate in a forum by a well-known trainer, Sarah Wilson. She has books still in print but is semi-retired. Anyway, one of their important training concepts for getting a dog to behave better is "Nothing In Life is Free." I don't know if they created that or the name or if someone else did, but here is a description of it in an article by the San Francisco SPCA.

As it says in the first paragraph, "What It Is-- Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) is a program that helps us teach dogs how to live in harmony with humans. NILIF will improve your dog’s behavior and teach him to trust and accept you as his leader in a non-confrontational way."

Microsoft Word - Dog Commands_Nothing in Life Is Free (sfspca.org)

Hope to hear more from you. I'm sure other forum members have good ideas to share, too.

I have to go watch All Creatures Great and Small now. 🥰

Thank you so much for your response. I printed that link. Yes, we had a trainer. He was a little too tough for me (corrections with leash; Lady would shake when he arrived. I feel terrible about that now). I also went to classes. However, I did learn that yes, I am giving way too much away for free; the trainer used to say I gave too much "free love". The child she snapped at yesterday is 7. I checked out Sarah Wilson's Youtube page today; thank you! I just love this dog so much; I hate that I can't be 100% comfortable when we have visitors. :(
 

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I got kind of addicted to watching zoo programs on t.v. They can train big cats to give a paw for taking a blood sample with just rewards training - surely somebody can help you train a Maltese without force! It helps if she is food-motivated.
 

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I gave away most of my dog training books and materials quite a while ago. I will see if anyone can recommend a book or two for you, or some good videos. Now my standards are pretty easygoing for my seniors, rescues. Just be nice and potty-trained. lol But some people train their Maltese to participate in formal obedience events, agility, or freestyle - dancing.

For now, would recommend immediately helping her learn to accept her crate as a safe, comfortable place for her to relax. Give her treats for going in there for a little while. Repeat, repeat. Maybe feed her meals in there. And don't let people try to interact with her once she is in the crate, especially the kids and visitors that seem to be stressful for her these days. Make that her safe place she can be if things are too much for her to handle.

(I remember a visitor to my home, messing with my dog who was crated as part of recovering from knee surgery. Grrrrr, some people just don't get it.)

Eventually you could work on commanding her to "Go to your place," either a crate or a pad or bed out of the way of whatever is going on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The San Francisco SPCA website has many more articles of interest on dog training. Here's a link to that page: Resources Archive - SF SPCA

One of the articles has a list of books they recommend. Some are more scholarly about about dogs and dog and human relationship. Others are focused on more specific issues. Microsoft Word - Recommended Reading handout update jbe (sfspca.org)

Another article of interest is Kids and Dogs Microsoft Word - Dog_Kids and Dogs (sfspca.org)
Thank you so much !
 

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Hi! I have the same problem with my Charlie. My trainer labeled him an “Alpha’s Alpha”. She told me to take him to timeout (the laundry room for 5 minutes). It didn’t make much of a difference - until I had whoever he snipped at take him - even my 7 year old nephew would take him. It meant Charlie had to wear a leash while family visited, but it did make a difference, at least with family.

I’m now trying to figure out how to do it with random people who come over. He’s my third dog (but my first Maltese) and I’ve never had guarding/friendliness issues like this. It’s embarrassing and exhausting. Hang in there!
 

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Hi! I have the same problem with my Charlie. My trainer labeled him an “Alpha’s Alpha”. She told me to take him to timeout (the laundry room for 5 minutes). It didn’t make much of a difference - until I had whoever he snipped at take him - even my 7 year old nephew would take him. It meant Charlie had to wear a leash while family visited, but it did make a difference, at least with family. I’m now trying to figure out how to do it with random people who come over. He’s my third dog (but my first Maltese) and I’ve never had guarding/friendliness issues like this. It’s embarrassing and exhausting. Hang in there!
Oh jeez. I’m sorry. Yes , I also keep the leash on and crate her when people are over. It’s very annoying. I’m not sure if you did this but when we first got her we really treated her like a baby carrying around all the time etc. I think this is awful.
 

