My Maltese Puppy

Everything you want to know and a liitle bit more 


Socialisation is a term that is often used in dog training books, in dog magazines and by breeders and trainers. But what does it actually mean and how will it affect you as a new puppy owner?

Like human children, puppies are not born with the social skills that they require to live with their family, be that a canine family or a human one. The term "socialisation" in simple terms means the learning process that a puppy must undergo in order to learn key life skills to ensure that it is happy and confident in its environment, and can communicate effectively within its social group. We ask a huge amount from our dogs in their role as a companion animal, as not only do they need to understand humans and the human world, they also need to become fluent in the language of dog.

This involves having pleasant social interactions with adults, children, vets, adult dogs and other animals, as well as careful exposure to different situations in the environment like traffic, crowds, travelling in the car, vacuum cleaners and any sights and sounds it will have to cope with in life. It is so important that this is done thoroughly and correctly when your puppy is still young and he is young enough to happily accept new things.

Puppies that have been socialised effectively in these early weeks are far less likely to react negatively to new situations, noises, people, dogs and animals than their counterparts, who have not had these important early experiences. A well socialised puppy is far more likely to integrate easily into your life, therefore making your life together much more enjoyable and rewarding.

There are two parts to socialisation and both are equally important. The first is teaching the puppy to be social with people and other dogs, while the other (called habituation) is about teaching all the things we want the puppy to ignore and not be worried about (noises, traffic, household objects etc.).

Being a companion is the hardest job we ever ask a dog to do as our expectations are so high. We want dogs to get on with everybody and everything, and to go everywhere with us when we want, but be happy to be left alone without complaint when we don’t, to be accepting of loud noises, strangers, other dogs... The list is endless. It is a sad fact that one of the major causes of death in dogs under two years old is euthanasia, as a result of behaviour problems. Most of these behaviour problems arise from fear (fear of strange noises, fear of being left alone – and indeed aggression nearly always arises from fear – fear of strange dogs, fear of strange people or fear of strange situations). In addition, far too many dogs are ending up in rescue centres. Behaviourists and trainers up and down the country are seeing dogs with problems that could so easily have been prevented if the first 16 weeks of that dog’s life had been properly managed, and they had been prepared for the life they were going to lead.

Some breeds need far more socialisation and habituation than others – with more reactive breeds (such as those bred to guard, some terriers etc.) needing more – and earlier – socialisation than others. Therefore, it is important for breeders and new owners to know how reactive their chosen breed is so they can focus their socialisation accordingly.

On the breeders’ part, socialising their litter can start as early as when the puppies are a few days old. Gentle handling and checking the progress of the litter are all important steps in the first few days of a puppy’s life. Over the course of the following weeks the breeder can introduce noises, different surfaces, different play items as well as different play and feeding locations around the house – all of this habituation and novelty contributes to the puppies’ early development. The early ground work that the breeder puts into their litters’ social and emotional wellbeing has a direct impact on their puppies’ ability to be fit for function as a family dog.

It is imperative that the puppy’s new owner continues this when their new puppy comes home. From around 5 weeks and continuing at the time the puppy goes to his or her new home, an important transition takes place in the puppy’s ability to take in new situations as his natural fearfulness increases.

It is therefore so important that new owners don’t miss this valuable window of opportunity for their puppy to experience new things – which will close at around 14-16 weeks. This time also coincides with the puppy’s vaccinations, so a balance must be struck so not to miss out on this important learning opportunity. This can be achieved by taking your puppy out and about in your arms, while not allowing them to come into direct contact with other dogs until their vaccinations have taken place. Getting out and about with your puppy is key to them accepting everyday things, such as traffic and busy places, as part of normal life. It is important that you think about what life as part of your family will entail for a puppy – for instance, if you live in the inner city spending a significant amount of time socialising your puppy to farm animals will be counterproductive, as it is unlikely they will encounter them in their day to day life:

The same also goes for all the different people your puppy is likely to meet such as: people with beards, people wearing hats, people wearing high visibility clothing, babies, children, people with pushchairs/prams, elderly people, people with walking sticks and people in wheelchairs to name but a few, or anyone else you are likely to meet.

Puppy parties

Vet surgeries often hold ‘puppy parties’ for their new clients, but these should be treated with some caution. Well managed puppy parties can be great social interaction for puppies of all ages and sizes. Well managed parties should:

• Match puppies up according to their size so that the bolder puppies don’t intimidate the more nervous or smaller ones, and thereby create negative experiences for the smaller puppies, and make the bolder ones ‘social bullies’

• Manage any off-lead play carefully and if necessary, separate puppies that get a bit too boisterous so that they can calm down and re-join the party once they are calmer

• Discourage any kind of anti-social behaviour, such as biting that gets out of hand, very rough play and also show the owners how to discourage this

• Show owners how to handle and groom their puppies – and have others do this too

• Be fun positive experiences for puppies and owners

The Puppy Socialisation Plan

Until now there was no definitive plan for effectively socialising your puppy, which was resulting in rescue centres seeing increasing numbers of dogs coming to them with behavioural issues that could have been avoided with proper socialisation. In order to counteract this, the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have jointly devised a socialisation plan for both breeders and new owners to follow as a step by step guide - it is called the Puppy Socialisation Plan. Both the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust recommend the Puppy Socialisation Plan as an effective plan for breeders and new owners to prepare their puppies as best they can for life as family pets. It is simple to complete, and can be tailored to suit you and your lifestyle, so it is highly recommended that novice breeders and new owners follow the Plan.

It is critical that this is done from birth up to 16 weeks of age, otherwise important learning and development phases have passed. The Plan covers everything from getting used to household noises, to getting out and about and meeting new people and other dogs. Therefore, you need to plan and incorporate some extremely important life lessons during the early stages of your puppy's development, so that you end up with a well-balanced and sociable dog. 

