How to Train a Maltese to Walk on a Leash? A Short Guide

How to Train a Maltese to Walk on a Leash?

In most cases, most notably for people living in metropolitan areas, your dog’s training is not complete until your dog has learned how to walk on a leash without pulling.

Every one of us has probably seen some dog owners walking their dogs, and also witnessed how easy it seems and how happy the dogs look. However, getting a dog accustomed to a leash is no small feat. 

How to train a Maltese to walk on a leash without pulling? To properly teach your Maltese how to walk on a leash, you have to begin early and persist with patience. Most dogs are uncomfortable with collars for the first few tries, so getting a comfortable collar and leash system can make things easier.

But what if your doggy doesn’t seem to share your leash enthusiasm? This article will help you get your Maltese dog not only to enjoy but anticipate leash time.

Choosing a Leash

Traditional leashes can be dangerous for Maltese as they are quite delicate dogs. A series of problems can stem from attaching a strap on the collar around their petite necks. Your Maltese could also suffer from a collapsed trachea. 

For this reason, a harness is the best option for your Maltese to prevent injuries to its trachea. Due to the size, weight, and smoothness of the coat of Maltese dogs, deciding the appropriate harness is bound to be tricky. 

There are excellent reasons why you should consider putting a leash on your dog, including:

  • Provide much-needed exercise for your growing puppy.
  • Improve overall obedience and responsiveness.
  • Leashes prevent your Maltese from chasing people, animals, and vehicles.
  • It’s polite and courteous to your neighbors, especially they are prone to causing troubles to your neighbors.
  • A leash can save you from accidentally losing your dog.
  • You can exercise more control over your Maltese and pull it back if it’s heading for danger.

There are a couple of different harness types out there, including:

  • Walking harness — As you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking with your Maltese, these are handy. With walking harnesses, you can control the movement of your Maltese, while protecting your dog’s neck from dangerous pressure using a chest strap with a leash attachment at the back.
  • No-pull harness — This type of harness takes the initiative away from your Maltese by discouraging pulling. It is designed to go across the chest and upper back and has a clip at the chest, which hurts slightly if your dog tries to pull, hence discouraging the behavior. Using this type of harness ultimately gives you control of the walk while sparing your dog’s trachea. 
  • No escape harness — This is the recommended harness for dogs with a tendency to break free from any leash or harness you use to hold them down. Although your petite Maltese is much less likely to break free from a restriction you put him in, this type of harness ensures it has no chance of success even if it tries. No escape harnesses encompass most of your dog’s body, making it difficult for it to wriggle free regardless of the smoothness of its Maltese coat. You would probably be better at peace if you have your Maltese in this harness. 
  • Reflective harness — Reflective harnesses have the basic function of making your dog more visible, which is ideal for small dog breeds like Maltese dogs. Some of these types of harnesses come with only a back attachment and can be customized with your information. 

Harness Materials

There is a host of materials you could choose from for your Maltese’s harness. Some of the most commonly used materials are Nylon, leather, polyester, and mesh.

They have various advantages in terms of durability, versatility, and how comfortable and breathable they are, while not tangling with your Maltese’s hair.

A substantial percentage of Maltese harnesses will be made, at least in part, of Nylon. Although, it’s quite common to find harnesses that are combinations of more than one material. 

Look out for these critical features in choosing a harness:

  • Chest strap or vest style — this avoids dangerous pressure to your Maltese’s neck.
  • Adjustable sizing — A harness that fits snugly will ensure that your Maltese does not break loose easily, while still comfortable.
  • Breathable material — Mesh or porous harnesses are good for your Maltese, with its long silky coat to avoid too much additional warmth, most especially in summer.
  • Seat belt compatible — There are some harnesses that are best suited for buckling into cars. These are particularly useful if you own a car and are intent on carrying your Maltese on some rides.
  • Chest or back ring — This ensures that any pressure from pulling doesn’t land on its tiny and fragile neck.

When to Begin Training Your Maltese?

Now that you have successfully chosen a harness for your Maltese dog, you might be wondering, “when is the right time to begin?”

You can begin to the process of getting your Maltese accustomed to a collar as early as when it is eight weeks old. It’s not going to be a very straightforward process as you should expect some kickbacks from your pup.

Still, if you make the training seem fun to your puppy, then it should take about ten weeks for your Maltese to learn, depending on your Maltese’s intelligence and other factors. 

Getting Past Collar/Leash Phobia


Raising a dog, in general, requires patience, but a substantial amount of that patience is mapped out for the different training activities, amongst which is teaching a dog to walk on a leash.

You need to be prepared to be patient with your Maltese and shower it with encouragement throughout the training process – which could be a while. 

Use positive reinforcement technique 

Most dogs react very well to positive reinforcements, so you can make it a habit to reward your dog for every progress it makes every step of the way.