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Hi! I’m new to the forum. Ahh…where do I begin ???? My Maltese Lady is 2.5 years old. We got her at 12 weeks. We were first time dog owners. And apparently, we spoiled her. Carried her around , gave her so much love. Anyway , around a year she started resource guarding. Also, I have a child , and she started snapping at kids. Today, my niece was visiting. Lady was excited to see her. So my niece started petting her. Out of nowhere , Lady started snapping!!!!! This is why I normally crate her when kids are here. Anyway, we had a trainer. He labeled her spoiled. One thing we changed was she has to sleep in a crate. She cried for two nights but adjusted. The problem is that other family members just think she’s so dang cute (she really is) and continue to baby l/spoil her. So I am debating saying at least for two weeks help me out and let’s be strict and tough and see if there is an improvement. I wanted to use a behaviorist, however it was going to cost $1000 for the mandatory three visits. Has anybody had success eradicating this type of behavior just by being more alpha? Thank you in advance.
Welcome to the group! There is so much wonderful advice on this post already, especially the "Nothing in Life is Free" concept. I am going through a similar situation right now with my 8 year old male Maltese, but for entirely different reasons. He is dealing with very serious PTSD due to a severe injury to his eyes by a vet who is now being investigated by the State. Since then my baby has put up with eye meds being put in his eyes 7 times a day for 6 months. Then one day, while prying open his eyes, he seriously bit me. I was shocked and heartbroken but realized he had just reached his limit of having his eyes pried open all day. Since then he growls and snaps anytime I come near his eyes, so it has been a constant struggle to get his meds in. Our new (and wonderful) vet has given me a plan and this system seems to be improving the situation. Even though my baby is not at all food motivated, he goes berserk for Paul Newman's grass-fed beef jerky. He will do anything for it! I found an amazing muzzle that fits very low on his snout so his eyes are not pressed like with the typical muzzles. I put him on his grooming counter and sweet talk him while I put this wonderful muzzle on him. Then I show him the treat, let him smell it while talking to him, and then apply his meds to his eyes. At first, trying to get the muzzle off him was terrifying because he went nuts trying to snap at me, but over time he seems to understand that if he is a good boy he will get his favorite treat at the end. If he has been really snappy when I am trying to get the muzzle off, I tell him "no treat!" and set him down. He has figured out the preferred reaction, to the point where now he will growl when the meds are applied, but the attempt to snap at muzzle removal has been reduced to almost zero. My vet says that my baby has the worst kind of PTSD because it was not a "one and done" assault,but is an ongoing misery. My point in telling you all this is that even if you have babied your precious girl, there ARE remedies. They just take a lot of time and repetition. All day long! As to the issue of trainers, my vet, a very unorthodox and innovative animal lover, tells me to be wary if considering choosing one. He says that unfortunately too many of them have anointed themselves "experts" in dog behavior, when in fact their motivation is money or ego. He says often they will manage to get your dog to behave FOR THEM, by means that you have no awareness of when your dog is out of sight with them, but transferring that behavioral change to you often fails. My stepdaughter has acquired a service dog from a trainer, and I just learned that this trainer uses shock collars as his main tool to get results! So the industry is fraught with problems. Sorry my response is so long, but I know how much these babies mean to us. Good Luck!
 