You can find The Puppy Socialisation Plan located at -


The Maltese has been a treasured companion dog for more than 2,000 years.

A dog breed who's gentle and fearless, the Maltese greets everyone as a friend. His glamorous white coat gives him a look of haughty nobility, but looks can be deceiving. This is a sprightly, vigorous dog that excels not only as a companion but also as a therapy dog and competitor in such dog sports as agility, obedience, rally, and tracking. But most of all, he loves to be with his people.

Breed Characteristics

Vital Stats

  • Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
  • Height: Generally 8 inches to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
  • Weight: Generally Up to 7 pounds
  • Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Throughout his long history, the Maltese has been given many names, such as the "Melitae Dog," "Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta," the "Roman Ladies Dog," "The Comforter," the "Spaniel Gentle," the "Bichon," the "Maltese Lion Dog," and the "Maltese Terrier." Today, he is known simply as the Maltese.

This elegant toy dog breed is famed for the silky white hair covering his body. Straight and thick, the coat falls all the way to the floor. Many years ago, Maltese came in many colours, but these days they are always white. When a properly built Maltese moves, he seems to float beneath his cloud of white hair. Because he doesn't have an undercoat, the Maltese sheds little, and many people consider the breed to be hypoallergenic.

But the Maltese is more than his coat. Completing the picture is a slightly rounded skull, black nose, drop ears, dark, alert eyes, short, straight legs, and a graceful tail. He's a sweet, intelligent dog who is devoted to his people. And as one of the smallest of the toy breeds, he's well suited to apartment or condo living. Wherever he lives, the Maltese is responsive to his environment and makes an effective watchdog.

Although they look delicate and aristocratic, Maltese can have a lot of energy. They learn quickly if rewarded for their efforts. Because they have a long history as companion dogs, Maltese require a lot of human attention and suffer from separation anxiety. If left alone for hours each day, they can bark and become destructive.

No breed is perfect, and Maltese sometimes are intolerant of small children or other dogs, especially if they have been overly pampered by their people. If this occurs, they can become very protective, barking and even biting if animals or people are perceived as a threat to their relationship with their beloved human family.

Even tolerant Maltese are not a good choice for families with small children, however, because they are so small and can be easily injured. Like all dogs, they must be taught their place in your home, and require proper socialization and basic obedience training.

  • Although your Maltese will want to please you, he can be difficult to housetrain. Crate training is recommended.
  • Maltese are prone to chills, especially if they are damp or walking in damp areas.
  • If your Maltese has long hair, he can get sunburned on the skin where the hair is parted on the back.
  • Because of their small size and delicate structure, Maltese generally aren't recommended for households with toddlers or small children.
  • Some Maltese have delicate digestive systems and may be picky eaters. Eating problems can occur if your Maltese has teeth or gum problems as well. If your Maltese is showing discomfort when eating or after eating, take him to the vet for a check-up.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.


The Maltese dog is one of the most ancient of the toy breeds; with a history that can be traced back at least two millennia. Artists, poets, and writers immortalized this small dog in the early great cultures of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. They even were mentioned by Aristotle. The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese dogs, while representations of Maltese-like dogs on Egyptian artefact’s suggest that they were prized by that ancient culture. The Egyptians and, centuries later, many Europeans, thought that the Maltese had the ability to cure people of disease and would place one on the pillow of an ill person. This inspired one of its names — "The Comforter." Even before the Christian era, the breed was widespread in Mediterranean cultures.

Despite his prominence in history, the exact origin of the Maltese dog is uncertain. Many believe the breed was developed in the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea from Spitz- or Spaniel-type dogs. Others believe he was developed in Italy, and still others believe that he was originally from Asia and had a part in developing many of the smaller Asian dogs.

Wherever he came from, the Maltese thrived. By the 15th century, he had found a secure place in the arms and hearts of French aristocrats. During the reign of Henry VIII, Maltese arrived in the British Isles. By the end of the 16th century, the Maltese had become a favourite pet for noble and royal ladies. The little dog was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria. Numerous painters, including Goya and Sir Joshua Reynolds, included these small dogs in their portraits of beautiful women.

Although he survived the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages, the Maltese was nearly destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries when attempts were made to breed him to be the size of a squirrel. After this nearly disastrous experiment, breeders mixed poodles, miniature spaniels, and East Asian miniature dogs with the breed to save it. This resulted in the Maltese becoming so varied that several new breeds were formed. It is thought by many that Maltese are the direct ancestors of the Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Havanese breeds.

English breeders developed the Maltese as we know him now. Many of the Maltese in the U.S. today trace their heritage back to English imports. Maltese were first seen in the U.S. in the late 1800s. They were entered in the earliest Westminster Kennel Club shows in the 1870s.

Maltese are one of the most popular breeds among spectators at dog shows, and frequently win the Toy Group. They also have an excellent record in the "Best in Show" competition.


An important part of a dog’s life is exercise. Indeed exercise times and feeding times are often the most exciting parts of a dog’s day, and your puppy will grow to keenly anticipate them.

Small beginnings

Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy, you can quickly overtire it, and more importantly damage its developing joints, which may cause early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day), until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Below you will find breed-specific exercise information relating to your puppy:

Exercise Requirements

  • 0-12 weeks. Until a puppy has completed its course of vaccinations, there is a risk of infection. Therefore, it is usually better that exercise is restricted to within the confines of your garden. Exercise in the garden also provides an excellent opportunity to start early training, and to get your puppy used to wearing a collar. Make sure your puppy has a number of safe toys, and always accompany them in the garden. This way, you can engage your puppy in suitable levels of activity, and start to reward good toileting behaviour, which can usually provide all the puppy’s exercise needs during this time. If the opportunity arises, take your puppy to other safe environments where there is no risk, and it is able to mix with other animals and people, such as private gardens where only vaccinated dogs have access. Socialising at an early age is a vital part of your dog’s development.

