Potty training can be one of the most challenging aspects of owning a Maltese.
Their small size makes accidents more likely and it may take extra time and effort to properly train them. However, just like any other breed, Maltese potty training really boils down to two key factors: consistency and patience.
Here are some tips to help make the process a bit easier.
Are Maltese easy to potty train?
Maltese are known for their intelligence and ability to quickly learn new things, which can make them relatively easy to train compared to some other dogs.
On the other hand, their tiny bladder and sometimes stubborn nature can pose challenges during the potty training process.
Our Maltese, for example, picked up on potty training pretty quickly. But there were still moments when accidents happened, especially during the early stages of training.
It’s important to remember that every dog is different, so what worked for ours may not necessarily work for others.
If your Maltese dog isn’t responding well to potty training despite your best efforts, schedule a visit to the vet to rule out underlying health issues that may be causing the accidents, such as urinary tract infections.
Once you’ve ruled out any medical causes, a dog trainer can help you identify any behavior issues that may be hindering your dog’s progress.
When should you start potty training a Maltese?
The ideal time to begin potty training a Maltese is when they’re between 12 and 16 weeks old.
Again, every dog is different, and you have to consider their individual development. Some Malteses may be ready for potty training as early as 8 weeks old, while others may take a bit longer to catch on.
At this age, puppies are more receptive to learning and have better control over their bladder and bowel movements. Yet, this isn’t to say that potty training a Maltese outside of this age range is impossible. It may just require extra patience and consistency.
How to potty train your Maltese
To start out on the right foot, we recommend watching this free video series where you’ll learn step-by-step instructions on how to potty train your Maltese successfully, whether you have a puppy or an older dog.
When you’re done with the videos, you can begin implementing these strategies:
Maintain a schedule
Consistency is key in potty training, which is why you need to establish a consistent schedule for your Maltese.
This means feeding them at the same times each day and taking them for walks at regular intervals to prevent accidents and ensure that they have ample opportunities to relieve themselves.
By following a routine, you can help your dog develop a predictable bathroom routine that will make potty training easier.
Start by going outside with your Maltese first thing in the morning, and then take them out again after meals, naps, and playtime.
Next, take your dog outside before bedtime, and restrict their access to water a couple of hours before sleep to reduce the chances of accidents during the night.
If you’re really serious, you can even take them out every two to three hours during the day and gradually increase the time between bathroom breaks as they become more comfortable and confident with their potty training.
Pick a potty spot
This can be a specific area in your yard or a designated spot during walks. By consistently taking your Maltese to the same spot to eliminate, they’ll begin to associate that location with going potty and understand where it’s appropriate to go and where it’s not.
Before choosing a potty spot, make sure it’s easily accessible and away from high-traffic areas or places with a lot of distractions, as this may make it harder for your dog to focus and get the job done.
Although puppy pads are a controversial choice for potty training, they can be a helpful tool if you have limited access to outdoor spaces or a super busy schedule.
If you do choose to use pee pads, place them in the same consistent spot each time and away from your dog’s sleeping and eating areas. When you don’t want to use them anymore, gradually move the pads outside until they’re no longer needed.
Use verbal cues
Verbal cues are essential in training a dog to understand specific commands or actions.
When teaching your Maltese verbal cues for going potty, choose a phrase that they can easily recognize and understand. “Go potty” is a commonly used cue, but you can use any other word as long as it’s clear and easy to remember.
Once you’ve chosen your cue, be sure to use it every time your dog is doing their business in the right spot. This will help them understand the association between the cue and the desired action.
In addition to verbal cues, you can also use specific hand gestures or actions to indicate that it’s time for them to go potty. For example, you could point towards the designated potty area or gently pat their backside to signal them.
Every time your Maltese makes progress in their potty training, throw a little party to celebrate their success!
You can do this by giving them a bunch of treats and praise, and maybe even a toy they love. Although in my experience most dogs prefer a tasty treat as their ultimate reward.
This is called positive reinforcement, and in a nutshell, it means that you’re rewarding your dog for a certain behavior so that they’re more likely to repeat it in the future.
This is a highly effective method for potty training, as it associates the act of going potty outside with something enjoyable.
Know for signs
Dogs tend to display certain behaviors when they need to go outside. Some common signs to watch for include sniffing the ground, circling, pacing, restlessness, whining, barking, and suddenly stopping an activity.
If you notice any of these behaviors, it’s usually a good indication that you need to hurry.
As a rule of thumb, Maltese puppies can hold their bladder for about one hour per month of age. So for example, a 3-month-old Maltese puppy should typically hold their bladder for around 3 hours.
That said, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and take your dog out more often if you’re unsure.
Gently lead your Maltese to the appropriate area and give them a verbal cue such as “go potty”. If they successfully complete the task, praise and reward them with a special treat.
Clean accidents properly
Cleaning accidents properly is necessary for two reasons.
First, it helps eliminate any lingering odors that may attract your Maltese to the same spot again. Second, it helps prevent stains from setting in on carpets or other surfaces.
When accidents happen (and they probably will), it’s important to act quickly and use an enzyme cleaner specifically designed for pet messes.
Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners with strong scents, as these can be dangerous to your dog and may even encourage them to urinate in that area.
Start by blotting up as much of the mess as possible with paper towels or absorbent cloth, but avoid rubbing the stain so that it doesn’t penetrate deeper into the fabric or carpet fibers.
After you’ve removed as much liquid as you can, apply the enzymatic cleaner according to the instructions on the bottle.
Allow the cleaner to sit on the affected area for the recommended amount of time, typically around 15 minutes. This will give the enzymes in the cleaner enough time to break down any lingering odor-causing molecules.
You may need to repeat this process a few times if the stain is particularly stubborn or if it has seeped deep into the fabric or carpet.
Common Maltese potty training mistakes
Here’s a short list of some of the common potty training mistakes that many owners unknowingly make:
- Failing to supervise. Leaving your Maltese unsupervised during the potty training process is asking for accidents to happen. Keep a close eye on your dog and confine them to a small, easy-to-clean space, or use a playpen when they’re not under direct supervision. Some people also find it helpful to use a leash indoors.
- Trying ineffective training methods. Don’t try to use outdated or harsh training techniques such as smacking their Maltese’s nose or rubbing their face in the mess. These methods aren’t only ineffective but also cruel and can damage the trust between you and your dog.
- Using Punishments. Similarly, punishing your Maltese can be counterproductive and may create fear or anxiety around potty training. Instead, clean up accidents calmly, without scolding your dog, and think about what you’ll do differently next time.
- “Low-value” treats. When training your Maltese, you want to choose treats that your dog finds highly motivating, such as small pieces of cooked chicken or freeze-dried liver. Don’t give them treats that they already find boring or uninteresting, as this won’t provide enough incentive for them to learn and follow commands.
- Crate training. While a crate can sometimes be a great tool for potty training, don’t force it on your Maltese if they’re not comfortable with it. Some dogs may feel anxious or stressed when confined to a crate, which can hinder their progress. In that case, find something else that works for both you and your dog.
- Not enough patience. Potty training takes time and every dog learns at their own pace. Generally speaking, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for a Maltese to fully grasp potty training. It’s crucial not to get frustrated or give up too soon.
Potty training a Maltese, like any dog, requires patience, consistency, and lots of treats! While some accidents are bound to happen, it’s important to remain calm and continue with the training process.
Luckily, Maltese dogs are incredibly intelligent and eager to please, which can make potty training somewhat easier, but it’s best to start when the dog is young.