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Welcome to the group! There is so much wonderful advice on this post already, especially the "Nothing in Life is Free" concept. I am going through a similar situation right now with my 8 year old male Maltese, but for entirely different reasons. He is dealing with very serious PTSD due to a severe injury to his eyes by a vet who is now being investigated by the State. Since then my baby has put up with eye meds being put in his eyes 7 times a day for 6 months. Then one day, while prying open his eyes, he seriously bit me. I was shocked and heartbroken but realized he had just reached his limit of having his eyes pried open all day. Since then he growls and snaps anytime I come near his eyes, so it has been a constant struggle to get his meds in. Our new (and wonderful) vet has given me a plan and this system seems to be improving the situation. Even though my baby is not at all food motivated, he goes berserk for Paul Newman's grass-fed beef jerky. He will do anything for it! I found an amazing muzzle that fits very low on his snout so his eyes are not pressed like with the typical muzzles. I put him on his grooming counter and sweet talk him while I put this wonderful muzzle on him. Then I show him the treat, let him smell it while talking to him, and then apply his meds to his eyes. At first, trying to get the muzzle off him was terrifying because he went nuts trying to snap at me, but over time he seems to understand that if he is a good boy he will get his favorite treat at the end. If he has been really snappy when I am trying to get the muzzle off, I tell him "no treat!" and set him down. He has figured out the preferred reaction, to the point where now he will growl when the meds are applied, but the attempt to snap at muzzle removal has been reduced to almost zero. My vet says that my baby has the worst kind of PTSD because it was not a "one and done" assault,but is an ongoing misery. My point in telling you all this is that even if you have babied your precious girl, there ARE remedies. They just take a lot of time and repetition. All day long! As to the issue of trainers, my vet, a very unorthodox and innovative animal lover, tells me to be wary if considering choosing one. He says that unfortunately too many of them have anointed themselves "experts" in dog behavior, when in fact their motivation is money or ego. He says often they will manage to get your dog to behave FOR THEM, by means that you have no awareness of when your dog is out of sight with them, but transferring that behavioral change to you often fails. My stepdaughter has acquired a service dog from a trainer, and I just learned that this trainer uses shock collars as his main tool to get results! So the industry is fraught with problems. Sorry my response is so long, but I know how much these babies mean to us. Good Luck!
Welcome to the group! There is so much wonderful advice on this post already, especially the "Nothing in Life is Free" concept. I am going through a similar situation right now with my 8 year old male Maltese, but for entirely different reasons. He is dealing with very serious PTSD due to a severe injury to his eyes by a vet who is now being investigated by the State. Since then my baby has put up with eye meds being put in his eyes 7 times a day for 6 months. Then one day, while prying open his eyes, he seriously bit me. I was shocked and heartbroken but realized he had just reached his limit of having his eyes pried open all day. Since then he growls and snaps anytime I come near his eyes, so it has been a constant struggle to get his meds in. Our new (and wonderful) vet has given me a plan and this system seems to be improving the situation. Even though my baby is not at all food motivated, he goes berserk for Paul Newman's grass-fed beef jerky. He will do anything for it! I found an amazing muzzle that fits very low on his snout so his eyes are not pressed like with the typical muzzles. I put him on his grooming counter and sweet talk him while I put this wonderful muzzle on him. Then I show him the treat, let him smell it while talking to him, and then apply his meds to his eyes. At first, trying to get the muzzle off him was terrifying because he went nuts trying to snap at me, but over time he seems to understand that if he is a good boy he will get his favorite treat at the end. If he has been really snappy when I am trying to get the muzzle off, I tell him "no treat!" and set him down. He has figured out the preferred reaction, to the point where now he will growl when the meds are applied, but the attempt to snap at muzzle removal has been reduced to almost zero. My vet says that my baby has the worst kind of PTSD because it was not a "one and done" assault,but is an ongoing misery. My point in telling you all this is that even if you have babied your precious girl, there ARE remedies. They just take a lot of time and repetition. All day long! As to the issue of trainers, my vet, a very unorthodox and innovative animal lover, tells me to be wary if considering choosing one. He says that unfortunately too many of them have anointed themselves "experts" in dog behavior, when in fact their motivation is money or ego. He says often they will manage to get your dog to behave FOR THEM, by means that you have no awareness of when your dog is out of sight with them, but transferring that behavioral change to you often fails. My stepdaughter has acquired a service dog from a trainer, and I just learned that this trainer uses shock collars as his main tool to get results! So the industry is fraught with problems. Sorry my response is so long, but I know how much these babies mean to us. Good Luck!
Ugh wow. Thank you for the info. Can you share link of the muzzle ?
 

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Ugh wow. Thank you for the info. Can you share link of the muzzle ?
I am old and not tech savvy, but I bought it from Chewy.com and it's called
Four Paws Walk-About Quick-Fit Dog Muzzle size xxs
You will see a picture of a chihuahua wearing one. It has a quick-snap off feature that really works. I believe it cost $11.78. I even take it to my vet's when we go for an exam and he thinks it's great.
 

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I am old and not tech savvy, but I bought it from Chewy.com and it's called
Four Paws Walk-About Quick-Fit Dog Muzzle size xxs
You will see a picture of a chihuahua wearing one. It has a quick-snap off feature that really works. I believe it cost $11.78. I even take it to my vet's when we go for an exam and he thinks it's great.
Awesome! Thank you! I think you are more tech savvy than you think !
 

