Small dogs or lap or dildo dogs, as they were once called, have a very long history, spanning several thousand years. Small races were often kept by the nobility and gifted to royal figures. Small breeds were also thought to be good for health. Pekingese, Pug, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel are three examples.
Many dog owners prefer small dogs over larger breeds, and for many different reasons. However, by virtue of their diminutive size, these dogs are much more affordable to keep, require less exercise relative to larger breeds in general, and are, for example, easy to transport.
Many owners of larger dogs, and often those considering caring for a new dog, avoid smaller breeds due to perceived differences in behavior relative to larger dogs. Smaller dogs are thought, and of course wrongly, to be by nature barking, aggressive, possessive, overprotective and demanding, etc.
If this assumption is not true, then why do so many small dog owners experience problems with their dogs behaving aggressively around other dogs and humans and displaying possessive and demanding behaviors etc.?
To understand the problem, we must start at the beginning. All the puppies are cute and adorable, even the largest breed was small and cute at the same time. However, small breeds tend to retain their puppy size and appearance, long after the cute Rottweiler puppy has grown and gained 50kg in weight, for example.
Researchers have found that humans have developed a biological response to “pretty” things, especially baby animals. The need to nurture and protect perceived helpless creatures is believed to be automatic.
This is where problems often begin; the owner overprotects the dog, can carry him, let him sleep in bed or jump on furniture whenever he wants, and picks him up in the presence of strange dogs and gives in to their demands for attention. This is often done through the mistaken notion that the dog needs protection, by virtue of its size and “baby” qualities.
So how is all this resolved in the minds of dogs? Although our domestic dogs are very different in many ways from their ancestor, the wolf, they have inherited much of the instinctive behaviors of their ancestors. A part of this instinctive plan comes the desire to be part of a group or pack. Although most dogs are more than happy to be the followers of their human pack, if there is no obvious leader, or if the dog is receiving signals from his owner that he is the pack leader, then the dog will not You will have more choice than Fulfill the role, as this is how life unfolds in the world of dogs.
Over time, the dog may display behaviors that to the experienced eye would be considered dominant, however, to the dog owner, these behaviors are considered breed specific, for example, ‘that’s how Chihuahuas are’, or an integral part of dogs. personality, for example, “it has always been this way.” This type of behavior would be a cause for concern if seen in a larger dog, but is somehow overlooked or not considered serious in many smaller breeds.
There are a number of behaviors that are common to small dogs that act in a dominant way, so much so that this type of behavior, observed in smaller breeds, has inherited the label ‘small dog syndrome’ or ‘small dog syndrome’ . Some of the common behaviors that characterize ‘small dog syndrome’ are listed below.
Your dog has developed the habit of sitting on you, jumping on you or next to you, whenever he pleases.
- Your dog does not allow you to approach him when he is eating or has a toy that he is playing with
- Your barking excessively to get your attention.
- Your dog is overprotective when other dogs or humans approach you.
- Your dog growls when you try to get him out of his favorite resting place.
- Your dog is generally stubborn and refuses to follow orders.
- Your dog shows an overreaction to being left alone, characterized by constant barking or destructive behavior.
Much can be done to address this problem, however owners should first consider the role they play in encouraging this type of behavior in their dogs. Owners must realize that their small breed dogs are actually animals and not small humans.
Second, owners need to understand that it is natural for dogs to be part of a ‘pack’ and more importantly a pack in which they would rather be followers than leaders. Understanding these two concepts on their own will help greatly reduce the problem.
In terms of retraining, owners must communicate to their dogs that they are the leader, provider and protector of the team. This can be done by controlling all the dogs’ resources, for example, food, toys, treats, walks and favorite resting places, and allowing the dog to access them when the owner chooses.
All demanding behavior, eg barking for treats or being picked up, etc., should be ignored and all appropriate behavior should be commended.
Aggressive and possessive behavior towards other humans by the dog can be addressed by having a place for the dog to go when the owner is interacting with others. This can be in your box or on a cushion in the corner of the room, for example.
Owners should keep in mind that retraining takes time, especially in the case of dogs that have been allowed to display this type of behavior for a long time. However, with patience and repetition, the dog will be content to become a follower, rather than a leader, of its human pack.