Canine Behavior/maltese


why does my maltese dog scratch the floor after playing or when she needs to go out to the bathroom and she sneezes when you play with her what does that mean

Scratching and digging are natural behaviors to dogs and many find it quite pleasant. Digging or scratching at the floor during or immediately following play is actually is actually quite common. The scratching is actually a play behavior. So long as the dog isn't causing damage, you can enjoy that as part of his joy at the game. My little terrier scratches at the floor, his bedding and even at his toys (as if he's digging them up).

Scratching slowly is also a nesting behavior and so depending on the circumstances, if she's tired or ready to lay down and rest after the game, then it may be a nesting behavior that you're seeing. Again, totally normal and so long as she's not causing any damage, there's nothing to be concerned about.

As for the sneezing, that is actually a play/attention solicitation. My older dog sneezes to get my attention - and it works! I would say "bless you" and he'd sneeze again - now he has my attention and wants to engage with me... If you respond with attention to the sneezing, then your little one has learned that this is a successful way to get your attention and so she'll keep it up. And if you suddenly ignore it, she's bound to sneeze more times or bigger, more obvious sneezes because in her mind, "it's always worked before... maybe my person just didn't hear me. I'll do it again..." You can extinguish the behavior simply by never responding to it again, and instead responding to another behavior. After that initial burst of more/bigger sneezes, she'll learn that it no longer works and she'll stop doing it. Personally, I think it's funny and endearing, so for my dog, I don't mind that he does it.

As with the sneezing, your pup may have gotten reinforcement for scratching/digging during play in that you gave her attention when she did that behavior and so she did it again.

I hope this helps you better understand your pup and her antics. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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