Do you come home to a house full of shredded tissues and chewed-up furniture?
If so, you may be dealing with a common yet tricky issue known as separation anxiety. While it can be a challenging problem to tackle, we have some tips and strategies that can help you address this behavior.
But first, let’s understand what Maltese separation anxiety looks like.
Signs of Maltese separation anxiety
One of the telltale signs of Maltese separation anxiety is excessive barking or howling when left alone.
If you come home to neighbors complaining about constant noise coming from your apartment, chances are your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
Other common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include destructive behavior such as chewing and scratching or house soiling despite being potty trained.
In addition to these more overt signs, some Maltese dogs may exhibit more subtle behaviors that suggest separation anxiety.
For example, excessive drooling or panting can be a sign that your four-legged companion is feeling stressed out. They may also become clingier than usual when you’re at home as a way to seek reassurance and comfort.
These behaviors aren’t indicative of a poorly trained or disobedient dog, but rather a dog who’s experiencing extreme distress.
How long can Maltese be left alone?
Maltese dogs are known for their social nature and attachment to their owners, so they typically don’t do well when left alone for long periods.
Ideally, you shouldn’t leave your Maltese alone for more than 4-6 hours at a time.
Puppies, in particular, require more frequent attention and shouldn’t be left alone for more than 2-3 hours, while older dogs may have specific health conditions or mobility issues that affect their ability to be left alone for extended periods.
Do Maltese puppies grow out of separation anxiety?
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that Maltese puppies will grow out of separation anxiety. Although some dogs may show improvement with age, others may continue to struggle with this issue throughout their lives.
This is because separation anxiety is a complex behavioral issue that can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, past experiences, as well as a change in the dog’s living environment or routine.
The good news is that with proper training and patience, the symptoms of separation anxiety can be managed and minimized.
If you’re unable to effectively manage your Maltese dog’s separation anxiety on your own or if their symptoms are severe, it’s recommended to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist.
Tips for managing Maltese separation anxiety
It’s best to address separation anxiety as early as possible to prevent it from becoming a long-term problem. Don’t ignore or dismiss this behavior as just a phase or something that will go away on its own.
Here are several tips that can help you get started:
Gradually increase alone time
Start by leaving your Maltese alone for short periods of time (this can be as little as a few seconds), slowly working your way up as they become more comfortable.
If your dog shows signs of distress like excessive barking or whining, shorten the time and gradually build up again. Resist the urge to constantly check on them or give in to their demands for attention.
On the other hand, if they’re able to stay calm and relaxed during these short periods of separation, make sure to reward them with praise and treats to reinforce the positive behavior.
Create a safe environment
Another important step in helping your Maltese become more independent is creating a safe space for them when you’re not around.
This can be achieved by setting up a designated area in your home, such as a crate they’re familiar with or a small room, where they can feel secure.
The space should be free from any hazards or items that could potentially harm your dog and should include their favorite toys, blankets, and even a piece of clothing with your scent on it so they can view it as their own special retreat.
If you have a Maltese puppy, SmartPetLove’s Snuggle Puppy can also be a great addition. This plush toy has a heartbeat-like pulsing sensation and a warming pack that mimics the warmth and heartbeat of littermates.
Establish a routine
A consistent daily routine can greatly contribute to your Maltese’s sense of security.
This routine should include not only regular meals and potty breaks, but also designated quiet time. By sticking to a schedule, your dog will know what to expect each day and feel less anxious and more confident.
Provide mental stimulation
Maltese dogs are highly intelligent and need mental challenges to keep them engaged and prevent boredom.
These types of activities keep their mind active and serve as a healthy outlet for their natural instincts, while also rewarding them with a tasty treat, making it a win-win situation.
Dog training is also considered a mental workout, so remember to set aside time for obedience sessions, too.
Leave a background noise on
Dogs often feel more secure when they hear familiar sounds in their environment.
Leaving a background noise, whether it’s soft music or a TV show playing at a low volume, can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and offer some comfort to your Maltese while you’re away.
Additionally, it can help drown out any sudden noises from outside that might startle or stress them out.
Some music genres that have been shown to be calming for dogs include classical music, soft rock, and (surprisingly) reggae. You can also try using special dog relaxation playlists that are designed specifically for soothing anxious pups.
Go for regular walks
Maltese dogs may be small in size, but they still require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Going for walks gives them the physical activity they need and it also helps them to release any pent-up energy they may have.
Aim for at least two walks a day, each lasting around 20-30 minutes. Engaging in playtime activities (fetch, tug-of-war, etc.) can also provide additional exercise opportunities.
If you find yourself too busy or unable to take your Maltese for regular walks, consider hiring a dog walker or a pet sitter.
Try natural calming aids
If your Maltese is particularly anxious or stressed, you can explore natural calming remedies to help them relax.
Popular options include hemp treats, Bach flower essences, anxiety jackets, and some essential oils. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new treatments to ensure they’re safe and appropriate for your dog.
Avoid excessive pampering and coddling
While it’s important to show love and affection to your Maltese, it’s equally important to avoid overindulging them.
You also want to avoid interacting with them every time you enter or leave the house as this can create a sense of constant attention and make them rely on you for emotional support at all times.
If your dog becomes overly excited or clingy, practice giving them space or ignore them until they calm down.
Never use physical punishment
Physical punishment isn’t an effective or humane way to discipline dogs and it can even lead to fear and aggression, causing more harm than good.
Instead, focus on positive or reward-based training methods and use treats, praise, and affection to reward your Maltese when they exhibit good behavior. This will create a positive association in your dog’s mind and help strengthen your bond with them.
In the case of anxiety, it’s also advised to avoid using any aversive training tools like shock collars, as this can increase your dog’s stress levels.
Dealing with Maltese separation anxiety requires patience and training. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, most dogs respond well to a combination of gradual desensitization, mental stimulation, and exercise.
You can also use natural remedies to help alleviate their anxiety. However, seeking professional help from a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist may be necessary for severe stress.