From 12 weeks you puppy will only require 30 minutes of walking per day. You can split this to twice a day.

From 7 months your dog will enjoy his regular 30 minute walks, but if he enjoys longer walks, he would without a shadow of a doubt enjoy this.

He will soon tell you when he’s tired. And your arms will become his saviour.

It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated. Time spent in the garden (however large) is no substitute for exploring new environments, and socialising with other dogs. When you go out, make sure your puppy is trained to recall, so that you are confident the puppy will return to you when called (see the accompanying sheet on ‘Training your Puppy’).

You should never exercise your puppy on a full stomach as this may contribute to bloat or stomach dilation which can sometimes prove fatal.

All dogs require regular exercise to remain fit and prevent them from becoming overweight, which may also lead to health problems. You should remember however, that exercise needs to be introduced gradually, and that a young puppy will not have the same exercise requirement as an adult dog.

The duration and frequency of exercise should remain consistent and any increases should be gradual. For the majority of dogs, exercise is an important part of their life and so they will take as much as you can give. A dog will also enjoy play, whether with you or on its own, and so toys play an important part in a dog's life.

Dependant on breed and temperament and mobility, a dog will normally be capable of walking to the same capability as its owner, however as a dog becomes older, exercise should be reduced and your dog should be allowed to walk at its own pace.


Bringing your puppy home for the first time is naturally a happy and exciting occasion, but it can be a little daunting too – there is so much for both you and your puppy to learn! The information contained in this leaflet should help you on your way to raising a happy and well trained dog right from the start.

Toilet training puppies the easy way

Toilet training is obviously a crucial part of your puppy’s early learning. Getting it right is relatively simple, and will make those first weeks so much more enjoyable for you both. However, like all things, bad habits learnt early on can lead to problems that may take weeks or even months to resolve.

Initially, you will have to build your daily routine around your puppy’s needs. Fortunately, these are quite predictable when they are very young, and with careful supervision you should quickly establish when it is the right time to go outside and minimise any accidents.

Like babies, puppies have poor bladder control, and need to go to the toilet several times an hour when they are awake. They will also usually need to be taken outside first thing in the morning, last thing at night, after each meal, waking from a nap, and after any exercise, play or excitement. You may find it useful to keep a record of when your puppy sleeps, eats and goes to the toilet so that you can identify any patterns that emerge. One tip is to use a food timer to remind you when it is time to take your puppy outside to relieve itself. If you find that your puppy needs to “go” every 20 minutes then set the alarm as soon as he has gone and take him outside the moment the alarm goes off

Always go with your puppy into the garden and establish a regular spot. Puppies are creatures of habit, so as long as you introduce the garden to the puppy as its toilet area early on, you should be able to avoid most accidents. Decide on a cue word or phrase to use when the puppy is actually going to the toilet, so that the puppy will start to associate the word with the action and should learn to go on command. By accompanying your puppy into the garden each time, you will be there to attach cue words and praise to any successful actions.

If toilet training is not going quite as well as planned, some common reasons for why your puppy is struggling are as follows:


  • You are feeding the puppy too much
  • The puppy food you are giving is unsuitable or you are giving too much variety for a puppy of their age
  • You are not feeding at regular times
  • You are feeding at the wrong times (which could mean your puppy needs to go to the toilet during the night)
  • You are giving foods which are too salty, causing your puppy to drink more


Punishing your puppy for accidents indoors may make it scared of going to the toilet in front of you – even outside

Expecting your puppy to tell you when it needs to go to the toilet is unrealistic. It is far better to go outside at regular intervals

Leaving the back door or outside access open for your puppy to come and go as it pleases can cause confusion – particularly when that access is closed

Do not leave your puppy too long on its own so that it is forced to go indoors

Leaving your puppy alone in the garden means that you are not there to praise and reward, or to reinforce the idea that the garden is the correct place to go

Try to avoid using the words “good boy/girl” when your puppy is going to the toilet - you don’t want your puppy going to the toilet every time it is praised

Puppies can exhibit submissive or excitable urination when greeting you on your return home. Toning down greetings can help prevent your puppy from becoming overexcited

Young puppies will not be able to go through the night without needing to go to the toilet. If they do wake you up, it really is worth getting up to let them out


Being surrounded by lots of absorbent or grass-like surfaces, such as rugs and carpets, may confuse your puppy

Ammonia based cleaning products used around the house can smell like urine to your puppy, and lead to unwanted accidents

If your puppy does have an accident inside, the scent will still be apparent to the puppy for a long time afterwards, even if you have thoroughly disinfected the area. Specialist cleaning products specifically designed to mask the odour are available

Beyond the garden, many owners can be disappointed that their young puppy does not initially toilet when first venturing out on walks. Often, your puppy will only relieve itself the second you get home. This is because the puppy has not yet associated going out for a walk as an opportunity to go to the toilet, so will wait until they return home to their garden, which they know is a good place to go. To break this habit, get up a little earlier in the morning (when you have plenty of time) and take your puppy out on a walk before it has had a chance to visit its usual spot. Stay out with your puppy for a reasonable length of time until it has been to the toilet, and then give plenty of praise. If you are not successful, make sure the puppy is whisked into the garden to relieve itself or you will run the risk of a large puddle indoors!

Remember, patience and consistency is key. All puppies take different amounts of time to learn, so don’t worry if your puppy seems to be taking longer to get the hang of things. Your patience will pay off and you will both get there in the end.