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Awesome! Thank you! I think you are more tech savvy than you think !
Thanks! I wanted to add one important point that my vet told me. He said that he has observed in his clinic, verified by all the laughing techs standing with him, that the real danger is when you try to remove a muzzle. For some reason this really ticks off dogs and they often lunge or snap at you. So try to distract your girl by waving a treat in front of her nose while you unsnap it. You also might consider having her wear the muzzle when children are around. This way she could play and interact without incident. Others here could tell you whether this is a good idea or not- just and idea!
 

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Thanks! I wanted to add one important point that my vet told me. He said that he has observed in his clinic, verified by all the laughing techs standing with him, that the real danger is when you try to remove a muzzle. For some reason this really ticks off dogs and they often lunge or snap at you. So try to distract your girl by waving a treat in front of her nose while you unsnap it. You also might consider having her wear the muzzle when children are around. This way she could play and interact without incident. Others here could tell you whether this is a good idea or not- just and idea!
Oh yeah.....I have to just crate her when kids are here. It's not worth it. Lady is actually accepting of it at this point. Of course, it sucks to have to do it.
 

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I don't think a muzzle is an appropriate method to get your Maltese and children to play together. You had a trainer who was harsh with her, and there is something wrong with the rapport between her and kids and strangers. I think using a muzzle may very well make things worse. People may continue to scare her and she would have no way to escape, defend herself or make it stop. Muzzling a dog should not be considered a training tool. It is just a way to keep a dog from causing harm in limited time-limited circumstances. I have vets and vet techs clip the nails of my 18 year old who was 4 years old when I got him, and we muzzle him for that and blood draws. When I lived in an apartment building, I agreed to muzzle a small dog in the hallways and elevator because there were some people who were unreasonably fearful and it was easy to accommodate them. Unfortunately another tennant's dog ran out their door and attacked my muzzled dog while his owner did little but yell. Anyway, I strongly advise not doing what you suggest.
 

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I agree that a muzzle is a very bad idea for the reasons MSS stated. It takes away your dog's ability to defend itself if needed. Your dog views children as a threat and snapping is a warning that a bite might follow. Work with a reputable animal behaviorist on proper training.
 

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I agree that a muzzle is a very bad idea for the reasons MSS stated. It takes away your dog's ability to defend itself if needed. Your dog views children as a threat and snapping is a warning that a bite might follow. Work with a reputable animal behaviorist on proper training.
Yeah, I just crate her. I looked into an animal behaviorist; was going to be over $1000 for the mandated number of visits.
 

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I hope you will work on gentle, rewards-based training with her. There probably are some better suggestions in the reading materials the SF SPCA recommends. And hopefully your library has some of them, Or maybe they are on kindle. But here is a suggestion off the top of my head:

Give your dog a breather for a while from interacting with kids and strangers. And you, yourself, work at getting a consistently good "sit" and "down" with a treat reward. Eventually, see if you can get other adults, and eventually kids, to be very calm around her, without touching her or chasing her, have them ignore her if she acts up. Eventually see if they can give her the same calm command and reward her with a treat from the palm of an open hand. If she won't take it, put it on the floor near her. No sudden movements. Years ago I suggested my brother toss a treat to my skittish dog, and he did it overhand, and it scared my dog! So I was not exactly the best trainer. lol

The good response to commands like sit and down can be the basis of NILIF.

Maybe see if there is a local animal welfare group like an SPCA that might have a lower cost option for a behaviorist, or maybe a consultation with advice and materials for you to follow and fewer in person sessions?

I feel really bad about the situation. My last foster-fail dog probably was given away when her young owners had their first child. However that happened, she was neglected very severely, probably for many years. And then she was turned into an SPCA who did a lot for her but then had to contact our rescue group because she threatened to bite on intrusive handling, they said. Never actually connected, but they did not want her adopted directly. Anyway, I said I would take her to foster but only temporarily. Suuuure. lol I kept her for over 3 years till she succumbed to cancer in November. I adored that little doggie, But I stiĺl had to warn groomers and others to go slow with her. She scared a groomer the first time, but I pointed out by then she didn't have any teeth! A lot of rescuers will not take a dog that has a bite history. Or if lucky they go to crazy old dogladies like me and some others I know in rescue.

Wow, that was a ramble. Sorry.

But for the dog's future, the nipping or threats need to be overcome. I am not sure what kind of resources she is guarding, but similarly that needs to be addressed while she is still young. Maybe work on "trade" for something of higher value. Anyway, I hope you make some progress!
 
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