These rewards can come either in the form of treats or playtime. Playing a game of fetch or tug-of-war or the more complex clicker training could also be used.

Choose a collar and leash

Collars and leashes can get your puppy used to have something around his neck – keep it light. Puppies usually get nervous and uncomfortable at first when you try to place a collar on them.

You could try distracting or rewarding your dog while putting the collar on him. Loosening the collar so it doesn’t discomfort him may be helpful too.

Different puppies have different reactions the first time a leash is attached to them. Some can refuse to budge; others can resort to barking uncontrollably, while some others will simply go crazy.

So when you introduce a leash, you can place your end on the floor and allow your Maltese puppy to run around a while and get comfortable having the collar and leash on its neck. 

To distract the puppy from its stress of having a collar around its neck and attached to a leash, you can engage it in some of its favorite play activities, while it keeps dragging the leash around.

While your pup is playing, you can pick up the leash occasionally, but be watchful enough to prevent your puppy from getting itself entangled.

What Method Should You Use to Train?

Whatever method you choose to train your Maltese with, understanding how delicate and sensitive Maltese dogs can be will help you achieve more without stressing the heck out of your pup. 

It is generally better to use methods that focus on rewarding the correct behavior and ignoring unwanted behavior.

Starting with steps, your Maltese can efficiently perform and quickly moving on to levels that are closer and closer to your final goal behavior.

Use a cue

Everything is systematic when it comes to training dogs, and the general idea is to ensure your puppy understands you clearly.

You would need to choose a cue that represents a particular action or behavior you require from your puppy. When it performs the desired action, then you reward it with a treat. All this is done while the leash is on the pup. 

In no time, your puppy will automatically perform the required action whenever it hears the cue. Now, the next step will be to get it to come to you willingly. 

Lure your pup in

After instilling a cue into your pup’s mind and it has learned to understand what you expect from it, the next step is to get it to come to you.

Holding treats in your hand that is visible to your pet while repeating your chosen cue word or sound will get it to come to you.

When your pup gets to you, you should reward it and then step back a few more paces, so it continues to follow you. 

Keep practice sessions short

You shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes a day training your Maltese. Puppies cannot usually concentrate for long periods, and your training will begin to feel like punishment and anything but fun. At this point, you are doing more harm than good to its learning process. 

Start by practicing inside

As your puppy becomes more used to your cue and has started responding positively, you should try to hold on to its leash and walk within the house.

This way, there isn’t much distraction or nervousness, which could hinder your Maltese’s obedience levels. Don’t forget to keep rewarding every little progress your pup makes with treats. 

Try taking your Maltese outside

After a few practice sessions indoors, it might just be time to take your Maltese outside to practice in real-life situations.

It’s going to be a whole new experience altogether as there will be loud noises, visible distractions, and even the smell of a new environment to diminish your puppy’s attention levels. 

Ultimately, with this step – like in all other steps before – you would require patience to see it to completion.

Possible Leash-Training Problems

Like every endeavor in life, a lot could go wrong in the process of training your Maltese to walk on a leash. Here are some of the possible scenarios and how to deal with them:

Your Maltese could pull — It’s not unusual for a puppy to try to pull you in a different direction. In this case, try not to lose your cool and begin yanking on the leash; instead, remain static and wait for your pup to stop pulling. 

Your puppy could lunge Another common experience with dogs on leash is the ability to lunge at something suddenly. Anything can tempt your Maltese to lunge, and if you’re not alert, it could get into trouble by this act. If you get this situation under control in time, try to distract its attention with treats (yeah, it pays to have a treat on you as you walk).

Continuous barking Your puppy could get into a barking frenzy as you walk past other people or dogs. This behavior is not only uncomfortable for you but also for the other passersby. Training and early socialization can get rid of this bad behavior. 

Dog Leash Safety Tips

When using a leash for your Maltese, these are some important safety tips to remember:

  • Select the best leash to fit your Maltese dog’s small size, preferably a tinier leash with smaller accessories. 
  • Try to avoid getting in a tug battle with your Maltese if it starts pulling, don’t engage. Instead, you can try backing up and calling out to it with a calm voice. 
  • Know that puppies and senior dogs are more vulnerable to injuries that can amount from pulling or yanking a dog’s leash. 
  • Generally, no-pull harnesses are the preferred choice for dogs that like to pull. 
  • Keep your leash in good shape, replace any part of it that is wobbly, like the snap. 

Final Thoughts

While leash-training your Maltese is hugely beneficial to owner and pet alike, it requires sensitivity, consistency, and patience on your part to be a success.

Adhering to the training steps and safety points above, both in choosing and using a suitable harness for your Maltese, should make it an overall exciting and safe process.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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