A trained dog is a happy dog

Housetraining aside, every puppy also needs to be taught good manners and have constructive lessons in basic control and social interaction. This includes:

Responding to its name

Learning how to greet and behave politely around other people and dogs

To come back when called

To walk nicely on the lead

To sit down and stay on command

To allow itself to be groomed and examined by you and your vet

Dog training classes

Most owners can benefit from attending good training classes, and training in the company of other dogs is very useful, because of the realistic distractions it involves. Ideally, you should start your classes as soon as your puppy’s vaccinations are complete, but classes can be invaluable for older dogs too.

There are lots of schools of thought on dog training and it is naturally important that you find a class and training Instructors with the right approach for you and your puppy. You can find training classes by using the Kennel Club’s Find a Club service – visit to find a club near you running training classes. You can also ask your vet and other dog owners for recommendations. Dog training can be lots of fun and very rewarding. After all, a trained dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a happy owner too.

Finding the best dog training club

Before enrolling with a dog training club it can be beneficial to go and visit several classes first (without your puppy) to make sure you have made the right choice. Things you may wish to consider include:

Do you like what you see – are the trainers friendly, are people happy and enjoying training their dogs?

Are the dogs happily focused on their human family?

Are the instructors giving lots of encouragement and information to all attendees?

Are the instructors maintaining a controlled, safe environment for all?

Are instructors treating everyone fairly and meeting the needs of the whole group?

Important training tips:

Start as you mean to go on. If you are always consistent you will avoid confusing your puppy

Puppies have a very short attention span so train for short spells on a regular basis

Keep it short and keep it simple, but most of all keep it fun

Puppies respond better to cheerful voice tones rather than to threatening orders

Gentle play builds trust and a strong bond between you and your puppy as well as making training fun

Patience is the KEY ingredient in dog training. If you try to rush things you will only get frustrated and confuse your puppy

Keep it interesting: cultivate a range of different rewards incorporating play, fuss, praise, treats and toys. This will stop both of you from getting bored

The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme

The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme is the UK’s largest dog training programme, and has been introduced to assist owners in training their dogs to be obedient in every day situations. Its simple but effective dog training techniques encompass all the skills necessary for a happy and rewarding partnership with your dog. There are four levels of the Scheme, namely Puppy Foundation, Silver, Bronze and Gold. Each level is designed to further develop an owner’s understanding of training, while building a dog’s confidence and levels of obedience. All dogs are eligible to take part, whether they are young or old, pedigree or crossbreed.

Over 2000 dog training schools throughout the UK offer Scheme training courses. You can search for your local training club by visiting the Kennel Club’s Find a Club service at or by telephoning the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme on 0844 4633 980.

The Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors in Dog Training and Canine Behaviour

The Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors in Dog Training and Canine Behaviour (KCAI) is the UK’s first and only national and verified qualification in dog training and canine behaviour, recognised by City & Guilds. Representing the ‘gold standard’ in teaching, advice and service, members of the Scheme abide by a strict Code of Practice designed to ensure that dog owners are provided with the best advice and service. Look for the badge of quality when you are choosing a trainer. You can see which clubs have KCAI Accredited instructors on the Kennel Club’s Find a Club service.

To find out more, visit


Puppy ownership is a big responsibility and when you bring your new puppy home, it will require your help, support and attention. There are so many things to think about, including training, healthcare, exercise and, of course, diet. Feeding your puppy sensibly and correctly is vital to its health, development and general wellbeing. Below you will find details of your puppy’s current diet:

Your Maltese is enjoying grazing. This means that his food is left out for him through the day. He is currently being fed John Burns Puppy Food. This is a dry biscuit. A small amount twice a day is added to warm water so that your puppy can have the choice of either wet or dry. I stop the wet food at 12 weeks and only feed dry food. This helps their teeth. This is what i do with my dogs and currently all have fantastic coats and teeth and are not over weight.

Some Maltese have delicate digestive systems and may be picky eaters. Eating problems can occur if your Maltese has teeth or gum problems as well. If your Maltese is showing discomfort when eating or after eating, take him to the vet for a check-up.

Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

The most suitable diet should be easily digested and produce dark brown, firm, formed stools. If your puppy produces soft or light stools or has wind or diarrhoea, then the diet may not suit your puppy or it might have some kind of digestive problem or infection. If the condition persists for more than 2 days, consult your vet for advice.

Please remember that stability in the diet will help maintain good digestion. Any change in diet should be made very gradually over at least a week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at least 10 days before making any further changes.

Dry complete foods

There is a wide range of dry complete foods on the market and the quality varies widely. To get the best out of your puppy’s development choose a food specially designed for puppies. Some puppies are not accustomed to complete dry foods immediately after weaning but will normally grow to like them with time. If your puppy does not seem to like eating dry complete and this is what you wish to feed, you can try soaking the food in a little warm water to soften it, or mix in a little tinned puppy food, gradually reducing the quantity until your puppy is fully weaned and accepts dry complete.

Semi-moist, pouch, tinned and frozen foods

As with complete dry foods, semi-moist, pouch, tinned and frozen foods can vary in quality. Again, choose a good quality diet which is easily digestible, nutritionally complete and does not require additional foods to be added to it. As before it is best to avoid changes in your puppy’s diet - so if you find a product that works for your puppy, stick to it.

Home-made food (raw fresh or frozen meat)

Before the advent of commercial dog foods, it was quite common to feed dogs raw or cooked fresh meat. Many people still consider that there is no substitute for feeding raw meat; these diets are sometimes referred to as BARF (Bones and raw food diet). Meat on its own however, is not enough, and dogs need other additives, such as biscuit, and supplements to maintain a completely balanced diet. Puppies in particular, need a balanced and nutritious diet whilst they are growing up, as even a slight imbalance may harm their development and growth. Additionally, home-made foods obviously necessitate a fair degree of pre-planning and preparation.. For these reasons, many owners find it easier to feed a complete or mixed food which can remove some of the guesswork and ensure that their dog is getting all it needs.


Giving treats is a good way to reward your dog during training and encourage the behaviour you want. There are a wide variety of prepared and natural treats on the market which vary hugely in quality. Some commercial treats have lots of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat in them, so always check the ingredients label. Good quality prepared treats have been developed with dogs dietary needs in mind.

However, all treats should be given sparingly, and never comprise more than 15% of your puppy’s total calorie intake. If you use treats regularly, reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is receiving in order to avoid obesity. Some chew treats have proven ability to help prevent dental diseases, but again check the label to ensure you are getting a genuine product.

Human chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver damage and even be fatal, so never give your dog any chocolate, or leave any lying around where it might be found and eaten. Be especially careful at Christmas and Easter time.

Avoid giving your puppy any sweet biscuits or sugary treats which are bad for its teeth as well as its waistline, and can cause sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. Stick to prepared which tend to be much more popular.

Always remember that table scraps contain calories so they should be taken into account as part of the daily diet. Better still; don’t be tempted to feed table scraps at all.

Food sensitivities and intolerances

Like humans, some dogs are sensitive or intolerant to certain foods, and this can cause a variety of problems. In extreme cases, they may develop colitis (slime and blood in their stools). Always consult your vet if you notice you dog displaying any of the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Aggressive or hyperactive behaviour
  • Chronic skin and ear problems
  • Light to mid-brown loose bulky stools or diarrhoea
  • Slime and jelly being passed with stools and flatulence
  • Bloating and weight gain or loss

Feeding tips

  • Clean fresh water should always be available. Dogs eating wet food (i.e. canned) will receive moisture through their food and therefore require less water than dogs eating dry food. However, extra water should always be made available.
  • Do not refill half empty bowls, but ensure that fresh food is always provided at each meal time. This is particularly true in the hot weather when food left in bowls can attract flies and other insects.
  • Half full cans of dog food should be kept covered in the fridge, but allowed to stand until the food is up to room temperature before feeding.
  • There are two different types of dog food manufactured "complete" and "complementary", clearly marked on the label. A complete food can be fed as a sole source of nutrition and is available as both canned and dry food. A complementary food is designed to accompany the complete food and should not be used as the only source of daily nutrition.
  • It is better to stick to one variety of complete puppy food, so you don’t need to add anything to the diet. Always remember that over-supplementing can be harmful to your puppy.
  • If your puppy does not eat all of its meal in one go, you may be offering it too much. Not all puppies eat the amount recommended by the pet food manufacturers. Puppies’ appetites can vary enormously, with some eating much less than the recommended amounts, whilst others scoff their meal down as if it was their last!
  • As long as your puppy is not showing any growth or digestive problems, resist the temptation to change its diet or offer it a range of foods, as you may turn your puppy into a fussy eater.
  • Never change your puppy’s diet abruptly (unless under the direction of your vet). If you want to change its diet, do it gradually over a period of a few days to a week or longer if necessary.
  • Avoid feeding your puppy before travelling in the car, as this can encourage car sickness.
  • Do not feed your puppy an hour before or after exercise or play, as this could lead to stomach dilation and torsion (also known as bloat), which is a life threatening condition requiring immediate veterinary intervention. For owners of breeds which are thought to be susceptible to this condition, you should seek advice from your breeder, vet and/or breed club on further precautionary measures.
  • Leave your puppy in peace while it is eating from its bowl. Taking the bowl away while it is eating causes anxiety and this can lead to food aggression. If you want to be sure that your puppy is comfortable with you approaching it during mealtimes, add a little food to the bowl while it is eating, so it sees you as an asset, rather than a threat.
  • Never feed your dog from the table or your plate, as this encourages drooling and attention seeking behaviours, such as begging and barking.

Potential Toxins/Poisons (this list is by no means complete and always consult your vet if you puppy ingests anything it shouldn’t)

  • Alcohol
  • Bones
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee/Caffeine
  • Raw Egg
  • Green parts of tomato plants
  • Grapes/Raisins/
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Human vitamins and supplements
  • Liquorice
  • Milk/Lactose
  • Mouldy food
  • Onions, chives and garlic
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Slug pellets
  • Yeast

Information reviewed by PFMA Veterinary and Nutrition Committee. The Kennel Club aims to promote the health, happiness and general wellbeing of all dogs, and to provide you with an invaluable resource for every aspect of life with your dog. To find out more, visit


The compact Maltese should weigh no more than seven pounds at maturity, with four to six pounds being preferred. Males should be eight to ten inches tall at the shoulder, while females should be eight to nine inches tall.

Beware of breeders who offer "tea cup" Maltese. A Maltese that weighs less than four pounds at maturity is more prone to genetic disorders and is at a higher health risk in general.


The Maltese is a natural ham with a lively personality. Because he's so people-oriented, he takes well to training and responds to positive reinforcements such as food rewards, praise, and play.

Fearless, Maltese assume that everyone they meet — human or animal — is a friend. Sweet and cute, they're widely known for always getting their way — even with people who have no intention of spoiling them.

Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

Like every dog, the Maltese needs early socialization — exposure too many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Maltese puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbour’s will also help him polish his social skills.


Maltese enjoy a regular walk or playing outside. They often remain playful well into old age. Because they are active indoors and don't require a great deal of exercise, it doesn't take a lot of effort to keep them in good shape.

As a rule of thumb, wait until your Maltese puppy is 8 months old to walk very far with him, because his bones are still developing. Let your puppy play at his own pace in your fenced yard until he is mature, and then take him to your vet for a check-up before embarking upon a regimented exercise program.

Maltese definitely are housedogs and don't tolerate extreme heat or cold well. Many people paper train their Maltese so they don't have to take them outdoors when the weather is too hot or cold.


Bringing your puppy home for the first time is naturally a happy and exciting occasion, but it can be a little daunting too – there is so much for both you and your puppy to learn! The information contained in this leaflet should help you on your way to raising a happy and well trained dog right from the start.

Grooming your puppy/dog

All dogs will benefit from regular grooming, whether they are a short haired breed or one with a long or fluffy coat.

Reasons for grooming – Remember ‘CHAIR’

Cleanliness – keeping your dog’s coat clean by removing dirt and dead hair helps encourage new hair growth, and reduces the amount of hair deposited on household furniture

Health – grooming helps to stimulate new coat growth, and prevents the formation of knots or matting which may lead to skin irritation

Appearance – most owners take a pride in their dogs looking smart, and regular grooming will certainly help your puppy to look its best

Inspection – regular grooming is also a great way to check for parasites, or any suspicious lumps and bumps

Relationship – grooming is part of dog’s socialisation activities. Regular grooming helps create a bond between you and your puppy, and accustoms your puppy to being handled.

The stunning Maltese coat is pure white, silky, and straight, reaching all the way to the ground. Maltese don't have the undercoat typical to many breeds and don't shed much.
On the down side, Maltese coats mat easily and become dirty. In addition, Maltese are prone to unsightly tear stains on their faces.

Gently brush and comb the coat of your Maltese daily, even if he has a sporty short trim. This helps to prevent mats and keep him clean. Beautiful though they may be, Maltese become dirty easily and usually must be bathed weekly.

If your Maltese has long hair and develops mats, first try to work out the mat gently with your fingers, using a detangler spray or a coat conditioning oil. After you've pulled the mat apart as much as you can with your fingers, use the end tooth of the comb to loosen individual hairs. Never try to pull the entire mat out at once with the comb or brush, and make sure all mats are removed prior to bathing your Maltese as mats tend to get tighter when wet.

You should check your Maltese's ears at least once a week. If they seem sensitive or have a bad odour, take him to the vet for a check-up. Also, Maltese grow a lot of hair in their ears that needs to be removed. Ask your groomer or vet to do this or to show you how to pluck the hair at home.

Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

Tear and face staining are big problems for most Maltese owners. You should expect tear staining to begin when your puppy is four to five months old (that's the age that their adult teeth are coming in). To prevent or lessen tear- and face-staining of your adult Maltese, follow these steps:

  • Clean the eyes daily with warm water to prevent tear stains, and wash your Maltese's beard after meals.
  • Teach your dog to drink from a water bottle. Water that has a high mineral content can cause staining, so consider purchasing purified bottled water for your Maltese.
  • Feed your Maltese from a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl, not a plastic one. Be sure to wash your dog's bowl between feedings.

If these measures don't clear up the tear stains, consult your veterinarian. Your Maltese could have clogged tear ducts, allergies, or other health problems that are causing the excessive tearing.

While there are many products on the market to whiten your dog's hair, be very careful if using them or any home remedies. Many of them can damage your dog's hair, and never, never allow any products or foreign substances to get in your dogs' eyes.

Many people put the hair on the top of their Maltese's head into a topknot to keep it away from the eyes. If you decide to do this, be sure to use coated bands that won't break the hair. Some people clip their dog's hair short, on its head or all over, so grooming is easier.

Brush your Maltese's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar build-up and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

If you notice that your Maltese's cute black nose is turning pink, he might not be getting enough sunshine. Take him outside on a sunny day, or if it's too cold to do that, take him for a car ride. The type of bowl that he's eating and drinking from could also cause the pigmentation change. If it's plastic, pitch it. When a female is in heat, her nose can turn pink also.

Begin accustoming your Maltese to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

External Parasites

A parasite is something that lives on another animal (the host) and gets its nourishment from the host. If left unchecked, the parasite causes disease or even death. The most common external parasites found on dogs are fleas and ticks.

  • Fleas are very small, brownish black, extremely agile creatures. Excessive scratching and self-biting can be symptoms of flea infestation. Even if no fleas are to be seen the presence of shiny black specks like coal dust (flea excreta) is a sure indication of the presence of fleas (dab the specks with a damp piece of cotton wool and if it goes pink it confirms the presence of fleas; these are the remains of a digested blood meal from the host).

  • Ticks are largish grey pea shaped parasites that can be 3 to 4mm in length. They attach themselves to other animals in order to have a blood meal.

There is evidence that ticks are also a threat to human health as they can spread Lyme disease.

There is now a wide range of proprietary powders, sprays, ‘spot-on’ treatments and anti-flea and tick collars available. A dedicated pet care professional will be happy to advise on suitable products.

Other skin problems

  • Ringworm is a fungal disease, affecting the skin, nails and hair. Circular lesions appear causing hair loss, which become scaly and crusty. Ringworm is contagious and is a zoonotic condition (transmissible to humans).
  • Dermatitis causes irritation, hair loss and inflammation and is a result of sensitivity to the environment.
  • Alopecia can range from a thinning of hair to total hair loss and can be caused by a number of factors such as skin parasites, hormonal imbalance, infections, stress or poor nutrition. Seek veterinary advice for any skin problems.

Professional grooming

Some breeds of dog may require professional trimming and styling. Most coated breeds will require full grooming about once every four to six weeks but even short coated breeds can benefit from a ‘wash and brush’ up more regularly to remove dust and dirt.

City & Guilds grooming qualifications

The City & Guilds qualifications in dog grooming are the preferred qualification by dog groomers, ranging from dog grooming assistants through to the British Dog Groomers’ Association Higher Diploma, the internationally recognised master craftsman level, LCGI status and membership of the Guild of Master Groomers. To achieve these qualifications a groomer will have passed practical and theory examinations.

Code of professional conduct

All groomers belonging to the British Dog Grooming Association sign up to the Association’s Code of Practice. Further information can be found at

The Kennel Club aims to promote the health, happiness and general wellbeing of all dogs, and to provide you with an invaluable resource for every aspect of life with your dog. To find out more, visit


Worming your dog throughout its lifetime is important, and you should talk to your vet about a suitable worming programme for your puppy at the earliest opportunity. Regular worming not only protects your dog’s health, but helps to prevent the spread of infection and potentially hazardous health risks to other animals and humans too. Worm infections carried by your dog do not always display obvious symptoms, so an adequate treatment schedule is vital.

Some worming treatment has been carried out prior to you receiving your puppy and a record of this is provided in the chart below. Do discuss this further with your own veterinary surgeon.

Signs aren't always obvious

Dogs can appear healthy even when they have worm infections. Detecting an infection can be tricky, particularly as worm eggs are too small to be easily visible in your pet's faeces. In addition, your dog may be more at risk from some worm infections than others depending on where you live. It is therefore extremely important to keep your dog’s treatment regular and up-to-date. 

Specific signs will be described for each worm, but remember that not all worm infections will be obvious in your dog, so some more general signs to look for include:

  • The presence of visible worm segments that could stick to your dog's bottom and become itchy. This can cause dogs to “scoot”, whereby they drag their bottoms along the ground with their back legs. Doing this also means that your dog will be rubbing its infected bottom on your floor or carpet, which is naturally unhygienic
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • A dull, lifeless coat
  • A change in appetite (it may be either increased or decreased depending on the worms present)
  • A lack of energy
  • A pot-bellied appearance (most commonly seen in puppies)
  • Breathing difficulties and coughing
  • General changes in behaviour

You should seek advice from your vet if you see any of the above signs in your dog. Many of these symptoms may be indicative of other illnesses. Your vet will be able to investigate the problem and provide appropriate advice and treatment.

Worming Products

Your puppy is currently on Drontal Worming Syrup, Drontal is the wormer that kills every type of intestinal worm commonly found in UK dogs and cats. Dosage – 1ml per kg of bodyweight which can be given with or without food. Effective as a Roundworm treatment, this contains 14.4 mg/ml pyrantel embonate and 15 mg/ml febantel . This has been started when puppy is 2 weeks and every 2 weeks until puppy is 3 months old. After this time please refer to veterinary advice,

Control Check List

As well as following a worming plan following consultation with your vet, there are also many other practical things you can do to help prevent the spread of worm infections among your pets and family. These are as follows:

  • 'Poop scooping' - make sure you pick up your dog's faeces immediately on a walk and remove it from the lawn or surrounding outdoor environment daily - bag it, and put it in designated poop bins, burn it or flush it down the toilet
  • Ensure you and your children wash your hands after handling / stroking your dog
  • Wash all food including fruit and vegetables before eating them
  • Don't allow children to put dirt in their mouths
  • Throw away any food dropped on the floor / ground rather than eating it
  • Cover children's sandpits when not in use

Travelling Pets

There are specific parasitic worms to which your pet may be exposed to on visiting countries outside the UK. Two notable worms are Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), transmitted by a mosquito bite, which could be fatal in your dog if not prevented, and one type of Tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis), which can cause serious and fatal disease in people.

If you are intending to travel with your dog, you should talk to your vet in plenty of time to establish the best worming regime to ensure the protection of both your dog's health and that of your family.

For further information about what you need to do before, during, and after travel abroad with your dog, refer to the Pet Travel Scheme guidelines on the DEFRA website,

Further reading and information

ESCCAP UK provides practical advice to dog owners to protect pets from parasitic infections and to minimise the risk of their transmission between animals and humans.To find out more, visit

The Kennel Club aims to promote the health, happiness and general wellbeing of all dogs, and to provide you with an invaluable resource for every aspect of life with your dog.

To find out more, visit


There are a number of common infectious diseases that dogs are susceptible to throughout their entire life. Some of these diseases are life threatening and young puppies are particularly vulnerable, so It is vitally important that your puppy is vaccinated against them at a young age. Further vaccination is essential to ensure that your puppy continues to be healthy and happy throughout its entire life.

You puppy will receive his first vaccination and if you take your puppy home before he is 12 weeks a second vaccination has been paid for. All you need to do is to take his vaccination card to your local pets at home or pets for vets they will complete his puppy course free of charge to you. If you take your puppy at 12 weeks he will be fully vaccinated and a record of this is provided in your vaccination record supplied by the you puppy pack. Please take this with you on your puppy’s first visit to a veterinary surgeon.


Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis.

All of these diseases can be fatal so after its first course of vaccinations, your puppy will need booster vaccinations according to your vet’s advice.

Once a puppy is vaccinated, the vet will issue a vaccination certificate showing a record of exactly when the puppy was vaccinated and which product was used. This should be kept safe as you may need to show them at boarding kennels, dog-training classes or if you take your dog abroad. It is also useful should you change your vet and he may recommend a slightly different regime, and it will be useful to see what vaccination your puppy has had in the past,

Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, you should not take it anywhere where it might come into contact with dogs or ground that may be infected. However, puppies are most receptive to new environments and situations at this age, so keeping them confined to your house and garden can be counter productive. In order to continue your puppy’s socialisation programme during these important first weeks at home, you should take your puppy out to different places in your arms or the car to get it used to different situations and noises, as well as letting it meet new people.

Further details on socialisation is available in the Kennel Club “Puppy Plan” which can be viewed at

Further information on Vaccination

How does vaccination work?

The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism against disease. The body recognises invading viruses and bacteria as ‘foreign’ and its reaction to these ‘foreign invaders’ is called an immune response. The body produces antibodies which destroy or remove the foreign substances.

The essence of vaccination is that it makes use of the body’s natural systems for fighting disease. This is done by introducing a substance to the body which mimics a disease but does not actually cause the disease. The body prepares its immune response, which then is activated if that disease is detected at some time in the future. The vaccine can be introduced by various methods – commonly either by injection or nasally.

In so many respects, vaccination is the ideal way to combat disease. Immune systems are continuously active in the defence against disease, and vaccination simply exploits this system.

How do diseases spread?

All living organisms share the genetic drive to make sure that their species continues to exist. This applies to viruses and bacteria as much as it applies to humans and animals. Disease-causing organisms therefore have built into their structure the ability to spread from one susceptible organism to another. They can be transferred from host to host by physical contact, contact with body fluids, by the consumption of diseased food, transferred by a ‘third party’ (i.e. mosquitoes, fleas, ticks or midges) or they can be airborne, requiring proximity, but no physical contact to jump from host to host. Some diseases are species specific, while others can infect, or are carried by, a range of species.

Does vaccination have any side effects?

Anybody who has ever been vaccinated knows that it can occasionally make you feel quite feverish and poorly for a short while. Whilst this effect is not pleasant, it is a sign that the vaccine is stimulating the body’s disease defences. The perfect vaccine would not cause those effects, but not all vaccines are perfect, although safety is paramount in the licensing of vaccines. Exceptionally there can very occasionally be more severe side effects but they are so rare that the benefits obtained with vaccination far outweighs the risks. If you are concerned about any possible side effects, discuss this with your vet prior to the vaccine being administered to your puppy.

What are the different types of vaccines?

A vaccine must stimulate an immune reaction in the recipient, similar to the immune reaction that the real disease would produce, but the vaccine must not actually cause the harmful effects of that disease. The manner in which the vaccine component is processed in the laboratory is intended to make it safe but sufficiently similar to the disease so that the body recognises it. There are two broad techniques that are used:

  • Live – a weak or ‘attenuated’ form of the disease is grown in the lab which, when injected into an animal, does not have the power to cause disease.
  • Killed – the disease organism is killed and prepared into a vaccine, sufficiently similar to stimulate immunity but clearly incapable of causing disease.

Both techniques have their strengths and weaknesses. There are also new genetically modified vaccines coming onto the market. Such vaccines have the ability to better target the type of immunity required and will provide many new exciting possibilities in disease control.

How frequently should vaccines be used?

Vaccination plays a very important role in the control of infectious diseases. Whilst it is recognised that adverse reactions such as an allergic response or a lack of efficacy may occasionally occur, an analysis of the overall benefits and risks strongly supports the continued use of vaccination.

Vets should make a thorough assessment of the benefits and risks on an individual case basis and discuss them with clients when deciding the timing of vaccination and the use of particular vaccines. Such an assessment will need to be based on the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC), often referred to as a data sheet in the UK, a publicly available document giving particulars of the data package submitted by the manufacturer and agreed by the licensing authority during the authorisation process (found as Product Information Database at The SPC is unique for every vaccine and will provide precise information on the duration of the immunity that can be achieved when that product is administered. It is this information that the vet will use to decide the frequency of vaccination, along with scientific guidelines that are made available by professional bodies (Vaccine (Guidance at WSAVA website). Recent trends in data mean that many products now indicate a duration of immunity of 3-4 years for canine distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus after completing the primary vaccination schedule and the subsequent booster in minimum age puppies. However, some veterinary surgeons may also take into account the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Guidelines by, for example, giving a full first annual booster before applying the extended duration of immunity claims, or by delaying the second vaccination until the animal is at least 12 weeks of age in some high risk areas or where levels of maternally derived antibodies are expected to be high. It is important for veterinary surgeons to understand that, when departing from the SPC, they do so under their own responsibility.

Vets should therefore use vaccines in accordance with the authorised stipulations and what they know of the prevailing disease trends in their area. If they deviate from the medicinal data available to them and/or use a vaccine not in accordance with the instructions on the label and the SPCs it must be done with good reason and informed client consent.

Some lobby groups have accused the veterinary profession of over-vaccinating – perhaps using vaccine yearly when there may well be a longer lasting immunity to disease. To challenge this view would involve further testing beyond the scientific evaluations already undertaken by the manufacturer to determine the duration of immunity as specified in the SPC.

What are the benefits of vaccinating dogs?

There is no doubt that the use of vaccination has been of huge benefit to our pets by bringing some very unpleasant diseases under control The use of ‘combination’ or ‘multivalent’ vaccines (where several different vaccines are given together) has transformed the control of many diseases of dogs and cats. Virus diseases such as canine distemper, adenoviruses (viral hepatitis) and canine parvovirus used to be scourges. The development of vaccines and their widespread use has brought the diseases in question under control.

The way in which vaccines have been used in dogs is rather different to the way in which they have been used in farm animals. The difference is that whereas in farm animals the aim is to prevent the spread of disease and to protect the herd, in the dog and cat it is the individual animal that vaccine is being used to protect. However, the uptake of vaccination by responsible dog and cat owners who wish to prevent their pet from catching certain diseases has been so great that it has reduced the amount of such disease seen by vets. It has produced some ‘herd immunity’. Prevention is better than cure, especially with diseases such as distemper and parvovirus where if the animal survives it is often left with permanent damage of some kind.